Friday, August 12, 2011

Introducing: Fiscal Fridays

Today I'm starting a new series of weekly posts based on the Financial Diet. I'm calling it "Fiscal Fridays." Each week, I share a tip or experience related to budgeting, saving and spending money. Enjoy!

Source: Dollar Bank via Wikimedia Commons

Today's topic: Saving Money.

Saving money has always been a priority of mine. Not a very high priority, mind you, but it's always been on the radar as one of those "I really should start..." (My top three ways to finish that sentence? "Saving money," "working out again" and "cleaning the apartment more frequently.") Anyway, I've always meant to start doing it, after I got my credit card debt paid down. Because that's more important, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

I know it seems counterintuitive. Why should I start saving money, when I'm wasting all this cash each month on finance charges for my maxed-out credit cards? Shouldn't I focus on getting them under control?

Well, yes and no. The short-answer reasoning behind this is that you always, always want a stockpile of cash saved up. In case your clutch goes out (ahem) or, worse, you have an unexpected medical emergency or even lose your job. Conventional wisdom says that you should have at least three months' salary saved up in a "rainy day" fund at all times. While that might be difficult to achieve, I think that it's absolutely necessary to have, and that should be your main financial focus until you get it.

Since I don't have enough extra money after all my bills are paid to do some serious saving, I've decided to pick up another job waitressing. Football season is coming up, and for those of you who aren't familiar with Columbus' football scene, well...we're kind of fanatics. The sports bar where I'm working is going to get a ton of business, and I'm confident if I save every penny of my paycheck and tips during football season, I can get a good savings stockpile started. It won't be the equivalent of three months' pay at my real job, but it will be a good base. From there, I can work on saving just a little bit more each month until I reach my goal.

While I'm saving the money from that job, I'll continue to make higher-than-minimum payments on my two major (and high-interest; we're talking 18% and 24%!) credit cards, in an attempt to wrangle them down. But for the next few months, my focus will be on save, save, save.

The nice thing about getting this part-time waitressing gig will be that I'll still be able to spend $20-$30 a week on frivolous things like clothes, booze and dining out. I truly believe that it's vital to work just a little bit of petty cash into every budget, just so you have a little freedom and are less tempted to blow your budget entirely.

What about you? Any tips or ideas for helping to save money?


  1. Whenever I find myself holding a little more extra money than usual (like when I get a bonus or didn't go out to eat as much the month before), I want to spend it on clothes. Instead of going shopping, I'll online shop for a while, put a few things in my cart, then put the money I would have spent into my savings.

    It makes me feel like I spent that money on something fun instead of saving. I guess I'm getting better at psyching myself out, haha.

  2. Great post! We could all use tips on saving money.

    My biggest advice, is if you are lucky enough to receive a bonus at work or during income tax time, we pretend like we never got it and stick it directly into the savings account.

    But...birthday money and gifts are meant to be used to splurge and buy things you would never buy yourself!


  3. My best advice (especially to fresh out of college kids) is draw up a budget and track your spending. Even if you don't think you need to.

    So that you can actually see how much you spend on things each month (ex. my 'eating out' budget is OUT OF CONTROL)

  4. I've always had the "pay yourself first" mentality, because it is so important to save, even if it is only a few bucks a week, because the longer you save the amazingness of compounding interest occurs.

    Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? I know quite a lot of gals who have done amazing things with their debt/finances by reading his website/blog/books.

    Good luck on your journey and willingness to take a second job to make things happen!

  5. I know I'm a little behind on my comments--crazy week--but I've started a cash plan. At the beginning of the week, I withdraw what I need from the ATM and only use my card for things like groceries and gas. Everything else,I try to pay cash. It really helps me *see* -literally- where my money goes and I only have a set amount to spend.


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