Yep-it is official. Not only do I stink at keeping up with what week we are on, but I am equally as bad at updating on the 52 week challenge each week as well! I apologize!
I must admit that money isn’t my most favorite topic-I actually avoid it often because honestly, despite needing to think about it and to use it wisely, it is not something I like talking about. I mean, face it, money may literally grow on trees, but it doesn’t grow in our pockets as easily or without proper preparation and thought.
So, what are some good steps we can take to save our hard earned money?
First of all: Stop accruing more debt! No more buying things you can’t afford, or honestly, probably don’t even need. No more maxing out credit cards or borrowing money. Now is the time to get in control of your spending.
I must admit, this is a hard one for my husband and me. We often will get so close to being out of debt, and we will get distracted by something we think we want or need, and often, we are back where we started. It is a nasty habit, and one we need to break before we have no way to retire, or nothing left to give to our children. And of course, we want to live in a house someday-so getting out of debt is one of the first steps to take to reach that goal as well.
Secondly: Stop spending. Now, this goes along with number one, but it is so much more than that. In a world/country full of credit cards, financing options, and loan companies promising low rates or 0% apr, it can be hard to quit shopping. It can be so deceiving to get such a great offer in the mail to find out later (when 12 months is up) that 0% is 23% which is what most store credit cards and new credit card offers are starting the Variable interest rates at currently. Credit cards make spending easy because you think you aren’t really spending the money now, when honestly, you are, and often much more once you pay the interest. The best step to take is to cut down spending, or cut the cards altogether.
*DO NOT Cancel your cards-that can hurt your credit, something they don’t tell you when you open up your line of credit. Simply cut your cards, or your spending, and eventually the account will close itself without affecting your credit monumentally, or ou will have the cards available for when an emergency arises. (and I am NOT referring to that awesome flash sale or a truck sitting in a driveway for sale ;p)
Thirdly: Spend your money on what’s necessary like grocery, utility bills, gas etc…( cable TV is not one of them) Make an adjustment. Look at your monthly spending and cut back on some things. Like stop eating out, print out coupons from the internet before going to grocery shopping, window shop instead of splurging .(that last one is like smelling chocolate instead of eating the whole candy bar-but will truly benefit in the long run) You will be surprise how much you can save monthly if watch your self closely.
Fourthly: Establish an Emergency fund. So, it can be argued that this should be done before paying off debt-but it is extremely hard to form an emergency fund when you are paying off a large amount of debt. Instead, I recommend doing BOTH. It is super easy to have your pay roll automatically take out five-six percent per paycheck and deposit it into your savings, or pull out a specified amount each week and put it to savings and still make payments to each debt you are working to pay off. It is doable. If you can’t come up with your own creative way of doing it, the 52 week challenge could be just what you need to get at least a small amount of money in the bank.
Make sure you use a separate account for savings so you aren’t tempted to spend it instead of save it and keep in mind the ideal emergency fund will have about six months of monthly living expenses saved in it-this can take years-so don’t stress if you feel it isn’t happening fast enough. You will get there!
Fifth: Take control of your debt. Below I will list some easy steps you can take to do so-remember-you’re debt belongs to you, but it does not define you.
- Sit down and write down just what you owe and for what. Be specific. While you’re at it, be sure to list how much the minimum payment of each debt is.
- Put them in order from lowest balance to highest balance. Also keep in mind interest rates.
- Set aside a specific amount of money designated to paying off debt.
- Take a look at all of your debts and pay the minimum payment to each of your debts except to the smallest debt.
- Every single penny you have left over-put towards your smallest debt. It may seem backwards, but paying off the smaller debts frees up more money to pay the larger debts and also gives a feeling of satisfaction when it gets fully paid off. (that feeling will keep you going)
Although not all of these feel like they are directly related to saving, they are. The less we spend and the less debt we create and/or have, the more money we will have available to save.
We save for many reasons. We may save for a special purchase, special outings or dates, vacations, emergency funds, to buy a house and/or car, or for retirement. We all have our reasons. Some are more “important’ than others, but it is all up to us why we save.
My goal is to save for a house and for an emergency fund, then eventually retirement. These are my own personal reasons.
What are yours? Do you have a special trip you want to take? Or something you want to buy? Share below-I would love to hear your thoughts.
As a reminder, this week we are on week 15. So when your paycheck comes, $15 should be added to your account. The total saved so far will be $120.
Are you up to date? How are you doing at keeping up and keeping track?
Do you have any great ideas on how to make this work, or do you use this with your kids?
Leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
Keep Saving and God Bless!