Brian Traverso, ChFC, AIF, CPFA, AWMA, EA
Most people know they need to save but don't know where to start. You might have the need for an emergency fund and don’t have the funds to start one up. Perhaps, there is a vacation you want to book or a large purchase coming up. Do you want to save for your child’s college tuition? Maybe you got a late start on retirement savings. One easy way to start saving is to trick yourself into viewing saving as "not spending." The money that you would otherwise spend on a given day becomes savings. It’s these mental tricks or exercises that can boost your progress on your financial goals.
The idea isn’t to limit enjoyment, but to creatively engage and find enjoyment without spending.
I challenge you to choose one day of the week where you don't spend any money. That’s right, zero dollars for 24 hours! No morning (or afternoon) coffee, no fast food lunch, snacks, happy hour, or dinner…Spendless. You get the idea. Pack your lunch the night before and prepare to make your own coffee before heading to work.
The goal of this is to foster wise spending habits as you will be forced to plan ahead to avoid spending anything. Additionally, you might even eat healthier food on your spendless day, adding another benefit as you avoid any spending that isn’t necessary. Often times, simply paying more attention to where your money goes each day can be a huge eye-opener and a reason to reevaluate spending habits.
Once this routine becomes second nature, add more spendless days to your week and set the savings aside as you go. Realistically, if you can get to 3 days, I would consider that an accomplishment. Soon, you will realize how easy it can be to increase your savings balance. It’s quite possible you may not even miss the things you were spending your money on before.
How much will you save by not spending? If you track your spending each month, it might be easy to determine how much you spend in any given day. That may not be the case with everyone. If you don't track your spending, roughly estimate how much you might otherwise spend. Be honest with yourself, this is for your own benefit! $3 for coffee, $11 for lunch, $4 afternoon coffee, $20 dinner comes to $38. (Of course this will be different for everyone depending on different spending habits.) While any given purchase during the day may not appear to be significant, at three times a week or more, those dollars will add up.
If you don't know how or where to save, your day to day spending is a great place to start. As you start with your weekly spendless days, consider the trips you make to stores like Target or Costco. Or late night Amazon browsing. What might be keeping you from reaching your financial goals?
So, what do you do with the money saved by not spending? One suggestion is to at the end of the day, transfer the money saved to your savings account. This will serve as the finale to your victory. If you prefer more of an automatic process, set up a weekly transfer to occur on your spendless day. This is definitely the fun part! Watching your savings grow is great motivation!
BOLT clients are provided with access to an online Portal that has a spending tracker built in. (The Portal is amazing and does so many other things as well!) This helps us identify in your budget for additional savings. Our advisers are always available to help you assess your budget and help you maximize your cash flow. Remember, the idea isn’t to limit enjoyment, but to creatively engage your finances and find enjoyment without spending, while at the same time furthering your financial goals.