One of the most challenging aspects of personal development is saving money. It is so hard to feel like you can move on and develop into the person you want to be when you’re struggling with money. Saving money is a learned skill, and no matter how much money you have, if you don’t manage it properly, you’re going to run into problems.
We bought a house last year. We love it, it’s exactly what we were looking for. It is an old, solid home on lots of land that we can turn into a modern homestead style property. It has tons of bedrooms and comes with the impeccable detail that 75 year old homes are known for. They just don’t make them like this anymore. It needed upgrades, but we knowingly took this on.
Unfortunately, we had an emergency electrical problem happen over this spring that was very unexpected. When we bought the house, we had everything inspected and were told that the house was electrically sound. Turns out that is not the case (and deserves a whole other angry blog post…).
We had to come up with cash quick (Read: thousands and thousands of dollars) out of nowhere to deal with this issue. Our entire house had to be rewired. It didn’t help one single bit at all that I was on maternity leave (only 55% of my income!) and we had just had a new baby three weeks before. Needless to say, we didn’t have tons of money laying around at that moment.
It gets better, however. We then needed to find an alternate heating source before September. So we are on a tight crunch to start saving money – a few thousand dollars to get this installed before the cold hits.
This seemed like a daunting task and there were lots of days where we weren’t sure that we could even pull this off. After already shelling out so much money, we were already living on bare minimum.
Saving Money – We set a goal to save $1000 as fast as possible. This is how we did it:
I probably should have been doing this anyway, but I seriously crunched down on our grocery budget. We didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in our budget after putting out so much money so recently, so this was really the only place we could make any cuts. I always make a general meal plan before grocery shopping but once I hit the store I usually put extra things in my cart.
This time, I wrote out every single meal for the week. I didn’t write a “Monday-Sunday” schedule, I wrote a Day 1 – 7 schedule, which gave me freedom to pick which daily menu I wanted to choose. I made a grocery list from this meal plan and then doubled it so we were good for two weeks. I am proud to say I did not step one single toe outside of line. Before, when I would buy groceries, we were constantly needing to refresh our groceries. This time, all we needed to refresh was bananas and milk! No random trips to the grocery store meant less opportunity to put things in our cart. We had what we had and that was it. We saved significantly this way.
One thing we really had no choice but to do was implement a spending freeze. We spent nothing. Zilch. No coffees, no takeout, no buying extra groceries, no online shopping, nothing. We were totally and completely frozen. This is an excellent way to save quickly, especially if you aren’t already someone who has a strict budget in place. You would be surprised how much money is literally slipping through your fingers and you don’t even know it. It also really opened my eyes to what is a necessity and what is a want.
It is summer and of course that generally means extra money spent on road trips and activities. We decided to stick close to home this month and take in free events. There are tons of options, especially this time of year. Free concerts in the park, theater shows, events hosted by our city. We still had plenty to do and we live in a fairly small place. If you check it out, there are probably endless opportunities in a larger area.
We were owed a bit of money. Unsubmitted expense sheet here, borrowed money not paid back there. Overall, we were able to recoup some of this and add to our goal!
Coming up with $1000 is tough, but it isn’t impossible. We are doing this on the slimmest of budgets after our emergency electrical work. If we can curb spending and magically come up with $1k in one month, anyone can make strides towards their financial goals.
Now, to do it all over again. And again. It’s a good thing we like our house.
What are your best tips for saving money quickly?