Becoming More Financially Responsible

When I think about the amount of money I have wasted in my life, I could almost make myself sick.

I wasn’t the type of person that would run out and buy the latest iPhone or get the most upgraded options on a new car purchase. That wasn’t the type of wasteful person I was.

However, I was the type of person that would just leave change laying around in my car and repurchase products 2-3x times because I couldn’t find ( or broke ) the original I bought earlier. I also almost never returned stuff, even when it was broke out of the box.

I’m in no shape to have to scrape and save just to get by, but I am taking more time to evaluate my buying/waste behavior and making changes to that.

 

My Reasoning

Part of the reason I decided to be more financially responsible is that my family recently sponsored a child in need via Compassion International.

While the amount of money sent each month is small ( $40 ), the responsibility that comes with it is huge. I can not simply write off not sending in the $40 each month because “I forgot” or because I didn’t stop at the bank and grab enough cash. Someone in another country depends on that money and I have to make sure I always have a way to send it in on time.

With 3 children watching every move I make, I also need to show them through example how to be financially responsible by spending less than you earn and also starting ( and keeping ) savings goals.

 

What I Have Done

I haven’t radically changed my lifestyle, but here are a few things I have started doing since Jan 1st:

  1. Every $1 AND every $5 bill that comes my way is set aside and saved in a green Mason jar.
  2. Every week I set aside money for the $1 weekly challenge savings goal ( read more about it here ). This is done electronically via my bank.
  3. Any and all loose change is collected from the house and cars and put into the green Mason jar.
  4. I go through all purchases made on my debit and credit cards and round up the change and transfer it into a savings account.

Collecting $1 and $5 dollar bills from change given back to me at the store is rather easy and painless to set aside. Who truly misses the $1 bills in change or the $5 bill you might get back?

The weekly $1 savings challenge is also really easy to get started into. You are supposed to set aside a dollar each week for the number of the week you are in for the year. At the end of the year you should have collected over $1431. Here is a visual to help it make more sense.

Since I do not want to fool with keeping up with what week it is and having to make the transfer each week, I simply divide $1431 into 52 weeks and get $27.52. I just round that up to $30 and transfer over $30 every week into a savings account. Easy and no thought needed.

Collecting loose change is also a no-brainer!

The last example is a bit tough. Essentially I go through all my debits and charges hitting my bank account and list them out in Excel.  I do this weekly to keep it simple.

After listing all my charges, I simply let Excel calculate the difference between my actual charge and the next nearest dollar. So if I had a charge of $26.01 from Walmart, I would round up to $27 and the difference is $0.99.

I keep doing this for every single charge and line item and then total the differences up for each into a daily total. Whatever that daily total is, I round up to the nearest dollar as well.

roundUp

It’s a fairly easy process, but it does take a bit of time to copy and paste all the transactions. Excel handles all the other work, so if you can find a easy way to import your transactions, this would make it easy to keep up with.

 

Results To Date

I’ve only started doing this in 2015, but I have to date:

  • $75 in my green Mason jar ( this is from $1 and $5 bills and any loose change I find in the house/cars )
  • $33 in my round up the change account from bank transactions
  • $90 in my $1 weekly challenge account ( I am doing this slightly different since I just send over $30 weekly to an account ).

If the trend keeps up, I am assuming that I can put back $235 a month into a savings account without much thought or work.

That’s $2820 a year after taxes.

 

It’s not a ton of money, but for some people it can be a life changer. Many people here in America have no savings and plenty of people in other countries struggle just to have rice and beans daily.

In summary all I am really doing is:

  • All loose change I find or get back goes into a jar ( later this goes into a savings account )
  • All $1 and $5 bills I get/find go into a jar ( later this goes into a savings account )
  • I round up to the nearest dollar all purchases on my debit/credit card. This difference goes into a savings account
  • I actively contribute $1 for the number week I am in into a savings account.

 

My Plans For The Money

I plan to ensure I can keep sponsoring a child each and every month. I might actually plan to sponsor more as this savings is enough to sponsor 5 total children for an entire year.

I have also thought about reinvesting the money into affiliate marketing campaigns, long-term savings, lending clubs, starting a new business, etc.

The most practical thing I have thought of is to simply go on vacations for free. I already use my points and miles from credit cards like Starwoods, Sapphire, Hitlon HHonors and more to fund my vacations. However, the flights and hotels only cover so much. There is always food, gifts, tips, and lots of other expenses once you get to your destination ( especially if you have kids like me ). This $2820 could go a long way to fully funding an entire vacation when combined with miles and points from reward programs.

Most people do not have an emergency fund ( at least $1000 in cash on hand ) or a 6 months saving plan ( 6 months of expenses saved up in case of job layoff or medical issue ). Most people also carry debt of some kind either in credit cards, student loans, or mortgages. If you fall into this group of people above, I highly suggest using this money for paying down debt and starting proper savings plans first before planning vacations or charity work.

 

Conclusion

Saving money doesn’t have to take time or be very painful.

I am already looking at ways to automate and make this process as hands-free as possible. Knowing that I am not doing the $1 weekly challenge the way I should be ( I really should be putting back $1 a week manually to reach the $1431 goal ), it was just much easier to figure out the average savings per week from the total ( $1431 / 52 weeks ) and round it up and send it over automatically.

The same exact principle can be applied to loose change, $1 and $5 bills, and also rounding up the change from your bank statements on credit cards and debit transactions.

If after 3 months ( or even 1 month ) I know that I consistently find $5 in loose change and about $70 in $1 and $5 bills, I can just start sending over $75 a month into an account and not manually do this process by hand anymore. The same holds true with rounding up the change from my electronic transactions from the banks. If I find I consistently average about $35 a month in change left over in my debit and credit transactions, then I will just simply start sending that every month to my savings account as well without having to break out Excel and copy/paste.

This exercise isn’t about scraping by or missing out on “big wins” in life. This isn’t about skipping lattes or doing without.

I am not missing out on anything while saving this money. Do you think I am truly missing out on a couple of $1 bills or a $5 bill weekly? Do you think I am skipping lunch just to round up my change from debit card transactions? I am also not missing the $1 per week in the weekly challenge either. The loose change was just a mess sitting in cup holders in my car or in the couch in my living room.

Each of these programs focuses on small changes, changes so small you don’t notice or miss them.

It’s simply saying, I know I can save more money in my life instead of wasting it. That money can be re-invested in yourself or other people and can also be used to make a difference. This is very powerful.

I know people who could generate $30k in revenue from affiliate campaigns in a day, but it cost them $29.8k to generate it. That’s a lot of work for only $200 profit a day, profit that still hasn’t been taxed yet. Being able to “keep” more money would make all the difference in the world to these people.

It’s not always about what you make, it’s more about what you keep.

I want to show my children the power of small changes and how to be financially responsible with their money so they can learn how to afford the things they want in life later on.

A few other changes are coming because I evaluated my spending behavior, things such as buying more products online and actually returning things I don’t like/are broke after I get them ( which I almost never did because it involved another hour long drive down the road to the store ) and getting rid of stuff I no longer need/use that is just causing a my garage to overflow with useless junk and stuff I never use anymore.

Hi! I'm Jason Brown and I’m a 36 year old digital marketing intrapreneur living in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. I've been involved with the Internet since 1996 and have personally made millions online with my creative marketing tactics and persistence. I blog about marketing, money, and motivation. Thanks for stopping by!

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