Even before I became a stay-at-home-mom, my husband and I were very strict with our finances. It was really important that we get the best start in life. To us, that meant being as financially stable as possible. When we both landed jobs and purchased our first home we started to become very strict with budgeting. We wanted to make sure our money was going where we intended it too! One of our greatest decisions was choosing to put money aside for the things that matter most. I’m so glad we established this habit because it has become very useful. Since I recently decided to stay at home with our daughter, saving has become more and more important to our financial success! So what exactly do we save for? Here are our top 6 categories, and why we chose them.
Category #1: Saving for Christmas
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Not only do you get to spend countless hours with the ones you love, but you get to spoil them too!!! I’m a giver. I absolutely LOVE giving gifts and watching family members’ faces light up when they open the item I have worked so hard to pick out for them. As much as I love Christmas, I used to always get anxiety around the Christmas season. I knew it was going to be really tight financially. Often times, I wasn’t able to get what I wanted for family members. It simply wasn’t part of the budget. One year, when my husband was still in school, I resorted to knitting homemade scarves for everyone. Let me be clear. There is NOTHING wrong with a homemade scarf. It was a beautiful gift. However, I wanted the OPTION to choose whether or not I wanted to make a homemade scarf or purchase something off of their wish list.
My husband and I decided to start putting money aside every month to save for Christmas. You can adjust your number to fit the parameters of your personal finances and goals. No matter what number you choose, having that little bit set aside really lessens the blow when it comes to Christmas shopping!
Category #2: Saving for Vacation
This may seem like a frivolous category to some. If so, simply omit it and save for something else that is important to you and your family. For us, vacation is HUGE and something we look forward to every year. We are so incredibly blessed and are able to take multiple vacations over the course of 12 months. This does NOT happen without a lot of planning. In order to make sure we have enough money to do what we want to do we HAVE to save. We make this our biggest savings category. That may seem insane, BUT it’s so necessary for us. It’s crazy how fast that money can disappear on a trip. I can’t tell you what a relief it is when packing for a vacation to know that we have that money set aside. It’s one less thing to stress about.
Category #3: Saving for Birthdays
As I mentioned above, I’m a gift giver! I love spoiling my loved ones on their birthdays. To make sure we can get our family members what they want/need we set aside a small amount of money every month to cover this. There are several months during the year where we do not need to buy anything at all. This means that when birthdays do roll around (August and September are huge months for us) we have enough set aside to buy gifts without all of the worries!
Category #4: Saving for Weddings/Graduations
Weddings are EXPENSIVE ya’ll! Spoiling people for weddings and graduations can cost a LOT. We were beyond blessed by the people that attended our wedding. We want to make sure we are able to bless them as well! Therefore, we set aside a small amount of money each month. We rarely have weddings/graduations to attend so this category seems to build up rather quickly, allowing us to give our friends and family a very generous gift on their special day.
Category #5: Saving for College
This is by far the most important category. Have you looked at the cost of college people?!!! It sort of makes me sick. Our daughter hasn’t even hit one year yet and I’m already worried about putting her through school. Don’t even look at those college tuition projectors. That crap will keep you up at night. In order to get ahead of the expense of college the best that we can, we have started a 504 plan for Ellianna and put away as much as we possibly can each month. Our hope is to gradually increase this number as time goes on.
In addition to saving for Ellie, we also save for god-children to make sure they have a beautiful gift to look forward to upon graduation from high school. Obviously, this is nothing close to what we have to save for our own child, but it will be a wonderful gift 18 years from now! Being entrusted as a Godparent is a huge blessing and something we take very seriously. Therefore, we want to make sure our god-children are taken care of the best that we can.
Category #6: Saving for an Emergency Fund
This category is disheartening because you often don’t see the immediate benefits, however, it is completely necessary. You NEED to have an emergency fund. My husband and I have made use of this more than once and it’s been for things totally out of our control. For example, the starter on one of our vehicles stopped working. Over $500 later we were really grateful for that emergency fund. We didn’t have to adapt our daily living needs in order to fix the car!
It’s Important to Give Back: Saving for Those in Need
One item I didn’t add to the list (but feel is very important) is a “giving” category. We spend so much money on ourselves over the course of the year. It’s nice to give to others as well. We don’t necessarily “set aside” money from our monthly budget for this. Instead, we save all of our extra change over the course of 12 months so that we can “adopt” a family at Christmas. It feels so good to give back to someone else that is less fortunate. What a wonderful way to fill your cup and to spoil someone that truly deserves it.
So What If I Don’t Feel Like Saving for Vacation?
Some of you may be looking at this and thinking, “how am I supposed to save for all of this and still enjoy life?” I thought the same thing when we first starting putting money away. Every month watch several hundred dollars enter my savings account. That means sometimes I’m not able to go out to eat as often. Other times, I have to put back a shirt I like when shopping. However, the benefits totally outweigh the few luxuries you have to go without.
Also, maybe you and your family don’t celebrate Christmas, or maybe you have no desire to go on vacation. That’s totally okay! Adjust each category to fit your family’s needs. It’s possible that you enjoy a certain festival. You could potentially be a CRAZY shopper and would like to have a fund for that. Maybe you have a hobby you really enjoy. Some of you might have kids in sports that require a lot of special equipment. Sit down with your spouse, map out your life, and decide what is most important. What things would you rather not lose sleep over? How much should you put in each category every month? Even if it’s just $10 in your Christmas fund, it will still be $120 you get to use when you go shopping. That’s $120 you don’t have to worry about!!
How many families already use a system like this and what categories do you save for?
If you enjoyed reading this, check out this post about organizing your financial information to minimize clutter & stress!
Best of luck and happy saving!