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A Savings Challenge

I really liked Tawra's site Living on a Dime and I really feel challenged. We've been living on a fairly low income for years, but even so we were able to become debt free as well.

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Now we have the problem that we can't seem to save much, if anything. For instance, this month we had a boon of about $1000 which I was going to put in savings (extra paycheck in that month, etc.). But high winds tore up part of our driveway awning and our deductible on insurance is $500. And when our totally relaible and honest mechanic was replacing our clutch (which was already budgetted), he found a much more expensive problem as well... So now the savings money is going to be eaten up with unexpected items.

This seems to be the story of our lives. Whatever extra comes through, unexpected necessities eat it up! We don't really eat out or go to movies, etc. We already live simply and have very little financial stress except that we are at our last penny most of the time. We laugh because it's like Irene Dunn in the old movie "I Remember Mama" where she gets the pay from her husband and makes little piles - "This is for the grocier. This is for the butcher. This is for (whatever)." And when she's out of bills and money she says "Now we do not have to go to the bank!" Meaning now they don't have to get into savings (which was imaginary anyway, if you remember).

BUT, I was wondering... if we did still have credit card payments, we simply would find the money to pay it - as well as the unexpected items. I mean, that's what we used to do right?

So here's my challenge: Using Tawra's method as inspiration, I'm going to "pay" our savings a fixed amount per month, treating it like a bill, and see whether or not we can weather the unexpected things and still be saving.

It's too easy to say "pay yourself first" when bills are due. So I am wonder if treating it like another bill will make it stick. If anyone has a better idea - please let me know! Spare change and nickel and diming it doesn't seem to be helping. We don't own much but if we can sell something to pay a bill rather than dip into savings we will. But it just always evens out - never gets better. Any ideas on this method?

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By guest client (Guest Post)
July 2, 20040 found this helpful

My mom always says "It's the little things that get you." when it comes to purchases. If you havn't already done this, write down every penny you spend over a 2 - 4 week period and you are sure to find something you could eliminate and instead put those few pennies into savings. For example, don't eat out for a month. Or limit video rentals, beauty purchases, etc. I have 2 sons and we decided to purchase hair clippers for $12. The price of one adult haircut. Two years later, we are using the same clippers for my husband and both sons for every haircut! I'm convinced, "It's the little things that get you!"

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 5, 20040 found this helpful

I'm not sure that helps us. We already cut our own hair, don't have cable, don't rent movies, don't eat out, don't use dry cleaners and other expensive services, don't buy much of anything not already on sale, fresh (like fresh veggies instead of frozen), or bulk, don't buy books but use the library....We already don't trickle money out. We're even learning to use a solar oven to not use the stove and oven much. Our electric and water bills (for 4 people) are half of our neighbor's (2 people).

The unexpected things are like a car repair, a medical visit (rare), a school activity or project...We've removed all of the little things we can think of. I'm not sure where else to look for pennies or dollars! :-)

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May 14, 20050 found this helpful

We live on a very tight budget & have savings deducted automatically every month. This way it is a "bill" and there's never the temptation to not put it in savings. Have you considered a part-time job? I do Pampered Chef in the evenings and all that money is our fun/extra money - it is not in the budget. Having a little extra makes living with a budget easier and less stressful on the homefront. For more info check out my site - www.pamperedchef.biz/cookwithdebbie.

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