It used to be that I was the natural-born spender, but ever since I started practicing my frugal ways the rest of the family has taken up the slack. Now that the recession is over, my husband and children are spending more money than ever. It's difficult to save for retirement and emergencies when my family wants to travel, take vacations and buy computer games and tech toys. However, I have resorted to sneaky ways to save money for our future so that I don't have to worry as much.
Making savings automatic
I got my husband to agree to increase the amount of money he has automatically deducted from his paycheck and put into his 401(k) plan. I also increased how much I have automatically funneled into my company-sponsored retirement account. My husband no longer notices the money that he used to spend on frivolous activities such as going to the movies or eating out.
Using our Roth for emergencies
When I used our regular savings account for our emergency savings fund, I noticed my husband would be tempted to spend the money. I could never get the balance above $6,000 without it slipping back to $3,000. Finally, I decided to save money for emergencies using our Roth IRA funds. I am able to take out any money that I put in without any penalties or fees. However, I can't touch the interest that the accounts earned. Since I use a separate discount brokerage firm for the Roth IRA accounts, it's not something we think about.
During the recession, I learned how to save money by buying generic and using coupons. I now feel as though the recession is over, but I continue to practice my frugal habits. The people in my family like to spend money on a lot of games and hobbies, but they aren't too particular about name brands. By saving money on groceries and clothes, we have more money that can be spent on family hobbies and games.
Shopping at my sister's house
Another way I save money is by swapping clothing and household items with my sister. My sister recently borrowed my expensive juicer since I rarely use it. I borrow her clothes because she becomes bored with her old outfits. We also swap table clothes and curtains so that we can give our homes fresh looks without spending any money. We carpool to save money whenever possible.
By employing a combination of frugal shopping strategies and covert savings methods, I've been able to spend less money at stores and put more money aside for the future. It doesn't bother me that my sons and husband going on spending sprees because I know we have zero debt and money set aside for retirement. For us, it's still about living below our means. They just feel as though they are living on the edge now that the hard times of the Great Recession appear to be over.
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