March 4, 2018
I've never been good at saving money. Like ever. I'm pretty positive it has to do with my supreme lack of patience.
A perfect and true story to illustrate this is from my time doing mission work in Peru. After college, I packed up a giant suitcase and spent 5 months teaching English in a coastal Peruvian town, Trujillo. I'd raised the exact amount of support I needed to be there for 5 months and that support was handed over to the leadership of the organization and rationed out to us every month. This money was to be used for groceries, transportation, and general spending.
Somehow, every time we approached the end of the month, I found that I had run out of money. I'd spent it all on groceries and bodega snacks, (little neighborhood convenience stores), and empanadas. (I also gained a ton of weight when I lived in Peru...obviously there's a clear correlation here.)
My friends always knew I had run out of money because instead of taking a taxi to work each morning as usual, I'd instead suggest we walk the 20 minutes to work. Often times they'd appease me and go along, and sometimes they'd lovingly tease about how I should have maybe not have bought so many ChokoSodas (my favorite Peruvian snack...soda crackers dipped in chocolate...so simple, SO good), but they were always kind. Instead of taking the time to budget out my money each month so that I could appropriately ration it out, I just started spending as soon as I received it, which was a) pretty irresponsible and b) probably pretty annoying to my friends that HAD money to take taxis to work. I'm really grateful I had kind friends along the way for my antics, but even more grateful that I can now exercise more self-control to save my money when necessary.
A month ago I attended a webinar about Dave Ramsey's Online Financial Coaching Master Training. Five minutes into the webinar I knew I wanted to complete the training and as I took in all of the helpful information, I couldn't help but get a little antsy as I waited to see what the price tag attached to the course would be. $1800
E I G H T E E N H U N D R E D D O L L A R S
Bless. But after I processed that dollar amount along with all of the resources I'd learned about that would come with it, I believed it was worth it and that I wanted to do it. And it's been a loooong time since I've attempted to save that much money at once. Honestly, probably not since I saved up my $1000 for my emergency fund back in 2014. I have definitely since saved up money for things...just things with smaller price tags (like $500 for a beach trip.) The other rub of this is that I am not the most patient person and I want to get this training like yesterday. Often times, the reason I don't try very hard to save up for something specific is because the amount of time it might take overwhelms me and sometimes outweighs how badly I want the thing.
So - how will I, an impatient spender, save up $1800 in my self-given timeline of 6 months or less?
Start a sinking fund - A sinking fund is basically just a really specific savings fund. Instead of attempting to stash away extra money into a general savings account, I'm going to start a fund specifically for this training. This not only keeps my money separate from, say, my emergency fund (ps - you should always keep your emergency fund money separate so you don't accidentally spend it), but it also keeps me from accidentally spending it if it's lumped in with something else. Over the next few months I'll stash any extra dollars I receive into this fund either from side hustles or my normal income. And as someone that has had trouble with spending in the past, I've found that I do best if I actually pull the money out of my account and stuff it into an envelope and in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind is the tactic that has worked best for me.
Share - I'm going to let people know in my life what this saving goal is and what it's for. Often this feels counter intuitive or uncomfortable to talk about money like this, but, believe it or not, people like to hear about the things you've got going on in your life. By sharing, you're not only opening up opportunities to connect with others that may share similar passions you didn't know about, but you're also opening yourself to opportunities to earn extra money. People will not look to me to house sit, dog sit, or babysit if they don't think I want to or need the extra money. And since I'm going to be relying on side hustles to build up this fund, sharing is one of the most beneficial things I can do.
Say yes - Lastly, I plan to say "yes." A lot. There are so many opportunities around me all the time to make extra cash. There are times when I'll likely say "no" to a babysitting gig simply because I don't necessarily want to spend that particular Friday or Saturday night doing that. And when I'm not saving up for something specific I can be a little pickier about what I commit to. However, in this particular season, a season of wanting to get this sinking fund built up as quickly as I possibly can (without disrupting my debt snowball or just eating red beans and rice), I have to say yes to as many side hustle opportunities as possible. A perfect example of this is how I spent almost 12 hours of my weekend selling some simple syrup at a local market (side note: if you love a good old fashioned or sangria, you really need to check out my friends over at Statesman Beverage Co. They've got the BEST spiced simple syrup.) And as much fun as I think the markets are, it's not always how I want to spend my free time; however, the almost $200 I now have stashed away toward my goal makes the time worth it and now I only have 1600 bucks left to go. ;)
So that's it - I'll keep you all posted at how quickly I can get this thing built up. I'm a woman on a mission so I hope it's sooner than 6 months.
But, what about you? Do you have something you've been wanting to save up for but have found yourself intimidated? I'd love to hear what it is or what YOUR fast-paced saving strategies are!