Saver's Block: How to begin when you don't know where to start

Smackdown by Eric Joyner
Smackdown by Eric Joyner
Eventually everyone has to become a saver. No one can (or wants to) work forever. When you get to the age of 70, your body might not let you keep working so hopefully you became a saver long before that happens.

I've heard many people say that they want to start saving for retirement but investing is too confusing. When they hear the words, "personal finance" something in their brains just shuts off so they don't bother. There's a tried and true method to resolve this and it works for more than just finance. Writers get writer's block, painters get .... some sort of painter's block equivalent, and even athletes get into slumps or "cold streaks". And you know what they do, they just keep playing. They know that eventually it will come back and they will hit their stride again.


It's really a simple solution to all of these problems. If you have writer's block, the best thing to do is to just start writing, perhaps it's just a journal of your day or how you're feeling. Just do what you need to do and eventually you'll get back into that groove. Painters that get a creative block can do the exact same thing, just start painting something, anything, it doesn't really matter, just keep at it and eventually you'll get through it.

It's the same with saving for retirement, it might seem confusing but it doesn't have to be. If you have a company 401(k) then just start contributing to it. If you don't know what funds to pick don't sweat it, just start contributing.

The two most important aspects of investing are time and contributions. What exactly you are invested in comes in a distant third place. You could literally pick the worst investments possible and it would still be better than not saving at all.

But what if you don't have a 401(k)? Well, the first thing is to still start saving. Keep it in your checking account if you really don't have a dedicated savings/retirement account setup yet. Figure out a separate account later, but start saving now.

Everyone knows the first step. Save money, cut back on unnecessary spending. They are simple to do, where to invest it will become easier once you have the money saved. If you have $10,000 saved somewhere, you will suddenly be more interested in finding a place to invest it. But if you have $0 saved and are looking for a place to invest you will probably not care.

Don't worry about where to put your money if you haven't started saving yet. That's like putting the cart in front of the horse, so just start, time will always be the most important aspect.

Do you have saver's block? Have you ever had saver's block? How did you get past it?

This post was featured on Rockstar Finance - Shout out to J$, thanks for the support!  For more great articles check out his site!

16 comments:

  1. This is so true. Sometimes we think a lot about what to do but never actually start doing it. The important thing is to start, and after you get used to it you can adjust your budget accordingly. When I first did it I just tried to save up a little bit of money and after a while I tried to cut down unnecessary expenses to increase my saving and now it's become a habit of mine.

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    1. It's like Nike's slogan, "Just Do It!" the more you think about it, the more reasons you have to talk yourself out of something. And that's a great habit to have!

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  2. I agree that "just get started" is great advice. I had no idea what I was doing when I started investing and I'd like to think that I've made some progress since then. Living frugally and freeing up capital to invest with seems to be the biggest challenge for most people.

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    1. I think mistakes are a great learning experience. You can't get things right the first time in most things so just start trying and eventually you will get better at it. If everyone was perfect at investing then no one would work.

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  3. Great post, I wish I could get a friend of mine to read it! She's just never gotten started!

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    1. Part of the reason I wrote this was because I have friends that I know have not really started to think about saving for retirement. You have to start sometime, and the best time was yesterday!

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  4. Saving is my favorite part of the personal finance equation. I'm a big saver; I'm so excited to transfer money into my savings account. I started by making more. I find it easier to make more to put away than spend less.

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    1. I agree, I really like to transfer money into savings. It's rewarding to see the progress that you are making over time. I also like to look at the balance of my savings and think, "wow, I could totally just go buy a new car right now."

      I'm still waiting for when I could say I could totally buy a house with my savings.

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  5. I like the writer's block analogy. Sometimes we have to just get started and take some action, even if we aren't comfortable. Much of the time, action beats inaction - particularly when the outcome (saving) is generally a positive one anyway!

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    1. I think the first step is the hardest for everyone, and most people psyche themselves out before they even begin!

      There's very few times I can think of where inaction pays off... The one that comes to mind was the year that I didn't change the time on the clock in my car for daylight savings... half a year later the time changed back and my inaction meant that I did not need to reset my clock. But I'm not sure if that was a positive thing to do!

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  6. That's so true. You have to start somewhere. Almost everyone starts at $0. I've found that the more money I have saved, the more money I want to save. Momentum is a powerful thing.

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    1. I think that most people probably start with negative amounts of money. There's so much debt out there it's crazy!

      But getting your momentum going is a great thing. Once you get that nest egg started it begins to do some of the work for you, and eventually, it does most of the work for you.

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  7. I'm a saver and started saving at a young age. Actually sometimes I feel I get savers fatigue or savers block because I've been saving for so long and at times don't feel like I'm making enough headway towards financial freedom or other goals like buying a house. That's one tough part of living in a high cost of living area.

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    1. I hope that your savers fatigue doesn't make you want to stop saving. Sometimes I feel like I haven't splurged on something "just for me" in a while so I will go out and get some sort of new toy for myself just to appease the spending monster. But most of the time I find that I'm bad at spending money these days. I don't know how to find things that I really want more than the money in my pocket.

      I mean, it's a good problem to have, but it's hard to tell people what to get you for your birthday or Christmas when you don't really want to buy stuff anyways.

      I live in an expensive area too. I think that just existing in San Francisco means you have to spend money to live. I think that for me the only times that I don't feel like I'm making headway in my savings is when my investments start doing poorly and outweigh my savings... I try to look at it as stocks going on sale but it's tough sometimes. I say just keep at it and your savings will start doing more of the work for you.

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  8. I agree 100% with this post. Unfortunately I made every mistake you can think of early in my savings journey: I bought individual stocks when I didn't have enough money to do that, I bought risky investments I didn't fully understand, I paid high commissions to a broker and tried to time the market among other things and yet I have amassed a pretty large nest egg because I saved 15-30% of my income the last 18 years starting at 27.

    I would like to point out in my defense I made most of these mistake 15 years ago and fortunately learned my lessons back when my pile of money was small so the mistakes were not devastating.

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    1. Hey Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by. It's too bad you learned by making all of those mistakes, but the best time to make them is early on, it gives you time to recover. Also if you do it early on, you probably have less money to lose from learning lessons "the hard way". It's like the tortoise and the hare, slowly but steady wins the race.

      15-30% for 18 years will get you pretty far, you've probably already put in all of the hard lifting so now your early efforts probably do a good chunk of the work for you!

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