By Melissa Tosetti
One of the goals of Savvy Living is to: Save 20% and spend the rest with abandon.
Keeping in mind that the average savings rate in the U.S. shifts from 3.7% - 4.9% getting to that 20% goal may feel like an overwhelming task... but it can be achieved! The trick is to get there 1% at a time.
First of all, if you're only saving 1% - 3% of your salary, congratulate yourself for saving anything at all. At least you're in the habit of saving. Now, it's time to take it to the next level.
Start, by taking a look at your last paycheck and calculating how much 1% equates to. For example, if your paycheck is $2,000, 1% of that paycheck is just $20.
Now ask yourself, if you set up an automatic transfer of $20 from your checking account to your savings account each payday, will you really miss that money? If you can still put gas in your car and food on the table, set up the transaction right now.
The next step is to put a note in your calendar for two months from now to see if you can bump up your savings amount by another 1%. In fact, make it a habit to check in every other month to see if you can increase your savings amount.
Initially, your contributions will feel small, but you will have the opportunity to build on success and your savings will grow.
Don't wait for the magical day that you can start saving 20% all at once. That day is not going to come. There will always be something to distract you from your goal... especially when that goal is to start saving $400 all at once.
Even if it takes you 2 -4 years to get to that 20% goal, you will get there... and have had 2-4 year’s worth of savings built up along the way.
By Melissa Tosetti
One of the key habits of Savvy Living is getting to the grocery store on a weekly basis.
But what if you're schedule is so irregular that it's impossible to put on your calendar, or you absolutely hate going to the grocery store? If either scenario applies to you, it may be worth having your groceries delivered.
Two years ago I worked with a wonderful family who was spending $1,500 a month on food, between groceries and dining out. As a whole, the family was incredibly busy and more often than not, they found themselves getting take out and not really enjoying those meals. On top of their schedule, the issue with the grocery store was that the mom absolutely hated going. She had no strategy while she was there and would get overwhelmed by the process.
In their case, it was well worth the $17 fee to have their groceries delivered.
But, before they just started buying a bunch of groceries online, it was crucial to give them a strategy. That strategy started with the mom taking her laptop into the kitchen every Thursday night. Her three children would then help her inventory their grocery staples. She made a list of everything that needed to be replenished. The family then decided what 3 - 4 dinners (planning for leftovers) they would like to have the following week. She included the ingredients she would need for those meals on her list. She would then place her order that night and on Saturday morning, the groceries would be delivered.
This simple habit, that took 10 - 15 minutes on a Thursday night, ended up saving them $700 a month! In their case, the delivery fee more than paid for itself. It not only saved them money, but it saved them hours in their week of multiple trips to the grocery store for forgotten items as well as standing in line for take out.
This morning I ran across an article on the Advantages of Online Grocery Shopping
. Written by Lisa Aberle, it's an interesting perspective as she lives 28 miles from the nearest grocery store and doesn't have the advantage of online grocery shopping from a local store. She experimented with Amazon Prime and came to her own conclusions about the resource. The article is worth reading as are the 39+ comments left by her readers.
The majority of celebrities work with a stylist to ensure they look fabulous for red carpet and other special events. Stylists plan far in advance to find the right outfit for their client. You can implement the same strategy for your next special occasion by planning in advance.
At the beginning of each month, check your calendar for upcoming events. Go through your closet to see if you can use what you already have. If you need a complete new outfit or a few accessories to accent what you already own, make a list of what needs to be purchased in your Spending Book and start shopping immediately!
The more time you give yourself, the better chance you have of finding the perfect outfit and hopefully at the price you want to pay. If you have ever had the experience of waiting to shop until the last minute, and having to pay too much for an outfit you didn’t feel good in, you can appreciate what a powerful this habit is to implement.
By Suzanne Haze
Ever notice how purging clutter is the first agenda item on home makeover shows? If you are getting ready to redecorate or make simple changes to your space there is ONE crucial step to make first. Before you paint, before you refurnish, before you bring one cute-must have decorating item into your home - you have to get rid of the clutter. If you skip this step, your new paint, furniture and must haves will be lost in the sea of your possessions.
What is clutter?
Clutter is a confused collection of ‘stuff’, including things you do not use or enjoy, in a disorderly state. Clutter adds stress to your life. It keeps you from being organized, wasting your time and space.
Your physical, emotional and mental health is directly impacted by your environment. If you can’t unwind at home and have to go to a spa to relax, clutter is most likely the culprit.
Americans are notorious for acquiring ‘stuff’. We spend weekends at the mall shopping for clothes and house wares. As everything goes in and nothing goes out, your home becomes constipated.
Clutter is Expensive
Have you been thinking about moving as your home bursts at the seams? Are you paying rent on a storage space for things you haven’t touched in years? By culling through your existing stuff it is possible to free up precious closet, shelf and storage space. You may realize that you don’t need a bigger home after all. That’s a hefty financial bullet dodged.
