I recently stumbled on to a random livejournal person's blog about living on a minimum wage and how to save money, etc. And it got me thinking about the things Scott & I do to save money...wondering if there are more things we could do and what those things might be. Who knows, maybe my ideas will help someone...maybe I will get new ideas from writing down the old ones...or maybe someone will have an idea that I'm not using to suggest! So many possibilities, I might as well jump right in.
1) Stress Less
First and foremost, you have to know the philosophy by which I budget. Money has the potential to be a major stress factor in my life (and Scott's even more so). Stress = BAD. Not only that, but when I stress, how do I fight it? By buying chocolates..candles...the little luxuries that are not really in the budget...which only makes me MORE STRESSED. So...stress also = expensive. Therefore, one goal of my money management is that it be as stress free as possible. I do this in several ways:
One way that we keep money from = stress too often is that I handle the budget. Scott does not like logistics and budgeting is a BIG logistic. By taking the burden of keeping track of our money, I help him out a lot...and I help me too - because with one person mostly in charge of keeping track of our money, things run smoothly.
3) Immediate Value
It is important, nay vital, to have the scrimping and saving be worthwhile, both in the short & long term. I read a news story not too long ago about an Oxford librarian who passed away - and her family discovered that she had hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of artwork squirrelled away in her home. And it's not like these things were displayed and appreciated...they were tucked away in drawers or hidden behind doors and such. So very sad...she lived like a pauper and never really appreciated it.
One way we do this is by allowing ourselves to reap the rewards of our savings. For instance: Scott & I each get $25 a week for work/school lunches. But, it is possible to eat out a good lunch and spend much less than $5 a day. The money we save there is ours. Individually. To do with what we want. I use mine for a good cup of coffee sometimes or to put in a jar for a date night. This way, although we are living with little money, we can still afford life's little extravagances. This is what I call living inexpensively versus living cheaply.
4) Time is Money (Spend for Freedom!)
Another thing we do to avoid stress is to get month passes for the TTC. Now, the reason I KNOW this avoids stress is that we didn't have month passes for the month of January. We weren't there the whole month, I didn't have a job at the beginning of the month...it just didn't make financial sense. But, looking back on that month, while it might not have made financial sense...it sure makes emotional sense! We spent much of January in our basement apartment. There were whole days (Saturdays) when I didn't even take a step outside. This is dreary & wearing. I had to plan grocery trips way too carefully...which meant we sometimes had to go around to the corner store & spend more money on the same item. (example: sour cream $4.00 at corner store, $2.00 at Walmart) Plus, we didn't take advantage of several Toronto City activities that would have been free if not for the tickets to get there & back. This month, with the passes, I feel soo much more relaxed. We had a wonderful $20 date last Saturday where we went all around town and experienced the joy that is this city. I know, this won't help ya'll who are not in Toronto...but I had to put it down, because it has made such a difference in our lives and it is only the 8th of February!
5) Big Picture means relaxing sometimes
We keep the Big Picture in mind. Scott is in school right now. He will be in school for the next 5 years or so. But, wherever he schools next year, we will be there for the full 5 years. This year I haven't been able to get a permanent job - due to the fact that we're only here for 1 year for sure, and so I only have a 1 year work permit. To get into Canada, we had to show that we had a certain amount of money available ($16,000) to prove that I didn't have to get a job for us to live. We showed this 2 ways - through savings we had built up and through an investment account that my parents had established to pay off my college loans. This has been a very nice safety net for us, especially once we finally got established with all the monthly bills and such, since my job status is in constant flux and we never know how much money I'll get per week. One week, I could work all week and earn $16 an hour...another $13 an hour...and another I could only work a few days during the week. Temp work is like that. And it is nice to know that we have the necessary amount to cover all recurring monthly expenses through the end of August.
More later...now it is time for me to go & eat lunch!