Monday, March 09, 2015

Widen the Gap: Saving Even When Money Is Tight

As we work to become debt-free, one of my goals is to widen the gap between us and debt. We can do that by breaking the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. 

In the past, I have thrown all extra money towards debt rather than creating a buffer for emergencies. In doing so, when an emergency or unexpected expense comes along we fall into the trap of using credit. That must change, obviously.

It is my goal to save something every week - even if it's only $5 - to get into the habit of saving. Slowly, but surely the amount will increase if we leave it alone.

I was thinking of ways we could build our savings. 

~ I could round up the amounts spent when I figure the checkbook so a cushion builds up there. My mother-in-law did that and always told her husband there was no money to spend. At the time of her death, she had a few thousand dollars in the bank. 

~ Continue saving change in a large jar. It has never reached the full mark, so I'm anxious to see how much that baby holds!

~ Do the 52 week challenge. First week, save $1. Second week, save $2. The most you are putting aside is $52 in a week but at the end of that time I could have over $1,300!

~ Whatever money is saved using coupons, deposit the same amount into savings.

~ Save any rebates received. I just earned $5 from Lowe's when I bought paint in January.

~ Continue using SavingStar and allow that money to build up and transfer into savings periodically.

~ Take advantage of Christmas Club account. My banks won't allow you to touch that money until November, then I can transfer it to our savings.

~ But what about Christmas? Step up my use of Swagbucks to earn points to redeem for gifts cards for online retailers like Amazon or even PayPal and use those for my Christmas spending instead. If you would like to try Swagbucks, sign up under me at this referral link and you'll get 150 points right off the bat. 

~ Save leftover money. Any money left in our checking can be transferred into savings each pay period. 

~ Figure low for Alfred's paychecks and save the excess.

~ Sell stuff with the money being split between savings, debt, and immediate needs.

My goal is to have at least $1,000 saved for emergencies by the end of the year.

Rather than looking at the overall goal and getting overwhelmed, I am setting mini goals and celebrate reaching each milestone. 

Goal 1: Save $100
Goal 2 : Save one day (8 hours minimum) of Alfred's gross wages
Goal 3: Save 20 hours of Alfred's gross wages
Goal 4: Save 30 hours of Alfred's gross wages
Goal 5: Save 40 hours of Alfred's gross wages

I'm beginning to think in possibilities. Any amount saved, no matter how small, is progress and is still better than nothing at all.  


Rhonda said...

Hi Tracy,
At the end of a pay period, if I have any left from my cash spending, I put the $1s in a small bank where I keep the found washing machine money. I put any bigger bills in another envelope to save for surprises or oops.
Some periods I have a good bit and some I dont.

I'm also getting all my swagbucks in Amazon GCs and saving them for Christmas, are you running any of the auto run apps like swags tv on your phone?

Tracy Lee said...

Good idea, Rhonda! Do you have to download anything to your phone in order to run SB tv? My phone doesn't have much storage.

Mrs. Miano said...

These are all great ideas! One huge thing that really helped me a few years back was to think in terms of my husbands life hours....I know it sounds corny but he is trading his life hours for an hourly wadge. It has helped our whole household to think in the terms...." This item costs 3 (or however many) hours of Dad's life." These are hours that can NOT be gotten the item had better be worth it!! LOL! I never made much at can take a lot of time!

Theresa F said...

Great post. I like Mrs.Miano's comment as well.

Terri Cheney said...

Mrs. Miano, I've thought in terms of work hours but never "life hours". Now that IS powerful thinking!

Tracy, I've been getting my swagbucks and surveyfunds in PayPal which is linked to my personal savings account. I've averaged $40-$50 deposit the past two months which isn't too shabby. That's about $600 at the end of the year if I keep on.

Tracy Lee said...

Thank you, Theresa!

Mrs. Miano - I really don't spend much since I've really begun to minimize possessions. I am much more particular and mindful about what is being spent. But it is a good idea to think in life hours.

Terri - These last few months I have not done much with Swagbucks. I just try to catch the codes. $40-50/month is pretty good!

Scrappy quilter said...

Some great ideas here. Our bank automatically rounds to the next dollar any money that is spent on our account. It adds up really quickly.

Patricia @ Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

I do like these ideas...
i've tried a few of them here.
It seems, that we never get the ER Fund... on solid ground before a true emergency pops up. When that happens, it's hard to get good traction again.
best of luck to you.
I also like the phrase "life hours" . That is another way of factoring our spending -- I try and balance it all out. But haven't actually called it that.
I Need to check out the swagbucks auto Rhonda suggests. ;)

Jess said...

Those are some good ideas. I've never tried SwagBucks, I've hear mixed reviews on it, but I think I'll look into it.

living from glory to glory said...

Hello, We just need to keep plugging along, but as you said we do need a buffer of some savings!
If you give, it also creates a place for God to give you a return on your giving! I am not sure if you know of this concept; God is a God of increase!
I hope this blesses you and no condemnation intended! We have gotten out of debt at least 4 times in our lives, but we always pray and then buy the next major thing we need or want!
Blessings, Roxy

Leslie Lim said...

Thank you for the words of support on the post. I appreciate it.
Keep up the great work & happy blogging!