Pennies

By Melissa Tosetti

The last of the three speaking engagements I had in Virginia was held in a private dining room at a club in Virginia Beach. There were about 10 women in attendance. After my presentation, we stayed at the table and talked about the impact of money on life for almost another hour.
 
One of the women educated and entertained  us with stories of the six months she lived in Paris and how it changed her entire way of thinking about money - especially when it came to her spending on clothes. She was shocked at how everyone looks to the French as fashion icons, but in reality, most of the women she met had a wardrobe made up of a handful of black clothes. What gave their wardrobe depth were the gorgeous scarves they wore.  So instead of a closet overflowing with clothes, they have basic, work-horse pieces and the stars of their wardrobe are their accessories.
 
As we all told our favorite money stories there was one woman in attendance who sat back and quietly took it all in. I will remember this woman for the rest of my life. Not just because she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, but because of her presence.  I can't find the exact word to describe her presence.  The closest word that comes to mind is "noble". 
 
I won’t even pretend to guess her age, but her gorgeous African American skin and stunning dark blue eyes defied the cane she used. She also wore her dark gray hair long and straight. I’m a sucker for long hair on older women. 
 
This woman sat quietly the entire evening, listening to us jabber on and about the same time, the rest of us realized we were in the presence of a woman who obviously had stories to tell and lessons to teach. We asked her thoughts about money and what she said and the way she said it, reaffirmed for me the importance of the smallest details.
 
She said the one thing she remembered as a child was being told that “Pennies add up to nickels, nickels add up to quarters and quarters make dollars.” 
 
Such a simple truth and yet, in this day and age, we don’t mind the dollars let alone the pennies.  Money goes in and money goes out and we hope there’s enough to do the things we want to do.  But, when we track our spending and pay attention to the pennies it makes a massively positive impact on our finances. 
 
Magic happens when you begin to track your spending. You see where your money is going and you can redirect it to where you want it to go. 
 
Start minding your pennies today!
 
 
Inspiration in Vienna
By Melissa Tosetti
 
At last night’s Living The Savvy Life presentation in Vienna, VA I met an inspiring character.  After I was done speaking he came up to tell me about how in 1984, his company was bought out by another. Previously, he’d been making $350 a paycheck. The new company bumped up his salary to over $500 a paycheck. 
 
He went on to tell me that an investment consultant came in and told him and his coworkers, “Ok you guys. You’re never going to get an opportunity like this again. Don’t screw this up!” The rep then explained the various retirement-type programs available. My new friend told me how he immediately put all of his pay raise toward his retirement and how it was the smartest move he’s ever made. 
 
When his company downsized him a few years earlier than he was hoping to retire, it wasn’t a financial crisis. In fact, because of the smart money move he made back in 1984, he was more than fine.
 
The next time you get a bump up in salary, whether it's a big bump or a little one, consider taking a cue from my friend and putting the increase toward your retirement or other wealth building accounts.
 
 
Hello Virginia
By Melissa Tosetti
 
I'm on my way to Virginia for three speaking engagements which will take me to three corners of the state.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the area. 
 
I'm also looking forward to paying non-California gas prices.  That always makes me happy!
 
 
Attitude Adjustment
Your attitude about managing your finances will directly impact your willingness to do it.  Get excited that you're taking control of your finances and keep in mind all the different ways it will positively impact your life.
 
 
 
Storage Lessons From Tiny Homes

By Melissa Tosetti

I've been a fan of small homes for a long time.  The movement toward smaller homes has gained steam, especially in the last year, with television shows about microscopic living cropping up across cable networks.

Just a few of the biggest perks include: 

  • A much smaller mortgage
  • Smaller utility bills
  • Less time cleaning

However, there are definitely challenges to tiny and small home living and storage space is the biggest one - especially when you, your husband and your 8 year old son are all book collectors. 

Tiny homes are loosely described as less than 1,000 square feet.  At 1,200 square feet, our home falls into the small category and storage is definitely a challenge.  In fact, one of our projects this spring is to cull through our attic and reorganize the space for better use.  Our more urgent projects are storage for Dante's room as well as my office.

There are a lot of lessons to learn regarding clever storage space from the tiny house movement and we've been paying close attention.  Today I stumbled on this article: 11 Lessons We Can Learn From AirBNB's Tiniest Homes.

My favorite lesson from the article is the use of vertical space.  It's a tip we can use, especially in Dante's bedroom!

 

 
The Power of False Deadlines

By Melissa Tosetti
 
Last night at 6:34 pm, I finished the last of the tax preparations for The Savvy Life, my husband's martial arts school and our personal taxes.  I celebrated by binge watching episodes of Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries until 10:30 pm.
 
