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 Kevin Gibbons
In our book Living the Savvy Life
, our number one Savvy Habit is “Pay Yourself First.” This means to be sure to actively set aside money to save every pay period. If you are doing this, congratulations! You are on your way to financial independence and living well on the money you are making right now.
Sometimes, however, it isn’t always enough to just set up an automatic transfer to a savings account. You need to make sure that you really are saving the money you are setting aside as savings. What does that mean? It means that you have to take a little time to understand how your savings account works.
Ann Carrns wrote in a blog in the New York Times
about how she received a warning that she was making too many withdrawals from her savings account and that this bad behavior could result in her account being closed.
Did you know that federal regulations say you cannot make more than six withdrawals in a month, and that transfers between accounts count towards that maximum number? Ann didn’t. Read her blog to see how she addressed her problem.
Between federal regulations and bank policies, there are many rules to understand when managing your money. It can be challenging to negotiate the many rules and policies, but failing to understand them can cost you money.
In many cases, making a few simple changes, or avoiding a few specific practices can make the difference between seeing your savings grow and seeing it eaten up by fees and penalties.
If sorting through the rules is overwhelming for you, don’t despair. Find a knowledgeable advisor or friend you trust to help explain things to you. As we approach the tax deadline, now is a perfect time to ask for advice from your tax preparer or other financial advisor. In many cases, you can go to the accounts manager at your bank and get the answers you need.
Ann’s experience is just one case of how good intentions can be compromised by an honest misunderstanding. The lesson here is twofold: First, just as you need to actively set aside the money to save, you also need to actively understand how your accounts work, what charges are incurred and why, and what alternatives exist; and second, when you get those e-mails and paper mail notifications from your bank, be sure to read them!
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.
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