With close to $50,000 worth of debt, I considered myself a spender in my 20s. I had more than $10,000 worth of student loans, a $10,000 personal loan from a relative and an additional $30,000 worth of credit card debts.
My secret for getting out of debt wasn't just about paying off my loans and credit cards, but about learning to be a saver. I found out there is nothing wrong with spending as long as you still have money left to save.
I thought about my transformation from spender to saver recently when I read an article by U. S. News & World Report about excuses people give for not saving. I realized I had used some of those same excuses in my 20s.
It's my destiny to spend
The article points out that some people sabotage their savings plans because of a mindset that they have "never been able to save." I literally had to change my identity as a spender to a saver. I told myself that I'm excellent at saving money. I took action by putting money aside in a savings account and investing regularly in mutual funds.
I'm too poor
Another excuse some people use for not saving is that their income is too low. I made the choice to move from a $900 a month apartment to a $500 a month apartment so that I could save money every month. I wasn't living a lifestyle of a wealthy person, but my bank account was growing more quickly than it ever did when I had a better lifestyle.
I'm too burdened with debt
I told myself I could not save money because of my $50,000 worth of debt. To change my financial situation, I started to view my debt repayment plan as a form of savings. I made a vow to never accumulate any new debt. I started savings and investing while also chipping away at my consumer debt.
I've got spenders in the family
I used to tell myself I could never get ahead because other family members drained my financial resources. Once I became a saver, though, I noticed that everyone else in the family adopted some of my own habits. My sons became comparison shoppers with their allowance at the toy store. They also asked to open savings accounts. We started saving money as a family instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
As the years passed, I learned to deal with other financial challenges such as rising prices, the Great Recession, unemployment and stock market crashes. I have found the best strategy for becoming wealthier is to save 10 percent of every penny, dime and dollar that comes my way.
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