For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been asking you to look at what you’re spending. This week we’re going to twist things, and have you look at what you’re already saving. I began tracking this myself in February, inspired by someone in my bullet journaling group and had never even considered this as a savings. One of my main hobbies is reading. And I don’t mean casual reading. As of today, I’ve read 29 books for the year. But I hate buying new books! If you haven’t bought a new book lately, a new release is going to cost you between $20-30. If you read as much as I do, that could add up quickly.

The post that inspired me, was a lady that read well over what I did, but for every book she borrowed from the library, she kept track of what that would have cost her. Her numbers were insane! I was curious what my numbers would be, so I decided to start tracking as well. To reduce the financial impact of my hobby, I utilize the library and I’m an ARC reader. ARCs are Advanced Copies that publishers give you in trade for an honest review of the book. I decided I wanted to include both in my tracking. Even though I must write a review for the ARC, I was still reading a book that I didn’t have to pay for so to me that was savings.

At the end of February, I got out my list of books read and went to Amazon to see what each of these would have cost me had I purchased them new. When I got the final number, I found that I had saved $105!! That to me was a crazy number. To think something as simple as getting my books from the library had saved me that much money. This is something I’ve been tracking every month now, and even went back and calculated for January ($77). I can’t wait to see what my savings will be at the end of the year.

Ready to see how much you save?

There’s two ways you can complete this activity. This is kind of an open-ended activity so what and how you track will be up to you. To get the most out of it, you want to make it realistic. For example, I don’t drink coffee. 1. I think it’s gross. 2. I can’t have caffeine. So, if I put, I saved $5.69 because I didn’t buy my coffee at Starbucks, that’s kind of cheating. But if six months ago, you stopped at Starbucks on your way to work every morning, but now you’re making your coffee at home, that’s money that you’re saving. If you pack your lunch every day rather than eating out, that’s money you’re saving! Read the two options below and decide how you want to track.

  1. You can track as you go this week, and you can pick what you track. This is kind of dependent on your lifestyle. Basically, you’re going to keep a tally of everything you could have spent (or used to spend) but didn’t because of good financial habits you’ve developed. If you make your fancy coffee at home, figure out what it would cost to stop at Starbucks (or your local coffee shop) every morning and put that in your saved category. If you packed your lunch instead of stopping at the drive-thru, write down how much you saved. When you do your grocery shopping for the week, if there was something you wanted (but didn’t need) and resisted, that can go in your savings category. Really wanted to get takeout but cooked dinner instead. That’s another win! Write these numbers down every day so at the end of the week you can see how much money you saved. For my mom this would be the cost of her cigarettes.  Six months ago, she decided that she was done, she worked with her doctor and started on the journey of being smoke free.  We live in New York and the cost of 1 pack of cigarettes is $12.85, she smoked 4 packs a week, sometimes more depending on her stress level.  For this example, we are going to stick with 4 packs per week.  This is a total of $51.40 per week she was spending and is now saving.  Per month that equates to $205.60, that would cover groceries for half the month.  In the 6 months she has been cigarette free she has saved over $1,233.60 and that is amazing in both her health and her finances. 
  2. The second way is how I did it. You can pick one activity or hobby that you’ve found a way to reduce the expense of. I know a lot of people forgo the library and instead use Kindle Unlimited, Audible, Scribed, etc. You can do the same concept here. For every book that you read as part of the subscription, that’s an amount saved. Just remember to take your monthly cost out of your total savings. If you buy any extra credits, that needs to be deducted also. You could do this with other hobbies too. If you bought an annual ski pass, how often did you use it? Figure out how many times you went this season and see if you saved enough to make it worth it. Did you buy one of those coffee subscriptions? How many times have you gotten your “free” coffee? What would that have cost otherwise? After you deduct the cost of your subscription, did you save enough to make it worth it? (If you choose this option, you don’t necessarily have to only track for a week!)

We often get so caught up in the numbers of how much we’re paying off and putting into savings, that we forget to remind ourselves of the small victories. In the moment those victories may seem insignificant, but they do add up over time. If you don’t believe me, just look back at my numbers! I saved that much just by changing one habit! If you’ve changed several habits, imagine how much money you’re saving without even realizing it.

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