If the answer to that involves more than, say, four digits then you must have some self-discipline.
If it’s five digits or more, you’re probably a regular saver.
And if your deposit account balance has six numbers in it (excluding decimals), then you’re likely both an enthusiastic saver and at least middle-aged.
I’m both an enthusiastic saver and middle-aged, so I know.
For those who’d answer the question with ‘not much’ or ‘nothing’, then a better question might be:
“How COULD you save money in future?”
This isn’t a personal finance article.
But one way to build up some liquidity is to spend less now, and put the difference aside.
Do that for a month, you’ll have three digits.
Do it for a year or two and you should reach four digits.
Keep it up for a few decades and there’s no reason you won’t make five digits.
Here’s a number I made up:
If you saved $50 a week for twenty years, say from the age of 25 when you got your first proper job, to the age of 45 when you’re sitting there reading this, you would have fifty thousand dollars in your savings account (50 x 50 = 2500 x 20 = 50,000).
Perhaps a little more, with interest.
Keep on saving for another twenty years and you’d get to SIX digits.
A hundred thousand smackers!
But saving is hard, right?
Let me qualify that – saving is hard when you don’t usually do it.
But IF you can make it a habit, then sooner or later it’s no longer hard – it’s automatic.
And automatic isn’t difficult at all.
Ideally you’d get to the point when saving $50 a week was routine, and then stop thinking about it.
The money would just accumulate, while you were busy doing other things.
I mentioned this isn’t a personal finance piece, and it isn’t.
But before I started writing this, I was washing up the plastic ice-cream tubs that I need every day to pack the kids’ and our lunches in.
When I cook pasta in the evening, I make extra.
Ditto with risotto.
And roast potatoes on Sundays.
I always cook extra, especially of the cheaper, bulkier ingredients.
Then I pack the remains away for lunches, perhaps seasoned with soy sauce, or with grated parmesan sprinkled on the top.
Yesterday for lunch, Stefi and I had tagliatelle in a mushroom and cream sauce, which I had cooked and first served as the ‘primo’ on Sunday.
What was left was packed into a plastic ice-cream tub and brought to school to warm up in the microwave oven in the staffroom.
I try to arrange things so that tonight’s dinner isn’t tomorrow’s lunch, otherwise people complain (tonight’s dinner will be Friday’s lunch – they may have forgotten by then…)
The drawback is you have to cook.
And the plastic pots take up lots of space in the fridge.
And you have to wash them afterwards.
All of which was, at first, a drag.
But we spend almost zero on lunches.
Last year, when there were five of us, that was twenty-five lunches a week, say at $3 each (which is a modest estimate).
That’s $75 saved, every week!
It’s routine now.
And if my wife cooks, I’ll remind her, “Do extra!”
Habits are habits, and saving money over time is analogous to learning Italian.
Think it through, if you haven’t already.
You’ll see what I mean.
Get into a routine and learning a language just becomes part of life.
The beneficial effects, and how good you become at ‘saving’, accumulate over time.
Getting to C2 (the top level) in Italian might take you five to ten years, assuming you study a little each day and make reasonably intelligent decisions.
The trick is to get into the habit of doing beneficial things (reading, listening, taking courses).
You don’t have to spend money, and there are no miracle solutions, no matter what the advertisements say.
But focus on things that don’t require you to consciously choose each day, things that can easily be made just a normal part of your life.
You could, for instance, listen to our free ‘easy Italian news’ each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Listening three times to each audio will take you less than half an hour.
Perhaps that’s the time between filling your icecream tubs with leftovers and going to bed.
Listen and read three times a week and in a year you’ll have ‘banked’ fifty-or-so week’s-worth of Italian, at ninety minutes each week.
Say 75 hours in total.
You can imagine what effect that will have after a few years…
Your Italian reading and listening skills will be more confident, you’ll know more vocabulary, the grammar will be more familiar, and even the pronunciation will be less of a mystery.
It’ll be like having money in the bank.
Better in fact.
Because you’ll be able to ‘spend’ it without ever reducing your balance.
Read/listen to Tuesday’s Easy Italian News.
There’ll be another on Thursday morning, Italian time, and another on Saturday, and…