While working in a restaurant, I met a woman who is down on her luck. She is not homeless per se; instead, she has a fixed income that pays her just enough to rent a room, which she shares in a house with nine other people who all share one bathroom. Recently, she asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her since her SSI check came in, and she could actually afford to eat. I know she’s hard pressed for someone to talk to, so, needless to say, I met with her, bought her lunch, and gave her a bag that contained some unused toothpaste and soap that I had stashed under my bathroom sink. We really enjoyed our time talking to one another, and she appreciated not being treated like a nuisance or a beggar.
The interaction made me think about the ways I spend and think about money. Almost on a daily basis, I worry about my financial situation, either current or future. One of my jobs cut my hours, and the other altered my job description, so I made the decision to get a third job. In the meantime, I realized that I have more money than I think I do, so I came up with a way to save money a little bit at a time.
I have heard of using an “envelope system” to help with budgeting, but I’m not a natural-born budgeter, so I adapted the envelope idea into something I knew I could manage. Maybe you could give it a try too.
1) Get yourself a plain, white envelope.
2) Pause before making a stupid or superfluous expenditure. For example, when you go to Target just to pick up mascara and batteries, don’t allow yourself end up in line with a cart full of $100 worth of crap you know you don’t need.
3) If the expense is not necessary, pay yourself instead! So, instead of paying $5.00 for a venti triple, non-fat, 2-pump, extra hot vanilla latte, make coffee at home, and put $5.00 in your envelope. If you don’t carry cash, keep track of the money you would have spent, and take it out of your paycheck or an ATM.
4) At the end of a week, two weeks, a month, you will have an envelope full of cash! Now you just have to decide what to do with it.
Do whatever you want with the money! Take a glassblowing class; go skydiving; pay a bill; get a mani/pedi. But maybe, just maybe we should consider putting the money toward a person or organization that needs it more than we do. Use it to buy dog toys for the SPCA or dollar-store toiletries for a women’s shelter. You were going to spend it on crap you don’t need anyway, right?
Have a great week, and enjoy opening that envelope next Monday!
Leave a comment telling us how much you saved and what you spent it on.