In case you haven’t noticed, I talk about saving… a lot!
I LOVE saving money on everything from groceries and gas to our vehicles and house. Saving is just in my blood… if you knew my parents, you would agree!
I love saving our money, partially because it’s a game for me (not that I’m competitive or anything), but also because we pay for everything we purchase in full (besides our house) so in order to do home renovations, go on vacation, or buy a new vehicle, we need to save.
And even though I love saving just because, I also realize that it’s a lot easier to save if I have a specific purpose in mind — something to work towards and use as an incentive.
Here are a few specific savings goals we have/had:
- To pay for our many house renovations
- To buy a new lawn tractor (we just purchased this 3 weeks ago)
- To pay off student loans and pay for Dave’s Master’s degree (we’re finished with this… hallelujah!)
- To fully-fund our retirement accounts (we try to do this every year)
- To pay down our mortgage (we’re hoping to have it paid off before Nora is in school)
- To send our kids to a Christian school (hence the reason we want to have our mortgage paid off!)
- To have several months of living expenses on hand in case of an emergency
- To go on vacation (we’ll be gone for a week this summer for Dave’s brother’s wedding)
- To expand and improve my website (there are a few new updates coming out soon!)
- To give more to church/school/charity/etc.
How we save:
We don’t have an elaborate or fancy way of saving for our different savings goals… but our curent methods have worked for us since we were married (almost 6 years ago).
So while I expect that many of you do things MUCH differently than we do, here are a few of the concepts that have helped to simplify the saving process… and have helped us to save more.
We use direct deposit.
Whenever possible, we have our paychecks directly deposited into specific bank accounts. Direct deposit not only saves us a bunch of time by running to the bank every few days, it also reduces the risk that we might not deposit all of the money into the account (and pull some out as spending money instead).
We use the direct deposit features to split up our pay checks and put 50% into our checking account and 50% into our savings account… which obviously makes it really easy to continue growing our savings account.
We don’t use ATM or Debit cards.
Yes, I realize this contradicts the advice from many other money-saving gurus, but it works for us. We use one credit card to pay for EVERYTHING we buy each month (gas, groceries, utilities, car insurance, home insurance, baby items, etc.) We are both extremely disciplined and I’m confident that we don’t spend any more money than if we paid with cash.
Not only does using a credit card save us time and the hassle of always carrying cash, it also allows us to accumulate points that transfer into cash back AND 20% off our entire grocery bill at Meijer (where I do all my grocery shopping). I usually get one 20% off coupon each month — which transfers to a significant savings in our grocery budget!
However, the MAIN reason we don’t use ATM cards is because that forces us to actually go into the bank and physically withdraw cash if we need it for something (garage sales, craigslist, small purchase, etc.) I absolutely hate withdrawing money from our bank account… and as weird as it might sound, not using an ATM card has prevented me from withdrawing money on more than one occasion.
And just for the record, we do have an ATM card in case we ever needed it, but it’s in our fireproof safe and neither one of us has ever used it!
We automate our savings.
Saving isn’t necessarily the most glamorous or fun thing to to do with our hard-earned income… but in order to pay for the things we’re saving up for, it’s kind of necessary! To make saving a little less “painful”, Dave and I decided to automate as much as we possibly could.
For example, we decided that we wanted to fully-fund each of our retirements accounts every year ($5000 per person, per year). So we divided $10,000 by 12 months ($833 — or about $416 per person) and we have that amount automatically withdrawn from our checking account on the first of every month. That money is invested into different funds (by a professional) and we don’t need to think or worry about it.
We also decided that we wanted to pay off our mortgage by the time our first child started school, so we roughly figured out how much we would need to pay on a monthly basis and we have that amount automatically transfered to our mortgage account every month. Again, we don’t even need to think about it… and we also don’t have the opportunity to “change our minds” or make a smaller payment. Of course, we can call the bank at any time and have them change the amount, but that’s a lot more work!
We question every purchase.
Obviously, when it comes to big purchase like a home, a vehicle, furniture, appliances, etc. we do our research ahead of time and shop around until we find the item we want for a price we’re willing to pay. Sometimes, we find that item in a few days, other time it takes months and months of searching… but we’ve saved SO much money by just being patient.
Also, whenever we do find the thing we’re looking to buy, we always give the other person a chance to “say no”.
For example, when we purchased our “new-to-us” vehicle two weeks ago, I looked at it before Dave got home and I told him how much I liked it. I explained that it was in our price range and that after shopping Craigslist and many local dealerships, I felt like this was pretty much the best deal we could find for the car we wanted. However, I also told him that if he didn’t think it was “the car”, that he could say no. Both of us had to be in agreement before we were willing to part with our money!
Now, obviously, we don’t get each other’s opinions on small purchases like groceries or gas, but we’ve definitely saved money by questioning our purchases and waiting until we both agree.
We constantly revisit our savings goals.
I know I talk a lot about setting goals (and writing them down) — but that’s because I’ve seen the power of written goals in my own life time and time again.
When it comes to saving, Dave and I have all sorts of goals (many of them are listed above). However, if we don’t constantly keep those goals in front of us, it’s really easy to lose sight of them and start spending our money on anything we please.
And because spending money is so easy to do, we’ve tried very hard to consistently talk about our savings goals (the new kitchen, our lawn tractor, paying off our mortgage, etc). Not only does this make it easier to continue saving, it also assures that we are both on the same page with our savings goals.
Things you might save for:
- Birthday / anniversary party
- College tuition
- An upcoming wedding
- A new baby
- A car/boat/SUV/truck/or other vehicle
- A house/condo
- Home renovations / updates
- To fund your retirement account
- For an upcoming vacation
- A new computer/phone/or other piece of technology
- New appliances / furnace /air conditioner
- Christmas presents
- Funeral expenses
- To give to needy organizations
So to make it really simple, you’ll first want to decide WHAT you want to save for; then come up with a plan for HOW you will save the money you need; and finally, make sure you consistently REVISIT your savings goals and any progress you’ve made.
Saving money might not be the most fun thing you could do with your money, but I guarantee your efforts will pay off in the end (literally!)