Ever had one of those moments when you are in a store poised to make a spontaneous purchase, but stayed strong, put the item back on the shelf and pocketed the savings? I recently had this same experience and wondered how I could better track that “saved” money.
For the last several weeks I have been saving the money in my “Fun” category. Instead of having fun, I had my eyes on a different kind of prize – a new Xbox 360 video game. I’m not much of a gamer, but after receiving the game system as a gift last year I have found myself enjoying the occasional game. My son likes to play along, too.
Back to my shopping experience. I found the game I wanted while strolling through the electronics section of our local Target store (this is where my son and I often kill time while my wife does other shopping). Armed with enough cash to pay for the game ($49.99 plus tax – ouch!), I stopped to perform my usual pre-purchase routine:
- How often will I really play this game?
- Is this adding to the quality of my life, or those around me?
- Is there something more important I could spend this money on?
After some internal reflection, I decided that I didn’t really want the game. There were other things I wanted to do around the house that I could put that money towards – things that would add value to our home and provide a more lasting benefit. I walked away.
These types of “I’ll pass” transactions, as I like to call them, really add up! And we perform them all the time. Every time we skip take out and go home to cook a meal, or share a meal with a spouse instead of ordering two entrees, we are forgoing an expense we would have otherwise incurred.
Tracking the Value of “I’ll Pass” Transactions
We spend a lot of time (and money) finding ways to track our expenses, from elaborate home-made budgets to fancy personal finance software. However, we often fail to account for the money we don’t spend, something I think is more important when trying to become more financially mature. The money we don’t spend becomes money available to help get out of debt, save for retirement, and give to others. The money we do spend, well, it is just gone.
I am not very good at tracking the money I don’t spend, because often it is the result of a seemingly insignificant decision (like taking leftovers for lunch instead of grabbing fast food). Fortunately, a new service called Piggymojo (free trial info below) is now available to help you keep track of that money you don’t spend.
Piggymojo allows users to text (you can also use Twitter, or enter directly on their website) the details of their every day savings to an account that tracks the total amount saved, and allows you to save towards specific goals. I recently created a goal for a “Family Mountain Vacation” we’d like to take this fall. To fund this trip, I plan to use these everyday savings. I’ll transfer the money Piggymojo states I “saved” from my checking account into our Vacation targeted savings account each week.
Whether you sign up to use a service like Piggymojo, or you opt to try to keep up with the savings in your head, the idea is to find a way to capture these little savings each day. It becomes sort of a game. “If I put this game back, that’s $50 saved towards our vacation this fall! If we cancel the cable for the next few months, that’s another $45 a month that can go towards vacation.”
*Piggmojo has offered readers a free, 6-month trial of their service. Redeem the gift code “springpiggy” when creating your account.