10 January 2010

2010 - A Year of Saving

Getting Started

I have been in the position of not knowing how much money would be coming into our home in a week, or even IF there would be money coming into our home. I have also been in the position of having to juggle bills because of the lack of money. It's not easy, I know. But you can live on a very unreliable income and still pay down debt and build savings. And you can do it while living a really good life.

How much money anyone saves depends not on their income and expenses but on their attitude. Yes, having a good income and minimal expenses will give you a surplus, but that doesn't mean you will save that surplus. You could be living on minimum wage, paying a mortgage and raising a family and be able to save more in a year than your wealthier neighbour. It's your attitude that makes the difference.

If you are trying to save $22,000 on a $35,000 income - that's too big a goal. Break it down. For example:

*aim to cut $20 a week off the grocery bill this month. That will give you $1,040 for the year. Put that $20 straight into a savings account.

*challenge yourself to not buy any takeaway meals or drinks this month. That means no fish'n'chips, pizza, Chinese, no bought lunches or snacks at work or while out. A lot of the families who come to me for help say they don't have takeaway meals, what they are saying is they don't have them five nights a week. They forget about the $24 fish'n'chip dinner they bought one night or the coffee and coke they had at the shops. They all add up. Thats another $1,248 in savings.

*aim to cut your utility costs. I don't mean sit in the dark or suffer the heat without fans. I do mean be sure to turn everything bar your fridge and freezer off at the wall when you have finished using it. That includes the TV, DVD player, set top box, the stereo, microwave, kettle, computers, the washing machine, even your clock radio. Do this faithfully for a month and you will see a decrease in your electricity bill. Think of ways to cut the cost of your gas, water and phone too and the savings soon mount up. A ten percent saving in electricity each month averages $300 a year - add that to your savings.

*Put a moratorium on all unnecessary spending. If it's not necessary to maintain life or pay at least the minimum payments on your debts, it's not necessary. No new clothes (even op shop bargains), shoes, books, toys, DVDs, CDs, magazines, hair cuts, movies etc. If the kids get invited to a birthday party, be creative and make a gift and card from materials and things you already have at home. If you get invited to a special event, renovate an outfil you already have instead of buying a new one. How much do you think you don't need to spend each week? Add another $50 a week to your savings, $2,600 in a year.

So far we've found $5,188 you could be adding to your savings. But unless you do actually bank the money as you find it, it's not saved. It's just not spent. To have $5,000 in savings at the end of the year make sure you actually bank your saved money. I'm putting mine in my money box (see the first post in A Year of Saving), where are you going to put yours?

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