Friday, January 11, 2013

2013: A Year of Savings


A few years ago, when I was still Penny Ann Poundwise, I spent a full year totting up the savings I made.  I did this for two reasons.  First, I was inspired by a January magazine article that said if I followed every single step I could save $5000 in a year's time.  I discovered that I already DID do everything on their list.  And second, I was doubting my value as a homemaker at the time. I had to see on paper exactly what my being at home meant to our household.  There were some huge savings that year, once in a lifetime type savings, but also lots of little things that I didn't even count as a daily or weekly occurrence but as a one time only thing.  Still, the figure at the end of the year surprised and delighted me and really boosted my confidence in my skills as a homemaker and a frugalite.  I saved  about $27,000 by my skewed figuring back in 2008.

My friend Louise read my final post of the year in 2008 and sent this letter to me.  I'm posting my reply to her  because it illustrates what I think is the true value of saving skill in the home:

Now you got me curious.....Does your bank account really reflect that almost $27,000 saving??? Wouldn't that be awesome?? 

When I quit smoking I had a quit meter that told me how much I was saving by NOT smoking but my pocketbook never showed that. 

Dearest Weezie,
Does my checking or savings balance reflect an additional $27,000?  Sadly, no.  And on the other hand, YES.  You see, our balance amounts remained relatively stable over the past year, without huge drops despite major purchases, vacations and some pretty stiff price increases courtesy gasoline and groceries and electric.   

I realize the most popular theory about savings is that if you don't actually physically put money into an account and increase your balance you can't call it savings  is floating around in that world out there.  But I'm also aware of true facts.

For the 11th year in a row I've been a homemaker.  I 'saved' more money than I've ever earned in a year's time working outside the home.  I've effectively doubled the money we have at our disposal.  We've lived, so to speak, beyond our means, without going into debt, without my going into the workaday world and without relying on government assistance or handouts. The savings added up to a fairly comfortable life on an income that we're repeatedly told time and again is impossible to live upon for ONE much less three.

We are constantly being asked if we have a 'private' income from an unknown source by people who find it necessary to work two or three jobs to support their lifestyles.  Imagine my surprise when a friend recently shared that her college graduate son took his first job.  I asked if he'd then be moving out on his own, and was told firmly that it would be impossible as his job only paid '$X' income that is relatively the same as ours!

However, I'll not take all of the credit for our current mode of living well on little.  Remember also that we tithe faithfully and I truly believe it is the combination of my diligence in trying to find savings in the daily living expenses, and God's faithfulness in supplying our need, that adds up to the comfortable life we have.


What changed after 2009?  Not a lot.  We were three years into our 'no raise' living at that time with two more to go.  Prices rose, we got a little older, our household got a little smaller, we found still more ways to save, we paid off a car loan and acquired another, we were given a car, we began to travel a bit more...we lived, in other words.

So why return to a year of savings?  Have you been listening to the news?  Yeah, me too.  However, I proved once before that  a woman who is savings savvy, willing to change what isn't working, willing to be dedicated to what does work, can stretch income and live well.  I've been doing this for years on end.  I can throw up my hands and quit or I can keep going and prove that one can continue to manage in this economy, too.

So welcome to my version of A Year of Savings, 2013 style.

January 1:   No big party for us, no big dinner day out either.  What did we do?  We ate Chinese stir fry at home.  Savings:  not a lot over the cost of traditional Chinese take out, except we didn't have to drive over and pick it up.  About two gallons of gasoline as a matter of fact, which happens to be about what we paid for our dinner so we broke even.  No added cost is a savings, too, even if it is invisible.

January 2:  My day out with Mama.  I SPENT money this day and I spent a good bit.  How is that 'savings'?  It goes like this: #1 I bought some things for the house that I've been wanting for months.  In fact, two of the items I bought have been on my list of wants for two years.  I bought both at a substantial savings over previous excursions when I priced them at discount stores and websites.  I saved $20 on two sets of flatware and $10 on a set of Corelle dishes.  But  is this savings moot?  Because those two items purchased, while at a substantial savings are being paid for from my personal savings account where I deposit Christmas and birthday gift monies given to me each year.  Out of that account I provide many of my household wants and the majority of my annual clothing expenses.   That's $30 I can use towards my other wants/needs and won't have to hit  up our checking account for personal expenses.  #2  While in the store, I bought dog food.  I noted that it was on sale as I flipped through the Sunday papers.  We've been paying about $13 a bag for this particular food, which was on sale for $10.  I bought four bags for $40, saving $12 (or a bit more than the cost of one bag of food at our usual price).  #3 I also picked up two 36 roll packs of toilet paper that was on sale for the 'best price' mark.  That will last us about six months, which means I can easily wait until it's on sale for the 'best price' before buying more.  I saved $14.40 almost the cost of a $36 roll pack.

January 3:  John's prescription was ready for pick-up at CVS.  I'd received a high value ECB reward for my annual quarterly savings and a $4 coupon savings if I purchased $20 worth of vitamins.  I looked over the sales sheet, noting sales on items we truly needed, noted vitamins were on sale as a b1g1 value and pulled manufacturer's coupons as well.  My total was $88 on all items with a savings of $65 in sales prices (not including the prescription) and then I turned over coupons and ECBs.  I paid $34 out of pocket.  We have about a 3 month supply of vitamins, dish-washing liquid, facial tissues, and shampoo.  I got $153 worth of products for $34. I saved $119.  Know what?  That out of pocket amount wasn't the best I could have done.  I misplaced a high value, $20 off $80 coupon.  I could have walked out with just $14 out of pocket!  Ack...You can bet I'll be a lot more careful of my coupons in the future!

January 4:  Mama gave me an item from her freezer that she'd purchased by mistake: a turkey kielbasa sausage.  No problem for us as we usually buy turkey sausage anyway.  Savings to us at the current price: $3.49

January 5: Gathered the $1 bills from my purse and put them in the vacation folder.  I make a deposit at the end of each month.  I had $5 for vacation savings this week.

January 6:  I didn't go anywhere yesterday nor make any purchases.  That's a great savings.  This day I had to make a long road trip...not a savings but I determined that with a full tank of gasoline and five hours on the road I could at least make sure I didn't spend more than $20.  I only spent $10. Not calling that a savings yet...

January 7:  Trip back home.  If I could manage the trip down on 1/2 tank of gasoline and $10, I figured I could do the same this day as well.  I did even better and came home with $4 in my purse.  All $1bills went into vacation savings.

Total savings for week: $187.89

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