Savings: A different method to the traditional budget.
Anyone who knows me will know that I am incredibly frugal – that’s my nice way of saying cheap! It's something that has been built into me from a young age, you save for what you want and you watch where you spend your pennies.
I’ve read so many blog posts and articles or watched tv programs in the past about how to save money. They can be really useful and if you are in need of guidance on how to budget or where to save then thats brilliant. But we already have a good grasp on our budget and I very often find myself thinking I already do that.
A few years ago I was mentioning to my mum about some of the bargains that I had picked up and she casually said 'Do you ever keep track of how much you save?' No, was the answer. I’d never thought about taking note of how much I saved, usually you just take notice of what you spend. This set the wheels in motion and I thought why not give it a try? I decided that come January I would write down all the ‘non-essential’ buys I made, things like birthday or Christmas presents or items related to hobbies, which in my case meant craft stuff and lots of it!
What a total game changer this was! Budgeting I find can err on the side of negative ‘Oh gosh look how much I’ve spent and look how little I have left’ but noting down what you actually save is a total positive, ‘Whoo hoo look at how much I have actually saved.’
The thing is you’d think that looking at how much you’ve saved might make you think you have loads more cash to go and spend in other places and therefore, not be any benefit to saving, but this wasn’t the case. Instead of buying more it actually made me buy less! Seeing how much I was saving on purchases spurred me on to want to save more, it gave me an extra incentive to take the time to find a promo code, shop about to find items with discounts on and to think about what I was actually buying in a sale and to not be so blinded by the huge banners that tell you what percentage off you MIGHT be able to get!
My savings sheet:
Full PDF version of the savings sheet
I created a savings sheet and kept it really simple. I wrote the item I bought, what I bought it for and how much it should have cost. I kept a running total at the bottom and then found the percentage of overall saving from this.
I loved it when I could see the percentage of what I had saved, it was a real buzz! At one point it dropped below 60% and I was so determined to get it back up to 70% again. I began to begrudge paying full price for anything – but that can only last so long, you do have to realise that some things never really come down to a good discounted price...lego was the bain of my life, I could never find it cheap!
If you’re an online shopper and looking at this thinking you only find bargains like this in the shops, you would be mistaken. In fact everything I bought on here I bought online. Having young children I didn’t have time to go trawling the shops in sales and actually I found that I didn’t particularly want to. All this was done from the comfort of my sofa and knowing me probably whilst I was still wearing my pyjamas.
The savings sheet isn't completely fool proof, it's still easy to get caught up buying things in an online sale just because its cheap. I liken it to a trip to IKEA. Whenever you go to IKEA you come out having spent twice as much as you had planned to and with things you never knew you needed or even knew existed until you saw them! So I have a little system / trick / hack (whatever you want to call it) to cope with this.
I keep it reigned in on my online shopping habit by doing something that I call ‘Online window shopping.’ If I’m trawling a sale and I see something I think I might like then I click it and put it in the basket but when it comes to check out that’s when I make the decisions. Very often I've liked far too many things and when I click into the checkout the total of the basket is enough to shock my brain into crying out 'What are you doing, you don't have this much to spend?' Thats when I start with the basic but necessary questions to help the savings: Do I actually need this? Is it worth the money? When am I going to use this? All these questions combined with the drive the saving sheet gives me means that when I review the basket I am ruthless! It's like a wake up call, to take that step back and be accountable for my purchases and then I get rid of all the things that I was actually sucked into clicking into the basket by the prospect of a bargain.
So if you’re looking to save some money this year I would totally recommend spending a couple of months just noting down the savings you make. It’s been a really positive experience in our house and a total game changer!