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- I come from a long line of blue-collar workers, including my great-grandfather. He always had good financial advice.
- My grandparents were asked to save a small amount from each paycheck, no matter what.
- He helped them save enough for a down payment. And it still makes a difference to me today.
Coming from a long line of blue-collar and self-employed people, I’m no stranger to challenges Saving Money.
The biggest misconception about “savings” is that it should start big. When someone mentions that they have savings, many of us automatically think they have hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Store away for a rainy day.
For many of us, getting that amount into a bank’s safety net is completely unattainable. And when you feel like something is unattainable, it stops you from even trying.
But that’s the thing about savings. They are not designed to start big. Thrift is an ongoing action, something you should always work on.
My great-grandfather preached this lesson until the day he died. He was always full of useful information, and his financial vision was no different.
My great-grandfather’s advice was to start small and be consistent
When my grandmother and grandfather wanted to build a house, my great-grandfather told them to take a small amount of each paycheck—no less than $5 but no more than $20—and put it in an envelope and put it aside. Forget about it. But keep putting that money away.
My grandmother thought he was crazy, but she trusted him. Before you know it she is my grandfather It was enough to pay a down payment to start building their house (of course, that was a long time ago – my grandfather only brought home $60 a week!).
But this advice still holds true today. Both my aunt and I use it.
For her, you know how much she needs to take a vacation each year. So, I set aside $20 of each paycheck. Even the weeks when it seems harder than it should be, she puts him in that circumstance.
By the time the holiday approaches, she has had enough to enjoy herself.
For me and my husband, we use my great-grandfather’s savings strategy to build a base amount for Christmas gifts. Of course, there are years when we exceed the amount we set aside, but we reach that much during the holiday season — forget it.
Having been earmarked for a small portion of each paycheck throughout the year, there’s one we know out there that’ll give the kids a sweet Christmas morning — making you feel better. It keeps you from getting tired and sweaty when you flip the calendar to December.
As we all know the true value of surplus change
Sometimes, these small amounts are the most important. Any amount you could put aside, even something as small as a gas tank or stuffing a grocery budget for a really tough week, could be a world of difference.
I’m speaking from experience here – my husband and I are self-employed. During the COVID lockdown, money was tight (which is an understatement) – we used every savings lesson we could think of. Especially coming.
I must refer to my great-grandfather again in this lesson with his clever financial advice: Cash is the only thing you can spend twice.
Again, he was as right as possible.
While we don’t have the common “coffee canister” in our house, we keep all our spares (we actually keep the accommodations separate, too—they’re great in a jiffy for items that cost a dollar or two).
When we’re off a bit or need a little extra stuffing for groceries for one week, it can be very helpful to pull out and take advantage of that extra.
These lessons may not be universal, but they are useful and helpful if you don’t have much to work with between paychecks when a little help.