Often, we think we don’t have money to put toward retirement, to buy that house or to go on that dream vacation, but in most cases, the money is actually there.
Every week, financial lifestyle expert, Melissa Tosetti works with individuals and families across the U.S. to “find money”. By showing them how to plug financial leaks and streamline their spending she is able to uncover anywhere from $100 - $1,200 per month that can be focused on what’s most important to them.
Sometimes you need more than just a book to help you get on track financially. You need someone to understand the circumstances surrounding your situation and to help you devise a plan to get on stable ground and achieve your financial goals.
Melissa understands there is no one-size-fits-all answer to day-to-day money management. With The Savvy Life’s Bridging The Gap Program, she helps each client create a plan that will work for their situation, schedule and lifestyle.
In the Bridging the Gap program you and Melissa will take two separate, complementary looks at your financial life. Together, you will evaluate your numbers - income, monthly expenses and debt. Next, you’ll review your lifestyle, including your goals and dreams. She will then work with you to create a plan that will Bridge the Gap between the two.
The Bridging the Gap Program is normally $495, but if you
sign up by Friday, June 21st, it’s just $395!
That’s 20% off the regular price.
Family of Five in Sacramento
Melissa worked with a family of five in Sacramento whose situation is quite common. They couldn’t make it from one paycheck to the next despite their annual $100,000+ income.
They were spending $1,500 a month on food, mostly dining out because there were never groceries in the house. The family had no habits or routines around shopping so Melissa focused on helping to create them.
Ultimately, their food bill was cut in half, but they also saved several hours a week by no longer having to wait in line for takeout every night or run to the store for one-off items such as laundry detergent.
In addition to the $750 saved on food, they also identified another $450 that could be saved each month in other areas. The $1,200 savings was then funneled to their Christmas, Vacation and Emergency Savings Accounts and the bulk of the money was put toward increasing their monthly retirement contribution.
Executive in Chicago
Melissa recently worked with an executive in Chicago who already had many good money habits in place. She and her husband contribute 10% of their income to their Retirement Account and still managed to save enough to get to Europe every summer. They came to Melissa for help in finding an additional $1,000 a month to increase their retirement contributions.
By making a few simple changes to their day-to-day spending, Melissa was able to find the $1,000 plus an additional $245 a month to put toward their Vacation Savings Account giving them an additional $2,940 for those annual international trips.
Each individual and family has a unique financial situation. The opportunities to streamline or repurpose their spending are equally unique.
How The Program Works
Step 1: Introductory Meeting
Meet with Melissa over the phone for an initial consultation.
Step 2: Fill out the Financial Worksheet
Financial Worksheet includes income, monthly expenses and debt.
Step 3: Financial Worksheet Review Meeting
During this one hour meeting, you and Melissa will review your Financial Worksheet and create a plan to plug financial leaks and streamline your spending.
Step 4: Report
Melissa will summarize your plan in a report giving you a clear path for moving forward.
Step 5: Follow Up Calls
A 15 minute follow up call is scheduled for a week later to see how the plan is working and to make adjustments. An additional follow up call is scheduled for 30 days later to check in and make additional alterations if necessary.
I recently recieved an email from Wendy S. who lives in Canada. She wrote to tell me about some of the savvy money habits she already has in place as well as some of the tips she has been taking from Living The Savvy Life
. Wendy was kind enough to give me permission to share her email:
I would like to thank you for writing your book, Living The Savvy Life. I have just finished reading it and it was loaded with great information and it was a good read as well.
I wish it had been around when I was younger. I am retired now and was surprised to find that even though I had saved for my retirement, it doesn't end there! I still have to save for my old age (my aunt lived to be 95)!
I am currently putting away 15% of my net income. I live in Canada and we are able to put $5,500 into a tax free savings account each year. (We don't pay tax on the income that it makes) so, I contribute to that each year and I also belong to an investment group... a group of retired ladies who are learning about investing.
I also liked your organization chapter on housekeeping. I have typed out the weekly lists adjusting it to meet my situation and have put it into a plastic sleeve. I have hung this on my laundry room bulletin board. That way I can see what needs to be done each week. I do as much as I can, knowing that the whole house will get done each month.
I enjoyed your recommendations on various books about wardrobe planning. I was able to get the books through my local library. My closet will be my next job!
Thanks for sending me your newsletter! You are doing a great job. Looking forward to getting more.
By Melissa Tosetti
Awhile back I received a message from a Twitter follower who replied to the post, “Is your home environment warm, comforting and expressive of who you are?”
The reader commented that he appreciated the sentiment, but asked how it relates to money management. It’s a great question! How does your home environment affect your personal finances?
One answer is that when your home environment is warm and inviting, you are less likely to feel the urge to escape by going out. For many, going out means shopping, dining and other forms of pay-for-entertainment which ultimately are just distractions from the problem that you are not comfortable in your own home.
