Yesterday I listed out my financial goals for 2016. This stuff I guess can be kind of a touchy subject but I did something with my money last year that I want to share with you all in hopes that it might help you too.
I suppose I should start by giving you a tiny background on how I have any money whatsoever as a grad student. Luckily, the graduate students in the Food Science and Technology program at Virginia Tech are very fortunate enough to get paid for our research. This is something that I don’t think any of us take for granted because it’s very, very rare nowadays. However, as thankful as we are, we don’t make a full-time salary. I like to say that we make enough to live comfortably. Moving on… At the beginning of 2015 I was low on money from Christmas and paying my school dues. I love love gift giving so I don’t really hold back and my bank account definitely showed that come January 1, 2015. Due to my poor budgeting and planning for the holidays, I decided to start preparing right then and there for Christmas 2015. I looked over my small budget and made the decision to put $40 every week into a Ziploc bag. I promised myself that I wouldn’t touch the bag. Sometimes people do this using a wine bottle so that they can’t get the money out without breaking the bottle but I really wanted to put my patience to the test. I wrote on the Ziploc the dates of every week and would happily check them off every Sunday when I deposited $40.
This was the best decision I made all year and it happened on the first of January! Come Christmas time, I had $2,080.00 saved up to spend on family and friends. I didn’t spend it all of course… I saved over half of it and used the rest to loosely budget my Christmas shopping.
Now that I know I’m capable of saving, I decided this year to really test my budgeting skills. My goal is to buy a car this year and I know some “real girl” bills are going to start popping up in the near future so instead of putting $40 away every week I’m going to double that and save $80/week. This is really going to be tough but I think if I’m really careful with my finances I can do it. Here’s to trying!
Some things I’ve changed about my saving plan… I’m not putting cash into a Ziploc anymore. As pessimistic as this may sound, if our house were to catch on fire and I lost all of my money… Well, that would just stink. So, I’m going to transfer it weekly and keep it safe and sound that way. If you want to try the bag/jar method for your first go around I would definitely say do it! It was a really gratifying experience for me.
If you want to try this out I would suggest taking a look at your finances and figure out what you spend the majority of your money on. Programs such as LearnVest and Mint can be really helpful with this. Once you determine where your money was going, it is easier to figure out how much to save. Whether you want to make it “easy” and try saving a smaller amount for the first 6 months/year or make it “harder” by forcing yourself to really watch your spending is entirely up to you. Of course, the more you save the more you will have to spend during the holidays and more to SAVE. Even if you put away $5 a week that is $260.00 for the year!
Something else I’m going to do this year to save a little bit more money is to put all of the “savings” from grocery shopping into my savings account. Most grocery stores nowadays have some kind of store savings card. We use Kroger here and I buy a lot of their brand so I end up having a few cents to even dollars of savings every time I shop. This year I’m going to try to transfer that amount over to my savings every single time after I shop. It is January 8, 2016 and so far I have $10.20. I think I could be on to something!
Saving Tips to Prepare for the Holidays (=LESS STRESS!):
I hope these tips help to relieve some stress during the 2016 holiday’s and maybe teach you some budgeting and patience along the way. 🙂