Saving: An Acquired Additiction



March 2021 Issue
Everyday Cheapskate
by Mary Hunt

As personality traits go, "compulsive" and "addictive"
are not generally considered all that terrific.
Those of us with an inclination to be obsessive struggle
to overcome our obsessions.

But hold on a minute! Being compulsive—easily addicted and slightly obsessive—can be a good trait when that propensity is harnessed and channeled in the right direction. Don't forget that compulsive people have great personalities, are driven to accomplish big things and bring a little sparkle to humanity.

When it comes to spending, compulsive inclinations can be deadly. But compulsively saving can become a profitable addiction, and when nurtured, it can replace bad spending habits. Saving money can be as addictive as smoking, drinking, or overeating.

Here are four golden rules for becoming a compulsive saver:


If you put off saving until you get a raise, or pay off your debts, or win the lottery (seriously, I hear that a lot!), you will never start. Nothing to save? Start cutting expenses, and save the difference. You can get started with any amount, even with as little as a dollar. In fact, why don't you start right now? Identify a place to stash your "savings." Now pull out $1, and go put it there. If you can make that $5, $10 or $20, all the better. You can park your savings in an envelope, drawer or shelf. The point is to identify a place where you will deposit more money regularly.


Your bank or credit union will help you save by making automatic deposits from your checking account straight into your savings account. It doesn't have to be a lot; $5 or $10 is a comfortable place to start. Or, if you have a payroll savings plan where you work, get that set up immediately. Or open an online savings account on the SmartyPig website. Your savings will be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; there are no fees or minimums to get started; and you'll have 24/7 access to your account. With automatic savings deposits, you won't have to try to remember to make manual deposits.


You have to believe that 10% of everything you earn is yours to keep before paying your bills or spending your paycheck. Once you make this an unbending and nonnegotiable routine, you will be on your way to becoming an addictive saver. The secret to success is paying yourself first. If you wait until you pay everyone else, you'll come out on the short end of the stick.


If you can't afford to pay cash, you can't afford it. Make that your new motto for 2021. Living on credit, writing bad checks and demanding to have stuff now and pay for it later will sabotage any plans you have to become a compulsive saver. Get into the habit of leaving your plastic and your checkbook at home. Carry enough cash to cover your needs for the day, and watch how your spending habits will change!  

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living. (C) 2021 CREATORS.COM

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