When I decided to not return to a comfortable steady income, I had to get serious about money. Saving it, making it, and keeping track of it. Today, we’re talking about cash flow, ways to save money, and of course, an update on my fitness goal! And don’t worry, this won’t be like all the other do-this-don’t-do-that posts on budgeting and saving money. I’ve always taken more unorthodox approaches to achieving my goals and I’d like to share those with you 🙂
The word ‘budget’ scares me. It makes me feel like I have my hands tied and takes all the fun out of, well, anything that costs money. I decided a while ago to not use that big scary word, and instead, chose to shift my mentality and focus on keeping track of money. That’s all. No cash envelopes. No recording latte purchases in an app. Just a simple reflection on where my money is coming from and where it’s going.
When you look up ‘how to budget’, there are a jillion methods but they all have one crucial step that is the same. What are your expenses? What is your income? For the majority of people, plugging in their annual income is the easy part and expenses is where is gets a little dicey. In my case, it’s quite the opposite. My husband and I are both self employed so our income is more variable than our expenses.
When we were contemplating whether or not I should return to my corporate job after maternity leave, my husband and I sat down and nerded out with our bank statements on one computer and an Excel spreadsheet on another. We recorded our expenses from the last two years and forecasted what this year’s would be based off of those numbers. Of course, our fixed costs are simply just that – fixed. So we took a look at our variable expenses and found plenty of ways to pair down unnecessary costs. From here, we simply ran the numbers to see what we would have to make annually in order to afford the lifestyle we wanted and set goals for ourselves. I cannot tell you how powerful goal setting is when it comes to finances.
Hardcore budgeting works for some people, but it just doesn’t for us. If you’re anything like me, don’t let this step scare you. All budgeting really is, is a way of keeping an eye on your money. You can be as stringent or relaxed about it as possible, but I urge you to practice it. It’s so easy to find yourself falling down a hole of debt, not knowing how you ended up there. So before it gets bad (or worse) set aside some time to review your cash flow. I do it monthly, but you can do it at whichever cadence you feel is appropriate for your lifestyle.
Ways to save moola
One of the first strategies I came up with after leaving my job was to get rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer needed. And why not make a little money while I was at it? Since I wasn’t going to back to the corporate life, I no longer needed the corporate attire. I had dozens upon dozens of designer dresses, stilettos, tops and skirts. I wasn’t about to put all my nice clothes up on Kijiji or host a garage sale because I didn’t want to attract the wrong kind of haggling crowd. Instead, I found a Buy & Sell Facebook group in my neighbourhood and posted all of my clothes on there. I snapped a photo of each article of clothing (there were 43 in total) and posted the price of each. Within minutes, I had several people who were interested. By the next day, I had sold 75% of my old clothes and had made almost $600. The rest of the stuff I bundled up into ‘grab bags’ and people picked them up for $5 each. I was making money, ridding my closet of clutter, and helping others by giving them a massive discount on nice clothes. Win win win!
This is just one of the ways I’ve been able to make additional money, but I feel like most people struggle with saving money, not making it. You could be plastic surgeon making serious money and still be in debt because you have poor spending habits.
Three small but effective ways to save money
Ask yourself this every time you reach for your wallet: “Do I really NEED this? Can I make do without it?” You’d be surprised how often you put your wallet back inside your purse. I’ve found that it’s the small purchases that have made the biggest difference for me. Lattes, lunches, wine, toys… these were all things I never gave a second thought to because I thought “hey – if it’s under $50 its no biggie”. But if that’s your thought process with pretty much everything, you’ll find that your bank account dwindles away before you even have time to realize it.
Cut down on your consumption of meat. My husband and I buy the odd chicken breast here and there but we’re not anything like we used to be. Our Costco bills used to average about $300 every 2 or 3 weeks and 40% of that was meat. When we decided to cut down on our consumption of animal products, we saw a huge (positive) dent in our bank account.
Travel smarter. When you’re trying to save money, you don’t have to cut out travel like a lot of people seem to think. Just approach it in a different manner and you’d be surprised how cheap you can do it! Take our last family vacation to Phoenix for example. We traded the use of our ski condo for a friend’s Phoenix condo and got a free place to stay! You don’t have to have a place to trade by the way. Most of us know a family member or a friend with a vacation property so simply ask them what you might be able to do in exchange for the use of it. We traveled during shoulder season and kept our eye on flight prices. We ended up paying $500 for a round trip for the three of us. We didn’t eat out. Ever. The beauty of staying in a condo is that you have a kitchen to work with and you can make all of your meals at home. Plus, who doesn’t love grocery shopping and trying out new products that you don’t have at home? So really, you’re spending the same amount of money on food as you would if you were to stay at home.
Fitness Goal Update
As I mentioned in my last Financial Fitness post, achieving a financial goal is a lot like achieving a fitness goal. So in conjunction with a financial goal to save more money, I also have a running goal. I’ve signed up for the Servus Edmonton 10k run and am training for it now.
This last week, I ran upwards of 15km and am feeling pretty stellar about next month’s race. These days, my training runs are generally with a stroller in one hand and feeding my son a snack in the other. But hey, slow and steady (and very distracted) wins the race right?
Keep it comin’
How are your goals coming along? Don’t forget to grab your free copy of this 8-week Financial Fitness Plan through Servus Credit Union to help you make those goals become a reality. I’ve been loving all the support and goal sharing on social media! Our little community fuels me, and I know it inspires others too.
Love, peace, and money on ma’ mind
*This blog post is sponsored by Servus Credit Union. I am a paid ambassador and all opinions are my own. I truly love this company and the resources they have to offer and would recommend them for anyone looking to achieve optimal financial fitness.