The following rules will apply regardless whether you’re a single mom or a family of ten. I’m going to show you how we managed to save enough money to retire early even when it looked impossible.
Rule #1 Decide on a goal.
This is the only rule in which all parties must agree.
Whether you want to save for a college fund, a new home, or retirement, it must be the goal of everyone involved.
Rule #2 Decide on a deadline.
I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me motivated like a ticking clock–or in this case a ticking calendar.
Now. Discuss both these items thoroughly. Is it a worthwhile goal? Is it a doable timeline? Make sure everyone involved agrees to the first two before you move on. It’s important to have that commitment.
Rule #3 Break down your benchmarks.
Say your goal is a house of your very own. After you’ve crunched all the numbers, you decide that $40K is the down payment you need to make that happen. It could be any number but for the sake of argument let’s choose 40K. Your first step is to figure out how much time it will take you to save your goal amount.
I know you’re hyperventilating right now, but trust me, it’s totally doable. We’ll be breaking down this goal into smaller bites.
Rule #4 Attack your mini-goals.
Not everyone can pull 40K from their back pocket, but most of us can squeeze $10-15K in a year. If you think you can’t, tally up all those lunches, coffees, gadgets, trips, and toys you’ve bought in a year. The total might surprise you.
If you really want to be efficient, record all your expenses for a year. We do this every few years just to make us accountable for what we spend. When you tally the non-essentials you’re going to need smelling salts. Most of us never realize how much money we waste on things that don’t matter in the long run.
As soon as you’ve decided on your goal, no matter what it is, don’t think about the big number you need. Focus on the little numbers.
How much can you save in a year? Start there. For the whole year, you’re going to do nothing but focus on the first bite of that apple.
Rule #5 Make an inspiration board.
I’ve never been a fan of inspiration boards, but I know a lot of people who swear by them. It’s especially useful when you want your children to pull their weight. If they can see why you’re saying no to new clothes or gadgets, they won’t bat an eye because they know it’s for a good cause. They’re also brilliant sergeants in patrolling how you spend money.
We tend to hear a lot about spoiled kids, but kids are the best for keeping you honest. They KNOW when you’re trying to do what’s best for them. You can’t hide anything from a kid. That’s why it’s important they understand that what you need as a family will take time, but not a terrible amount of time. Trust in your kids. They will help all they can.
Rule #6 You’re not being deprived, so don’t go there.
I’ll tell you a secret. 50 years ago, we were taught not having food and shelter was deprivation. You are not deprived.
What you might be feeling is envy because you’re comparing your stuff to what your friends have. Don’t do that. Don’t get hung up on what other people have. That’s a sick mentality fed by social media and retailers.
Rule #7 Don’t cheat on each other.
Hiding a bill from your significant other is just like cheating on him. Not only is it dishonest, but it’s counterproductive. If you truly want to achieve the goal of financial independence, you have to lay your cards on the table and play your hand all the way to the end. That goes for everyone involved.
Rule #8 Touch base regularly
Make a weekly commitment to go over your bills and your savings to see how you’re doing. Knowing where you’re at financially and in which direction you’re moving is a good way to keep up your momentum.
What’s your big financial goal? Home, education, retirement? Do you have a plan in place to make it happen?
Big dollar investments always make me cringe, but believe me, it’s doable if you keep at it. The funny thing about saving for a goal is that the closer you get, the faster it happens.
In the early 80s when our take-home pay was very much smaller, we once socked away over 20k in a year (for a down payment on a house) just by living below our means. Hand-to-heart, it got so easy living below our means, we just kept doing it the rest of our lives.
What’s your big dream goal?