A tray full of food

Yes You Can Save


How’s your health? Not your physical fitness, but your financial well-being. For most of us, how much we earn tells us how we’re “feeling” financially. But your income is only one part of the equation. How much of your income do you actually keep? Not very much, I’ll bet. Your income is low, you say; you’ve got bills to pay. Gas prices are sky-high, grocery costs are through the roof—who can possibly save?

A tray full of food, with Saving and Cash

My answer: You can. Here are simple things you can do today to get going:

SELL OUT. Go through every cupboard, closet and drawer. If you aren’t using it regularly, get rid of it on eBay or have the mother of all yard sales. A typical sale could raise $500 or more when you start to unload your white elephants. There! You’ve cleaned out the house and you’ve got a pile of cash to show for it.

GIVE IT UP. I’ve said it a hundred times already and here it is again: You’ve got to say goodbye to that little vice (fancy coffee drinks, cigarettes, candy bars, bottled water). It can really add up—saving $5 a day gives you $1,825 a year.

BANK THE RAISE. The next time you get a raise (or a bonus), save at least half. Let’s say that raise improves your monthly take-home by $200. If you save half at even 1 percent interest and do that for the next 10 years, that money you didn’t miss (because you never saw it) will grow into $12,725.

SAVE THE PAYMENT. When you pay off something big like a car loan, take the amount you were paying every month and add it to your savings instead. A $330 monthly payment to yourself over five years at 6 percent turns into $23,470—enough to buy your next car for cash.

DO SOMETHING MAJOR. Once you catch the savings bug, do something grand. Get rid of one car if you can. Or move to a cheaper area. A big change could send your savings to the moon. Here’s the thing about saving: At first it’s going to feel like a hardship (like dieting, all you can think about is what you can’t have). During my worst years, when I was spending with reckless abandon and racking up debt, I would have told you with all sincerity that we didn’t have enough money to save. But once I jumped into saving (just a few dollars at first), something amazing happened: I began to feel a new sense of self-worth, dignity and calm. The more I saved, the better it felt. This will happen to you, too. And as you watch your balance grow, prepare for a surprise—saving will become addictive. Try it. See if it doesn’t become habit-forming.

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8 replies
  1. GaelicWench says:

    Back in March I read about the 52 Week Challenge, which I thought was the cat’s patootie to save money. It was “too late” for me to start, plus I had just lost my job.

    Fast forward to September and much has been going on. I am a full-time student going to a technical college and getting education assistance from the VA, as I am a veteran from a by-gone era. The money pays for my tuition and school supplies, plus living expenses. I also have a little left over afterwards, so i decided to start the Challenge right away instead of waiting for the first of the year.

    So far, so good. I’ve automated my savings so that each week an amount matching the week that we’re in goes into my savings account. As long as I don’t touch my savings, by the end of the 52nd week I should have over $1300 before interest. Not too bad for a year’s worth. Once I am re-employed, I’d like to double it. I am hoping to work in a military or VA hospital and invest in the military’s TSP savings program.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Jo in KS says:

    Some time ago Mary (or someone else via her newsletter) shared the idea of saving one dollar bills. Until that time I did not realize that each bill has a letter of the alphabet on the left hand side. I took the suggestion to heart (and in fact went a bid overboard) and began saving ‘E’s toward gifts for our granddaughters, ‘J’s (first letter of my first name) for something for me or possibly a item I’m dreaming about. Anyway, once I have 50 of a certain letter I go to the bank and get a $50 bill and tuck it away. It is amazing, I don’t miss one bill at a time as I save and once I have that 50 I’m VERY selective about how it gets spent. It’s the little things, such as one bill at a time, that keeps me on track.

    • Sunny says:

      Sorry to hear about you losing your jobs, but this is the MAJOR time to save. From experience every penny counts. Money doesn’t go in to normal savings, but to be saved in an account for immediate needs. Spend on nothing that is not a need. Try to do all you can that does not require money, fix things yourself and barter heavily. Make a really tight budget and stick to it.

  3. Betty Thomas says:

    Saving feels wonderful and I find you get more aggressive as your savings grow. My grandpa always told us to “pay yourself first.” It works!

  4. Rich says:

    I do not understand this bias against bottled water. I buy it when it is on sale around $3.50 or so for 32 or more per case. Even thogh I am charged 10 cents recycle fee per bottle, that is returned when I recycle empties. I always have at least half a case in the car when I go traveling so I do not have to buy it on the road. At home, I use a refillable container for short trips.


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