Every Little Bit Counts

8

If you had a $1,000,000 in cash, I bet you’d consider yourself a millionaire, correct? Well what if I swiped $5? Or even $1? Would you still be a millionaire? You’d still be pretty rich, but not quite the text book definition of a millionaire.

The point I’m trying to make with this illustration is that every penny counts. People often fall into the trap of thinking that “It’s just a dollar, it’s just $10, it’s just $20.” Meanwhile, the reality is that a million dollars or even a billion dollars is a collection of $10s, $20, $50s, etc. Before you can think big, you must learn to think small. You can’t reach $100,000, and are even less likely to reach $1,000,000 if you’re not keeping your eye on your $1s.

Mind Your Bucks

This is what I like to refer to as “minding my bucks”. I keep track of every dollar spent whether it’s a $3 coffee or a $10 lunch because I know it adds up over time. I have made some relatively small changes in the past 2 years that have not materially impacted my quality of life but have managed to save me a bundle. Some can be easily quantified, others, not so much, but they all make financial sense and my only regret is not getting around to them sooner.

  • My husband’s hair grows very fast. He used to go to Supercuts twice a month for $17 and would tip $3. I cut his hair now. Savings $480 a year.
  • We used to eat dinner out once a week, averaging $50 per bill. We’ve cut back to  once a month. Savings $1,800 a year. We get an additional 10% cash back by targeting the restaurants that gives us bonus rewards (I talk about those in this post). This can get us additional savings of up to $60 a year.
  • If we’re going anywhere together, we take my car (he drives an SUV), which gives us 14 miles more per gallon (34 mpg v. 20 mpg). Our local BJ’s gas station charges $1.89/gal which translates to $24 in savings on a 600-mile round trip to visit family in NYC. If we go 4 times a year, that’s $96.
  • We take advantage of my husband’s employee discount for our BJ’s membership. While the membership usually costs $50 a month for 12 months, his job allows him to get the membership for 16 months and paying only $40. If we annualize the cost, that saves us $20 a year.
  • We canceled our gym membership after we move to our new house. The previous owners were not able to move their full size gym in time before the closing, leaving us with a total body weight training system. We also now have a 1.5 acre lot which will be useful for cardio in warmer weather. Savings, $240 a year ($20/month Planet Fitness).

Total savings: $2,696.

We didn’t become hermits. We didn’t start dumpster diving. We aren’t depriving ourselves of anything we enjoy. In fact, some people might argue that we haven’t made enough cuts. We still have cable, unlimited data plans, etc. We just made some minor adjustments to save ourselves close to $3,000. Is there room for you to find a couple thousand dollars in your budget? What would you do with an extra $3,000 a year?

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