Amy Hannold, FamilyTimeandMoney.com
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Harsh, I know – but in retrospect, it addresses what often comes between our ideal spending plan and the deductions in our checkbooks. If we’re not organized and we don’t have a plan(s), we’ll sink further from whatever goals we’ve set.
Think menus, gifts, and bills – these are big-ticket expenditures, especially when done in an unprepared rush. It can be proven then, that procrastination and disorganization is very costly. With no menu plan in place, we’re eating “drive-through” dinner. We spend more for someone at the last minute when we can’t find the gift we bought earlier in the year – or we’re “11th hour” shopping at the mall (it takes longer and costs more). Creditors penalize us for our tardiness – with late charges. Accumulate enough late notices and your credit score will dive. Lower credit scores lead to credit woes for several years.
Solution: Make a Plan, Here is an inexpensive tool:
Carry a notebook in your pocket. Carry two, actually – one for you and one for the kids. When you’re waiting somewhere (or they are waiting somewhere), pull out the notebooks. If you’re tech-savvy, you’ve got your Blackberry or netbook – but nothing beats the paper meets pen sensation of taking a load off your mind.
Notebook Options: To-Do’s, Menus, Home and Pantry Inventory, Family Clothing Sizes, Gifts Purchased, Upcoming Birthdays/Holidays, Spending Plan, Goals, Price Comparisons, Favorite Recipes (to exchange or accumulate in your travels), “Want-to-Buys” (better to write it down than buy it – you may be able to find a less expensive item – or simply change your mind)…
With a notebook handy, you can exchange Contact Info when meeting a new friend or to leave someone a note (think happy surprise!)– all at your fingertips, instead of your “Mommy-Brain”. Give it a rest! Writer or not, everything can be better reviewed and referred to when on paper in front of you. Having this information will save you hundreds of dollars and many, many hours you’d otherwise spend in multiple shopping trips, phone calls, and fuel miles.
“If you Want to Feel Rich, Count the Things That Money Can’t Buy – that you already have”
Gratitude goes a long way towards healing the “I’m Broke Blues”. Live out each day grateful for the simple, priceless stuff. Teach giving, saving, and sharing to your children. Be gratified when you see your lessons in action for someone else down the line-you’re doing something right! Practice Random Acts of Kindnesses – if you feel you have nothing else to give, start with a smile, it increases your “Face” value! A smile may start a conversation which holds the key to a need fulfilled or friend made. Multiply your “friends” lists and you increase the likelihood that someone knows you need a job, car, potty-training solution, or great babysitter—and when they stumble upon your solution, they’ll think of you! Be a friend, and you’re already rich, no matter your lot in life.
“A Penny Saved, Is a Penny Earned” – or what we know as- the new Millennium Edition: “A Dollar Saved, is a Dollar-plus Earned”:
I grew up hearing about my parents and grandparents shopping at “Dime Stores”. We know these today as “Dollar Stores”. (An Illustration of Inflation!) The wisdom though is just as true today. Benjamin Franklin knew that if you didn’t spend money, you earned it, as it was still yours to keep. In the age of taxes and expenses, saving a dollar is actually saving “a dollar, plus 60-cents”. Most taxpayers take home just 60-cents of every dollar they earn. See, frugality pays! Spend what is yours wisely, and save it well so that it grows.
Money Saving Tips:
Start a Frugal Network among your friends. Bartering, Exchanging, and Mentoring are great ingredients in a Frugal Friends Network. Older Moms can share their experience and wisdom with younger mothers. Start with a social, coffee group with the kids and watch it grow. Neighbors can “Freecycle” or swap necessities with one another, and exchange their “wish lists”. Welcome a new neighbor with a list of community resources, and introduce them to where the good deals are found in your area. Bring back the “Community Bulletin” board, whether it be online or in your school, church, or playschool. All of these actions will inspire many dollars saved — and friends made!
Consider that Time is Money: At the end of the month, review where you spent your time and money. You’ll see where there are differences between your priorities and your actions (on goals vs. temptations). Reward yourself, your spouse and children for reaching savings goals. Spend more time than money for special occasions. Create memories and gifts, it’s ok to be ‘old fashioned’ – you may be making a treasured keepsake or a new family tradition!
Time Spent More Wisely Equals Saving Money: Research and implement new ways to streamline your daily routine. Use lists, inventories, and forms to organize your time and money. Keep these handy in a 3-ring “Home Notebooks”. Your home, each child, each season and larger home projects will work much more smoothly with their own notebook.
What you have already spent time and money on is very valuable. Your home inventories (i.e. pantry, gift, emergency supplies, and clothing) can help you avoid expenditures when you know what you have, where it is – and it’s in good condition. Teach care and maintenance of possessions to your children. Invest your time in the passing down important life skills. Tackle a new learning goal as a family, or with your spouse — science has proven that continuing education keeps you young!
Get Started on Your Better, More Affordable Life Today: Here are two websites which offer FREE download-ready forms. Place them in a 3-ring binder and you’re off to a better start, everyday: