You read all those “save money” and “stretch your dollars” articles. You hear about coupons, freebies, a dollar here, a dollar there, take your lunch, buy generic – – – and you still say “what the heck is the big deal? How can I expect to pay my bills on this silly little stuff?”.
All it takes is commitment and common sense. Do you know what those mean? A commitment means a promise you make to yourself to do something ALL THE TIME! To stick with it. Make it your goal. Every goal has to have a commitment. Without commitment, how do you know if or when you meet your goal? Or are you just wasting your time and money? Commons sense means just that. Common sense. Not what “everybody else” says or does. Not what the current money guru says is “how to do it”. Neither of those entities pay YOUR bills at the end of the month. YOU have to think about what YOU have and what YOU want and use YOUR common sense to put them together.
Saving money is the goal. What you do with it is the choice. This is what the smart folks know….. How smart will you be?
You’ve done the coupons, the freebies, rebates. You’ve shopped the clearance racks, bargain tables and made compromises. Now what? “Where’s my savings?” you ask. Well…….what did you do with it?
To know what savings you have and to know how much you have saved, you have to do 2 simple things.
Simple Thing #1: Like everything else you do in life, you have to keep track. Keep track of what you spend and how much you saved. If you bought something regularly priced at $20 and it was on sale and you paid $15 – keep track – $15 is the expense, $5 is the savings. Knowing this as you walk out the store is one thing, SEEING it on paper is another! Visual comprehension is a HUGE part of “finally getting it!”
Simple Thing #2: Set aside what you actually saved! Literally… set it aside! In a savings account, a piggy bank or that hiding place you have in your bedroom! Somewhere, set your actual savings aside.
How Do You Know What You Actually Saved?
Create a log or balance sheet for yourself. It can be on the PC, but hey, do a quick handwritten list. This way is quick and easy and you can do it at anytime, instead of waiting to get back on the PC.
Title columns the following: Item / Regular Price of Item / Price I Paid / I Saved…
Sweater: Regular price $20 – Price I paid $15 – I saved: $5
Lunch: Regular Price $8 – Price I paid $5 – I saved $3
Groceries: Regular Price $150 – Price I paid $122 – I saved: $28
Total savings $36 – NOW GO WRITE YOURSELF A CHECK FOR $36 and put it in your savings account!
You can also include things that you usually spend money on, but have made the committment to NOT spend the money on. For instance – If you have decided to give up your flavored coffee each morning – That’s $3.75 a day you can write in the balance sheet
Coffee: Regular Price $3.75 / Price I paid $0 / I saved $3.75
And add that $3.75 to your total. Do this daily. Keep the balance sheet in your purse. Keep a tablet in the car and write it down and then transcribe it to the balance sheet every night or at the end of the week. Which ever is easiest for you. At the end of the week, add up the savings and write yourself a check! Now sometimes, you aren’t able to save the entire amount – maybe just half because you need some of it for an unexpected expense. Well, just write the check for half of what you actually saved. If you are stretching your dollars, instead of saving, sometimes you just need that money to go elsewhere other than a savings account. That is good to – keep track of it. Write where it went so next month you can see where you got that “extra” money last month and do the same thing this month to collect it again!
Where else you can find things you spend money on so you can choose not to spend it?
Would you REALLY miss that magazine if you didn’t renew it for another year? Do you really want to renew a membership to someplace you don’t really go to often? Would it hurt you to miss one months issue of your favorite magazine? How about renting only 2 movies every Friday night instead of 4? Can you cancel that automatic deduction for that program you have that you hardly use? Do you really have to eat out EVERY Friday night? Can’t you eat out just 2 of them and make a fun, easy meal at home and relax the other 2 nights? And the kids…do they really have to have all those cool and expensive snacks – couldn’t a generic brand do? The name doesn’t mean they will taste any better! Here is where alot of the common sense comes into play.
Think about what you are spending and ASK yourself: “Do I really want that item MORE than I want my GOAL?
This balance sheet procedure helps in a big way for you to actually SEE how much you really are SPENDING! A little here and a little there, adds up over the week! You don’t realize it while you are spending it (“it’s ONLY 3 bucks!”) but that $3 bucks adds up over the course of 7 days to the tune of $21 a week or $84 a month!
In addition, SEEING what you have SAVED is a sure fire way to perk your eyes open and see that it IS possible… you aren’t any worse for the “wear”, it wasn’t that hard to do, and didn’t cost you anything to do it – and wow! Look how close you are getting to your goal!
Commit to 30 days. But commit to it – honestly! Get your balance sheet ready, tablet handy and start writting. When you swipe that debit card, when you pull out the dollar bills, when you write that check – enter the amounts in your balance sheet. Tally your savings weekly – it will show you that you can do it and that it is working. Just think of what will happen if you keep doing what you are doing?
Quite frankly, and I say this as I know it to be true, you can turn this savings thing into a game! You see that first month or 2 of savings and know your goal is on its way…you see that you were able to buy that necessary item this month, because you saved elsewhere last month. You will start looking for new ways to save and the game has begun! Try to beat your own earnings every month! Look for new ways to save! Commitment and common sense – they can be your new best friends!