This week is America Saves Week, and did you know the scary fact that 1 in 3 Americans has more credit card debt than savings? In my younger days I would have been part of that 33%, but now I view savings not as a luxury, but as a necessity. As a parent, it’s not always easy to save, but there are some easy tweaks that you can make in your daily living that will help you grow your nest egg.
It’s time to do some math!
Let’s say you could trim just $10 a week off of your expenses. That is less than $1.50 a day, and if you saved that money throughout the year, you would end up with a nice wad of cash – $520 to be exact. If you took that money, threw it into a savings account or other investment vehicle that earned 5% interest, compounded monthly, you would have $2,323 after 30 years. That’s not bad for just trimming a measly ol’ $10 bucks a week!
Now let’s say you did that again next year. Your original $520 would have turned into $547, and if you add another $520 to it you’ll have $1,067. Using the same variables as above, in 29 years you’ll have $4,535. You can do the math to figure out the rest, but suffice to say, if you can save just $10 a week each year, in 30 years you’ll have a nice chunk of change.
So what are some ways that you can trim $10 a week for your expenses:
1. Coffee – drink less, make your own, or (if you’re lucky), get work to pay for it. Daily coffee runs are a budget killer; trust me I know! I used to go multiple times per day when I worked across the street from a cafe. Now it’s a bit more of a walk so I just make a cup in the morning at home. Since I drink regular brewed coffee, that was a saving of $2.00 a day. If you are a latte drinker you can easily save more.
2. Buy local, eat in season – Seasonal food that is grown locally is a lot cheaper than stuff that has to be shipped in from further away. Plus, it’s better for your health! If you live in an area that offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), then sign up pronto! Each week you will get a box of fresh fruits and veggies at prices that are usually less than at your grocery store. And it’s a lot of fun for kids to open up the box each week and see what’s in it. I subscribe to both Terra Firma Farms and Full Circle. Or check out your local Farmer’s Market.
3. Eat more meals at home – As a working Mom it’s not always easy or quick to get dinner on the table after work, but I try to minimize the number of times our family gets take out or goes to restaurants. Each Sunday I plan our meals for the week, usually around what veggies we have on hand, and I involve my son in this process. He gets to pick at least 1-2 dinners a week, and having a plan usually means we are less tempted to go out to eat. Usually, I can do any prep work the night before.
4. Don’t buy what you can make – Do you enjoy yogurt in the morning? Invest in a yogurt maker and make your own. It’s cheaper to buy milk than it is to buy single-serve yogurt containers, and you can control what ingredients you add. Got a craving for chips? Take some potatoes from your pantry, slice them with a mandolin and pop them in the microwave for a quick snack. Love soup? Make a big batch of soup on the weekend, divide into individual portions and you’ve got lunch for the week.
5. Have “date night” at home – As much as I love spending time with my son, it’s fun to have a date night with my husband every now and again. However, when babysitting costs anywhere from $15-20 an hour, that night out can quickly become very expensive! Rather than going out every time, we came up with date night at home. After D goes to sleep, we put the computers and mobiles to rest, and we do something fun together. Sometimes we queue up a movie from TiVo, play a board game or nosh on some wine and cheese. What’s important is that we spend time together having fun.
Now that I have shown you a few ways to get started, what other ways can you save $10 a week?