If you’re like most people, that’s what it feels like when you’re trying to save money.

Deep down inside, you know full well that it’s good for you. You’ve got “why am I broke” playing like a broken record in your head, you’re stressed and embarrassed, and you want things to change.

But really, why is it so hard to save money?

If no matter how hard you try, the story of your life is stuck on the “I can’t save money” page, then read this post.

Because this simple tweak could be the game-changer to fix that.

This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure for more details.

why can't i save money? what part of it do i not understand tweet


In this post, you’ll learn:

  • The thing that’s distracting you from the real issue
  • What you should really be paying attention to instead
  • Step-by-step guidance on how to reframe your approach to saving


  • Figure out your real motivation for wanting a money makeover
  • Check on your progress regularly using worksheets, printables, or designated savings accounts
  • Bookmark a video or site that gives you a taste of your end goal, so you can regularly rekindle your drive

It ain’t about the money

When people try to fix their finances, most of them zero in on their money.

They count their money, track their money, hoard their money, try to earn more money, and so on.

But eventually, they get sick of doing all of that.

They hate what they’re doing, they don’t feel any better, and so they throw their hands in the air. They might wallow a little, maybe even rebel and blow their money in spite.

But ultimately, they stop trying and go back to their old ways.

The reason they fail is because they never should have been so focused on the money in the first place.

Because here’s the thing: money is NOT what you’re chasing after.


No, the reason you want more money is always because there’s something else you want.

People mistakenly think that what they want is more money, but that’s never true. When people talk about winning the lottery, no one ever says, “I wanna win the lottery just so I can swim in a pool full of dollar bills!”

Okay…maybe they do, but after they’re finish wading in it, they absolutely want to spend it.

Happy people don’t hoard all their money to do absolutely nothing with it.

What you really want are the things money can buy you, and making that distinction is the secret to being happy financially.

Sometimes, that thing you want is tangible. Maybe you want a better car, or a house of your own.

Sometimes, that thing you want is an experience, like the experience of seeing a concert with your favorite artist or having a blast with your family on vacation.

But more often than you realize, that thing you want is a feeling.


You want to feel confident, feel like you’re having fun, feel happy.

But you also want to feel relief, from the stress & pressure that comes with having bad finances.

You want to feel security, that if one of life’s hiccups comes along, it isn’t going to derail your plans.

You want to feel freedom, like you can do whatever you want.

All of these are things you can get, with the help of money.

Money is just a tool

Money isn’t what really drives you.

It’s just a tool that helps you get something else.

Most people forget that, and all they think about is the money. They lose sight of what they were working towards, and eventually, they start to question why are they even doing this in the first place.


It’s not the money you care about, so it’s virtually impossible to generate any motivation by focusing on it.

If I simply asked you to save money, honestly you’d feel pretty meh about it.

But if I asked you to save money so you could take your family on a dream vacation, that feels like a completely different question.

Even though the information you’re looking for is exactly the same, how you frame it changes everything.

Stop obsessing over the money. Instead, center everything around whatever it is that you really want because then the motivation will natural follow suit. Whether it’s an Caribbean cruise, or a place of your own, or whatever that gets you excited.

Don’t let money steal the scene from the real star of the show: your ultimate goal.

Setting your eyes on the REAL prize

If you want to have any level of success towards a financial goal, stop making money the center of your focus and follow these tips reframe your mindset.

Clearly envision what you want

Don’t just set a goal; use your imagination to flesh it out.

Let’s say you want to hit up Disneyland. Look up what rides you want to go on, what resort you want to stay at, what shows you want to catch.

Or maybe you goal is to retire. What kinds of activities, projects, or travels await you?

The more you can taste it, the more excited you’ll be make it happen, which does wonders for your motivation.

Track the progress towards your specific goal

Once you’ve figured out the dollar amount you need, use themed printables, worksheets, apps, specially designated savings accounts, or all of the above to see how much progress you’ve made towards this specific goal to help keep up the drive.

Always put it in the context of your goal: rather than asking “how much have I saved?”, ask “how much closer am I to Bora Bora?”

Stay mindful of your goal

Regularly reacquaint yourself with your end goal to stay inspired.

If you’re wanting to buy a house, for example, go to open houses and keep imagining yourself moving in to a new place. If you’re dying to take a trip to Europe, watch videos and read tour guide books to keep the vision fresh on your mind.


Don’t let money distract you from putting what you really want front and center. When you make it all about your true end goal, you won’t have to waste energy convincing yourself it’s worth it because you already know it is.


When you think about why is it so hard to save money, take our advice and forget about the money. Instead, focus on what really matters to you.

Whether it’s a house, a family vacation, breaking free from the reins of debt, or having the financial freedom to do whatever the heck you want, focusing on what you’re truly after makes it so much easier to break the “I can’t save money” mentality.


  • Figure out your real motivation for wanting a money makeover
  • Check on your progress regularly using worksheets, printables, or designated savings accounts
  • Bookmark a video or site that gives you a taste of your end goal, so you can regularly rekindle your drive



stacy trinh aka aunty chang headshot


STACY, aka AUNTY CHANG, is a personal finance blogger set on a mission to show people that there's more to money than just the numbers. With two rental properties and a six-figure 401k by her 30's, she's on track to retire early without sacrificing work-life balance to get there. She wants to teach others how to identify their goals and use money to make them happen. Dual income, no kids, based in Hawaii.

Hangs out on Keeping Up with the Changs: Facebook | Twitter