My friend Mrs. Mother Dirt ask me for some ideas on starting a saving account with little money. We both know many people out there that look at a dollar or ten dollars and think, “eh, what does that count?” And then they go buy a latte. I know people who don’t even consider the loose change to matter. I see pennies being thrown away because they add up to “nothing”. Nothing?! Really? Let’s do some basic math. 100 pennies make a dollar. 100 dollars pay at least two utility bills (at least in my house). 100 ten dollar bills pay the rent or half of it depending on where you live.
When you go into a frugal lifestyle out of choice or survival, it takes some time to see the payoff and that is what gets people so frustrated and then they go back to that other lifestyle of living beyond their means. This is dangerous and will only build a life of suffering and later be needing blood pressure medication.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Here are a few things my family has done to get in a great place financially and finally save enough to buy a fixer-upper and have the money to actually fix it up without taking out another loan.
When I was pregnant we put all my paychecks into savings and lived off Bali’s salary. This built up a savings fast so that when I quit work to stay home with the bambino we had that emergency fund.
Every year we get a nice sized tax refund and it is automatically deposited into savings.
Our saving account is in a separate bank down the street and we never even look that way.
I have opened a “household” savings account linked to our checking account. This is where we save all those $1, $10, and $20’s. It has added up to over a thousand dollars quickly and I just used it recently to pay for the appraisal of our house and the whole house inspection along with the insect and dry rot inspection. That was all just from saving that extra $5 and $10 after bills and rent were paid. This little household savings account is great for the “unexpected”.
I have a big jug in the house that I save every penny and bit of loose change I find on the floor, in the couch, in the car, wallets, dresser top. Every few months I take it to the Coin Star at FoodMaxx and I wind up with $40 or more. I use this to buy all the supplies for a birthday party including the gifts, ingredients for cake, card…or we use it to go to the movies ( a huge and expensive luxury), or 5 days worth of groceries.
70 years ago people lived very differently. Movies were a big deal, traveling was once a year, families had one car for the whole family. Everything was saved and recycled and reused. Now we are so consumer driven and used to instant pleasure and that is why most Americans are in huge debt and “one paycheck away from being homeless”. I have worked at the local soup kitchen and I can tell you that not all those homeless people are that way due to mental issues and drugs and booze. Some are families that fell on hard times and now they are living on the river. Time to get real people. Especially if you have a family.
These are changing times and with politics and the environment, we need to change our ways fast. A frugal way of living is environmentally conscious and the sane way to live. It is sustainable and family focused. Being frugal is a way of life that has huge pays offs. Don’t scoff at it or take it lightly. Anyone can live frugally and have a great life even on a hardcore fixed income. I’ve done it. We still live on one small income and we live better than the average person. We have delightful, cozy, charming homes, tons of toys, nice clothes, organic food, pets, a road trip now and then.
And it’s all because I’m a penny pincher extraordinaire. I water down dish soap, I reuse coffee filters, I use wash clothes for dish rags instead of waste money on sponges. I turn it all into a game. How little can I spend on groceries, how can I get the cheapest internet, how small can I get my cable. I hate cable by the way but we must have PBS. Most places get the best reception and a good HDTV antenna will do just fine. All my books are from the library, I publish my books for free, I walk a lot with my kids to make that tank of gas last a month or more. It’s not because I’m poor and have to. I choose to be like this so I have that extra money to buy large dreams such as a home, to have plenty in savings for all kinds of situations and emergencies be it a broken sink or car repairs. I do it so there is no stress in our lives even if my bread earning husband loses his job.
My husband has lost a job before and we didn’t freak out because we had enough in savings to live for a whole year. We had tiny bills, small rent, no debt or plastic cards. We had the one car paid off. We can live off very, very little. We can sleep at night.
I’m working on yet another frugal homemaking book that will be loaded with every bit of advice on saving, getting out of debt, going frugal, urban farming, and living on the cheap. It’s called The Homemade Housewife. It might even be out there by the time this post.
I write these books to teach all that great grandma advice that is going to help families live better, greener, happier lives and have great benefits to our Mother Earth and send a message to all those cronies in Washington. We don’t have to live this madness anymore. Withdraw from the insanity and go forth creating a wonderful life for yourself and your family. Let’s go back to the old days when life was simpler and credit cards didn’t even exist. Let’s go back to pinching pennies, saving those plastic bags and rubber bands (maybe not so much), let’s go back to one car per family and living locally so we can walk to work, to shop, to play right there in our town.
It all starts with you and you and you….