Over the last handful of years, there’s been a welcome influx of books, sites, programs, and informative articles on how to shift the balance from over-spending to becoming savings savvy. Due to the fact that we’re a consumer-driven society, rampant with invitations for enticing credit card offers and delightful refinancing terms, we often succumb to these offers assuming we’re doing something good for ourselves and our family.
Even the financially wise can sometimes bend to these proposals, given that they may have their eye on a cherished car, or computer or other expensive item that might otherwise be out of reach for quite some time.
The temptation to give in is all around us so when I’m faced with similar scenarios, I tend to let my encouragement come from that of nostalgia to a simpler time. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the 50’s & 60’s era of a far less credit card nation summoned an easier buying process. It was simple:
Forget hunting other avenues of obtaining yet another material object, but instead, taking the practical route, the route that offers financial stability and assurance of knowing you’re living within your means.
There are those emergency situations, however, that I know and respect, in which cases it can feel like a miracle to have a piece of plastic on hand. I would limit emergency situations to;
1. Medical Expenses/Emergency Health
2. Broken down vehicle with no way of around without a repair – needing a way to get home
3. When your shelter or food are at risk and you need to obtain either but have NO other form of payment.
It’s also important to be strict with yourself, otherwise you’ll find you’re not living the principles you think you have about money. When things start to get loose, anything goes, and that’s when we get ourselves into trouble.
I talk about “guardrails” sometimes. Having guardrails in our lives in all kinds of areas, protect us from doing something damaging to ourselves or others. An example of a guardrail when it comes to money, is saying “no” to credit cards. Saying, “I just don’t use them, I’ll save until it’s comfortable for me to spend the money on that ______.”
It’s easy to say, “Ok, Sandra, I’ll just decide that and I’ll no more money issues…ever. Sounds great but what about the debt that I already have?!” So on that note, I’ve found that discovering money to pay down existing credit cards or other debt can be found in the following ways:
- Lowering your car payment(perhaps by refinancing)
- Get a more competitive car insurance rate
- Paying off a credit card to no longer pay a monthly minimum (you’re saving LOADS of money on interest annually by getting rid of just one card)
- Signing up with a utility supplier that saves you money
- Quit smoking (I understand this one’s not as easy, but my husband did and saves about $80/month)
- Cancelling monthly accounts you no longer need (gym memberships not used, a monthly delivery of a beauty or health product that you could do without)
- Saving all spare change into a jar and get your spouse on board (if you are sans spouse, don’t worry, you’ll be surprised at how much cash you collect in no time!)
- Return your cans and bottles (this may seem trivial, but when my husband and I return soda/pop (depending on where you’re from) or water bottles, we come back with $35-$45 EVERY time)
Here’s the best part: take at least 70% of the money you have saved on those monthly items and PAY YOURSELF. Either withdraw the cash on the same day the payment would normally have come out and put it in a jar for savings. Or better yet, transfer the money you would have saved (again, on the same day you would have made the payment, for psychological reasons) directly into your savings account.
Whether or not you have credit card debt, the above list is still a fabulous way to pad your savings.
If you do this, you’re doing two things; freeing up money to use on other things and building your savings account!
Give it a try, it won’t you I promise! Let me know how you do or better yet, share some ideas that work well for you!