Lose 10 lbs, spend more time with family, create a budget and stick to it… it’s good to have lofty goals, but sometimes you need to break those goals into smaller more manageable steps in order to stay on course and actually achieve those resolutions.
My goal in 2012 is to spend smarter. While having more funds available for charitable purposes or a rainy day is important, it’s not my main objective. The goal here is to model sound financial practices for my three children. Well, that and the fact that smart purposeful spending is always in style.
In order to track my progress I needed to break this goal into realistic steps. I thought I would share a few of those steps with you.
The ability to locate a receipt is critical for work reimbursements, tax write-offs or simply store returns. And if you’ve ever spent an hour dumping out handbags or combing through the center console of your vehicle only to end up donating your new, but too small, cashmere sweater to the thrift store you know the waste of lost receipts.
I’m going to use the Galison Accordion Organizer in black, but you could also use the Receiptables-Money, the Receipt Catcher-Car, or a small accordion check file. I’m going to keep it in my purse while traveling and in my car when running errands. EVERY receipt is going in there. Each week or month I’ll get rid of any receipts that should be saved temporarily to match to a bank statement or for consumables like groceries. At the same time I’ll fill out my expense report and make a note on any receipts that are tax related.
As an added bonus I’ll be better able to track how I’ve spent cash.
I’ll save online shopping receipts in a folder in my email box; printing out or backing up any receipts that are needed for tax purposes.
Growing up in a house with a mother that can best be described as spontaneous I never knew what it meant to plan dinner. One month we were vegetarians and my mom prepared meals like cottage cheese loaf (yes, there is such a thing) and falafels, the next month she served only soup. The point is there was no plan, she bought what looked good at the store and then made a plan about an hour before we were to eat. Now don’t get me wrong I love my mom and my house was certainly a fun place to grow up, but there is a time and place for spontaneity and if you want to save money, the grocery store is not it.
When planning my weekly menu I’m going to focus on buying seasonal produce. I’ll use the See Jane Work What to Eat/What to Buy list each Friday morning or afternoon. I’ll pick up what I can at Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and then shop for the rest over the weekend. When the chaotic week hits I’ll be relieved to know exactly what my family is eating and have the necessary ingredients on hand. I’ll save money, time and hopefully calories.
As a bonus I’m going to save the meal plans so at the year’s end I’ll have a year of meal plans that I can reuse. Routine can be boring for some, but for a working mother it’s a necessity.
Whether it’s workday tasks, running errands, Saturday chores or time for myself I’m going to make a plan each day and stick to it (well-mostly).
I’ll use the See Jane Work To Do List, the Bob’s Your Uncle No Tomorrow Planner Pad or maybe even the Kate Spade Long List Pad at the start of each morning. I’ll prioritize my tasks and plan the most expedient route to completion. I hope to save gas, time and frustration. (You might wonder how frustration comes into saving money. I can assure you that more money is spent on wine, food and/or long distance calls at the end of frustrating days.)
I’m going to better plan how I want my day to go and what I hope to accomplish. I’ll do this while I drink my morning coffee or before everyone else arrives at work.
Remember whether you have a lot or a little, money (like everything else) should never be wasted. In addition to my financial organization, there are some additional things I’ll be working on in the New Year. I’ve illustrated them for you.
When you're feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty getting started, it helps to make a list. Get all that stuff in your mind down on paper. Limit yourself to one line per item, if you have a due date include that next to the item. Don't worry about priority or additional detail at this time, just get it on paper. Once you've finished, group items into categories by priority, then type, for example errands, calls, urgent, etc. Relief will come as you work through the list and cross things off. To read past Quick Tips click here