This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
How much of anything is worth doing something constructive with? $5 ? 10 minutes? A half portion of pasta sauce? How many times do we dismiss the importance of the small amount? We clip coupons, turn out our unused lights, make coffee at home, but to what end? What do you save, and what do you waste?
I used to practice a home maintenance system whereby everything was done 15 minutes at a time. It is amazing what you can get done if you want to finish within a certain time frame.
If I budget $300 to spend on food, gas and other living stuff for a month, and I manage to only spend $260, how important is that other $40? Compared to the size of my mortgage, it almost seems like too small an amount to matter. What about a about a mail in rebate? I just received a cheque for $8.51 for dishwasher soap that had an incentive like that. That half cup of sauce? I’d have to add more to it to make a meal.
The small things add up. I have some containers in my freezer that I add small portions of leftovers to, they end up as soup, or a mixture of assorted pasta toppings (chopped tomato, basil, Italian sausage, roasted garlic and marinara on linguini anyone?).
I’m still trying to figure out the best system for small amounts of money though. Should I put that random $10 or $20 on my debt at the end of the week as I start my new weekly budget? Should I have it in my sock drawer to pay for unexpected yet non emergency fund worthy items? Should I put it in a high interest savings account and empty it on my debt when it reaches a certain level? Or should I use it as my fun money?
I know from experience that if I leave it in my wallet, there will always be a sale on something at a “stock up” price, or an invitation for dining out that will be too tempting. Depositing small cash into the bank seems tedious (I can imagine the bank teller’s face if I went in to deposit $7.89 in cash to my savings account).
$20 a week saved is $1,040 over the course of a year, which is definitely not an amount to dismiss. What do you do with little bits of things? Do you track it if it’s money? If you save $10 using coupons, do you just buy something else with the money you saved?