As a kid, I didn’t get an allowance and I never really thought about saving or spending. Once I had a job, I still didn’t think about it. In high school, I worked sporadically as school and sports would allow. My parents provided the things I needed and some extras, too. My Dad and Mom were both Depression era kids, savers not spenders. By the time I came around, they were financially comfortable though not people of excess. My dad was someone who enjoyed money as an activity. Like a gardener with a green thumb, he liked to watch it grow. He was generous in many ways but overtly thrifty, more of a millionaire next door type than the Great Gatsby. One-ply toilet paper and all that good stuff. As you can probably tell, this challenge is all about money: Save Enough Money to Buy Something You’ve Had Your Eye On.
I married young and soon learned the art of the budget. Lee and I started our life together living in a studio apartment in Fallbrook, CA with a bed that folded out of the wall and a couple of papasan chairs. We shared one car and one bank account. In the early days, one of our indulgences was buying a 10-pack of Reese’s from the door-to-door candy kid. When you are young and in love and living in the Southern California you don’t need much more.
Over time, we’ve experienced our share of saving for the big ticket items: cars, houses, college tuition. I’m at the point in life that I don’t need more stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I buy plenty: notebooks, puzzles, craft supplies I don’t use, shoes I don’t need. I don’t need any of it and none of those items require you to save up your money for purchase. But, one of the things I’ve missed the most during this COVID time is live performance. I enjoy living in the crazy busy, traffic overrun area that I live in because it gives me great access to world-class live experiences. Dressing up, sharing the experience with others, splurging on dinner. Last year we had tickets in hand for plays, comedy shows and musicals including, as I may have mentioned, Hamilton. So, if I’m saving my money for something, that’s it, live theatre. Now, I don’t know when we will be able to actually attend those in-person events again, or what particular show I’ll be attending, but the beauty of that is it gives me plenty of time to save up! Live performances can be very expensive, I often buy a package to get a better deal, but for purposes of this blog I’m going to save toward two tickets to one performance. If you’ve purchased tickets yourself you know that they can vary wildly in price depending on who, what, when and where you are watching. So, let’s set a goal of $200, and if I have money to spare I’ll throw in dinner at Arby’s after the show.
Now, the hard part, what to do to save all those bucks. We’ve always had a spare change jar to throw extra change into. It used to add up pretty quickly, (especially after all of our kids left for college!) but we buy a lot of items online and use debit or credit cards the rest of the time so throwing my change into a jar isn’t going to work. This will take some planning. My sister, Laurie, always seems to have her money act together so I figured she’d be a good person to talk to about saving money. We spent some time talking about the value of having multiple bank accounts to stash money in for various goals, the act of planning ahead so you know what’s coming, what big items, like travel, you need to save for and the small ways we end up spending a lot of money. We both agreed that we spend a lot of money on coffee. Our Dad would not approve.
I drink coffee every morning. I wake up and magically there is a pot of coffee, brewed and ready for me (thank you, coffee fairy, you know who you are). I discovered my love of coffee in Australia. Australians have coffee everywhere. Afternoon school event. Bike shop on a Saturday morning. Every soccer game, mountain bike race, outdoor activity had excellent coffee available. My current coffee problem is partially about proximity. The library I work in has a Starbucks in the shopping center across the street. This is not a new problem. At Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, I could walk down the beautiful arcade from my library and get a coffee fix on a work break! The co-conspirator here is the Starbucks app. It’s so easy to spend money when it doesn’t feel like you are spending money. It’s the credit card trick born again! Laurie has her own coffee proximity problem, complete with an app, and it’s called Scooter’s Coffee. We decided that coffee might be the ticket to saving money.
I don’t buy coffee everyday. Sometimes when I’m early for work I’m think, wouldn’t hurt to grab a latte on the way in. We also have a very kind Friends of the Library volunteer who sometimes walks to Starbucks and brings us coffee! So hard to resist. Coffee delivered! I’m also not a fan of the basic coffee at Starbucks, give me the even more expensive white chocolate latte any day. The calories those drinks pack. Yikes! That’s why they are so tasty. At least in San Diego I could get a nice walk in, too. So, skipping my coffee habit might help not only my wallet but also my waistline. The plan:
- Keep the “fun” coffees to one a week.
- My favorite latte runs me about $5 a pop. Save $5 a day for the coffee I don’t buy.
- Forgo my Starbucks-work-coffee-habit three days per week and save $15.
I know there are a lot of fancy apps out there to help you save money. I’ve checked into them and they do seem like they’d do the trick. However, since I’m working from a children’s book, I think I need to tackle this like I would have as a kid. I’m going to have to math this. I will keep a notebook, or better yet, a note in my phone to track which days I don’t buy coffee. At the end of the week, I’ll pull the cash I’ve “saved” and throw it in a jar. A little addition by subtraction and in a couple of months, I’ll be ready to spring some cash on a couple of tickets for a great show.
So, what about you? Are you a spender or a saver? Do you have your eye on something you want to save your money for? Wish me luck as I try to monetize my deprivation. I will check back in later and let you know once I meet my goal. If you have something you are saving for I’d love to hear about it.
Before you go…I’ve had a really hard time writing about money. I probably need to investigate why that is. I didn’t grow up with too little or too much money but obviously it touches a nerve. I have finally gotten over being annoyed to spend so much money at the grocery store. Why does food cost so much?! And don’t even get me started on the dentist.
As a kid:
- Born in Vermont, lived in North Bend, NE
- Enjoyed swimming
- Wanted to work for the airlines as a ticket person
Lives in Lincoln, NE
Enjoys reading, watching Netflix and riding her exercise bike.
3 thoughts on “Money, Money, Money”
I read this recently about dieting that I think applies here too – it’s making a choice of wanting this over that, rather than thinking about it as giving up something. You choose tickets over special coffee – and that’s a worthwhile trade. (Says the non-coffee drinker.)
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Yes I love that! It’s a great way to think about money and food.
I’m a spender not a saver but I am also a deal-hunter. If I’m buying something, it’ll be discounted. When I had a tighter budget I got really into couponing and using various store apps to get the best prices. I’ve found if I have over a certain amount of money in a savings account for something, my willingness to put more money into that account increases. I have to save money to save money, it seems.
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