Buffett, Scrooge & the Secret to Saving
Warren Buffett has some financial advice for Americans: invest in yourself. And when the second richest man in America, a man who has also pledged to give 99 percent of his fortune to charity, starts giving financial advice—he might just be worth listening to.
We’ve all heard the “pay yourself first” mantra when it comes to business. It sends a message to investors loud and clear: “I am a sound investment. I am worth it.”
But what about applying that lesson to personal finances and savings? We think it’s about time that we stop thinking of saving as Scrooge-like, and start seeing ourselves as an investment more valuable than any stock or bond.
Invest in Yourself
You shouldbe putting 10 percent of every paycheck into savings, but since everyone’s income is different, putting any amount of money away is admirable. Be realistic about what you can save, and then build on from there.
It can be hard to motivate ourselves to follow-through on saving when we finally get the money into our hands. Our mind begins to race with all the other wants and needs that the money could be used for. It’s human nature to want to live in the moment rather than recognize the long-term benefits of investing in yourself by putting that money away.
Let’s take a minute to take stock of the amazing “returns” you can see with even a small monthly investment in yourself. Things like:
– Learning: Going back to school, or taking up a new hobby
– Comfort: Renovating your home so that it is a more comfortable, serene place
– Peace and Relaxation: Taking a vacation after a particularly stressful month at work
– Community: Hosting a family reunion or flying your parents to come visit you
Just like an entrepreneur invests in the long-term success of the business by paying herself first, saving is investing in your future. Your happiness, your goals, and your dreams. Saving is power—the power to quit your job to move or pursue something more fulfilling; the power to leave an unhealthy relationship and getting yourself unstuck; the power to take care of others without worrying how you’re going to take care of yourself. When you invest in yourself, you are also investing in others.
Don’t Forget the Rent
Let’s be clear: we’re not suggesting that you neglect your electricity bill or skip out on rent for the sake of putting away an extra $50 into your savings. Obviously, that behavior would negatively impact you. It’s all about finding the right balance.
It’s about knowing that putting money into your savings is just as worthwhile and important as making a donation, buying a gift for a friend, or setting aside money for a gym membership.
Personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi explains that young people in particular should be focused on saving while they are single and childless. “Whether that means getting additional education—not grad school, exactly—growing your skillset, earning more accreditations, or enhancing your knowledge of a subject and exploring new things, now is the time to be selfish”, she explains.
Give your future self a vote of confidence! You know all the amazing things that you will be able to accomplish with the money that you save. This confident attitude will help you to develop healthy financial behaviors and habits, like saving a little every month. And as you begin to see the returns on your investment, you will be more likely to keep up you healthy ways.
Save Now, Give Later
Many of us have a hard time putting ourselves first. We want to give thoughtful gifts to our families, do favors for our friends, and give back to our communities. It brings us joy and it makes us feel great about ourselves.
But we often forget that we are no good to anyone else if we don’t first take care of ourselves first. In the immortal words of Cicero, “you will be as much value to others as you have been to yourself.”
We’re all for paying it forward, but remember that charity really does start at home.
By paying yourself first for a period of time (weeks, months, or years), you are building up your ability to give back later. Instead of seeing saving now as selfish, see it as a way to make an even bigger difference in the lives of others later on.
It’s time for us to make a commitment to ourselves. It’s time for a self-respect revolution, America! When we invest in our future, we’re making a pledge to create a better life for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
Are you ready to make yourself a priority?
Tell us: What are you going to do this month to invest in yourself?