Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saving Time

Wow. Thanksgivng is almost here! This is crazy. Christmas is soon coming and then New Years. Unusual as it seems, I am more ahead of the game than usual. Not only have I started my Christmas shopping, BUT I am already thinking long and hard about a good new year’s resolution. Usually I am not one of those resolutionee types, but this year I am. Well, I roughly know what will go on the list already but to “keep it real”, I need to put it all onto paper and make a PLAN!.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been on a managing money spree.… I know, this sounds pretty cliché for my age group. Especially considering that I have grown up in a world where a simple swipe of a card can provide you with a new life. It obviously all started when Justin and I married and the realization of combined debt smacked us in the back of the heads. On top of the school debt that we accrued, 90% of our wedding sits right in our visa and we get to review it every month… how sweet… forget wedding pictures- we get to see every little detail of it monthly!
Anyway- It didn’t take long before I realized that our lifestyle was to quickly change if we were to make any headway, .and since then I’ve been blabbing on to Justin about investments and the options available AND MOSTLY Since there is a little MacQuarrie on his way I thought that there is no better time to get serious than now! We have taken a financial peace class through our church and we are on our way!! I’ve learned to push away my impulse to impulsuvley buy, and surprisingly, have found it rewarding! Actually, I have collected some really great ways to save money- at least for me.

One funny story- Justin and I have been in dire need of a bedset. Dire need. We are using the full sized set/mattress that I bought in college. I had purchased it at Goodwill… so, let’s just say that it’s life has came to an end. In any case- with our vow to never use another credit card this was the first thing that really tested that vow. For months we walked through furniture stores dreaming of the bed set we wanted all while passing little attractive signs that would say “pay as little as $20 a month with our store card”… oh did we drool..But we were strong. We held it together. We put back money weekly, and in the end we bought a nice set with cash…Dave Ramsey would have teared up had he saw us in action. Now when they asked “would you like a mattress/boxspring with that?” we had to count our pennies and say “maybe next week.” But we have a nice cherry wood bedroom set sitting in it’s room… no mattress or boxspring.. But maybe next week will be another story. Justin’s mom thought that we were funny to purchase a set and get the mattress and boxspring later- but you have to set your financial goals and stick to em! And we did. It felt good too.

But I will tell you, saving money seems to have gone out of fashion in the world we live in. Maybe we’re all too caught up in the material world (cue Madonna) these days, and it’s ever so easy with just a swipe of the card to build that fantasy life that we so aspire for. Maybe it’s peer pressure - everyone else is having fun, everyone is driving a cool snazzy car…why shouldn’t I too. When Justin and I walked into a furniture store and appliance stores and handed them cold hard cash you would think that we were speaking gibberish. The salesmen kind of give you the confused dog look when their heads tilt to the side. It’s amusing!

What do you do when the world around you is about consuming? Even the government wants us to constantly consume “It’s good for the economy”…as evidenced by the stimulants offered in Budget 2008.

For Justin and I, we knew that our lifestyle, although not as elaborate as most, still defiantly needed some financial tweeking.

So here’s how we started our savings:
• Use a clothes line—at least in the summer! I know, it’s just too embarrassingly simple- but throughout the year we averaged a good 10-20 bucks a month.
• Coupon- couponing was one of those annoying things that I hated! But coupons are literally money in hand. Who throws away money in hand? Well I did until recently! Not now… no sir.
• Buy generic- We’ve recently started buying everything generic and have generated an average savings of $60 a month
• Eat your leftovers! Seriously, I hated leftovers growing up- but when we actually took them for lunch the next day or had a leftovers night instead of providing a whole new meal, we generated a savings of $30-50 bucks a month.
• Two star bucks a month (if that!). Yep-one starbucks outing every two weeks. If you were a weekly starbucks person like I was, this may be a task- but you can do it!
• And Most importantly- SET A BUDGET… if it’s not in the budget, it’s not an expense. Simple as that.

I have realized that we are saving hundreds a month doing these simple little things! Seriously. And where do we put that saving?? We but it into our debts! Our plan is be debt free… Maybe not this year- but very soon!

At first I thought that setting all of the guidelines would do nothing more than imprison us. Instead, it’s done the opposite.

So taking stock of the world we live in, here briefly are some reasons why I think that cultivating the savings habit and committing to it is a very good thing if you’re still coming up with your 2010 list:

1) It makes you self-reliant in your older years - no hand-outs needed from parents, friends, family. No burden to society.

2) You are in control of your life and you will probably feel less stressed, guilty etc. etc.

3) You learn to appreciate the small and simple things in life…taking a walk, hanging out with friends, playing with the cat (substitute with a baby come February)

4) It’s good for the soul!! This is especially true if instead of consuming, we learn to create. So next time, you get the urge to consume (buy things, watch TV, buy yet another CD), maybe you should think…what can I draw, build, write (like keeping a blog for example!)…

5) If you are faced with a major expenditure if your car needs new tires, or you get pregnant and have to pay 1500 dollars to have the baby—you can handle it!

6) You can give some to charity and make the world a better place. Tis the season to give!

7) Very importantly….the younger you start saving, the more you save!!! Remember the 8th wonder of the world as touted by Einstein? The power of compound interest means that over a longer period of time, what money you tuck away in your piggy today will be worth more. So it doesn’t matter if it’s just 100 or 600 or even 50 bucks a month. Just start!!!


Em Tue Nov 17, 06:03:00 PM  

Thou art smart, grasshopper. lol. I can't believe how much money you're saving! Dave Ramsey would be proud. If I was actually making a paycheck for the 40 hours a week I provide in free labor (student teaching, grumble grumble) I'd implement this sort of plan for sure.

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