The series The ABCs of Saving Money will appear occasionally throughout 2010.
Your day-to-day decisions have a huge impact on saving money. When you get discouraged (another d-word!), think about all the frugal things you do. But resist the temptation to spend more, because you’ve saved money on something- that 50% off sale price isn’t really money saved unless (and until) you actually put the money into a savings account.
Depending on who you listen to, all debt is bad or some debt (like mortgages or student loans) is good. I tend to think that debt that is furthering your future goals is OK, as long as it’s not overwhelming. But even if you have ‘bad’ debt, that is high-interest, open-ended, consumer debt like credit cards or car loans, make sure that you still put money away every month. It might not be a lot, and the amount certainly won’t be the same as when the debt does get paid off, but $25 saved every month is $300 at the end of the year.
Staying dedicated to a goal over the longterm requires motivation and staying power. This isn’t always easy, especially if you’re fighting to learn new habits. I know that I can be dedicated to the concept of a goal, ie saving money for financial security, to be able to move back to the US one day, to be a responsible adult…but the reality of the situation is such that putting it into practice on a day to day basis isn’t always easy or intuitive.
To fight against this, I put saving money onto automatic pilot. Sure, there are lots of times that I manually transfer money into my savings account, but I also have three different ways that money gets transfered automatically.
- reimbursements from our health insurance go directly into our savings account
- we have a monthly sum that gets transfered into a special French, longterm savings account
- I have another monthly sum that automatically gets transfered into the savings account
By putting our savings on automatic pilot, I know that every month at least something gets saved without me having to think about it.
Gardening can be a great way to save money. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a simple project like growing your own sprouts (expensive to buy, cheap to grow) can reap financial rewards. I don’t have a garden, but I do have two good size balconies, which would be large enough to have a container garden (if I had the time and ability to grow plants instead of killing them). David at the Good Human had a good post on ways for apartment dwellers to have a garden– make sure to check it out.
I love donating things and I love getting donations as well. Donations (of goods, services or money) will often earn you tax reductions and things donated to you (through something like Freecycle), will save you from having to spend money to aquire something. Again, as always, remember that that penny saved isn’t really saved until it hits the savings account!
What’s the D in the ABCs of Saving Money for you?