Graphic by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 16, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

30 Day Money Cleanse Day 6: Prioritize Spending

I’ve finished day 6 of the 30 Day Money Cleanse. How about you? If not, now is the time.

Today’s task took me only a few seconds. I guess I was l already pretty aware of where I need to cut spending. All that is required is ranking our spending from most important to least.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 24, 2017.  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

I left out things like rent, groceries, and phone, because there’s nothing to change about those types of things. I mean, I could cut costs on groceries, but that would be backtracking. I need to eat healthier foods, and there are not always sales on fruits, vegetables, and the like. I do the best I can already to balance cost and health.

Also, clothing is at the bottom of my short list. I’m not likely to change what I pay for clothing. I buy stuff affordably, using the Goodwill and Hands of Hope for a good many of the purchases. I’m not worried about my clothing purchases breaking the bank or anything.

Aroma Joe’s is one of my favorite places to be. I go there for a specific purpose. To work on my writing. Yes, I write at work, at home, at the park (you get the picture), but the Aroma Joe’s in my area has a great atmosphere. I can go there, chat for a few minutes with the regulars and the girls behind the counter, and then get to work.Socialization is so important. I don;t want to feel isolated from the world, even though I am quite the loner.

The music, the chatter of the people around me, none of it bothers me. I’m actually my most productive while sipping my tea and having lunch or breakfast there. I don’t want to give any of that up. Not completely. I wont give up my trips to Aroma Joe’s all together, but I can cut back on my spending and the number of times I go.

I’ll set a budget per visit, and use what I save to go toward my retirement savings or a small investment opportunity. During good weather, I’ll make my tea once a week, and go sit in the park to write instead. That day’s savings (minus the cost of a delicious organic mint tea bag) will also go toward saving for my future.

Dinner out or delivered is helpful. Often, I don’t want to be bothered with cooking the day after a 16 hour shift. Sometimes I like to go out to eat with a friend or family member, and other times I eat out while running errands because it’s just easier. And at times I order out for dinner while at work, especially when I haven’t been able to get groceries.

I do incorporate a few ways to save money on the purchases, but I’d be doing better to put the money saved toward investing in some way. For instance, one pizza place offers discounts to front desk workers. I only order from them if I’m working, and save an average of $5.00 each time I order, and they make great salads! Yes, I order salad and not pizza. If I order from them once a month, that’s a $60 savings that could pay a debt or be invested in some way.

Another pizza place rewards customers with points. You can get an order for free if you save your points, and just pay taxes, delivery, and a tip. And EatStreet.com offers a $3.00 coupon after so many orders.

I’m not knocking eating out or getting food delivered; I certainly don’t do these things every single week myself. But this way of eating when in a hurry can be expensive. And I’ve noticed menu prices have gone up at some establishes again, meaning we’ll be spending even more.

Am I saying we need to give up restaurant meals? Not at all. It’s a convenience that seems like a life saver sometimes. I’m just saying we should reconsider what we are spending, and think about  doing so a little less often. Here is my plan:

  1. Order from places where I will get a discount/other reward.
  2. Use the cash incentive I get once a month at work to go toward a lunch out. It isn’t a large incentive, but I can earmark the same amount spent for future savings without missing out on lunch at the best burger joint I know of.
  3. Use my reward points (another work incentive) to get restaurant gift cards, matching half or all the cost to put toward savings.
  4. Order the least costly option I know I’ll like, putting what I save from my total budgeted amount toward savings.
  5. Eat out one or two less times in each two or three-month period, putting that money toward savings.

There are ways. If you have debt, you might choose to put half of every savings toward that and the other half toward savings.

Each of these little moves will get me closer to my overall goals for retirement and personal savings, as well as paying down debt.

NOTE: Right now I’m lucky enough to have the money to do these things. I don’t always. Most off-seasons at work leave me with too little money to enjoy any of this. I’m so grateful that this year is different. Not that I am wasting all the money. Some of it is being used to stock a pantry to prepare for the just-in-case of next winter. To me, this is a sort of investment.

Notice that things I feel are most important on this list are the ones I’ll actually be cutting back on. Crazy, I know.

Question: Have you identified any ways to cut back on your spending? Or maybe to spend more wisely to have a few extra dollars here and there for paying down debt or investing?

Action Steps:

  1. Make your list according to the directions for today. (See the calendar)
  2. Look over the list, noticing where you spend more than is necessary.
  3. Look for ways to cut back.
  4. Make your actual plan for what to do with the savings from your actions. Will you incorporate an envelope system for savings and debt reduction, putting half of each savings into each until the end of the month when you will write that check or deposit the savings? Or both?
  5. Take a look at what you actually expect to save the first year. Is it a good amount? Might investing some of it help you to realize even more toward your retirement goals?

Congratulations on finishing day 6 of the 30 Day Money Cleanse! You are doing great.

I’ll be posting Day 7 tomorrow.

Shannon

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