Ah, the ever present resolution to save money. While trying to use my craft hoard stash is a good start, I probably need to be a little more proactive. I love numbers. Really! I love reconciling my checkbook (it's very relaxing). I have an urge to put on a green visor and grab my Ticonderoga #2 pencil. I occasionally dream of a white noise cd that is the sound of adding machine tape ticking through. That being said, sometimes I'm not the most fiscally prudent gal. Last year, I aimed to change it and really get that 3-6 month living expenses nest egg built up.
I was not successful.
But I still did pretty well!
Last year, I tried three different ways of saving.The first one (and the one I've been doing for the last several years) is an automatic transfer from checking to savings on a set day every month. This one is great because I add it to the budget just like another bill I would pay. The second one that I attempted for the first time was hanging on to a certain dollar amount every time I received it in cash. I chose $5 bills. They add up quickly, but setting them to the side usually isn't crippling. This one worked pretty well as my "donate to my favorite animal charity at the end of the year" fund, but probably would have worked better if I used cash more.
The third one I tried was a "game" I made up for myself. When I paid for everything in cash, I would always have lots of change left over. I'd throw that into a bank (a very classy one I have at home that is plastic, looks like a huge crayon and is almost 20 years old. Really chic!) and then at the end of the month roll those babies up, marveling at how the little bits from every day really added up at the end of the month. Then I discovered the joys of just whipping out my debit card. Good times for my love of buying things, bad times for my poor plastic crayon bank. I really wanted to get those chunks of change again, but stepping away from convenience is easier said than done for me. Enter the chart:
Every night when I knew I was in for the evening, I would look back over my day's purchases and figure out how much change I would have had. I'd total it up in the last column and keep a running total for the month. On the days I didn't spend any money, I'd give myself $1. By the end of the month, I would have anywhere from $20-35 that I would transfer to my savings. And, to top it all off because I'm just a smidge weird about stuff, I'd add a little extra change so it was always a whole dollar amount in the savings account. I've toyed with the idea of instead transferring over the "change" in my checking so checking is the whole dollar amount instead, but so far haven't done that. I've had a lot of success with this method and intend to keep it going. It's another "non-crippling" way for me to save.
This year, though, I've got some big goals I want to start working toward. Now to be honest, there is only so much I can do (I work for the state in the arts, so I make approximately all the money), but I still want to put a structure in place to help myself. Saving really is a weak point for me, so I've decided to treat this like working on my endurance. When I want to improve my physical endurance, I push myself just a smidge further. One more rep (more if I can manage it), one more second, one more lap: they add up. Same with the money. If I add one dollar to whatever I transferred over the previous week, then my "save, not spend" endurance will improve. I worked out a chart to keep me on track because I love checking things off of lists.
Except here's the catch on this one: I don't really like the odd number that I end up with at the end of the year. I like to work toward round numbers and I realized I just needed to find a way to add $22 more. It didn't take me long to figure out that if I added 44 cents to 50 of the weeks, I'd get there with no struggle. 44 cents? I can totally do that! And I still can make a handy check off sheet! This is the one I will be doing!
As I said, these are things that work for me or that I want to try this year. If you want to try them as well, I've provided the charts that I will be using this year (the download link is under the picture of each chart you might want). Please note that I am not a financial expert in ANY way, just someone who likes doing stuff with numbers. And as a numbers fan, I'd love to hear of other ways to save. Please leave me comment if you have a question, another way to save, or you've tried one of these with success (or even if you just want to root me on)! I could use some success stories as I launch into this!