“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to create money. Not in the sense of printing my own (I’m pretty sure there are rules about that kind of thing) but in terms of streamlining my expenses and refining my spending in order to free up some money that can be repurposed and put towards some of my bigger financial goals. I was talking to a client this week who mentioned that her 16 year old son had managed to save $3000 this year from his part-time job and that, while he wanted to spoil his family, he really didn’t want to have to dip into his savings in order to buy Christmas presents. His solution had been to figure out exactly how much he needed for gifts and then to take extra shifts and sell some of his stuff on Kijiji in order to create the money. He succeeded in creating all the money he needed to reach his goal without having to use any of his savings and he inspired me to look for ways to do the same. I’ve decided to start with the following three:
I love clothes. More specifically I love shoes and jackets. And sweaters. And pretty much everything else they sell in clothing stores. The reality though is that, even though the stores are filled with lovely clothes (and I’m writing this in England where there are even more choices to tempt me!) there’s a limit to how many of those clothes I can actually wear. So I’ve challenged myself to “wear my closet” from January-March 2013. Simply put; no new clothes purchases and a ‘rediscovery' of the clothes I already have. Anything I don’t like, haven’t worn or no longer wear can either be donated or sold through a consignment store to ‘create’ some more money that will be put towards my savings goal (along with the money that I usually spend on clothes each month). I’m hoping that doing this will cure me of my clothes addiction, or at least allow me to get out of the habit of wandering through the outlet stores on a Saturday afternoon which will help me spend less!
I’m pretty sure that I have my cellphone plan set up in the most economical way; the price I pay seems reasonable and I rarely exceed my included minutes/data but it never hurts to call customer relations to make sure. If you’re a long time customer of your wireless provider there may well be new packages or offers that could save you money and if you’re nearing the end of your contract you may be able to negotiate lower rates in exchange for your continued business. It doesn’t cost anything to call and it could save you money that could then be purposed for something else.
I actually cancelled my cable several months ago and I haven’t missed it yet. I watch my favourite shows online and I have Netflix for movies. I was reluctant to cancel my cable but since I’ve been without it I’ve realized that most of the time I had the TV on I wasn’t actually watching it, it was just for background noise. Now I put the radio on instead, I’m more productive in the evenings, I find it easier to get to bed at a decent hour and I don’t miss the TV at all. Best of all I saved myself $60/mth which is almost enough for a flight home once a year! If you don’t want to cancel your cable completely why not investigate how much you could save by switching to a more basic package or a different provider? The same goes for internet; there are so many different packages and they seem to be constantly changing. I know that there's a good chance that I'm paying for services that I’m not using and I’d rather keep that extra money in my pocket!
I have some big savings goals to hit by the end of 2014 and so I'm very focussed on finding ways to reduce my spending and increase my income during 2013 in order to ensure I'm on track to achieve them. My plan is to implement all three strategies I mentioned here for the first quarter of the year and put every dollar I save into a specific savings account. I’m also going to purge my basement and every room of my house, sell everything I don’t want that might be worth something and give away the rest. At the end of March I’ll evaluate where I am (and update you) and refine the process for the next three months. It seems to me that simplifying expenses could be a great way to “create money” that can be used to build wealth and retire happy.
What do you think? Do you have strategies for creating money? If you do, I’d love to hear your success stories!