Once upon a time, there was a girl who needed to find creative ways to save money. She was 18, living on a dream in a town 2,000 miles away from her family. This hypothetical girl moved to Las Vegas to attend UNLV, and she was living off of Ramen Noodle Soup and the occasional Taco Bell. She knew there were various avenues to make money quickly in Vegas, but all she really wanted was some queso enchiladas or a chicken fried steak. She wasn’t asking for a lot. Then, she developed a plan when she scraped the last of her Folgers coffee beans into her hand-me-down coffee pot.
She filled that Folgers bucket full of loose change, heavy on the pennies. She went on dates, and when the server brought the bill, she generously offered to pay for her half. After saying she left her money in the car, she quickly got the Folgers bucket of assorted coins and returned inside to start sorting change. 100% of the time her date would watch this painstaking slow process and offer to pay for her instead. This was a free meal, and it saved money. Double win for the creativity! I mean, some might say that is extremely manipulative. Thank goodness it’s just a realistic fictional story, right?
If the first step is admitting that I have a problem, I’m just not there yet.
My husband claims that I have a serious shopping problem. When contemplating my New Year’s resolutions, I focused on the typical areas. I added in fitness, personal development, and nutrition goals. Finally, after much debate, I decided to add on three creative ways to save money and intertwine them with my other goals as much as possible.
1. Sit-Ups for Spending!
If you’re anything like me, you already have a side hustle (or two), sell everything you own on neighborhood garage sale sites, and have downloaded every penny saving app available on the market. I need something way more creative than that to help me save my pretty pennies.
I decided to merge fitness and saving for this first one. For every dollar you spend outside of the necessities, you need to match it with a sit-up. If you want something more challenging, match it with a push-up or burpee instead. If you have a serious shopping problem like myself, perhaps all three. That $42 sweater online all of a sudden doesn’t seem worth 42 sit-ups. Of course, this savings plan only really works for online orders since you aren’t going to “drop and give me twenty” in between clothing racks at Target.
2. Quarter Roll Allowance!
This brings me to creative option #2 for those Target runs or impulse buys. Give yourself a weekly spending allowance in quarter rolls. Nothing slows you down at the self-checkout line more than having to pay by inserting one quarter at a time. I dare you to try it.
3. Sharing is Caring!
This blends saving money and personal development. Well, perhaps it will lead to spending even more, but I never said my plans weren’t flawed. For every dollar you spend on your immediate family, spend the equal amount on someone else. You must purchase for them immediately in the same checkout process, not an “I will do it later.” Sticking with my Target obsession, if I feel the need to buy $36 worth of whatever item(s) Target tempted me with today, then I need to also spend $36 on someone else. Perhaps it is a charity donation or even a Christmas present (cannot be for immediate family). I spend the giving portion on discounted toys for my gift closet for all of the parties I forget to buy for until one hour prior to the party start time.
One of two things will happen. You will either put those items back that you bought for your family, or you will leave feeling very good about yourself. Well, until your husband checks the bank account. Justify that with it being a long-term savings plan because you bought those toys on sale for a future party when said toy would be full price if you had waited.
I’ll recap my three creative ways to save money and clear up any confusion:
First, work on your summer body by working out with a sit-up per dollar spent. Second, use your quarter roll allowance for in-person impulsive purchases. Finally, work on your random acts of kindness by purchasing something for someone else every time you buy something for someone in your immediate family. This only goes for items that are non-necessities. I don’t do this for gas, groceries, or routine bills.
Well, it looks like I just ran out of coffee, and I’ve worked up an appetite teaching you all about my three creative ways to save money. I think I’m going to have one of my favorite meals, either some queso enchiladas or maybe a chicken fried steak. Who wants to come with me?