This is a basic personal finance exercise you can perform anytime. It helps you gain a better understanding of your spending and savings habits and shows you how simple measures can translate to big money.
The $100 Plan
- Consider these three categories of spending:
Food. This is stuff you eat and drink either at home or out.
Household. From utilities to pots and pans to personal care products, it’s all the things in your home that you don’t eat.
Entertainment. Stuff you buy or do that makes life more enjoyable.
- Also consider a fourth category: positive income. This includes paychecks, gifts you receive, and anything else that makes your bank account balance go up.
- In the next ten minutes, find one specific thing in each of the spending categories that you can stop doing or do differently in order to save yourself money between now and the end of the year. For the positive income category, plan a specific way you can make money by December 31st that you wouldn’t otherwise have made. Your spending cuts and extra income should add up to at least $100.
- Optionally, share your $100 plan, either by commenting here, posting in your own blog or journal, or telling a friend. Then revisit your plan next New Year’s Day and see if you accomplished everything on your list. If you did, congratulations on becoming $100 richer in 10 minutes!
So let’s give it a shot. From 11:30pm to 11:40pm, I’m going to come up with my own plan to save or make $100 and type my ideas as I come up with them. Here I go!
My $100 Plan
|Food||Skip the soda. We dine out with our budget-minded friends once every week or so. One simple change I could make to my dining out habits would be to cut the cola that usually adds at least $1.50 to each meal.||45|
|Household||Disconnect unneeded electronics. Looking around I can see at least three always-on electronics that are constantly sucking out a tiny bit of power. Why leave a digital clock on when I have my laptop clock right in front of me?||5|
|Entertainment||Get the game when the price drops. There’s a videogame coming out later this year I’d really like to pick up on its release day, but I can probably wait six months (and play all the other games I have) and pick it up at half price.||20|
|Income||Sell that old TV. We sold one old TV at a yard sale last year for $20. We have another that goes unused and is slightly nicer than the last one. We’ll bring it to a family yard sale this Saturday and see what happens.||30|
|Total expected savings||$100|
I’m sure I could come up with many other ways of saving or making even more, but this exercise is meant to maximize the ratio of savings to time and effort. Now if only I could come up with a way to make $100 every ten minutes…