When I was in my mid-twenties I was completely miserable working at a bank. The pretense and stressful corporate environment made me uncomfortable. After two promotions I found myself as far up as I could go without changing who I was or compromising my morals. My boss (who was also a friend) knew how miserable I was and offered me an out. So I walked in one Friday, quit my job, threw everything in a box and went home with my cashed out vacation and a little bit of severance pay, unemployed for the first time in my life since I was 15 (except this time I had a mortgage).
After a few weeks working for a document storage company doing database entry, I managed to land a job in my dream industry- assistant box office manager for a local theater. I loved working the late night hours, meeting the actors, hanging out with the people who built scenery and hung lights and the fact that everyone who worked there was just as broke as I was.
It was a 55% pay cut from the bank and my severance pay was now gone. I did everything I could to cut back- got rid of my gym membership, lowered my cell phone minutes, stopped eating out, quit going to movies, and sold everything I could on ebay. Friends and family bought me tickets to concerts and picked up the tab for dinners so I could continue to hang out. Christmas that year was all much needed gift cards.
In spite of the help, every month I was always a little bit short on being able to pay my bills. So I pulled just enough out of savings to cover myself. And 9 months later when the season and my job ended, I had no money in savings.
When I started my next job with a temp agency, I decided that no matter what I was going to save SOMETHING. So I started with a dollar a day. I got paid every Friday so every Friday I put $7 in my savings account. And slowly but surely, I watched my savings account grow to where I could breathe a little bit easier.
I tell you this story because I want you to see that anyone can save something- even with a savings account with a balance of $0. And while I am no expert, here are my pieces of advice:
1. Open a savings account somewhere that is accessible, but not too accessible. I keep my savings at a different bank than my checking account. If I want money out of savings, I have to go out of my way to get it. And there is no way to transfer money electronically from the savings to checking. That way, I don’t transfer money for things I don’t really need (which in my world translates into food).
2. If possible, set up with your employer or bank to transfer the money automatically. Having the money come out automatically means saving without thinking. I don’t know about you, but I have enough to think about.
3. Come up with a doable amount. Let’s take a look at some of those and see how they add up.
a. $1.00 a day for a year = $365 at the end of the year (plus interest earned)
b. $.30 a day for a year = $109.50 at the end of the year (plus interest earned)
c. $10.00 a week for a year= $520 at the end of the year (plus interest earned)
4. Forget about it. Let the money keep building. And sleep better at night knowing that if something happens, you have that little bit of a cushion to pull you through!