Day 17

Plan ahead for frugality wins!

Today, Mrs. Frugalwoods asks us to think through every instance where you spend money because you didn’t plan ahead.  She points out that planning ahead could be as simple as making your own lunch and packing snacks for the workday, or a thermos of coffee if you know you have a late day.  It could be buying a dress for your sister’s wedding next summer because you found the perfect one on sale today.  It also applies to long-term goals, such as the Frugalwoods did for their homestead

Since instituting a more effective financial program a year ago last January, we have not made crazy purchases.  As our income varies monthly – sometimes considerably – planning for purchases large or small is often part of the agenda.  For example, does Mr. 182 need new shoes or socks, or plan to brew this month?  Here, too, I think of some of the things I may need.  These enquiries apply to both personal needs, family needs, household needs, and hobbies.  Some months it is a definite “no” and other times it is a “yes.”  In the monthly budget there is usually an allotment of $100.00 cash, to be used as needed for the unexpected, or to go out to meet a friend with the potential of spending a few bucks.  Having discretionary money budgeted in allows for these little hiccups.  Thinking frugally helps put the kabosh on unnecessary costs.

We have instituted a policy of putting $1000.00 / month into savings.  Then the rest is parceled out to the debt snowball.  Out of the savings we pay for our property taxes every year, and our annual vacation if we take one.  As a result, our savings fluctuate, but are steady.  We use it as an emergency fund as well.  For the futures, we pay into our retirement plans.

In the past, our thoughtless ways have lead to trouble.  Not saving meant emergencies were met with a credit card charge.  Buying lunch was a daily habit.  Going shopping for groceries added up, and up, and up, and then out into the garbage because so much was wasted.

This week – and in the past several weeks – there were few purchases that were not planned for.  I went to the movies with a friend, and she paid.  I bought coffee.  That came out of the discretionary “emergency” cash.  We needed chicken broth for soup, so that was bought with the emergency cash in the wallet – having the cash was a thought ahead to potential future “emergencies” of a very minor sort.  Having discretionary “emergency” cash is good for many things, from necessities to social.

On a daily basis, I pack my lunch, and usually a snack.  I have my pre-ground coffee at work in a container, along with my carton of half-and-half.  I have cold meds and aspirin and toothpaste and toothbrush and hairbrush at work.  I know what we have in the fridge for dinner and when I cook, I know what we have to use – some planned ahead, some just put together with existing ingredients.

Planning ahead saves money.  Packing lunch and coffee and snacks saves money.  Saving money saves money because it is not on the credit card.  Ongoing thoughtfulness about money saves money.  Conscientiousness pays off.  I think of money a lot these days, and that is also paying off.  It is helping us reach both our financial and personal goals, even though at times it seems like a long, dreary road.