8.16.2014

Spare Change: 3 Tips for Saving

If you've just stumbled onto this blog, here's what you need to know... I'm not a professional financial planner. I don't always make smart decisions when it comes to how we choose to spend our paychecks. But we did develop enough discipline to pay off our 30 year mortgage - 20 years ahead of schedule, and we do juggle a lot of projects that require money to move forward, so I think it might be worth your time to keep reading. 


I'm sure my husband and I are not the only ones who go through phases in our lives. Sometimes it's really easy to say "no" to going out to eat or spending money on special trips or a new tchotchke for the house. Sometimes we eat out 5 days a week, buy the venti lattes, and add more books to already bulging shelves. It happens, and we don't beat ourselves up over the times when we let things slip.

What doesn't happen in this house are recurring payments or balances that carry over from month to month, racking up interest and killing our credit. 

When we paid off our house in 10 years, people wanted to know how we did it. While I'd love to tell you that it was a fancy formula of couponing and beans and rice, the fact of the matter was that we just decided where our money was going to go, and we did it. Bottom Line: self control paid off our house 20 years early.

But while we slip up here and there, there are three things that we steadfastly avoid or do that helps us never get in over our heads financially.

  • We don't pay for TV. Here's why...
First, it's totally optional, and if you are thinking about ways to save some dough for a much larger goal, paying for TV should be the first thing to go. Second, it's filled with commercials - and like it or not, we're all influenced by them. Not realizing how much we are missing out on until we see how happy those actors are when they bite into a BBQ chicken wing or slip down a slide on on a giant cruise ship. What we don't see? The heartburn and the seasickness. Third - I'm sick of the excuse, "But I just want to see what's going on in the world!" Hello there. May I introduce you to the Internet? Filled with news websites... absolutely free! My favorite is the BBC, simply because you get a larger slice of what's happening around the world, and less of the dramatized Hollywood news. And finally, it's free online (again, if you need an introduction to the Internet, let me know). I love me some BBC mystery (hello Sherlock, we meet again), and am a fan of Call the Midwife and What Not To Wear. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I can watch them - commercial free. [NOTE: If I like the shows enough, I will actually use my discretionary splurge funds to buy the series on DVD.] 
  • We don't make payments to other people. Ever. Here's how...
[Disclaimer: Unless it's on a mortgage - but we pay those off early.] We drive 10 and 12 year old cars that we paid cash for, and I use a first generation Android that we bought off eBay. We don't rent-to-own, we don't take 36 months to pay for a car, and we don't take a line of credit on the house to upgrade. We practice something you might have heard of: delayed gratification. In an era when everyone must have the latest and greatest NOW, we choose to delay our purchases until we can afford them. Sometimes by waiting, we actually discover that we no longer need - or want - the item. Talk about instant SAVINGS! Our projects do take a little bit longer to complete, but that's because we pay for them as we go, and when we're done, we're DONE. No payments hanging over our heads. I do make payments to myself. I pay our savings account several times a month. When it's time to replace our old used cars with newer used cars (we don't buy new), the money is already there, with the added bonus that we earned the interest on our "payments" instead of paying interest to someone else.
  • We appreciate the value of money. Here's what I mean...
I recently observed a panhandler looking through his "takes" for the day, picking out pennies, and throwing them on the ground. I was very, very close to running over and picking them up, but was restrained by the Hubs who felt it wouldn't be prudent. The fact of the matter was, I wanted to gather them up and then give the man a lesson on how he got to that spot in the first place. It's true that one U.S. cent isn't worth what it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but it is still money. Watching him that day, I would estimate that he threw away at least 25 cents. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't throw away a quarter from his jar (though one has to wonder these days), and yet that was exactly what he was doing. When I see a penny on the ground, I pick it up. We used to have neighbors who would regularly toss the change from their pockets onto our shared driveway. Guess who could be found later than day, picking up pennies, and dimes? {ahem} Money is money, and 100 pennies is still equal to $1... which I'm quite sure you wouldn't pass by if you saw it lying on the ground. I keep a change jar going, rolling the various coins as I get enough of them. In June I took a load of them to the bank and came home with enough paper currency to pay for a nice meal out.
Appreciate the small things that you can do to save money.
Much like those pennies on the ground, they really do add up. 

2 comments:

  1. Do either of you have student loans?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I commented - but looks like the text didn't go anywhere. ~sigh~ sometimes technology is no my friend.

    Good article!

    ReplyDelete

There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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