Want to have an easy $1,378 by December 31st, 2016?

It's that time of year for many of us to review our financial health over the past year.  Some of us can boast a healthy stream of money into our coffers, while others see another lean year trying to make ends meet, and some lie somewhere in the middle.  As a single mom of a university student and one ornery cat, I've always been blessed with a common sense and flair for being creative when it comes to my money. I would not consider myself a spendthrift - but when I do shop, I always shop for deals. I am also as guilty as the next person for once buying things for the simple reason that they were on sale and appeared useful at first - until they sat in a dark corner of my closet collecting dust.

I am very sentimental about certain things - maybe too many things. I love to feel nostalgic and I get that from seeing and touching items that trigger a wonderful memory.  I've streamlined much and installed decorative boxes in my closet to store treasures I look at a few times a year. As I grow older though, some items don't evoke the same sentiment and only then do I decide it's time to pass them forward.

When I once felt uncomfortable about buying used items, I now enjoy perusing a virtual garage sale site called Varage where people continuously recycle and reuse many items - sometimes posting items never used, and some let them go for free. This is good for the planet, don't you think? I am happy to say that my son and I not only de-cluttered our basement and garage this summer but sold many items on this site no longer useful for us, and a veritable treasure for others! As we are known as the generation of "having stuff" - among other nomenclature, I would like to think that in an effort to de-clutter our own closets and garages of useless items, we can encourage the global movement of cleaning up our planet for future generations and, make and save money in the process.  So with this said, let's return to the topic of this blog on spending less and saving more money!

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a fun method to saving money.   The precept is to save money without feeling the pinch in your wallet.  It goes like this: save in a jar $1.00 more per week than the week before. For example, on Friday, January 1st, you will drop $1 in your jar and the following Friday you will drop $2 in your jar and so on. In year one, I wasn't as successful as I wanted to be and thought it wouldn't work for me.  I found myself without the amount of cash in my wallet to drop into the jar and slowly gave up.....until I had a eureka moment.

Most people these days do some, if not all of their banking online so here is a perfect and easy way to save for whatever your heart fancies - hoping it isn't a clutter magnet and good for your soul and the planet.  You would need about 15 minutes before January 1st to set up automatic transfers from - let's say your chequing account into a new savings account you can give a whimsical or inspiring name to.....and no withdrawals until December 31st 2016!  You will set up 52 transfers - yes it may seem like a lot of work - but hey - $1,378 is yours by December 31st 2016!  Each transfer can be set on the day of your choosing provided there are 7 days separating each transfer.  Each transfer will be $1.00 more than the week before.  As you get into week 35 you will be transferring $35 and then $36, and so on each subsequent week.  You may start to feel it around the end of the summer but all it takes is strict discipline if you are very serious about saving money. Can you forego the daily $6 coffees, or $10 lunches, or maybe you don't need that new scented candle when you have dozens in your closet losing their fragrance with each passing year?  Light those candles and zen out while your savings account grows a little fatter each week!

If you choose to save using the jar method, an easy way to remember the amount is to take a paper calendar if you don't use a smartphone - many grocers and other businesses give out free calendars so use that -  and take a few minutes and write the amount you need to drop in the jar on your preferred day of the week!  You can also create an Excel worksheet where one column would be 1-52, the next column would be the dollar value growing by one each week, the next column could be your running balance so this way you can see that amount at the end of week 52 for some inspiration!  You can check off each week as the drop in the jar is made!

Turn your money-saving jars into a fun activity with your family, perhaps encouraging smaller amounts for younger children or strapped university students or turn it into a fun and friendly challenge! You can paint the jars, add ribbons or anything that make them your own!

Whether you are saving for a well-earned vacation, a piano for Suzie or a trumpet for Tom,  or maybe, just maybe, saving to pay it forward to a needy charity that does good work for the underprivileged, the disabled or the down and out, you will barely feel the pinch!

Merry Christmas, Happy and Blessed New Year filled with love, peace and many joy-filled days!


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