Saving Money Slowly

2013-05-12 18.18.30About a year ago, just after Balticon was over, I said to myself: “That was great, but.. Next year I’ve got plan my money better!”

I managed to get to Balticon, but I was severely money-crunched. I’m not a great saver, really, but it’s balanced out pretty well by the fact that I’m not a great spender, either. I grew up poor, which manifested in me in a number of ways, not least of which is a very strong desire to resist buying anything until the need is great.

This is not a perfect strategy. In fact, I noticed a counteracting feature in my mind: when I did buy something, it was often a splurge, an “I’ve-got-to-buy-this-THING-RIGHT-NOW” urge borne out of frustrated, unfulfilled desires.

You see, just because I don’t tend to buy anything, it doesn’t reduce in me an interest in shopping. So I wander through stores on a semi-regular basis, evaluating things that I might buy and assessing whether I wanted to buy them or not. Most of the time, the looking is enough, but every once and a while…

So, I worried about having the money for Balticon, but saving is generally hard to do, especially any sort of larger amount. My monthly bills rarely leave much left over, so the idea of saving on the large was anathema.

But what about saving on the small?

So, last year I got a ginormous container, cut a slot into the top cover, and taped a big sign on it, and put it up on a shelf that I pass by every day.

The sign read: “Balticon 47 Savings Plan: $1+/day“.

That’s it. Just a buck a day. Drop a loonie in there, or four quarters. Miss a day? Drop a twonie in and move on. Miss a couple of days? Drop all my change into it.

That last one is truly important, so I’ll repeat it: Miss a couple of days? Drop all my change into it.

And that has likely made all the difference. I’m terrible at maintaining a daily routine. I’m just not built that way. I have a background routine, but almost every day is different for a thousand little reasons.

(I find it an interesting parallel that it is always the little things that nag away at me..)

Well, the tally is in. I spend a couple of hours the other evening counting, rolling and wondering over this pile of change which has amassed over this past year. Now, the fact that Canada has a one dollar and two dollar coin is significant, as is the fact that the bank machines dole out twenty dollar bills, that are inevitable broken down quickly into change.

All the quarters, loonies and toonies, split out into counting groups.

All the quarters, loonies and toonies, split out into counting groups.

And? The total?

At a dollar a day, I was hoping to make approximately $365 dollars. It would be off by a bit, because I would want to add it up at least a week (or in this case, two) in advance.

The total surprised and pleased me: $469.50

Now, it’s a bit over the base number, because I had a few rolls of dimes that I threw in there, but in general: it worked! The slow method of saving was painless, and generally just resulted from me cleaning out my pockets anyway..

Now, I have to figure out if I’m just save for Balticon, or start setting my sights on another target for slow saving.. I may try having multiple buckets, one for each day, just to see if there’s a pattern to my pockets-emptying ways.

What about you? What tricks do you pull for yourself to make saving easier? I’ve heard of the “pay yourself first” strategy, for example, sometimes going so far as to have it an automatic feature of banking. Does that work for you?

Leave a Reply