We like to travel. We like to eat well. We like to have the proper tool for a job. We like to have a working refrigerator... But we also have bills, 4 kids, a home, vehicles and yard. This recent blowup of our fridge chewed into our tax refund savings that was allocated for family vacation. We're trying something new to save more money more quickly than we ever have. The trusty tax refund isn't going to make it much past April this year, so here are some steps we are taking to save up quickly:
1. Do Math
This is kind of basic but from time to time it needs to be done again. We had to figure out what we actually make, what we were actually bringing home, and what we owe every month. Getting it on paper can be eye opening. I was surprised at how much we were spending on things other than bills, like groceries, eating out, and being entertained. Usually, the bills are set, and we already take steps to lower our utilities so the other areas are where we are looking to save the most. We also don't have very many extra bills but we did take a second look at our phone bills and Netflix account to see if we could do better. That being said do not hesitate to call a company. Our phone bill was reduced by $10 a month for a year when I called today just for being a loyal customer and asking how I could save on my bill. Sometimes you just have to ask.
2. How Much How Long
The next logical step was to set a goal, figure out how much we need to save and how long we have to save it. For example, we want to go on vacation in June or July, and we need to save $1000 dollars before then. That would mean that we need to save $333 a month, or $83 a week for the next three months in order to meet our goal. Additionally, we need to save for Christmas, our propane tank refill before winter, and a new van (eventually). We set amounts for each of those categories and divided them by the number of months before we will need that amount. We set our goals high and are expecting a lot from ourselves so that we can take more trips, buy a new (to us) van in the next couple of years and do those things without going into debt if at all possible.
3. Bare Necessities
We've become so accustomed to picking things up at the store whenever we need them. For a month (or 2, or 3...) go without buying anything except the bare necessities. See if you can go 4 weeks without going to the grocery. Stretch your pantry and household items by using the things that are sitting around your pantry or bathroom cabinet that you never seem to use. This month we aren't buying soap. We have weird 1/2 bottles of body wash to use up, and other random shampoos and conditioners. Pull out the tiny hotel soaps and use those babies up. If you do go to the store, menu plan around your pantry first and only buy what you absolutely have to. We love having a stocked pantry, but there is a time for stocking up, and there is a time for paring down. During this money saving period we aren't trying to deplete our pantry, but we ARE trying to deplete the things in our house that we aren't using! We keep buying our favorite laundry detergent, but we have 2 other kinds sitting half full waiting to be used! Now is the time to use that kind of stuff up!
4. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
From this point until we have met our goals, we are paying our savings like we would pay any other bill. Then, we are putting that money in a place where we will not be apt to spend it. For us, that means it must come out of our checking account, and even out of our savings accounts which are easily transferred to our checking. We need that money to effectively disappear from our sight until the time comes to spend it. Use another bank, use envelopes, use a tin can in the back yard. Put that money where the sun don't shine.
5. Progress is Progress
We are trying to stay positive and tracking our progress. Anything we save is better than nothing. Our van budget is a ridiculous long shot to have in the next year (or even 2!), but we're going to keep saving a little at a time with the knowledge that every little bit that we save is a little bit that we won't have to borrow.
It's a joy to have you here!
Fund the Fun