8 of the Worst Excuses for Not Having Any Savings

You might feel like you have good reasons for not saving money, but saving is still important. Here's how you can do it.
Updated Dec. 18, 2023
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We’ve likely all heard of the importance of tucking away money for big purchases or unexpected expenses. But how many of us actually have any savings to speak of? Better yet, how many of us can afford to build up our savings in the first place?

Finding even a dollar to spare can sometimes be difficult — so difficult, in fact, that you may have given up on the idea of saving altogether. Don’t give up. You deserve financial security. Take a look at some of the worst reasons people don’t save, and maybe you’ll see yourself in them. There are also tips to learn how you can combat them.

“I can’t afford to save”

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When you feel like your money is already stretched to capacity, you might struggle to find leftover funds to put into savings. Similarly, you might think that a couple dollars here and a few dollars there simply isn’t enough to make a difference.

Consider this, though: Do you have enough money for a morning coffee run or a weekly night out? When you add up those purchases, how much do you spend in a given year? What if you had saved that amount instead?

Times are hard, so cutting back may not be an option. If that’s the case, look into potential new ways to make money. Whatever you do, resist the idea that saving is for wealthier people. Saving is for all of us.

“I’m young, so I can wait to start saving”

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If you’re applying this logic to your savings strategy, you might be in for a rude awakening. Saving isn’t just about how much to save for retirement. It has immediate benefits, too.

Putting money aside now can be what makes the difference between being able to buy the house you love or settling for the house you can tolerate. It can be what protects your finances when your car breaks down, when your dog needs an emergency vet after gorging on candy, or when your kid hits a baseball through the neighbor’s window.

Instead of viewing saving as an older person’s game, think of it as a way to build a buffer between your money and the horrible irony of fate.

“I’m too old, so it’s pointless to start saving now”

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Conversely, you might think that since you didn’t save in your youth, there’s no point in starting now. Here’s the simple truth: It’s never too late to save money.

The you of today might think it’s no longer worth the effort, but in five years or even next year, you might look back and wish you had acted differently. There may come a day when you no longer have the desire or the ability to work, and you don’t want that day to come without a financial cushion to sink into.

“I’m getting an inheritance, so I don’t need to save”

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Even if your parents or grandparents are fortunate and generous enough to leave you money, it’s still wise to save.

For starters, inheritances aren’t guaranteed. Your relatives may face emergencies that deplete their financial reserves, or you yourself may run through what they’ve given you faster than anticipated. Furthermore, what if you want to leave an inheritance for your own kids? If you haven’t flexed those savings muscles, there may not be any wealth to pass down.

Rather than banking on a sizable endowment from your family, take matters into your own hands and work to secure your own financial future. Then, whatever they give you will be icing on the proverbial cake.

“Savings accounts don’t yield high returns”

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While it’s true that some accounts have abysmally low interest rates, many of the best savings accounts could give you a better annual return. We’ve also come a long way from the days of just one type of checking and one type of savings account.

Nowadays, you can find savings accounts designed to meet different goals or that boast different features. Additionally, you don’t have to rely solely on a savings account. You might put some of your money in stocks or a Roth IRA, for example.

The moral here is that you have options when it comes to where you save. Don’t let the savings accounts of old be what holds you back.

“I’ll use my credit card or take out a loan if I need to”

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Can you use a credit card in an emergency? Yes. Do many people advise opening credit cards for that very reason? Yes. Should racking up consumer debt be your only safety net in the midst of surprise expenses? No.

Interest rates on credit cards and loans can make it extremely difficult to pay back what you owe. Those interest rates also mean you’ll pay more over time if you carry a balance from month to month.

Building up a savings that is separate from credit cards or other forms of debt could give you wiggle room should a financial emergency occur. Without any savings, your options are more limited, and you run the risk of a greater long-term impact to your financial health.

“I want to buy XYZ before I start saving”

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You want to enjoy your money, we get it. You worked hard to earn it, so you deserve to spend it. But ask yourself this: How much will you enjoy that new designer bag if it’s empty? It’s not a fun reality to think about, but it’s something to consider nonetheless.

You absolutely should be able to treat yourself when you want to, but it’s much wiser to balance those treats with regular contributions to your savings. In fact, you can use a big or frivolous purchase as an incentive to save more. For example, if you put $500 into savings this month, reward yourself with something decadent. Just make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford.

“I need to pay off my debt first”

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Along those lines, if you’ve already incurred significant debt, you might feel like those balances take priority over saving.

Think about what you’d do, though, if your financial situation worsened — if you’re hit with an expected expense, for example, or if you lose your job. Not only might you fall behind on your regular bills, but you might not be able to meet your debt obligations either.

It’ll take some careful budgeting, but try to work savings goals into your debt payoff plan. Think of your savings as your own form of debt insurance — it’s money you have at the ready so that your debt doesn’t grow if you hit a spot of bad luck.

Bottom line

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Now that you have a better idea of what keeps people from saving, go a step further and learn how to save and how to invest in a way that fits your situation.

A quick way to get started is to review your most recent bank statements. Take note of where your money’s going, and implement at least three strategies to reduce your spending. At the end of the month, transfer your newfound spare funds to a separate account, and you’ll officially have a savings.

Author Details

Sarah Sheehan Sarah Sheehan is a writer, educator, and analyst who focuses on the impact of health, gender, and geography on financial equity. Her ultimate goal? To live beyond the confines of chasing the next dollar — and to teach everyone else how to do the same.

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