Saving For the Beginner

Spring has finally arrived here in the midwest. It has been in the 70’s the last couple of days and you know what that means, vacations, beaches, family! And being that we all know that festivities and activities happen most this time of year, why not fine tune your savings! Because there really is no right time, right?! I am happy to share with you some of the simple things we do that has worked well for us. Just bare in mind that it’s not a “one size fits all” so take it with a grain of salt! 🙂


1). Play money: ^^^ That is our “play money” stash. The bills in this stash never exceeds $10.00, so ones, fives, and tens, mainly fives, that’s how we’re able to build the stash, the stakes can’t be that high! 🙂 The rule though is that I never spend fives or ones. So as you can tell, I break A LOT of bills. Which also means that when I do the bulk of my shopping I don’t use small bills. It used to bother me, but I slowly accepted the mentality that that money is coming back to me anyway. In the end, it pays off, because we don’t have to budget money for little things like TIPPING, khi-tes (baci ceremonies for my asian folks), coffee, etc. This is also the stash we use for family activities; chuckeEcheese, ice cream walks, fairs, Hmong New Years, date nights, tickets, admissions, etc. So when we are more broke, we don’t have to eliminate family activities/fun for our son. It definitely gives us a sigh of relief when these little things come up.

2). Envelope system: I’ve done an entire blog about this before so you can check that out. It is by far one of the best methods I’ve ever incorporated into my life. It’s super beneficial for little families with children, granted we only have 1 child but I don’t see how the concept won’t work for families with more children. I have an envelop labeled “Rowyn”. When he was younger it wasn’t that much of a necessity but now that he’s older and is in school it definitely is. This stash goes towards school meals, field trips, fundraisers, supplies, holidays, treats, you name it. Nothing ever comes out of our regular stash. So if you keep filling the envelope, that money will eventually exceed your needs if  you follow the systematic rule.

3). Plan and budget accordingly: I will try to make it short and simple and to the point without writing an entire blog on this. Planning, is the key word because that’s the only realistic way it’s going to work if you don’t have a bulk stash saved aside. First make your goal, whatever it is, vacation/material good/event/party, do the research and figure out the ball park of how much you’ll need. It’s always a good rule of thumb to exceed what you think you may need. Next, figure out how much time you have from now until that point (this is more crucial with events/vacations/partys, less with material goods). And say that time measures up to be 15 months. You are going to take your ball park amount and divide it by 15 months. That is the amount you need to come up with in savings to hit your goal. And now that you have the ground work in place, next is strong WILL. It’s going to take sacrifice and a lot of determination to eliminate accessories out of your life from now until then, but if you want it bad enough, it will happen. **advice** for me, if it’s something like a trip, I will go ahead and purchase my tickets so I know there’s no backing out, and I have no choice but to cut out the accessories.

4). Tips/advice, the details

  • Don’t put your savings/stash into an account where you can’t see it. I know not all may agree with me, but it’s something that works for me. If I can see it, if I can physically count it, it’s going to mean more, and it’s going to be a higher motivator to continue saving and putting away (I’m not referring to retirement money, regular savings etc)
  • Don’t borrow from your stash, 9/10 times, you’re never going to pay it back, so if your vacation money is already stacking up, don’t borrow from it to buy pizza, or pay the cable bill, cut back on something else!
  • Keep track of your spending, excel is a great way to do that, or even pen and paper is just fine. This way, you know exactly where and what to cut back on, and who’s been spending recklessly LOL
  • Use cash, you’re less likely to spend, or purchase something expensive
  • Pay yourself first! (when I was given this advice many years back, I literally spat at it! how unrealistic right, so many bills!) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s why seeing physically cash pays off in this instance. Trust me, once you start seeing that money build up, you won’t want to touch it either
  • ALWAYS make a shopping list so that you don’t go in with 10 and come back out with 20!
    • especially with grocery shopping, make your menu ahead of time (blog to come soon)

There you go, 4 extensive tips from me that I personally use every day. **disclaimer** no this isn’t going to make you rich (obviously, look at me LOL), and this isn’t going to be realistic or workable for everyone, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s a starting point, and it’s a fabulous one from where we’ve started 10 years ago. And though I can honestly say I don’t have a huge emergency savings like a lot of responsible folks out there, but I’m getting there, and at the very least, I have a plan. We all need a plan, and we all need to start somewhere!

Thanks for reading! I’m going to go enjoy this beautiful weather!

– Cyndie –


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