Friday, 3 March 2017

Weekly Column: A Routine Saves You Money

Routine saves you money

Have you ever had a day where you spent far more money than you had planned? Of course, there are always days where unexpected things happen—break downs, accidents, unplanned-for expenses. That’s a reality of life. But what about the days where you leave the house as usual and yet, every time you turn around, you are opening your wallet for unnecessary, incidental spending?

Why did you end up spending on those days? Could it be because you were in a hurry, flying from one obligation to the next, without time or energy to properly plan how to get through the day without overspending?

A disorganized morning might lead to sending the kids money to buy their lunches. While you’re rushing around, a coffee and breakfast sandwich from a drive thru might get you through your stressful morning. Why not treat yourself to lunch? After all, you woke up behind the game and by this time your breakfast has worn off, leaving you feeling hungrier than ever. After work you meant to get groceries but forgot about junior’s practice. Just grab a quick ready to serve meal and rush on to your evening of obligations, leaving groceries for another day. You will have to repeat this process in the morning because there’s no food for a proper breakfast or to make lunches. Does any of this sound familiar?

The fact is, it costs money to be unorganized. Everyone has days where a whirlwind suddenly takes over, so don’t feel guilty. But it’s a simple fact that frugality takes effort. Yes, some people have a natural tendency to watch how much they are spending. But they do the work to back it up. And most of them would admit that they don’t like chaos, and being prepared helps them cope with what life throws at them. While this preparation might include savings and retirement plans, it also includes small daily things like having meat thawed to cook for supper or keeping some meals frozen for hectic days. It might entail keeping a bag of trail mix in your glove compartment rather than zipping through the drive thru whenever someone gets hungry (which is all the time if your kids think they can talk you into it!).

Late payment charges, take out meals, unnecessary trips to the store (or town if you live in the country) could mostly be avoided or eliminated by getting organized. Please note—missing a payment because you don’t have the money is different than missing a payment and being charged interest because you forgot about it. If you wish you had more time and money and feel that you should be doing better with the money you earn, perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at your routine.

It pays to get organized

In many cases, sticking to a regular routine prevents splurging and overspending. If you can plan a weekly grocery day rather than popping in to the store whenever you think of something you need, you are likely to leave with fewer impulse buys. Likewise, keeping a list of what you need and running most of your errands in one or two trips every week also curbs the temptation to stop for a coffee, grab a bite, or check out a store while you are out.

Essentially, putting some thought into what you need beforehand helps you stick to a plan (and budget) while you do your business around town. A benefit of being more organized is that you might have more time at home doing things that you might otherwise hire out, like lawn mowing, snow shoveling, dog walking or house cleaning.

Prepare your morning coffee the night before, lay out the kids’ clothes, do a ten-minute tidy-up before bed. If you can eliminate a bit of chaos from your routine, you will allow yourself the time and clarity to make better decisions through out the day, including how you spend your money.

Write it on the calendar

Many businesses give away calendars or day planners at the start of the year. Look around for these freebies, or try setting reminders on your phone or computer. Only spend money on a day planner if you really intend to use it. Remember, all of the little gadgets and apps you buy to help organize yourself add up. Commit to using one and check and update it daily.

Add work meetings, kid’s events, bills and paydays to your schedule. Plan around the most hectic times by getting prepared beforehand. Schedule in your grocery shopping. Make menu plans. Keep daily and weekly lists of what you must get done. You might find there is more time for fun, too. Be more efficient with your time, and efficiency with your money will follow.


  1. This rings so true! I lament over all the money I've spent over the years that was thrown away due to disorganization. I completely relate to how one frantic, disorganized morning leads to this spiral of spending all day - coffee, lunch, and afternoon snack. There's also the things I didn't realize I already had so I went out and bought more of it. It truly does cost a lot of money to be disorganized!

    I recently started with a nutritionist through my work benefits and she refuses to work with anyone that does not prepare all their meals in advance. The goal is to ensure success with the eating plan, but I have a double-win with this where I have not spent one extra cent on food and beverages (besides my carefully planned groceries!) because of this! And all it takes is a few hours every Sunday, with music turned up to keep me company in the kitchen, and I don't have to worry food again for the rest of the week. It's changed my game for the better!

    1. Oh, that's great! I always preach about how DIY (even food prep) saves you money as much in keeping you busy--and from otherwise spending to entertain yourself--as in getting the job done. Many of our slow endeavors aren't real money savers when we do the math. But it keeps us outside in the fresh air, working with our bodies, visiting, playing, learning and growing. As for organization--I've become much more so as my kids are older so it is easy for me to sound off as though I'm always prepared ;) But like anyone, I have my days!