Dimes to Dollars

So, if you’ve read tips on saving money on groceries or dining, hopefully you’ve committed to saving at least $20 a week.  This is relatively easy on nearly any budget.  Below is a chart of what $20/week can do for you.  The first table is just the saving.  The second is a simple savings account.  The third table is a higher earning Roth IRA.

Dollars Saved Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Month 1 $           80.00 $ 1,120.00 $ 2,160.00 $ 3,200.00 $ 4,240.00
Month 2 $           80.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 2,240.00 $ 3,280.00 $ 4,320.00
Month 3 $         100.00 $ 1,300.00 $ 2,340.00 $ 3,380.00 $ 4,420.00
Month 4 $           80.00 $ 1,380.00 $ 2,420.00 $ 3,460.00 $ 4,500.00
Month 5 $           80.00 $ 1,460.00 $ 2,500.00 $ 3,540.00 $ 4,580.00
Month 6 $         100.00 $ 1,560.00 $ 2,600.00 $ 3,640.00 $ 4,680.00
Month 7 $           80.00 $ 1,640.00 $ 2,680.00 $ 3,720.00 $ 4,760.00
Month 8 $           80.00 $ 1,720.00 $ 2,760.00 $ 3,800.00 $ 4,840.00
Month 9 $         100.00 $ 1,820.00 $ 2,860.00 $ 3,900.00 $ 4,940.00
Month 10 $           80.00 $ 1,900.00 $ 2,940.00 $ 3,980.00 $ 5,020.00
Month 11 $           80.00 $ 1,980.00 $ 3,020.00 $ 4,060.00 $ 5,100.00
Month 12 $         100.00 $ 2,080.00 $ 3,120.00 $ 4,160.00 $ 5,200.00
Total $     1,040.00 $ 2,080.00 $ 3,120.00 $ 4,160.00 $ 5,200.00
$ Saved w/Interest – Compounded Monthly @ 1.75%
Dollars Saved Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Month 1 $           80.00 $ 1,129.66 $ 2,197.57 $ 3,284.06 $ 4,389.44
Month 2 $         160.12 $ 1,211.28 $ 2,280.73 $ 3,368.78 $ 4,475.75
Month 3 $         260.35 $ 1,313.02 $ 2,384.01 $ 3,473.62 $ 4,582.19
Month 4 $         340.72 $ 1,394.91 $ 2,467.44 $ 3,558.62 $ 4,668.78
Month 5 $         421.21 $ 1,476.92 $ 2,550.99 $ 3,643.74 $ 4,755.49
Month 6 $         521.82 $ 1,579.04 $ 2,654.65 $ 3,748.98 $ 4,862.33
Month 7 $         602.57 $ 1,661.31 $ 2,738.47 $ 3,834.37 $ 4,949.32
Month 8 $         683.43 $ 1,743.70 $ 2,822.41 $ 3,919.88 $ 5,036.44
Month 9 $         784.41 $ 1,846.21 $ 2,926.47 $ 4,025.52 $ 5,143.68
Month 10 $         865.54 $ 1,928.86 $ 3,010.68 $ 4,111.31 $ 5,231.08
Month 11 $         946.79 $ 2,011.64 $ 3,095.01 $ 4,197.22 $ 5,318.60
Month 12 $     1,048.15 $ 2,114.53 $ 3,199.46 $ 4,303.25 $ 5,426.25
Total $     1,048.15 $ 2,114.53 $ 3,199.46 $ 4,303.25 $ 5,426.25
$ Saved w/Interest – Contributed to a Roth IRA @ 5%
Dollars Saved Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Month 1 $           80.00 $ 1,147.87 $ 2,269.60 $ 3,447.92 $ 4,685.69
Month 2 $         160.33 $ 1,232.58 $ 2,358.93 $ 3,542.09 $ 4,784.94
Month 3 $         260.99 $ 1,337.65 $ 2,468.62 $ 3,656.65 $ 4,904.61
Month 4 $         342.06 $ 1,423.15 $ 2,558.77 $ 3,751.68 $ 5,004.76
Month 5 $         423.47 $ 1,509.00 $ 2,649.28 $ 3,847.10 $ 5,105.33
Month 6 $         525.21 $ 1,615.20 $ 2,760.17 $ 3,962.91 $ 5,226.31
Month 7 $         607.36 $ 1,701.83 $ 2,851.52 $ 4,059.19 $ 5,327.79
Month 8 $         689.86 $ 1,788.83 $ 2,943.23 $ 4,155.87 $ 5,429.68
Month 9 $         792.70 $ 1,896.18 $ 3,055.33 $ 4,272.95 $ 5,552.00
Month 10 $         875.95 $ 1,983.97 $ 3,147.89 $ 4,370.51 $ 5,654.81
Month 11 $         959.55 $ 2,072.13 $ 3,240.82 $ 4,468.47 $ 5,758.05
Month 12 $     1,063.50 $ 2,180.64 $ 3,354.14 $ 4,586.84 $ 5,881.72
Total $     1,063.50 $ 2,180.64 $ 3,354.14 $ 4,586.84 $ 5,881.72

			

Meal Planning

Meal Planning

I can’t say enough about this.  This is a two-fold way to save money. Maybe even three-fold.

