When I first made the resolution to cut on grocery, electricity and telephone bills, it didn't come easy. I've never been a big spender, but I was used to just grab whatever brand we usually bought, without comparing prices or looking for specials. Whenever I felt hot or cold, I turned on the air conditioner. Whenever I had a free hour, I picked up the phone.
I knew I wanted to change this; but calculating all the time, looking for a cheaper brand, stretching or just doing without – it was all so frustrating; I mean, come on, it's pennies we're talking about – does it really matter?
… Until I sat down with a calculator and saw how much we can save – or spend - in a year. I started with small things that were easier to calculate (we all know how much we spend on a cup of coffee, but it's much more difficult to estimate the cost of our average phone call!). I counted snacks I bought outside once or twice a week while waiting for the bus, expensive brands of shampoo, convenient small packages we bought once a week instead of buying a jumbo package once a month.
Guess what, before I was even close to the end, I realized we're talking about thousands of dollars here! Thousands of dollars that could be added to our family budget, but instead were lost in the "Where Did All the Money Go?" grey zone.
Did I say I was not a big spender? Well, I didn't go out as often as some of my friends did, and my clothes were usually not very expensive. But when I think of the money we're saving now, I realize we've been horribly unwise.
When you think of making a change that might save you money, but then discard it as small and insignificant, I encourage you to think of how much you could save IN A YEAR. Take something you buy on a regular basis; could you get it cheaper? Even slightly cheaper? Think it's not worth the effort? Count what you could save in a year, making even just this one small change. Does it still seem insignificant? Think what you could do with that sum. Maybe you could buy a present for a loved one, or give to charity, or save. I'm almost certain you could find better uses for that money!
I'm a big yogurt-lover. Instead of buying sweet yogurt with fruit, I switched to plain unsweetened yogurt; when I feel like it, I can add honey, fruit or homemade granola. This ALONE saves about a 100 dollars (!) a year. I can find a thousand better uses for an extra 100 dollars a year!
Our battle with the "Where Did All the Money Go?" monster is endless and draining. It requires a lot of endurance. Often we are tempted to submit to convenience instead of thriftiness, and think it doesn't really matter. Calculating what it will all add up to in one year has been a great motivator for me. Waiting to hear about your motivators. :)