Our joyful (yes, joyful) group once again gathered January 4th, this time for continental brunch at Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe in lovely South Buffalo. The chocolate mint sandwich cookies made me glad to be alive.
We discussed a new savings strategy that guest Sandra Wilson heard about, the dollar per week. You save $1 the first week of January, $2 the second week and so on and by the end of December, the last week, you save $52. By doing this you will have saved $1378.00! That’s a great start on an emergency savings, a contribution to your IRA or a vacation account. Probably the best and easiest way to accomplish this saving task is to set the money aside as if it were a bill to be paid.
I even saw a response on Facebook to do it backwards (start with $52 the first week) and then by the holidays you’re only committed to $2 and $1.
If you want some tips on creating a pleasant environment for paying bills or dealing with anything financial, see my post Money “Mise en Place.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tracking your expenditures is NOT the same as budgeting!
Budgeting is proactive; it’s about making conscious choices about how you will spend what you have (and not more) based on your needs, values, and circumstances.
BUT it is important to understand how you are spending your money. There are many methods for tracking spending (notebook paper, notepad in your purse, Microsoft Excel, Mint.com) and several apps to track income and expenses, if that’s your thing (it is not my thing so I cannot testify to their effectiveness).
I think people hate budgeting for two reasons: It requires a lot of thought (which takes time) and it requires discipline (which takes both practice and motivation).
There’s a third obstacle – spouses – that I wrote about in the post I HATE Budgeting: Saving, Spouses and Status. It’s really hard to budget when your spouse or partner isn’t on board, but Sandra Wilson feels that, even if one of them is taking an active role in budgeting it’s better than nothing.
The group discussed many ideas for creating self-imposed limitations so budgeting comes more naturally. These include the seemingly outdated but still useful envelope system, putting sticky notes on each bundle of cash for what that money is reserved for, the Cathy Jo Lang “Dont go to the bank until the next payday” system (I’ve actually used this along with the all-cash shopping strategy with great success) (this is also called the “you don’t have enough cash, so put the pistachios back” strategy).
On a related note, did you know that the word “thrift” is derived from the word “thrive?” Neither did I. Makes sense, though. Tending to your finances and being a good steward of them creates an environment in which you can thrive and feel good about yourself. And then there’s that super fun song:
Many in the group shop at thrift stores regularly, myself included. I feel like I’m on a treasure hunt! And, in a way, I feel it’s environmental because I’m reusing something.