It’s easy to save money if you’re rich. At least, that’s what many people think if they find it difficult to save money. Unfortunately, many “rich” people find it difficult, too.
Is it possible to save money if you are just barely getting by, or worse, falling farther behind every month? It seems counter-intuitive, but putting money aside is the best way to get out of financial trouble.
Many years ago, I was offered the advice, “Pay yourself first.” I didn’t understand that statement at the time. In fact I decided that the person giving me the advice meant well, but didn’t understand what it meant to be broke. Just as teenagers can’t seem to realize that the people trying to help them have actually been teenagers themselves, I couldn’t understand that the person advising me had actually been as broke as me at one point in his life.
This is the story of a man I have known since childhood that I will refer to as Winner. As a young man he had very little. In fact, he had virtually nothing. He left home to begin life on his own needing only one small suitcase to carry everything he owned.
One of the items in his suitcase was a Bible. He had been brought up to read and take wisdom from the Bible. He had also learned from his parents that there are people in the world that will try to help you, and some that will try to take from you and the sooner one learns the difference the better.
Although he was definitely poor, Winner’s self image was not that of a poor person. He actually expected to be wealthy one day. He expected this because he knew he was willing to work hard for the chance to accomplish this. He expected to marry a wonderful woman, have a family and be a part of his church and community. He prayed that God would lead him in ways to live well and accomplish his dreams.
He sought work during a time when there “were no jobs.” During the Great Depression and for several years afterwards, work was scarce, especially in the hills and mountains of eastern Tennessee. In Winner’s family, accepting welfare was not to be considered if a person was able bodied. Still isn’t.
In spite of the paucity of jobs, he always found work. He was eager, willing, and resourceful. He wouldn’t wait for someone to hang a sign outside the door announcing a job. He would observe something that needed doing and offer to do it. In some cases he worked for free, realizing that the person needing assistance could not afford to pay. But he stayed busy and managed to gather enough wages to pay for food and rent.
He also managed to set aside a little of everything he earned. He saved a portion and tithed a portion to the church he attended. As he told me years later, he never missed the money he set aside for these purposes.
In spite of being so busy looking for ways to earn money, he managed to find the time to help others. He would learn of an elderly person that needed help or a friend that could use a hand with a project or a harvest. It never occurred to him to not jump in and help.
The truths I eventually learned from this man are as sound today as they were last century. No matter how little you earn, there is always enough to set aside a portion for the future. I learned that “pay yourself first” means to save a part of everything you get and set it aside for your future.
Start small if you must, even a dollar each week is a start. Soon you will find yourself able to double then triple your contributions to your future. There is something quite rewarding about seeing your little cache of cash begin to grow.
Next week you’ll hear from an expert about how to find a job. If you already have a job, learn how to find a better one.
Dr Mark Kestner