Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ways to Save - Starting Out Small

When you first commit yourself to making saving a "mindset" you will do either of two things.  Either you will go hog wild, willy nilly, torpedo's ahead into it which translates to burn out in a very quick amount of time and you walk away from the thought process or you will start out small with little changes that become a habit you stick to and savings becomes a way of life and a positive habit.  You probably don't have enough positive habits in your life.  None of us do.

Think about it realistically for a moment.  Most habits are not necessarily good ones....biting your nails, leaving the toilet seat up, impulse buying, etc.  Let's face it, bad habits are the hardest thing in the world to break.  The most spoken phrase has to be "I just lack the Will Power."  It's not a matter of will power at all, in my opinion (you'll get a lot of my opinion in this blog!).  It's a matter of trying to do too much too fast and overwhelming ourselves with change.  Change is never easy.  How many people look at change as exciting.  Ask a kid how they feel about moving to a new city or state.  Ask your co-workers how they feel if your company is bought out by another.  Change can be scary and it can seem like it's going to be boring but that's where your creative side comes in.

Let's take lunches for example.  Making the switch to take your lunch everyday gets some getting used to, but it can save you a ton of money and it can save you calories as well.  Another Win/Win and hopefully you are figuring out I love WIN / WINS

We'll take myself for example.  Yes, I have to confess my sins.  I was the Queen of eating out.  Montoyas (Mexican Restaurant) was and still is my absolute favorite.  It was not uncommon for me to go there with my co-workers once, twice, three times a week and at the cost of a minimum of $8.00 a meal.  Do the math.  I was spending at a minimum of $8.00 per week there and sometimes over $24.00 a week there.  Then add in the Chinese restaurant or the wings place or the chili place of McD's or Burger King, etc. and I was spending at least $40.00 per week.  Now multiply that times 52 weeks of the year and you get......quick, everyone run get their calculators.....the number is $2,080.00 a year.  WTF was I thinking.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that I have a little bit of a potty mouth.  O.K.  $.25 in the change jar for that one but you get the picture. 

Just imagine....what if someone walked up to you right now and said here is $2,080.00.  Do what you want with it.  What would you do?  That's a pretty big fricken chunk of change hun?  Get the picture.  Oh but wait, I have to pay for the cost of the food to pack my lunch right?  Correct and once you start shopping and purchasing the way I do, then you will be spending $1-2 a day for lunch.  Now let's go on the high side and say your lunch costs you $2 a day which is $10.00 per week which equals $520.00 a year.  HUGE difference. 

Now when you think about lunches, maybe you had a mother like I did who fed you the same thing for lunch everyday.  Bologna sandwich and some chips.  Boo Hiss Boo Hiss.  If you ask me to touch Bologna today you might want to duck because I won't come near the stuff.  My husband is lucky to get a fried Bologna sandwich every great once in a while and that's only because I can pick it up with a fork!

The great thing about being an adult is that you get to make your own choices which includes what you put into your lunch bag or pail or box or whatever you use to tote your lunch to work or wherever you go.  It's totally up to you what goes in there.  I see people at work bring a salad every day and a piece of fruit.  After a while that gets boring to me.  My lunch is usually a mish mash of a little of this and a little of that.  For instance, this morning when I was packing my lunch I was in a hurry because I forgot to pack it last night so I threw in 5 Saltine Crackers, 3 pieces of cheese, 2 hot dogs (had a craving for those) some grapes.  I forgot my little packet of Instant Oatmeal.  (that was very disappointing around 9:30 a.m. when I had the munchies).  Tomorrow's lunch (yes I have already packed it) contains left over green beans from dinner, left over Tyson Chicken Tenders and of course more grapes (don't want them to go bad) and my little pack of oatmeal which is already out and ready to go.  Now I know that I paid $.34 cents for the green beans (purchased when they were on sale) and the hot dogs were purchased at $.99/pack from Aldis when they were on sale there which means (doing the math roughly) that my lunch and breakfast will be under $2 total for the day. 

When I pack my lunch, I always go for the leftovers first.  First reason, my husband doesn't eat leftovers and second reason is that I don't mind eating leftovers and the third reason is that it keeps the food from being wasted.  Works for me.  If there are no leftovers then I open up the cabinets or go down to the little "store" the basement and see what I can find that is easy to fix at the office.  And when I shop I look for things that are low costs that I can take for lunch.  Today I received a sample snack bar in the mail from Kashi.  That will definitely go into a future lunch and that's a freebie!

The point is that taking your lunch doesn't have to be boring.  Mix it up.  The one thing I strongly caution you on is going to the store and buying a bunch of Little Debbie this and Hostess that.  Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE TWINKIES, and I buy them occasionally, but try to stay away from those items.  First reason is the obvious....they aren't the healthiest things in the world and secondly, they don't go on good sales often so they make your lunch costs go up. 

Again, the key to making taking your lunch work a habit is to be creative and change it up.  Tomorrow it's left overs for me which is fine because I liked what we had for dinner.  Friday might be some celery and peanut butter along with some grapes and maybe a packet of instant soup.  Who knows....won't know until I pack it but it the key is to make it different every day which is what will make you stick to it.  And just think about all of the money you will save!



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