I was thinking about saving money these days and the reason why I think it is so hard for most people. One reason is, of course, media and advertisements that have everyone thinking that we have to have the next best thing that comes out. But there is something else that plays a big part in our inability to save money: I believe that we all think too large these days.
Back when I was a kid there was a saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” We picked up pennies with joy because we could get two pieces of candy for a penny. I know that the penny does not mean anything anymore, and there are even discussions about doing away with the penny. The day that happens I will be heartbroken! It may sound silly, but I grew up in a time when there was still a lot of value to the penny. This, I believe, is where our downfall starts.
Start Saving Now – No Matter How Little You Have
We think that if we do not have $100 or more to put in savings that it is not worth putting in anything. But just like the piggy banks I had as a kid filled up in just a few months with pennies, our bank accounts could look a whole lot better over a few months if we just put even $20 in for every paycheck. How about we change the slogan to, “A dollar saved is a dollar earned”? To many of us, that is also too small a denomination to matter. I say we should give it a try.
Open More Than One Bank Account
Something else I have found that is very helpful in saving money is to have several different accounts instead of just one. Consider having a main account that bills come out of, a grocery and petty cash account, and a couple of different savings accounts – one for emergencies, one for future plans like vacations, and I even have one for when something comes up with the kids every week. This account covers anythingthat comes up at school or in extracurricular activities, or if the kids want to go to the movies with their friends.
Keep Things Separated
Keeping things separated helps you see where your money is going, and if you set monies back in other accounts it sometimes keeps you from spending it willy-nilly. It has certainly helped in our family. We have our accounts online where we can see the balances and where we are able to move the monies around easily. Sometimes when there is extra money in an account and you see the money it makes you want to buy something or spend money that you should not be spending, which certainly does not lend itself to saving money.
Plan Your Meals Before You Grocery Shop
Setting a budget for food and coming up with weekly menus for family meals and lunches is also something that has helped my family. We would often go into the store with a list of things we absolutely needed at home but not a clue of what meals we were going to make that week. As we wandered aimlessly around the store we would see something and think maybe we should pick that up because we could make (fill in the blank) with it. When you start picking up ingredients that you can remember out of your head for recipes without any real clue of what you need it can really add up. Having a menu of the week’s meals and going shopping in your own pantry and refrigerator prior to going to the grocery store will cut down greatly on what you purchase.
Bring Your Own Lunch
Making lunches instead of buying them just a couple times a week can help you save money as well. Handing out money to spouses and children for this and that can get expensive. This is especially true for those of us that have older children who are not quite old enough to take care of themselves but old enough to want cash for things. Even adults often spend money too freely, so it is important to sit down and talk about what you are handing out instead of just doling out cash.
Evaluate Your Use of Water And Power
Our family has really gotten crazy with the electricity and water, and I say this very cautiouslybecause I feel like my dad. “Do you think I own the electric company?” This runs over and over again in my head as I talk to my kids about it. But if I take the time to actually notice, we all take long hot showers, deep baths or leave the sprinklers on for far too long. That goes for the electricity as well. The other night I was watching something on the television when it stopped playing because it said too many things were being recorded in our home! I was dumbfounded; when I was a kid we had one television and it was black and white with only three channels.
We have an older house that needs some electrical work done. Every now and then the power to the house pops off because it is overloaded. Scary, but true. Yes, we will get it fixed, but it is also a good reminder of just how much electricity is being used! As we all go groping around in the dark bumping into each other looking for the flashlight we realize that some things need to be shut off. I know many of you will be shocked by my admitting this, but some of you know what I am talking about. We often get so busy we do not recognize or realize what is going on in our own homes.
These are just very simple solutions to saving money. It’s all just common sense, but they’re things I believe are getting overlooked today because our lives are just too hectic sometimes. The biggest thing I see is that we do not think doing small things is beneficial. But I believe that if we save a little here and a little there without changing our lifestyles in extreme ways it will benefit us in ways we could not foresee. Take a few minutes and figure out where you can do some minor tweaking in your finances. Start right away and see what happens.
About The Author
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.