A balanced approach to money

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Pick one thing

It’s overwhelming to start. Whether it’s a project of saving money (Have you signed up for the $1000 savings challenge yet?) or paying down debt or just getting a better handle on your finances. This is particularly true when you have a lot of big expenses that pile on one after the other.

It’s tempting to start looking at your budget and just SLASHING things from it. When you are looking to cut costs you may want to analyze your grocery bill and go to all the different stores to get all the deals and coupons and points.

Diving in head first and committing totally to a new lifestyle usually doesn’t work. Becoming extreme right away works for a short amount of time and then fails spectacularly. This is part of the reason why I don’t recommend No-Spend Days. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your finances and your goals, then here is my advice. Take it or leave it as you will.

If you are attempting the $1,000 Savings Challenge and you want to see results that will really change your life than do this:

Focus on One thing

Pick one thing to focus on right now.

Start with one thing. Not all the things. Don’t go all scorched earth on whatever it is. Decide to cut or focus on one thing only.

For example, if you are cutting subscriptions then don’t cut all of them all at once. Cut one entertainment subscription and then wait until you cut the other one. Get used to living without it before taking another step. Cutting all entertainment at once will probably backfire. We want to take steps that will create lasting lifestyle and financial change. Otherwise, you will just rack up the debt or use all your savings just as quickly as you managed to pay it off or save it up. Obviously this is not a hard and fast rule. As with most things in personal finance and behavioral changes, you have to do what works for you and your circumstances. If you have multiple subscriptions to things that you never use, then cancel them. You probably won’t notice. But don’t try to cut all your favorite things at once even if you really can’t afford them.

Which bBalanced Approachrings me to another piece of advice: add something back in.

What?!?! Yes, you heard me. It’s time to add something in. Not something that costs money but something free or frugal.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

So if you cut out Netflix then now is the time to renew your library card and get out some movies or books! If you cut out eating out in restaurants, now is the time to institute a date night or a game night with friends and family. If you cut out the gym, now is the time to add a daily YouTube work-out or a run outside. See the idea?

Cut one negative thing from your life but add in one positive thing to replace the underlying need. Cut out buying lattes but make yourself delicious coffee at home.

This is the A Dime Saved Replacement Strategy:

Don’t cut things- replace them with something free or frugal. Depriving yourself of something you enjoy is not the way to achieve happiness. Remember, the point is not the money the point is LIFE. Why live life if you can’t enjoy it?

Now of course enjoying life does not mean spending money you don’t have. It means making targeted choices that preserve both happiness and money. Replace money-sucking activities and items with free or frugal items that bring you joy. Get entertainment- for free. Hang out with friends- not in expensive bars. Get exercise- in a cheaper or free setting.

It’s all about balance. About living life responsibly and joyfully. Accomplishing goals without being subsumed by the process. Click To TweetPreparing for the future without giving up the present.

Replacement Strategy

 


A Dime Saved

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have my MBA and I have been studying Personal Finance on my own for as long as I can remember. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

3 thoughts on “A balanced approach to money”

  1. Oh all great tips! Each cent saved is valuable. All the useless subscriptions people have, and bad habits like cigarettes or drinking out, etc. all add up.
    Great post!
    🙂

  2. Great tips and a really good reminder – not just for people starting out – but for those who have been working on their financial journey for a while. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and how big of strides they are making. Sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure to keep up and do more all at once, but this is a great reminder to slow down – focus on one thing – and enjoy a new (frugal) alternative that actually has more meaning and value to you than spending money on something like a streaming service.

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