How to Save for a Big Purchase

dollararmyHow to save for a big purchase? Little by little. The End.

OK, ok, maybe a little more detail would be nice. Saving for a big purchase can be really hard, especially in these days of high limit credit cards. A lot of people have $10, $20, even $50 thousand available on their cards. So why wait to buy anything? Just go out, purchase it and pay it off. That way, you get the item now and instead of saving a little every month, you’ll pay a little every month and already have the item! What a great idea, right?

Wrong.

The entire time you will be paying interest on your card, sometimes over 20%! In the bank, your monthly savings will actually grow a little. And, I do mean a little. 🙂 But a little is better than a big negative something. Also, what happens if you have an emergency need for money while paying off the card, you might miss a payment and that adds to your interest payments! Another benefit is that you might actually find you don’t want the item after saving for it and you can spend that money elsewhere.

Once you have decided what you want to purchase, get a pretty good estimate of the costs and where you are going to buy it. Include taxes and shipping on expensive items or really heavy items. That UPS battery backup might be $100, but it weighs 120 pounds and costs $50 to ship! Then, once you have a final cost, begin the saving.

I find that a separate account is the best bet. It is too much of a temptation to spend from it if you keep it in your normal checking/savings accounts. You’ll say, “Oh, I just need an extra $100, I’ll just use some of what I have saved.” If your item is small and you won’t gain any benefit from having it in the bank, a plain white envelope works great. I know, crazy right? But, an envelope hiding in the drawer is fantastic, you never see it, it just collects money, you can even write on the outside the current balance which is fun. Also, holding a wad of cash in an envelope is lots of fun.

Break your savings into amounts that you can handle every month. A great way is to always save an amount of money and put it in an envelope labeled, ‘Big Purchases.’ Then you always have a little seed money. You can up the amount if you need more for a larger purchase. Set a time frame where the item won’t be obsolete before you buy it. Tech stuff is notorious for this, although a newer model will come out so you can always buy that one. Or buy the original at a lower price.

Then, when it is time, get out your envelope and go buy what you have been wanting and know that you haven’t gained any debt from it. You also may want to just put it in the bank if you used an envelope and use your credit card. Then you get the benefits of using your card without the interest charges since you can pay it off immediately!

Organization Help

I think most stay at home parents have days when the house and all it’s contents seem overwhelming. You want to be organized, but just don’t know where to begin. Here are a few websites that have some good organizing tips. Beware though, it is easy to get caught up in everything that you could be organizing.

Decide what is most important to you and start there. Make a list or make a plan for how the organizing will be done and how it will be kept up. Set aside a period of time each day to work on cleaning out and organizing. Don’t try to do it all in one fell swoop.

organizedhome.com
unclutterer.com
apartmenttherapy.com

The best start you can give your kids is practically FREE

From Parenting.com, an article about the top five things that you can do to raise a happy, emotionally healthy kid.
An exerpt: “…experts say, all babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will thrive as long as they are:

* Provided a predictable life with a reasonably ordered environment
* Held and touched often
* Talked to (or sung to) often
* Read to frequently
* Exposed to interesting experiences
* Given many opportunities to learn through play.”

All things that we at SIP advocate and encourage. The best part? None of these things will take your life’s savings. “Interesting Experiences” do not have to include flying to another country. It can mean taking an exploration walk around your neighborhood to look for insects, birds or colors. It can mean taking a backroad to Grandma’s house instead of the freeway in order to stop at a local cheese factory. Try it today!

Travel Toys and Tips

We used to be able to pack up the car (including the dog and all her paraphanelia) and hit the road quite easily. Now, with The Boy, packing has taken on a new meaning. We really have to consider every nook and cranny in the car and pack like we’re solving a puzzle with all the gear needed to keep a pre-schooler happy on a trip. And you can forget about the dog. She got demoted to a dog-sitter during vacations soon after The Boy was born.

Before you start cramming everything into your car and lashing stuff to the roof, consider these tips.

1. Many hotels and resorts provide baby gear such as pack and plays and high chairs. Restaurants provide booster seats. Call your destination before packing to see what baby/kid gear might be offered.

2. If you are traveling to a major city, there are usually baby equipment rental possibilities. Baby’s Away and Babies Travel Lite are two such rental outlets.

3. If you are traveling to visit relatives, ask them if they have baby equipment already or if they know of friends/neighbors in their area that might be willing to lend to you.

4. Unless you have a 15 hour flight or a seriously long road trip, you really don’t need too much for actual travel time. Keep your kids entertained with games like I Spy or the Alphabet Game. Take along books on tape or cd for the car. If they are old enough, give them a specific ‘travel’ bag that they can fill will activities. Or, my favorite, plan your travel for during nap time and hope they sleep most of the time!

Happy Traveling.

Waste Not, Want Not. Fruits and Veggies That is.

One big part of living on less is to make sure you use up everything you have. Everything that you buy and don’t use is wasting money. Keeping fruits and veggies in an edible state is always a hard one. Which fruits can go together and which ones make other ones spoil faster? Apple and banana? Grapes and carrots?

Luckily, there is a webpage that can help, imagine that? Here you can learn about how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh and prevent spoilage. It lists a bunch of common fruits and vegetables and where you can store them and for how long. For example, celery can go in the fridge but garlic should always be stored on the counter. A great resource for keeping your food fresh and not having to throw it in the compost pile.