I know that these days money can be tight, some people may be struggling to find jobs, even odd jobs here and there. A lot of us have families, school loans, mortgages, cars, gas expenses, credit card bills, etc. Well, I have a lot of those too, but I have also been extremely fortunate throughout the years to sustain employment and create growing relationships with my employers. But at the same time, I was one of those ladies who loved to shop, great deal or not. I also didn't mind spending an extra $5-$10 for a better cut of steak at a restaurant, or the good quality groceries as opposed to the generic brands. Then as the years went by, bills started racking up, school payments started coming in, I then realized that maaaaybe I have to tweak some things in my budget.
Granted, to this day I still like to spoil myself every once in a while, because I do believe we all should sometimes, we deserve it! But I've found ways to be able to do this, guilt free, while still keeping money in the bank! Here's my experience with the $5 jar, which is one of the ways that worked for me. One of my friends introduced this to me about a year ago, I tried it and the result was great! The concept to the $5 jar is, every time you use cash and get a $5 bill in your possession, save it and put it in the jar. This may feel bittersweet sometimes, especially when you use a $20 bill and you get three $5 bills back as change, you're going to want to use it, but trust me, the end result will be that much sweeter if you put it in the jar. Set a goal of how many months you want to do it or a date when you want to open it. For me, I don't carry a lot of cash, so some weeks the jar got nothing, some weeks the jar got plenty. I would say that I did it for about 5-6 months. When I started, I sealed the jar so that I couldn't open it, or even count how much I had saved up. My goal was to save for spending money on my trip here to Italy. So maybe about 2 weeks before I left, on my birthday, I opened up the jar, and I had nearly $300 that I had saved up in $5 bills those past few months!! It may not be thaaat much, but to have an extra $300 to spend on ANYTHING I wanted is always great!!
When I was single and living back home, I would eat out nearly every day and sometimes even more than 1 meal a day if I bought lunch for work. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE cooking and having home cooked meals, eating out was just convenient and after working all day, then maybe running errands or shopping, I just wanted to sit at a restaurant, enjoy company and eat. Now being one part of a married couple, my husband and I are learning how to stay within budget together. He, of course, is a lot better than me in saving and staying within budget. Living here has been like a dream vacation so far, but that's thanks to my husband who works extremely hard providing for me and his mom. During the week we usually stay local and have most of our meals at home, doing some simple grocery shopping and cooking just enough. Which is great because I get to learn and try new recipes and plus it's healthier cooking for yourself, choosing all your ingredients and portions. Doing things this way gives us the opportunity to save for the weekend, where we can then tour around other cities, go to the tourist spots, eat at restaurants, have some gelato, shop for wants, etc. And now it's even more exciting waiting for the weekends to come, and being able to splurge just a little, even when money is tight at times. This way, even though we spend a little more during the weekend, it doesn't seem so bad because we saved for it.
By no means am I suggesting to be a penny pincher or cut back on things that you want necessarily...we all need to splurge and be happy, but maybe try some things that can save you a few dollars here and there during week, and those days you decide to open that jar, you'll have all that extra cash to live in luxury without going into the hole!! Enjoy life and live responsibly!!
-Rubi Anne Dijamco Agostini