Have you ever seen a baby try to sit up? She just flops over to the floor, over and over again. It's a struggle.
But then one day she can sit up.
Then she wants to stand because she sees you standing all the time and wants to be cool like you. But she keeps falling to the floor because her legs are too weak, she's never done it before.
Soon she is standing and before long she's trying to walk, she tries to lift one foot off the ground for just a moment, but quickly puts it back and grabs hold of a chair or couch or leg for support.
Then one day, a few days or weeks later she learns to be brave enough to stumble her way forward. One, then, two, then three steps before falling flat. She may cry, and take a break for the day, but the next day she's at it again.
She doesn't give up until one day she's finally walking and soon running. She has discovered freedom from the immobile life she once lived. Her world suddenly becomes so big. What was once impossible has become her new reality.
You were once like this little girl, except maybe you were a little boy.
When you first decide you want to change the way you live your life and manage your money it can feel like there is a mountain to climb.
You see people who are living the lifestyle you want to live. They are running. Yet there you lay on the floor not even able to sit yet.
Why Is The First $10,000 So Hard
You decide to set a goal that you want to save $10,000 in one year from today. But you've been living paycheque to paycheque your whole life. So maybe you break that down into trying to save your first $1,000 in the next 5 weeks.
$200 a week sounds manageable, right?
You stumble on your first steps. That's ok. Just like the little girl, you can pick yourself up and try again and again. Always thinking about what you want.
That little girl wakes up every day (often in the middle of the night), thinking about how she will walk someday.
Eventually, when you save that first $200 in a week, you will know exactly what it takes. Your muscles will know what it needs to stand. After two, then three, then ten, then 52 weeks it becomes natural. Instinctive. Automatic. Muscle memory. When was the last time you thought about how to walk or run, if you haven't been injured, then you probably never think about it, you just do it.
That's what Saving Money is like.
The first $10,000 will seem hard because you've never done it before. But you won't even realize you did anything when you save the second $10,000, or the third, or tenth. It will just happen because you decided to live your life intentionally.
Living An Intentional Life
I've talked about this before. Decide what you are willing to spend on to be happy.
For me it's restaurants 2-3 times a week, afternoon lattes on weekends, travel, and tennis. Within reason, I will spend on these things without feeling guilty.
For example, I set my budget for the year based on a calculation of 3 restaurants a week at $40 per meal (for me and my wife). I add in 5 restaurant meals a year for special occasions at $150 per meal.
Knowing what my budget is I don't think about it on a day to day basis. I just go enjoy my life. Then I spend as little as possible on everything else.
I buy clothes usually on sale and once a year. I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about things not on my intentional spending list. That way I never feel like I'm sacrificing any level of happiness and I actually feel like I'm living a very rich life.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.