What to Do if You Can’t Save?

9th November 2018
Piggy can't save?

One day, I was browsing a forum about money habits and it found a lot of people saying “I can’t save!” I find it interesting that there really are 2 types of people: those of save and those who so-called “can’t”. Saving up is one of the cornerstone disciplines for our financial plans. If you can build up the habit to save, soon you will have emergency funds. And this habit can translate into investing regularly down the line. And it all begins with tackling the mentality of “can’t save”!

What people mean when they “can’t save”

There are 2 types of savers in this world: those who save first and then spend, and those who spend first and save what’s left.

Why some people can't save

If you’re someone who takes a percentage out of your salary and sock it away to be left untouched, Congrats! You’re a Type A saver! Those of us who save “whatever’s left” after spending are the Type B savers. And I’m sure there’s no questioning which type usually “can’t save”, right?

So what should I do if I can’t save?

Honestly speaking, there’s no “magic bullet” to instantly make you a Type A saver. It takes a bit of effort and discipline and that comes directly from you; no amount of cat posters and blog posts are going to help there. But if you truly, madly, deeply for the life of you, can’t seem to do it, you could automate or force it.

What you can look to try is:

1. Open a separate savings account

If you only have 1 account to receive your pay, it’s time to look into opening a second one! Don’t get a debit card if you think the temptation would be strong for you. Congrats! You’re one step closer to learning to save!

2. Start right now with any amount

You don’t have to wait until the next pay day to get started. What if your motivation fizzles out before you get the paycheck? Got an extra $10 somewhere? Great! Put it into your savings account! This is meant to teach you to put money in and walk away.

3. Automate the process

This is a simple solution to make life easier; and we love having an easy life.

Step 1: Go to the bank where your salary goes in to and open a savings account without any credit or debit cards.

Step 2: Next, set up a standing instruction to transfer your savings money into this new savings account.

Final step: Sit back and watch your savings grow.

Be sure to ask your bank if they have any fees for standing instructions because one particular blue bank charges B$10 per transfer.

4. When all else fails, “force” it

So you’ve tried “everything” and still can’t save up? Maybe you can look into forcing yourself to save through a type of insurance product known as an Endowment policy. This is a policy that allows people to save up (on top of having the benefit of a small insurance). There is also a potential to earn more than bank interest rates; which is an added bonus. Our AMBD also had an educational awareness piece about saving using these kinds of policies.

Bear in mind, though, you won’t be able to save up an emergency fund through this method as early “withdrawals” are always disadvantageous.

5. Don’t forget to budget in some fun

Saving up is only good if your life is better for it. If all you do is save and suffer, then it’s pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum. Budget yourself properly so that you get to enjoy the fruits of your hard work while still saving up!


Savings is simply a habit and lifestyle we build up. It’s a buzzword thrown around when we talk about personal finance but as we know, talk is cheap and an empty wallet even more so. There are 2 general strategies you can employ to save: you force yourself or someone forces you. It’s not as harsh as it sounds because the first means cultivating a saving habit in yourself. And the second means you use tools and financial products on the market to help you with it. A combination of both would also work so research and experiment!

Cheers to a healthy savings account, Readers!

“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep.”

– Robert T. Kiyosaki

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