Too often, the reason people want to escape their home is to escape the clutter. They are overwhelmed by the piles and just want to get away. Clutter is a manifestation of improperly spent money. If the items purchased were truly wanted or needed, they would have a purpose and not be relegated to piles in the corner.
If you find that you just can’t relax in your own home, it’s time to seek help. The Internet offers hundreds of resources including my favorite, www.Flylady.net. There are also plenty of books to help guide you through the process of cleaning and decluttering. In our book, Living the Savvy Life, we dedicated an entire chapter to turning your home into your own personal sanctuary.
Keep in mind that savvy living is about so much more than just saving money. It’s about quality of life.
By Melissa Tosetti
I managed to get in and out of Costco yesterday in 10 minutes for less than $50.
I stocked up on:
- 6 lbs of Hamburger
- A bucket of Sour Cream (Paul and Dante's favorite condiment next to mayonaise)
- 3 lbs of coffee
- 2 loaves of garlic bread for an event this weekend
- 2 dozen eggs
Although we are only a family of three, by properly storing and freezing items, we are able to take advantage of the bulk discounts saving us 20% - 40% a year on our grocery bill.
One of my tricks is to go every other week instead of every other month. By going every other week, I only need to pick up a handful of items and can get in and out very quickly, usually for less than $75. This spreads out the cost of my Costco purchases. I would rather spend $75 every other week than drop $300 every other month. It has less of an impact on one particular pay period.
By Melissa Tosetti
This morning I stumbled on an article by Gregory Karp, one of my favorite personal finance authors. In the article
, he mentioned the following statistic:
"The CFA study found that just 37 percent of low-
and moderate-income families have a savings account."
Over the last nine years, I've worked with individuals and families from all different income levels and have found that putting money into an Emergency Savings account, let alone a Retirement Account is a task many postpone, not just low income households.
If you're currently not saving anything at all, you can start today! Grab your paycheck and calculate what 1% of your take home pay is. If your paycheck is $2,000, then 1% is just $20. Easy, right?
Once you calculate your 1%, set up an automatic transfer of that amount for each payday. That's it! You just started your Emergency Savings Account.
Often, we think we have to start by saving 10% or more. Over the years, we've found that the key to building and sustaining a sucessful savings account is to do it incrementally, 1% at a time. Every 2 - 3 months try to bump up that savings by another 1%. It's much easier than you may think. Give it a try by starting right now!
By Melissa Tosetti
Shopping requires constant decision making. One of the major decisions to be made is whether to invest in an item or to bargain shop. This is a personal decision, as the things that are important to you and worth an investment may not be important to the next person. However, it's imperative not to get into the trap of always purchasing the cheapest item for things that are not as important to you.
For example, fashion may not be your thing, but that doesn't mean you should always reach for the cheapest item. In fact, if you don't like shopping for clothes, investing in classic items that will last for years is a savvy way to keep yourself from having to shop more often to replace cheaper items that didn't stand the test of time.
In the case of an article of clothing, if you decide to purchase a new sweater you have two choices. You can easily go to a disposable fashion store such as Forever 21 and invest $19 on a sweater. Typically, with disposable fashion, money is saved by making the garments as fast as possible and the attention to detail in finishing stitches is not always there. It is possible that your $19 investment will last just one season. If during that one season you wore the sweater 12 times, the cost per wear would be $1.58.
If you go to a higher end store and choose to spend an additional $10 looking for a sweater in the $29 range, the attention to detail is most likely greater and that sweater could last you five years or more. If during that five year time period you wore the sweater 100 times, the cost per wear would be $.29.
Using a Cost Per Wear/Use Calculation is one of the most helpful tools in deciding when to invest and when to bargain shop.
We would like to take a moment to thank the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military and for the sacrifices you have made to protect our freedom. Thank you.
By Melissa Tosetti
While working toward our goals, it's easy to forget how much we have achieved. When you're in a constant state of striving for and working toward something better, it's too easy to forget about what you've already accomplished.
What happens is that as you achieve a goal, your mind immediately identifies the next goal and you begin the process of working to achieve it.
I am a goal setter by nature and fully understand how they can be emotionally taxing if you do not take the time to acknowledge the goals you have already accomplished and take time to celebrate them.
Take a moment today to list all of the goals you have set for yourself and achieved since on the path to Savvy Living. Post that list in a place you will see on a daily basis to remind yourself of the amazing things you have done!
By Melissa Tosetti
As you know, the Golden Rule of Personal Finance is to spend less than you make. But, how do you do it?
One technique is to strive to have left over money in your checking account at the end of each pay period. Even if it's only $5, that means you have successfully spent less than you make.
Once you get into this habit, make a game of it and try to have more and more left over at the end of each pay period. You can then transfer that money to your emergency savings account if you’re working on building that, or to something fun like your vacation savings account.
Just remember to do “something” with your leftovers. Money left in a checking account with no purpose has a tendency to disappear into the ether. Make every dollar count by giving it a purpose!