Things in the Family of Full Cup tend to be a bit tight. The slowing economy has played a small part in that but things were tight before. I choose to stay at home and care for my family and Mr. Full Cup chooses to work for a ministry organization. I am not in any way, shape or form complaining about our lack of being able to say “money is no object” and I doubt most people can say that. We haven’t had any wiggle room in the budget for savings. None.
A couple of years ago I realized it would take me a long time to get $100 saved so I could open a crummy, almost-pays-interest-savings account. Every penny had to be accounted for. There was no extra, in fact sometimes it seemed there wasn’t even enough. But always took our lack and made it gain. Always.
Back to the savings account. I realized I could start saving on my own fairly easy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to save a whole lot but I could save some but not spending my change. I gave whole dollars and as soon as I was home I emptied my pockets of their change in the coffee cup magnet on the fridge. When that was full, I moved it to the Mom’s Night Out jar in the cupboard, when that was full I moved it to the blue box. When the blue box was full, I took it to the bank.
Initially I started this as a way to save for Christmas. I started late one summer, August or September. I was amazed to find that by mid-December I had save about $80 in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. That was impressive and a significant hunk of change.
I kept going on my savings plan. I threw a hissy (how come they aren’t called “herry” fits?) fit if anyone dared approach my box with the intention of removing money. I started picking up every bit of change I could find. Often I would come home from a run and say, “it pays to go running” as I pull out a fistful of change I’d found in the streets.
About a year ago, I opened a checking account at our bank. This checking account earns me interest…more interest than a savings account, and while there are certain restrictions on the account, I have no minimum balance. But between you, me and the fence post, I panic when I have to use the money in there. Panic! I call Mr. FullCup on the phone saying, “I know I have to. I know we need to. But I just don’t want to touch it.”
Last summer I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I loved it. Through the class I realized my saving change was a VERY good thing. I also realized that it wasn’t enough. So I started asking myself “What would happen if I put this amount in the account?” And I thought it on the piddling side of puny. So I raised the amount. And started putting it in. It was hard. At times I had to take some back out. But I always did it.
Dave Ramsey calls it an “emergency fund”, and we’ve used it as such. I think since we’ve had it we’ve had more emergencies than ever before. Or maybe it just seems like it. But it is one thing to be faced with a financial worry and know you have the money already to meet the need…if only you could NOT panic at taking it out of the bank.
A few months ago, we started shopping once a month and buying in bulk. It is saving us money, but we are still in the “stocking up” phase and so things are once again very tight. But I’m still not spending my change.
Tonight I brought out my blue box and emptied it. Elizabeth thought I had $40. (which to her is like a million) I thought I had no where near that much.
Imagine my surprise when I counted it all and found I had more than Elizabeth thought. And I’m taking that to the bank.