Today is officially my first paycheck of the new year and while I’m always excited to get paid, I’m constantly thinking about all of the places that the money is going to go. Of course, there’s always the routine monthly bills and expenses, but how do you get ahead and start saving money?
For me, I’m a planner. I blame my dad for this constant, obsessive habit that I have, but I wholeheartedly love him for instilling this in me. Planning makes me feel calm and prepared. Especially when it comes to money.
There are a few things that are on my radar for 2020 that I want to save for. Unfortunately it’s not a luxurious vacation or really cool new electronic, but it still makes me happy.
Every year at the beginning of the year, I make goals for what I want to save over the year, for things like vacations and Christmas. This allows me to work towards my goal slowly, and when the time comes, I’m not using a credit card to pay for these things.
For 2020 my goals are saving for Christmas, putting money aside for publishing 4 novels that I’m writing, and having money set aside for both of my daughter’s birthdays. I have one who was born on January 2nd (yup, add that to the holiday mix and expenses!) and my other daughter who was born on March 18th. Even though there’s a few months between their birthdays, that doesn’t give me much time to save up the money that I need for the second birthday because let’s face it, birthday parties get expensive. Between food, decorations, and gifts- it really adds up.
Now I won’t get into too much detail on how much money I bring home per paycheck but I will tell you that it’s not enough to where I don’t have to worry about saving. I don’t have enough left over after a paycheck to go buy everything I need for my daughter’s birthday party. However I’ve also been in the boat where I didn’t have an extra $5 left over after getting paid, so I know my money goals for 2020 may not sound or feel realistic for everyone.
My current job has our payroll set up on a 26 week pay period. This means that I have 26 opportunities to put money aside. There may be a pay period where I can’t put money aside and that’s okay. My goal is to try with every paycheck and see what I can do.
Birthdays– Ultimate Goal $520 per child
For each daughter, I have a Christmas club account linked to their savings account. Each pay check I will be putting $20 into each of their accounts. By the last paycheck of 2020, I will have put aside $520 for each child. This money is strictly for their birthdays and includes the cost of the food and decorations, and their gifts. My maximum budget for gifts is $100 per child. They get plenty of other gifts from family. This leaves me with $420 for food and decorations. I LOVE doing themed parties for my girls and of course, that can add up a little bit on the cost of decorations. I try to stay between $100-$150 at most on decorations which will leave me with $270-320 for food and drink. I try to make the most out of my budget and will usually make pans of enchiladas or lasagna for the main dish, then have a few snack items. This goes a long way and tends to save some money!
In summary, by putting aside $20 per paycheck over the course of 26 weeks, I’m able to save $520!
Christmas- Ultimate Goal $1040
We try to keep Christmas on a leash every year and most years I do really good at staying on budget! The maximum that we spend on anyone is $100 and that’s set for our daughters and what my husband and I spend on each other. We tend to stay between $50-$75 for each parent and sibling, and $20-$30 for extended family.
We could easily spend more on everyone and would love to shower them with gifts, but honestly, we just can’t afford it. And everyone that we buy for has a handful of others who buy for them as well so no one is going without. My goal is to always go with a heartfelt, thoughtful gift, and not be focused on spending a large amount.
I start saving for Christmas at the very beginning of the year because it really does come quickly and then I’m scrambling to figure out where to get the rest of the money that I need for Christmas. So my savings goal is to put aside $40 per paycheck. Over 26 weeks, that’s $1040.
There will be some paychecks where I have the opportunity to put aside more, which I always do. Whether it’s $10 or $100, it adds up. I also don’t use the money that I’m setting aside. If there’s an emergency that comes up, I try to look at other options first. This keeps the idea in my head that this money is important so I don’t form bad habits of borrowing $5 here and $10 there, then before I know it, all of the money is gone.
So by putting aside $40 a paycheck, I can save $1040. If I can’t do $40, then I can change it to $20 and save $520. It’s all about what you can do and living within your means.
Extra Pay Periods
A fun and exciting thing for me is the months where there are 3 pay periods in that month. For 2020, mine fall in June and December. This means that I won’t have any employer deductions for benefits on the 3rd paycheck. It will also mean that the money I transfer every 2 weeks for my car payment won’t get transferred on the 3rd paycheck either.
I currently put $175 aside each paycheck for my monthly car payment of $350. The extra 2 pay periods that I will have where I don’t put that money aside means that I technically have an extra $350 available to me this year. When you know in advance, it makes it easier to think about what you want to put that money aside for or what you want to spend it on.
It’s not always easy to save money but if you start with small, obtainable goals, it can make you feel great about being able to do it! See below for how much you can put aside based on a 26 week payroll:
$5 a week over 26 weeks: $130
$10 a week over 26 weeks: $260
$15 a week over 26 weeks: $390
$20 a week over 26 weeks: $$520
$25 a week over 26 weeks: $650
$30 a week over 26 weeks: $780
$35 a week over 26 weeks: $910
$40 a week over 26 weeks: $1040
$45 a week over 26 weeks: $1170
$50 a week over 26 weeks: $1300