Guest post from Katie of Holidays for Less
I am not a “routine” person by nature. I am not a type-A personality or even very organized for that matter. But out of necessity, I had to start a few routines to keep myself (and my family) sane! Once I saw how my routines are not only saving me time but money, I forced myself to become a “routine” person!
So, how do my routines save me money?
Here are three simple routines I’ve implemented in my own life that have helped me save time and money.
1. Packing lunches the night before
I work outside the home, so I’ve gotten in the routine of making my lunch for the next day before I go to bed. I pack every single thing that I will need and put my whole lunch bag in the fridge.
Sometimes that means my popcorn or spoon sit in the fridge over night. I’m okay with that, because on the nights that I slack off and don’t pack my lunch, I always end up buying my lunch (and sometimes breakfast, too!) because there’s never enough time in the morning.
If I buy lunch, it runs about $6 and breakfast costs between $3-$4. That’s $10 a day! Start multiplying that by a month or even a year and the numbers get really ugly!
That savings is motivation enough to stick to my evening lunch-packing routine.
2. Fueling up on Sundays
Between my commute to work and standard errands around town, a tank of gas lasts me exactly one week. I used to just fill up whenever I needed; however, I found that many times, I would end up filling up on the highway, which is always the most expensive place for gas!
So I finally made myself get in a routine of filling up every Sunday. This way, I was in control of where I was when I needed gas.
Even if it’s a holiday week and I don’t use my car as much, I top my tank off on Sunday, to ensure I’m not stuck low on gas mid-week. I always use the same gas station because it is the cheapest in my area.
Since I have started this routine, I have never found myself just going to the nearest gas station and I have averaged a savings of about $15 per month.
3. Updating the budget daily (on my lunch break)
I am the keeper of the finances in my house, which means I keep our monthly budget updated. I used to keep my budget (an excel spreadsheet) on my home computer, but I would be too tired at night to update it, or I would just plain forget.
Then, the end of the month would roll around and suddenly I was in a panic looking back and what we’d spent and hoping we hadn’t gone over in our budget categories. Many months, not surprisingly, we had gone over, which meant less money going in to our savings account that month.
In an effort to fix this problem, I’ve now moved my budget to be housed on my work computer and gotten in to the routine of updating my budget during the first 5 minutes of my lunch break each day. I literally look at and update my budget Monday through Friday each week. Some days, I have nothing to enter and some days (like Mondays!) I have quite a few things to enter.
I’ve been in this routine for 5 months now and not only have we kept within our budget each month, but many months we’ve come in well under budget — allowing us to put even more money in savings. In fact, last month we received our car insurance bill for the year and instead of dipping in to the savings we have for that bill, we were able to pay it entirely out of our monthly income. This never would have been possible just 6 months ago!
Routines can be intimidating to the organizationally challenged, like myself, but if you can find a routine that doesn’t take much time out of your day and actually saves you money, I promise it will be much easier to stick to!
Katie is a wife and mother who loves a great deal and helping her family save towards their financial goals. In her spare time, Katie blogs at Holidays for Less, where she shares ideas and deals that will make parties, holidays and general entertaining easier on your wallet.