You know, in my life (and in my blogs) I put a lot of emphasis on saving money. But being responsible about your financial decisions involves a whole lot more than just stashing your cash for a rainy day.
In truth, my favorite thing to do with money is to spend it.
I can imagine that a few of you might have the same affinity. But here’s the deal: With lots of cash comes great responsibility.
OK, OK. I know that’s not quite how the phrase goes but that’s the way I like to think about spending my paychecks. “Oh, there’s money in my account?” I say to myself. “Why don’t I just go spend it on those new jeans I’ve been eyeing for weeks!”
“WAIT! STOP!” says my conscience when my brain finally kicks in. (It’s kind of like my own little Jiminy Cricket.) “Let’s stop and think about this for a second.”
Big purchases mean big planning. On a good day, planning is my forte and I like to get creative in how I go about it.
Step one: Figure out what you want to spend some dough on. I’m not talking about buying lunch at your favorite fast food joint or picking up that new CD you’ve wanted. I mean big purchases. Anything that your heart desires but your bank account can’t support on a normal day. For me, it’s a Nikon Coolpix P500 12.1-Megapixel Digital Camera. For you, it might be a TV, a plane ticket to see family in another state, or a new puppy. Whatever it is, the more specific you can be about your goal, the easier it is to plan for what you want.
Step two: Find out how much you need to spend and start saving. I know I told you this blog wasn’t going to be about saving your money, but in order to spend it you have to have it. I have a few tried-and-true methods I don’t mind sharing with you.
- I have several STCU savings accounts. I save “fun money” in my First5 savings but I also have an account called “travel” and one called “camera.” I tell myself the money I put in those accounts can only be spent on traveling or the camera I want, and I stick to that plan. No exceptions.
- I also have a coin jar at home. When I’m at the grocery store or buying my morning coffee, I use cash whenever possible and keep the change. Whatever I collect during the day, I add to the jar at night and watch the savings grow slowly. When it’s filled all the way to the top, I take it to my local STCU branch and have them deposit it into one of my special savings accounts.
Step three: Don’t jump on the first deal you find. If you’re anything like me, patience might not be your strong suit, which can make planning a big purchase difficult. But one thing that helps me cope with waiting to reach my goal is the rush of finding an awesome deal. After working hard to save, shopping around to find the best deal can have great advantages. If you find a lower price or a sale, then you can take the leftover cash in your savings to start a new goal. It’s like a down payment for your happiness.
I’m still working on my steps toward a brand new Nikon, but I have a plan and sometimes that’s the hardest part.
So… what are you planning to buy?