Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It Really Adds Up

One of the most familiar memories to me as a child was the sound of my dad emptying his change from his pockets into the brass dish he kept on his dresser. I didn't realize it then, but many times that spare change was used to buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. Dad had always been careful with his money, but there were times when we just didn't have enough left in the checking account to see us through to pay day. Those were the times the brass dish was emptied.

When he died and Mom came to live with us, I found a large glass jug behind his dresser. It was filled to the top with coins. I guess after my brother and I grew up, the need for the brass dish wasn't as often so he transferred the change to the jug. This jug was what brought my mom hours of joy during the thick of her disease - she counted, sorted and rolled them for weeks.

After Mom's death, I placed the empty jug here on the floor beside my computer desk. I placed coins in it each day. Some days there were a lot, some days not so many. But it is a comforting thought to know there is still some money here should the need arise.

My coin stash was nowhere near what my dad's was, though.

I started keeping a record of my daily spending. It proved very wasteful. I'd spend a few dollars on a coffee or a fast food lunch. I bought gum at the corner gas station or, my favorite, 16 ounces of sweet tea. I love that stuff - sweet tea. Sometimes I wonder if it's got something addictive in it!

Anyway, I realized once I started keeping better tabs on my spending that I was tossing a lot of extra money around. It wasn't much each day - maybe $10 to $12 - but that really does add up by the end of the week.

I'm making an effort to be more like my parents. I now take my lunch to work instead of buying fast food and I brew my own coffee at home. I make my sweet tea and I buy the packages of gum at Wal-mart instead of the single packs at the gas station. By buying the lunch contents at the grocery store, I have saved about $6 a day. Making my own tea has saved almost $2 a day. As a result, I can now pay my jug $8 a day! I figure the cost of homemade lunch products, tea and sugar is costing approximately $2 to $4 each day. If I remain disciplined and continue to pay the difference into my jug, I am saving a minimum of $200 a month!

I encourage all of you to get a small notebook and record your spending for a few weeks. Be honest and record everything. Then get yourself a jug and start paying it. The extra money may just be enough to splurge on something special! If nothing else, it is comforting to know there is some extra money if it is ever needed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It seems our economy really is in a bit of a pickle. My own retirement fund took quite a hit - which is disconcerting. Fortunately, I'm still a good 20 years away from retiring so I have some time to make up some loss.

I know big government is encouraging us to spend, but frankly I just can't bring myself to do so. My confidence in our federal government is shaken. I've begun my own saving plan and will share more about it in another post.

I have also begun to search my memory, as well as the internet, for money saving ideas.

During the winter months, I tend to store some extra pounds. I'm blessed to be small framed, but the older I get, the more my body stores extra fat. I don't get fat so to speak, but my jeans feel tighter. Along with trying to control what I eat, I thought maybe it time to hit the gym - until I saw the prices! My grandmother believed that performing household chores was a much better use of time than spending money on a gym. I think she could be right.

A google search yielded a chart that I find interesting: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_calories_burned_doing_house_work

So by this formula, I can burn off my lunch by shoveling snow for an hour. I guess cleaning horse stalls would yield similar results. I'm going to give this a whirl and see how I feel. We have plenty of snow to shovel and plenty of manure to muck!

Anyone else want to join me?