Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings with you plenty of growth, learning, and joy 🙂
We all start our new years with good intentions; the usual “resolution roll-call” that we’re too familiar with (and eventually feel guilty about), you know the whole — live well, get fit, save more.
But it’s always so hard.
There’s this saying:
Cue Wikipedia entry, to save me from explaining:
One meaning is that individuals may have the intention to undertake good actions but nevertheless fail to take action. This inaction may be due to procrastination, laziness or other subversive vice. As such, the saying is an admonishment that a good intention is meaningless unless followed through.
But I can understand – it’s so much easier to lie down than it is to go to the gym, there aren’t a lot of healthy eating options near your workplace, getting into all this personal finance and saving money business can be so tiring. Even the sheer thought of acting on your resolutions starts to feel so snooore do I have to, maybe tomorrow. Questions will start cropping up in your mind like:
Where do I even begin?
Ngalih ku memikirkan, nanti tah saja.
It’s the same reaction we might get when we’re faced with a ridiculously messy, unbelievably disorganized bedroom. Or the huge stack of unfiled paper on your office desk. It’s a dump and even thinking about it gives you a migraine.
But let’s start small, let’s take baby steps together. I’m sure you know that other saying about a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step yadda yadda (because I’m an old fogey in disguise and have far too many wisdom soundbytes to throw into my blog).
Let’s tackle the save more resolution with a super simple, super easy, and eventually quite addictive game.
I call it the Fives & Fifties game, and there’s only one (or two) rules, depending on the level of difficulty you would like to sign up for.
1. Level EASY: Keep all the Five dollar notes ($5) you get; just don’t spend them.
2. Level EXPERT: Keep all the Fifty dollar notes ($50) you get; just don’t spend them.
After payday, you go to the ATM right? You take out a bunch of hundred dollar bills which will then last you a few weeks or the whole month – you’ll use these big bills to pay for food, your phone bill, petrol.. The usual stuff.
And what do you normally get in return? Change, of course! Most of the time this will come to you in $10 notes and $1 notes. I don’t know the true statistics, but you generally don’t get $5 notes as often as you do the reds and the blues. Peek into your wallet right now; chances are you don’t have very many greens to begin with.
How do you play the game and “keep your greens”?
Well if you get a five dollar note back in change, just put it into a separate slot in your wallet and don’t touch it. If you need to pay for something else, use your other notes instead.
And then when you get home or once a week or whenever you remember, put your greens in a little jar/box/drawer/whatever at home. That’s it!
The benefit of this game is you don’t really realise you’re saving. It quickly starts to feel like a game because it’s pretty satisfying to see a few bright green notes hanging out in your wallet like they’re having a salad party; very soon, it’ll turn into a habit and you’ll just automatically put aside your fivers.
And I don’t know if it’s just me (and my friends who have all started the game too) but it can get kind of competitive! You almost hope they’ll give you a five dollar note in change, just so you can see your stack of greens piling up.
And if you’d like to take it up a notch and level up to EXPERT, do the same with your green fiddies ($50) too. And trust me, I’ve played this game long enough to know that you don’t get fifty dollar notes often. Keep an eye out the next few times you break a $100 note. Maybe 4 times out of 5, I’ll get my change in tens.
I’m in the midst of consolidating my life right now (haha) seeing as it’s the new year and I want to start fresh too, like most other people. And a part of that is wrapping up my 2015 finances. A tiny background story to me is that I started my own personal finance “journey” (if we want to be cliche) over a year ago and 2015 is the first full year that I tracked all my expenses and thought about savings properly (not just sweeping up the leftovers in my bank account at the end of the month – which we all tend to do, let’s be honest!)
I plan to write up some notes around that too. One thing which I’ll probably post up next is the progress of my own Fives & Fifties since I actually wrote down how much I stashed away in greens at the end of every month (edit: apparently I only started in June 2015 so that’s half a year’s worth then). Those notes could give you a general idea of how much you’d potentially save each month by playing the game.
(But of course, it’s largely down to luck and chance… And how much you spend in cash, because the more you spend and “break” bigger notes, the higher the likelihood you’ll get a green. So if you use your debit/credit card for most of your purchases, you won’t really get as much green back – as one of my friends unfortunately realized.)
At any rate — start the game today! Don’t scare yourself by committing to forever; just try for one month. For the month of January, put aside all the green notes you get in change. And on the 31st, count it up and ask yourself – did it hurt?
If it didn’t, try it for February too 🙂