Ah, saving money; a privilege reserved for just 20% of the US population, those who earn enough to exceed their living expenses. Yes, this means that a whopping 80% of America lives in debt.
The myths and the folklore around saving money are countless. The housewife who puts money under her mattress so she can leave her loveless marriage. The retiree who saves pennies each week and eventually gives millions to her alma mater. But if only 2 out of 10 of us can even afford to think about saving, why does all the get-rich talk center on it?
What we really need to talk about is earning.
Shrinking your way to glory has never been a solid strategy.
Have you heard of a company that had a great year because they cut costs and didn't reinvest in their product? Or a restaurant that made their food tastier by cutting out ingredients? Me neither!
Saving is important, but not at the expense of earning. When you look at the wealth disparity between women and men and realize that men control most of the money in the country, it isn't a result of men saving more; it's a result of men earning more and continuously expanding their earning potential. The median household retirement savings for women is just $23,000, compared to $76,000 for men. And alarmingly, women 65 and over are 80% more likely to live in poverty than men.
The tendency is to encourage women to get out of a financial rut by cutting back, and while you absolutely should live within your means, the focus needs to be on expanding them. Every day at my company, Park Place Payments
, I see women coming to this realization as they join our sales force with a singular goal: to change their current situation by earning more.
No matter what you are making, a bump in your income increases your freedom and opens up your choices.
So let's stop talking about saving and focus on earning. Here are five ways to do it:
1. Examine your earning circumstances
Have you been in the same job for more than two years without a raise?
Don't wait for one, ask for one.
Is there a networking group you can join that will open you to new opportunities?
Become a member.
Does your industry require a degree or certification to move to the next level? Invest in your education.
2. Increase your earning potential
Are you capped in your current career, either with an hourly wage or with your industry's restricted earning potential? Find a side hustle and choose it wisely. Keep in mind that 98% of people who sell for multi-level marketing companies lose money, so don't fall prey to one.
A legitimate side hustle should not require an initial investment from you.
3. Invest in yourself
You are your best asset, and focusing on your personal growth will pay off. That industry news site that's behind a paywall? If it will enhance your knowledge and get you a step ahead, then that monthly subscription fee could be well worth it. Follow industry leaders or women you admire on social media. Read management books.
4. Invest in the market
When women invest, we outperform men, yet we aren't investing. It is impossible to reach your financial potential without investing, as men do. If you earn a paycheck (even if you have debt!), you should be investing part of it. If you save instead of investing, your money will shrink over time because of inflation. Investing outperforms money in the bank.
5. Don't be like Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett's famous line was "I'll think of that tomorrow." When it comes to money, many women bury their heads in the sand like Scarlett. 43 percent of Americans don't know how much money their spouse makes, and 80% of women don't talk about money with their friends. Your relationship with money lasts a lifetime, and to gain control over it, you will have to get to know it.