Having a clutter free home allows you to know what you have. Nothing is more irritating than going out and buying black shoe polish then finding four bottles of it in a drawer the following week.
Getting rid of clutter takes time. If you attempt to sort through everything at once you will be overwhelmed. Do it in phases.
Take one room at a time and start with what is seen. Look at each item in that room and ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Do I really want this?
- Am I going to be upset if I get rid of it?
- What is the worst that can happen if I give it away?
Your home is an environment you control – not your Aunt Beatrice who gave you the crotched toilet paper cover. Bag it up and send it off.
Take a look at the things that you bought for yourself. Have you grown out of your unicorns and whale phase? If so, off to the thrift store with them!
Once you have gone through what is seen in each room, move onto what is unseen - your closets. Go through the same process. The rule of thumb for closets is, if you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year – get rid of it. The little black dress is one of a few exceptions.
There are two enormous benefits to getting rid of clutter. Your keys stop disappearing and you eliminate much of your housework. As you streamline your home you will become more organized, thus being able to find those mischievous keys. Also, with less ‘stuff’ to shift, dust and file you will be able to clean in half the time.
The key to keeping your home clutter free is diligence. The minute you bring in the mail, go through it and toss what you do not need to keep. If you purchase a new item, see if you can get rid of something you already have. Clutter is sly - go through your home once a week and see if any sneaked in while you weren’t looking.
There is a strong possibility that once you declutter, you will realize that you don’t need to paint or buy new furniture after all.
What's the difference between those who struggle with debt and those who remain debt free?
By Melissa Tosetti
On Friday night we hosted a get-together for the coaches of Paul's martial arts school. Coach Marc and Coach Wayne brought fantastic bottles of wine. Coach Geralyn made the best bread pudding I've ever had in my life! For dinner, Paul made a slow cooker full of meatballs and I made a broccoli and also a macaroni salad.
We had a great time Friday night and look forward to doing it again in a few months. One of the happy by-products of the event was all the leftovers. Yesterday we feasted on meatballs, salad, bread pudding and the last of the brie we had as an appetizer. Cook once, eat 3-4 times, just like my Grandma taught me.
By Melissa Tosetti
At 3:45 am this morning I was reminded, rather forcefully, of the importance of having an emergency kit. We were hit with a 3.1 earthquake.
I'm grateful that everyone is safe and there was no damage. I'm also grateful that there's 10 gallons of water in our shed, plenty of food and other supplies in case of such an emergency.
I didn't always feel that way. Despite living in California all my life and experiencing enough earthquakes to know better, it wasn't until Dante was born that I got serious about putting together an emergency kit.
Before, every time there was an earthquake or a big storm somewhere in the U.S. I'd always experience a little jolt of anxiety and think, "I really need to build an emergency stash". And then I'd do nothing. Just go through that same anxiety the next time.
When I finally did take the time to gather supplies, I felt like an idiot. I realized that all I had to do was buy a few extra gallons of water when it was on sale and the same for canned and prepared food. I already had an empty plastic tub so I put everything in there, including the extra flash lights and first aid supplies that we already had on hand. Thanks to a gift from Paul's uncle, we have an emergency radio as well.
I hope I never have to use the kit, but I'm really, really happy to know it's there! No more pangs of avoidable anxiety.
Introduction by Melissa Tosetti
The last week of March, I have a four city speaking tour in Virginia. I'm really looking forward to the events, but realized this morning that it might be worth my while to invest some time and money putting together one more speaking outfit before I go.
One of the things I've learned over the last five years and 100+ speeches is that how I feel in what I'm wearing makes a massive impact on my presentation. That’s why I typically rotate through the same 3 – 4 outfits when speaking.
I have to wear comfortable, stable shoes. I don’t want to be thinking about how much my feet hurt or whether or not I’m going to take a header. I have a pair of black one inch pumps and a pair of black lace up high heeled boots that I wear on a regular basis. In fact, I've worn those boots on so many "stages" that I can honestly say I built my business in them. If there's ever a Savvy Life Museum, they'll be on display.
I have to be able to easily move my arms so if I’m wearing a jacket, it can't be restrictive. I talk a lot with my hands and hate it when I feel constricted through the shoulders. It’s distracting.
Over the summer I found a vintage looking black dress that has become my holy grail – all other speaking outfits will forever be compared to it.
It’s comfortable, I feel great in it. I also feel polished and professional. Polished is a word I would never previously associate with myself. I grew up on the back of a horse and spend four nights a week punching and kicking 200 pounds bags and sparring partners.
One of the other important lessons I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how much you spend on an outfit. If it doesn’t fit right or isn’t the right color, it’s going to look dumpy.
In anticipation of needing a new outfit, I was doing a little research this morning and found this wonderful article by my friend Alison Gary who is the founder of Wardrobe Oxygen. The article is titled How Does One Get The Polished Look?
Whether you’re a naturally pulled together woman or, like me, you have to work hard at it, the article is worth the read.
One of last summer's speaking outfits that got culled from the herd.
It's obvious from this picture that I'm not feeling that great in it.