Interestingly, a couple things happen when you delve into a topic and research what seems to be every book, site, and source on a subject.
I have done so much research on the topic of saving money,
I too could write a book - but I won't.
Instead, I'll just share a few things with you and hopefully
save you from filtering through the
"quit drinking lattes" lectures and get to the valuable information.
If you don't stop to get a latte every morning
and you already eat at home and/or pack a lunch,
and have the thermostat so low you can see your breath,
then how do you save?
This has always been the first question that comes to my mind when
such advise is given.
The other thing that strikes me as odd
is when it is suggested that you buy a specific item rather than an
item that you are assumed to be buying currently.
Again this seems sideways to me.
That's not saving. That's still spending.
That's not saving. That's still spending.
There are a few things I've figured out.
This is a great spot for that disclaimer that states that
I am not a financial advisor,
nor am I an account nor a lawyer for that matter.
The other thing is that I am human and susceptible to flaws.
This is information that I have found and am sharing for you to ponder
and think about as it would pertain to you and your situation.
If saving is made difficult,
your chances at failing sky-rocket immediately.
Why would you set yourself up for failure?
There are a few things you can do to simplify.
Paying yourself first might be okay.
If available, have a % of your check direct-deposited into an account
to which you do not have an ATM/debit card.
This is a great option, but you might be able to save more one
month than another in which case this system can be inefficient.
Next, have as few bills as possible.
Yes, I know this sounds like a 'duh' comment, but think for a moment.
Can you bundle your phone, TV, and internet?
Do you have more than one credit card? - consolidate if possible.
Can you have your power, bundled ph./TV/int. bills automatically paid
by your credit card?
That got your attention didn't it?
This might sound a little odd, but with some cards,
you get a small percentage back or in bonus credits.
Example: We have to drive to work 5 days / week. We have a card
that for one quarter of the year offers an extra 5% off gas purchases.
During that time, we fill up in town and fill our barrel as well.
This card also gives us a small percentage back on all other purchases.
We pay it off every month!
That's the clincher - don't do this if you are already carrying a balance.
The other part of this step is psychological.
You see one lump sum and perhaps see what you can do to decrease
the number which is the step most resources discuss but without
the inspiration wrapped up in one tidy spot (your credit card bill.)
Managing this one bill is far easier than half a dozen.
And who wants to sit down to a pile of bills and
keep track of when they are due etc.?
For groceries, give yourself a realistic sum for the month
(or every two weeks.)
Stick that amount of cash in an envelope or your wallet
with a paper clip so you know it's grocery money.
(In 2015, we spent $1500-2000 less than the average American household of our size on food. I include things like canning jars and pressure cookers in my grocery budget, not just food so what we spend should decrease as we need fewer and fewer items. We don't believe in meatless Mondays.
We buy very few sugars/carbs/grains.)
That's it really.
You are essentially paying for groceries only 1-2 times per month
rather than multiple times for haphazard amounts that may or may not work out for you at the end of the month.
It again decreases the number of bills to keep track of.
All this said, if you look at your income as a whole,
these things comprise a relatively small percentage.
The two items that require the largest percentage of funding for most people
are housing and transportation.
Decreasing the amount you spend on these two items will save you the largest
percentage of money.
How to do that becomes personal; however,
there are a couple things you can consider.
Have you reviewed your insurance recently?
Can you combine home and auto insurance?
Yes, again with fewer bills.
If the assessed value of your home hasn't changed since before 2008,
you might carefully make a phone call to the tax accessors office -
(if you are certain the actual value has gone down.)
Right size your home.
Are you an empty nester with 3 spare bedrooms?
If you have children at home, and think each child needs his/her own bedroom, have you ever stopped to think about why we believe that?
Boys in one room and girls in another is a simple solution
depending upon the ages, genders and number of children in the household.
I know moving isn't an option for everyone,
but thinking about the various costs of your home might bring to light ways to save on your largest expense category.
One other thing that has surfaced of late is to do a spending freeze
for one week or one month - whatever.
Here again, I see this as setting yourself up for failure.
What if you blow a tire?
It's not a bad idea as a whole, but why not set yourself up for success?
Rather ask, "How long can I go without giving those marketers any of my money?" Ha! The challenge is on!
If it's 3 days, Wahoo! Good job! Now try to beat that.
You might go 8 or 9 days, who knows.
What this does is trains your brain to think ahead and gets you into the habit of holding onto your money as long as possible.
Example: You have to get groceries today. Is there a bill to pay, a part you need, something you know you will have to have on Tuesday?
Get it all done today.
By doing all errands in one day, you have an agenda and will be less likely
to lolly-gag or browse and won't have to go back to the store until you run out of (_fill in the blank_.)
Do what works for you, in your situation, where you live.
There is no one way that's right for everybody.
Set a goal and try for it.
If by chance, you don't quite make it, you're not a failure.
Keep at it, you'll be far better off than if you just throw in the towel.