First, if you plan your meals for the week, you can incorporate more healthy options through planning.  Try to incorporate just one vegetarian meal per week.  Vegetables per pound are much more economical than meat, and contrary to many beliefs, you can get almost all the necessary nutrients from vegetables as you can meat.  Vegetables have protein and Vitamin D.  At one vegetarian meal a week, you can easily save $5-10 on your budget.  That’s $520 a year.

When you plan meals, and you go to the grocery store just after eating a meal, you aren’t as likely to stray from your grocery list.  I can easily spend $10-20 more per week just by going to the store hungry.  BIG MISTAKE! (And yes, I still do it occasionally.)  See…there’s another $520 a year just waiting to be saved.

I also like to try and come up with either one crockpot meal or a casserole I can make on Sunday and we can eat Monday and Wednesday.  Or every few weeks on a weekend, I will double up on my meal preparation.  I will cook more meals each day and cook larger quantities.  I use part of the prepped meals to get us through the week and I will also create frozen dinners that only need warmed and possibly a vegetable added as a side.  It saves tons of time during the week (and takes a lot of stress away) and you can also save money by buying larger quantities of foods.  Meats particularly are $0.20-0.50/lb cheaper when bought in family size quantities.

Finally, by planning meals, you can coordinate your trip to be the most efficient use of your grocery dollars and time.  More on that on “Grocery Shopping Saving”.  See, there’s $1,040 per year just waiting for you (give or take a few bucks).  Now, if you track it and can quantify the savings, just do an automatic transfer to the savings account for the money saved.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please send me your ideas or comments on this topic.  I’ll share them and keep you anonymous if that is what you would prefer.  I’d also like some great recipes for us to share.

Feed the Fund

Now, everyone should take the time and really look at their budget.  Most of us in our 30’, 40’s, 50’s and beyond probably eat out at least once per week.  I’m not just talking about the couples night out or weekly dinners at chain restaurants.  It is almost impossible to get out of there, after tip, for less than $40-50.  Chain restaurants are predictable…consistent is good, but it is also boring. 

I can prepare a far better meal at home than you could ever get at a steakhouse or Italian restaurant.  My husband and I like to save our “dining out” money for more local and unique restaurants.  The food is better, more economical, and there is a variety.  Thai, Vietnamese, small Italian joints, Sushi….these are our favorites.  Remember, at chain restaurants, the price is paying for the name. 

Now, go to a local restaurant and spend $30 and be disciplined.  This is the tricky part.  How do you get the extra $20 to your savings account.  Well, the very next store I am in, I pay and get cash back and go straight to the bank  (or hold it until Monday when the bank is open).

Truth is….we’ve had this account now for about 4 years and after  not making a habit of withdrawing and seeing the money grow, I have no problem staring at the $20 bill all weekend.  In fact, sometimes I have been known to pull an extra $20 and send it to my Secret Saver Account! 

 Let’s look at some numbers for inspiration:

$5/week saved is $260/year

$20/week saved is $1,040/year

 And, if you work an 8-5 job, I’m here to tell you, that was the first place I made a cut.  I used to go out to lunch every day.  That is an easy $50 a week and sometimes more  (lunch ain’t cheap anymore).  I only go out once per week (on a very rare occasion twice in a  week….and it better be for something special…lol).  That easily saved me $30-40 per week.

$40/week saved is $2,080/year.

 So, save $20 per week by dining unique and local on Friday or Saturday night and  then cut back on those social lunches and easily add another $30 per week to your savings.

$50/week saved is $2,600/year.

Grocery Saving

Grocery Shopping Saving

Saving money on grocery shopping can be done without the daunting coupon clipping.  I have tried a number of times to clip coupons for savings, and quite honestly, the loss of time to pursue this method of savings never seems to be made up for in the savings I recover.   I find that buying store brand or off=name products yields similar, if not better, quality and saves far more than the coupon offered.

  • I first go to Aldi and try to buy everything I possibly can there. Their quality often surpasses other store brands and costs significantly less.  Without a doubt, I often save $20 per week by shopping at Aldi first.  Aldi is comparable to Trader Joe’s from what I am told.
  • Once I buy every possible thing I can there, I hit a local meat market. The meat is much better quality than most chain grocers and often significantly less.  Example: boneless, skinless chicken breast is often $1.79-1.99 per pound, whereas typical grocery stores charge more than $4 per pound for the same.  I buy in bulk and freeze in meal portions.  This easily saves me $10 per week if not more.  My daughter, who doesn’t have easy access to a meat market buys most of her meat at Aldi and swears by the quality.  I have purchased a vac-packed whole tenderloin around the holidays.  The beef was USDA Prime and was $5 per pound less than the discounted prices offered at the local grocer.
  • Finally, I hit my local grocer for whatever is left on the list. Now I know many would say to hit a big-box store for household goods or the other remaining items.  But I have found that if I obtain everything from Aldi and or my local grocery chain, I often spend less.  Those big-box stores have a way of sapping me for extra things that I’ve somehow mentally convinced myself that I MUST HAVE.

You can see that by just swapping out my local grocery chain for Aldi and a meat market (or meats at Aldi), I am saving $30+ per week.  $1,560 per year to put into a savings account.  But I have to be disciplined.  If I don’t get cash back at purchase on my estimated savings, I make a note in my phone and transfer the money weekly.  But, I really (really) try to get the cash and take it right to the bank.

One thing I haven’t dabbled in too much is ordering household goods and just having them delivered.  I’m tinkering with that idea thinking that it may be a valuable way to not be tempted into additional purchases, not to mention it is time saving and easy on the schedule.