My goal was to finish my taxes by the Friday of President's Day weekend. I was frustrated by not meeting my deadline, but didn't let it ruin my weekend getaway because I knew I still had time.  I also knew that if I didn't give myself a new deadline, I'd wait until the last minute, stress out all the while and hurry through the paperwork to meet my accountant's deadline.
 
So, I reset my deadline for yesterday knowing that tonight Paul and I are going out to celebrate the anniversary of our first date and we also have fun plans for the rest of the weekend.  If I could get my tax prep done before dinner tonight, the evening and weekend would be even more enjoyable.
 
I'm not gonna lie... yesterday was a big push to get it all done, but I did it!
 
Next year I really want to hit that initial goal of handing everything over to my accountant before President's Day weekend.  Hopefuly, the new season of Miss Fisher will be out by then.

 
Vacation Savings Account

By Melissa Tosetti 

There are many different ways to pull together or earmark money for vacations and other fun stuff. One of the most powerful tools is to create a savings account specifically for vacations.   Capital One 360 allows you to create multiple savings accounts so you can earmark your funds for a certain cause, i.e. vacations.  
 
One of the things I especially love about Capital One 360 is that they also offer a checking account with a debit card. When Paul and I are ready to go on vacation, we transfer the money from our vacation savings to our Capital One 360 checking account.   We then use that debit card throughout our vacation. The money stays separate from our day-to-day checking account and we are able to spend as we please because we know we are only spending our "vacation" money. There is something very freeing about this practice.
 
If vacations are a big part of your life, start automatically depositing money into your vacation savings account. Even small amounts will begin adding up and will keep you moving toward your goal.
 
One of my favorite habits for "finding" vacation money is to save the money you save. For example, our grocery store is Safeway and we have a Safeway Club Card that offers additional savings for being a member (membership is free). When I use my card, the amount of money I saved is at the bottom of the receipt. When I get home from the grocery store, I automatically go to my computer and transfer that amount from my day-to-day checking to my vacation account.
 
Through savvy grocery shopping, I save an average of $75 - $150 per month for our vacations. Also, the money saved by savvy shopping is used for a specific purpose instead of vanishing into thin air.
 
Other ideas to save include:
  • As you receive gift money, consider putting it into your vacation savings account. 
  • Do you get overtime? Instead of letting that money get absorbed into your checking account, immediately transfer it to your vacation savings account. 
  • Another option is to transfer any leftover money at the end of the pay period into your vacation fund. As you continue this process, you will be surprised at how quickly that money adds up.

 

 
Spring Cleaning Motivation

By Melissa Tosetti

Despite what the weather looks like on the East Coast, according to the retail industry, it's SPRING!

That means, anything and everything related to spring cleaning will be on sale.  This is my favorite time to stock up on my go-to cleaning and home care products including:

  • Comet
  • Windex
  • Pinesol
  • Febreze

With an eight year old, a dog, a hamster and a husband who teaches martial arts for a living, Febreze is a treasured product in our household. 

In addition to cleaning products, cleaning equipment will also be on sale.  So, if you're in the market for a new vaccum cleaner or carpet steam cleaner, start watching your favorite store's sales ads.  Over the next six weeks they'll be at some of the best prices of the year. 

 
One Percent at a Time

By Melissa Tosetti

One of the goals of Savvy Living is to: Save 20% and spend the rest with abandon.

Keeping in mind that the average savings rate in the U.S. shifts from 3.7% - 4.9% getting to that 20% goal may feel like an overwhelming task... but it can be achieved! The trick is to get there 1% at a time.

First of all, if you're only saving 1% - 3% of your salary, congratulate yourself for saving anything at all. At least you're in the habit of saving. Now, it's time to take it to the next level.

Start, by taking a look at your last paycheck and calculating how much 1% equates to. For example, if your paycheck is $2,000, 1% of that paycheck is just $20.

Now ask yourself, if you set up an automatic transfer of $20 from your checking account to your savings account each payday, will you really miss that money? If you can still put gas in your car and food on the table, set up the transaction right now.

The next step is to put a note in your calendar for two months from now to see if you can bump up your savings amount by another 1%. In fact, make it a habit to check in every other month to see if you can increase your savings amount.

Initially, your contributions will feel small, but you will have the opportunity to build on success and your savings will grow.

Don't wait for the magical day that you can start saving 20% all at once. That day is not going to come. There will always be something to distract you from your goal... especially when that goal is to start saving $400 all at once.

Even if it takes you 2 -4 years to get to that 20% goal, you will get there... and have had 2-4 year’s worth of savings built up along the way.
 

 

 
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