Can you really save your way to freedom?
If you have a lot of money lying around, great! You’re one step ahead of the rest of us. But money doesn’t necessarily make you free. It’s what you decide to do with it that is a true measure of freedom.
Saving our way to freedom, financial freedom that is, means being able to live our lives for adventure and experience, not buying expensive cars and large houses. But hey! If that’s your thing, more power to you. We’ll be buying an RV and hitting the road for a year. And we’re going to need some financial freedom to do that.
So, what can you do to save your way to freedom? Where do you start?
Here are a few of the steps we’re using to save for our freedom and our upcoming journey:
UPDATE (November 2018): A year into our saving journey, we have saved over $23,000.00!
- Create a Budget: OUCH! That hurts to say out loud! But without it, there is no way to create a road map from A-Z. What money do you have going IN; what money is going OUT; what money is leftover? Figure it out! Write it down!
- Create a Savings GOAL: If you have a set amount of money you are striving for each month, you’re way more likely to reach it than if you just tell yourself not to spend as much. Having a goal will also serve you well when you’re out in a shopping environment. Ask yourself if the purchase is really worth it if it means not reaching your goal that month. Remember, lots of small purchases add up to a lot!
- Sell it All: “Girl! You did not just say that!” Yeah…seriously…look around! Do you have “stuff” in your house that has a sole purpose for you to look at it? Better yet, is it a piece of furniture who’s purpose is to hold stuff so that you can look at it? Unless it’s a picture of your family or a piece of pottery made by your 6-year-old…Sell It! Believe me, it will feel like you just lost 10 pounds!
- Eliminate the Extras: This is where I tell you to meditate more & watch less TV. Ha! I can’t even take that advice. But yes, there are a few things you could live without:
- Cable: This is a tough one, I know. We love those weeknight shows. Anyone a “This is Us” addict? Ugh! I can’t miss an episode! But there are options people! First off, an antenna is not what it used to be. You’ll get a few channels that you watch most. Then, you have options such as Amazon’s Fire Stick and Netflix. And then there’s always books! Anyway, do the research, do the math & pocket that extra $150/month. Cha-Ching!
- Recycle Service: Oh no! I am NOT telling you not to recycle. Damn! I’m from Oregon folks! I’m just saying ‘take-it-to-the-recycle-center-yourself’ and save yourself some dough! Is Is it a little less convenient? Yes it is. But you’ve got a goal to accomplish. Can you feel the saving starting to add up?
- Coffee Habits: I’m treading on pretty shaky ground here, I know. Don’t mess with a person’s caffeine fix. But this, for most people, can be a huge money saver. Think of what that $5 (or more) coffee fix costs you, or can save you! That’s $35/week…$140/month. I don’t know about you, but in MY 2 year plan, that’s an extra $1680.00 PER YEAR…not including tax! Yeah…no brainier! Get yourself a single cup-to-go coffee maker & suck it up buttercup! Bed Bath & Beyond has a good selection of options for pretty cheap!
- Happy Hour: OK, this might just be my thing! Friends call & want to meet for a drink or two, which turns into a dinner out that you were not planning on. Next thing you know, you just threw away $100.00. This is absolutely OK. Just not every week. If a friend wants to meet up, suggest a hike, a workout at the gym or even just an evening hanging at your place. Think cheap…yet meaningful.
- Spa Days: Yep, I said it! Stop spending money on those mani-pedi’s and $200 hair cuts and colors. Buy your own polish and if you just have to keep your color up, go for a cut & color that is more manageable and needs less upkeep.
- Coupons: Every little bit counts, right? You know you’re getting these in the mail. Set them aside and yes, take them with you to the grocery store. And when the friendly store clerk tells you that you just saved $30…$40…$50, make a mental note to deposit that amount into savings!
- Unsubscribe: Opt-Out of those tantalizing emails showing department store sales and pictures luring you to buy those sweet winter boots you’ve always wanted. Do they really fit into your plan? Will you be able to use them when you travel? If you don’t have emails showing you what’s out there, you’ll forget it’s out there & stay on your path to saving and financial freedom. It’s all about F-O-C-U-S!
- Get a Credit Card with Perks: We all have credit cards, right? Why not pick one that pays you for using it? And why use one that charges you for using it? There are many cards out there with no annual fee that have some pretty decent kick backs. Look for one that has the best benefits to match your spending habits. Are you looking to travel? Get a card that helps you rack up those mileage credits. Just want easy money back? There are ones that offer anywhere from 1-5%, depending on the amount of time you want to spend tracking your expenses. There are cards for just about anything. Do the research here and start saving! We typically make about $1000/year just on credit card perks alone. We put everything on our credit card (childcare expenses, utilities, insurance premiums and all the miscellaneous expenses in life) but you have to be ready to pay it off at the end of each month. Don’t spend what you don’t have!
More ways to save your way to financial freedom:
- Find Free Things to Do! OK, we didn’t just learn this but now that we’re hot-n-heavy into this savings plan, we’ve focused on this a bit more. Now, depending on where you live, these ideas won’t work for everyone, but it may help you think outside the box.
- Skip the $700 ski pass and go back country skiing for free. Luckily, for us, we have lots of friends that work for ski resorts, so we can sometimes get discounted tickets when we need them. And we have hundreds of free trails we can access with our back country gear.
- Volunteer for the mountain in exchange for a free ski pass. My husband did this and not only gets a free pass but gets a comp pass for every day he volunteers, which I can then use. Then we bought the cheaper ski pass for our son.
- Go on a hike or bike ride instead of expensive theme parks.
- Rent movies for family time instead of going out to the movies. This could literally save you about $100 between tickets and treats.
And finally, the best way we’ve found to save…
- Pretend You’re Moving into an RV! (and we are, of course!) So, this may not be realistic enough for you, but it has seriously made a difference when we’re out in the world, surrounded by tempting purchases.
- If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. If it doesn’t serve an important purpose, don’t buy it. We know how drastically different our living space is going to be and it has definitely motivated us NOT to buy. Set some rules for yourself when it comes to buying and whenever you feel tempted, ask yourself if it breaks the rule. And no changing the rules based on how much you want it.
So, those are some the ideas we have used this past year, which has helped just save our way to roughly $23,000. Hope they can help you save your way to some financial freedom too!
If you’re really ready to learn how to save and start living on a budget, check out my friend Andrea over at SavingJoyfully.com