Vastly because I am bored this evening and thus am looking for something interesting to deal with, I decided to write about budgeting and saving again.
While I am an experienced saver, I had not been for some years and the possibility of financial hardship in future and having a chequing account with almost $0 in it (mostly due to home-ownership), you know I have been trying to change things a little bit.
Read a lot, tried and liked some of the strategies about budgeting and saving.
Here they are:
1. Expense freezes: Stop purchasing items or services of your selection for a short and defined period of time. Short period are important as in my case at least, it tells me that this is not a total deprivation; I know for example I will start buying books again (I have one more month left out of two months freeze). It does not hurt when I have such a mental attitude (and freedom).
2. Change the items/services for the expense freeze activity periodically: After one freeze can come another one; rotate the things/services so that you will never feel deprived of any of the many items and services you like.
So, after books, what will be my new freeze item? I am thinking about not buying spice or tea for 2 months. I love spices and teas; but I already have so many of them at home and teas at the office; so why do I need to purchase new ones? Maybe the only one I can buy is the savoury; this spice has something very much appealing to me.
3. Take an inventory of items: That I find is a very surprising activity. I have not checked or emptied my pantry for sometime. I am sure when I go in it, I will find many stuff that I do not regularly use, currently possess, but nevertheless forgot. Many of the spice jars (some may need to be dumped as they go bad after a while) or tea bags I know I have are good examples. I know I have some canned food which I have not eaten for some time; is it not a waste not to eat something already available?
Just last week I noticed how many rolls of toilet paper and paper towel I have stocked up. I am not going to buy paper towel until I have 6 rolls left (it can take upto a year to come to that point). I can buy toilet papers only when they are on sale . Otherwise I am good for another year.
When I look for other parts of my house, I am sure I will find other items/goods I have forgotten I have. I have a facial mask somewhere, which I loved using….Time to find it.
4. Re-use if you can: I am sure we all do that somehow, but good to remind ourselves time to time.
I used to use cleaning clothes in the kitchen, which I would replace every two weeks. I realized I can actually wash them up and extend their usage. The books now I am reading, which I have bought years ago, are other examples. Or the shopping bags I use to protect the small garbage cans (rather than buying garbage bags). The list can be really long.
5. Forego the comfortable alternative time to time: I was writing a shopping list last week and I noticed that I would like to purchase wet mops to clean the floors. I am happy with them; they are practical, doing decent work, and when done go to the garbage easily. I will try whether I can clean the floors with other stuff, like paper towels or old clothes. Just for some time.
The most important one for me is of course taking the bus rather than the (comfortable) cab 🙂
6. Give yourself rewards: I cannot tell how good that feels. I am not talking about having big rewards, but eating out a couple of times a week, buying a hand lotion with a lovely scent, or trying new types of flossers that make flossing just a pleasant activity are among the rewards I have given myself lately.
7. Design a budget for yourself and track it weekly (and then monthly and annually): I have calculated my annual income as well as fixed and variable expenses (an approximate) lately using Excel. I have a much better idea about what I can do, what I can change, and what I cannot. I also have an idea about how much I can save (both the maximum and a less, more realistic number). An unexpected positive outcome of this budget sheet was the realization of how well I was doing in some categories; for example the % of my retirement investments are above good. So even though I have little cash in my chequing account, I am not totally disadvantaged.
Short-term assessment of my budget, such as for a week, works wonders for me. I not only control my spending better (now that I have a motivation to see the progress in a week) but also see the general spending pattern I have; how much I spend for grocery? Cleaning products? Transportation? Dining out? Extras? How do I feel about all of these? Can I let go some of them? Should I include some more?
8. And the magic!: If there is a magic to saving and budgeting, it is to have the motivation. My motivation to save (more) came from home-ownership and serious repairs. I did not want to have a worse level of financial hardship in the future, so to help prevent it I am saving now. That is my motivation. What is yours? What are yours? Keeping a focus on the end-product can help you keep motivated.
9. And the extra magic!: Be grateful for all efforts you put into your budget and savings; the articles and blogs you have read; the funds you have saved; and your determination to keep going even though unexpected expenses occurred or you slipped off your track and thus your budget or savings do not seem to be working for you and you feel maybe disappointed with yourself or the process. It is important to recognize your interest, motivation, and effort no matter how the finances turn out. Be proud.
There; now that I have written those, I already feel better 🙂
Good night everyone.