Time to start thinking small savings every day

How to turn $10 into $3,600

By Michelle Presnell, United Way Community Impact Manager for Financial Stability

Looking back on 2022, we all set goals for the new year, and some of us have experienced at least one epic fail in the last 365 days. This year, we have an idea: Set a smaller, achievable goal that packs a big punch.

Becoming financially stable can be a daunting goal, but it’s an excellent objective to have. Did you know that according to top medical journals, your financial health has a significant effect on your overall physical and mental health? If you’re trying to get healthy in 2023, start with becoming a little more financially stable. The roadmap to financial stability is unique to you, but there are some common routes you can take that will put you in a better position.

We heard a phrase that came from Mr. Money Mustache, a well known financial coach who focuses on financial freedom. He said, “A millionaire is made ten bucks at a time.” So what if we started there? Let’s look at ways we could cut our daily expenses by just $10.

Graphic shows how saving $1 - $20 each day adds up.

As you can see, it adds up. That money can be used for emergency home repairs, retirement investments, charitable giving, rainy day funds or for a dream vacation.

What to cut?

If you are trying to save money, you always need to look at your wants. When thinking small savings, look at items that are nice but not necessary. For our goal, we are aiming to cut $10 each day.

Subscription services. Streaming services can give you big entertainment with low cost, but many people have multiple streaming providers.  Evaluate if you utilize all of your streaming services. Only pay for what you use. Another option is to see if any of your credit card companies or cell phone providers offer incentives, like free streaming services, to keep you as a customer. Don’t forget about other subscriptions either. Are you still using the same at home delivery services you did during the height of the pandemic?

Potential Savings:
Cutting three unused streaming services = $1/day
Eliminating one delivery service = $.25/day

Internet. Consider reviewing your home internet plan. How much data are your devices pulling at max capacity and are your internet speeds providing you more than you need. Do you need to work from home? Do you have children who use the internet for homework? The government shares that most devices only need a few Mbps download speeds to work as expected. A 4K video stream only needs 25 Mbps download speeds to play. We could make the case here that speed isn’t king, reliability is. Check this reference for a broadband speed guide.

Potential Savings: 
Lowering your internet speed = $1/day

Food. The average shopper throws away $1,800 worth of grocery items each year. Not only is that bad for your budget, it is bad for the environment. Plan your meals in advance and not at the store. If you have a goal to eat healthier, introduce perishable fruits and vegetables in small increments as you experiment with which options work best for your diet.

Potential Savings:
Eliminating 60% of your food waste = $3/day

Energy drinks and fancy coffee. This one might hurt, but those energy drinks and fancy coffees that are so good are also SO EXPENSIVE! The average energy drink is $2.25 and some coffee drinks are more. Let’s say you drink one energy drink a day and really enjoy the feeling of your heart racing. That’s $821.25 per year. A possible solution is to assess your diet. Are you meeting specific dietary needs to provide you with meaningful energy? How are your sleep habits? There are also studies that say routine exercise boosts energy. It’s hard to think that pushing yourself to exhaustion during a workout can help you keep alert through the day, but that is what may research reports have theorized with proven results.

Potential Savings: 
Eliminating energy drinks = $2.25/day

Clothing. That looks nice. Where’d you get it? Consider the cost of looking good. How much do you spend each year on new shoes, pants and shirts? The average American spends $120 a month on clothes. The guidance is to spend no more than 5% of your monthly take-home income. Is there a way to cut this down? Yes! Recently, my colleague and I had an idea for a clothing swap. Katie and I always appreciate each other’s style and as it turns out, we both had great pieces that we no longer wore, but hadn’t given up because they were expensive. We both have financial goals in 2023 and this was a fun way to make dent in them. We added it up and we each walked away with over $500 in new to us clothes.

Have a party with your friends, collect all the clothing you don’t wear anymore that is still in good condition and do a group swap. This one is really efficient if you can cut your clothing costs in half.

Potential Savings: 
Reduce clothing budget by 50% = $2/day

Financial fees. This next one can pack a major punch in your budget. If you are paying check cashing fees or large bank fees every month, consider a different banking option. Say you earn $50,000 a year. It can cost $170 per paycheck simply to cash your check. That adds up to $12 a day. If you’re losing money by using your money, you may want to look at another option. United Way’s Bank On ICT program can help you find affordable, safe banking options.

Add it all up.

If you’re keeping track, we did it! We managed to find ways to save $10 a day or $3,650 over the course of the year in small, manageable ways.

The route we took won’t be exactly the same for you, but we hope it got you curious. Let that curiosity grow. You can even sit down with a financial counselor to give you more ideas and ways to build your financial stability. The most important thing to remember is to not put your needs in peril at the cost of your wants. Find small ways to may a big impact.

What do you plan to do with your savings? We encourage you to attach a goal or purpose to that saved money. Building a safety net is a great first step if you have not done so already. This will keep you from being tempted to touch it because you need to be able to respond to financial road bumps.

Where you plan to save your money is just as important as why you plan to save it. If you don’t have a savings account, you can open one. United Way Bank On ICT helps those without bank accounts open one and learn more about banking. Even if you’ve been turned away from a bank before, you can access a safe, affordable account through Bank On ICT.

Many resources are available in south central Kansas that can help you achieve financial stability. Please use our 211 Information and Referral Services to see what resources you may be eligible for.

Today’s the perfect day to start your journey to becoming financial stable.


Published On: January 4, 2023Tags:


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