10/25/2016

September Spending: How I Saved $560 in One Month

How to Save Money; How I saved $560 in One Month

Good morning friends!

Ouch. The “money” topic. Is it taboo to talk about? My parents instilled in us that “money talk” was not polite conversation (which I think is sometimes a good practice – I definitely don’t enjoy being asked point blank, “How much money do you make?”), but this is my blog and I #dowhatIwant so that’s what we’re chatting about today.

I like this exercise:

Grab a pencil and paper and answer the following question in as much detail as you can. What was your first memory of money?

My first memory of money was (don’t judge) putting a fistful of change in my mouth because I liked the taste. A million times ew, now that I think about all the hands they have touched and all the couch cushions and sidewalks they have been rescued from… Just ew. When’s the last time you disinfected a coin? Yeah, me too: two days before Never Have I Ever.

But I liked the taste. So much that I swallowed a dime. You’re welcome, Mom and Dad.

I heard that this first memory is formative of how you approach finance. My eyebrows raise, I like the taste of money? Yeah, I guess I’d have to agree.

Going back to the formation of finance approach…A common way parents teach their children about saving money is by way of a piggy bank: a porcelain pig with a thin opening on the top to push coins through. The only way to get the money out is by smashing the piggy bank. In other words, you have to commit to completely destroying the pig. Plus, now your parents are well aware what you’ve done.

Well. My porcelain piggy bank wasn’t porcelain, and it wasn’t a pig. It was a giant purple Crayola crayon (I don’t even like purple). It was plastic, and it had a plug at the bottom that would release if you wiggled it juuuuust right (Potential first lesson in engineering? How to remove said plug with damage so minimal it would be unobservable with the naked eye). I don’t think the unbreakable Crayon with its ability to be opened and closed without parental knowledge instilled the same kind of discipline as a porcelain piggy bank might have.

So it seems I may have glossed over the important lesson of saving money.

But now, at 27, I’m ready to change my relationship with money so I can learn how to live more frugally, spend more wisely, and surrender some of the control it has had over my life. I want to be able to share my abundance with others and use the resources I’ve been given for the greater good. But I can’t do that if I’m off spending my money all willy nilly.

Yes, willy nilly.

So what did I do in September that caused me to save $560 in one month? It’s really quite simple. I went through each and every one of my transactions for the entire month of September at the beginning of October, and asked myself one simple question: How did I feel about this purchase?

Does that seem too simple?

It is.

But guess what, most truths are simple. That’s why they are truths.

If you are hesitant, try it out for yourself, and let me know what you find.

THE RESULT

  1. Downgraded Chase Sapphire Preferred card: $95.00.

My notes: Helps me to spend money overseas, but do I need it? Having the “preferred” status feels nice, and I hope to use the points it generated for me, but do I really need this???

Resource: This person did the math and provides hard numbers for if this card makes sense for you or not.

  1. Returned raincoats I bought for a trip I haven’t taken yet: $190.78.

I felt I needed a “stylish” raincoat, but I decided to make do with what I have: the outer shell of my Northface Triclimate I use for skiing.

Resource: We purchase for fantasy, not reality. The fantasy was me wearing the stylish raincoat on my trip, the reality is this trip has not come into fruition yet.

  1. Submitted health care receipt to be covered by Health Savings Account through insurance, and ultimately decided to discontinue this particular service: $100.00.

I feel good thinking I am in control of my health by getting many extra blood tests done (that are not entirely covered by my insurance). But this year has showed me that these tests are not a necessary expenditure, and I could save as much as $450/year by eliminating this from my budget.

  1. Submitted health care receipt to be covered by HSA: $25.00.

Got my hormone levels tested, stayed within what BCBS covers. Felt good to be taking steps to take care of my health.

  1. Reimbursement received for DNAfit.com: $149.00.

I was a bit disappointed with this purchase, and I felt it was a total waste of money. Normally, I’d shrug and say, Okay Arie, you shouldn’t have bought that. Accept the money as lost forever, and move on with my life. But since I was examining every transaction for September, I decided to reach out to the company anyway. They happily refunded my money (after a little bit of email exchange). It pays to get over our assumptions and simply ask anyway. If you ask nicely, people are more willing to help you.

I also noticed other things, like the time I spent $127 on groceries because I was stressed out, didn’t want to deal with the craziness of the North Campus Kroger (Y’all in Ann Arbor feel me?), and went to Plum Market instead. I basically spent 2X as much on groceries to appease my own moodiness. Won’t make that mistake again.

This was my spreadsheet I used:

How to save money

Simple. And I got more ideas on how to save (i.e. more time consuming tasks like getting rid of cable) by going through this process.

Have fun analyzing your spending habits and maybe even having a quarter/mid-life crisis as you realize the real reason you buy things! I know I did!

It’s worth it:

How to save money

From my Mint.com analytics

Where can you eliminate unnecessary spending? Are there areas where your money could be more well spent?

 

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