Saving First

Saving First

By: Mikaela Wilkins


As a kid, my mom helped me and my siblings divvy up our earnings into three Ziploc baggies. We had one for tithing, one for savings, and one for needs. Mom took us down to the bank every once in a while to put our savings baggie into an account. “This is your ‘Never Spend’,” she told us. “The bank will share your money and give you more money back for letting them borrow it, and it will grow so that you have more money later.” Faithfully, a decade later, I’m still feeding that bank account with a portion of my paycheck.


I have an aunt who puts just 25 dollars away in investments every month. I don’t view this aunt as wealthy or even having as much money as her family needs, but she has faithfully saved just a portion of her paycheck for years. I can only imagine what that will be like for her when she’s able to retire and feel grateful for her younger self who was conscious enough to prepare for the future.


On the other side of my family, my grandpa has a similar story. He and my grandma got married young. They went through his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree with at least four young children. (My dad will tell stories of living in a trailer park for a long time when he was a kid.) School was expensive. Having kids was expensive. But Grandpa consistently put away five dollars per paycheck for his entire marriage—which was a lot of money back then. But now in retirement, they have more money than they know what to do with (much to their grandchildren’s delight!). That didn’t even put any of that money in investments. That monetary accumulation did, however, take years and years of my grandparents living within their means and consistently putting away a little of their money for later.


I did a scary thing earlier this week. I talked to an investor. I’ve followed my mom’s model for years and saved a portion of my earnings. But I decided that I wanted my money to grow bigger on its own. I know it will take a long time, but as I start now consistently putting money into investments, no matter how small, I will be able to retire wealthy and better able to take care of my family.