Post by Ben Lien
When I was asked to write a blog for “Real Money”, I thought it would be a great opportunity. I enjoy writing and it is always good to share financial tips with other people. The only thing I was concerned about is that I’ve never blogged in my life. I don’t even have a Facebook account. I do spend time online, but blogs and social media never really sparked my interest. My immediate question was “What should I write about?”. Josh Huffman, the Financial Counseling Supervisor at The Village who asked me about writing a blog, answered “Whatever you think would be good information to share with people”. Well ok, here goes nothing.
My first thought was to explore financial management tricks I use myself. One thing I like to practice is to have ‘no dollar days’. These are days where I go about my normal daily routine of work, social life and past time activities, but do not spend a single dollar. It feels kind of good knowing at the end of the day that I did not spend any money on anything. I only saved my money for a time when I will really need it or simply put it away. Of course we all have to eat, use electricity, use water and maybe use gas (among other things) everyday, which of course is using resources (and spending money), but the idea behind ‘no dollar days’ is that no cash immediately leaves my pocket for a full day. It definitely takes a conscious effort to resist certain purchases on a day to day basis, but it can be done. It is very easy to spend a couple of bucks on coffee or a roll in the morning, $5 – $10 on lunch at noon, another $10 on dinner and to round the day out with $10 on some evening activities. Before you know it, $20, $30 maybe $40 is gone with nothing to really show for it.
Some ways I like to practice ‘no dollar days’ are to pay bills on the same day, run several errands in one or two trips, buy groceries for a couple weeks (or the entire month) at once, pack lunches for noon and resist the urge to spend carelessly (I really don’t need that Mt. Dew). The benefits of ‘no dollar days’ may not be immediate (beyond the satisfaction that I spent a day conserving my money), but I definitely see it at the end of the month. ‘No dollar days’ can also be used to discover new hobbies, perfect talents, get exercise, meet friends and spend time with family. Really, not spending money is a great way to eliminate distractions in our lives and connect with what is truly important in life. I encourage people to have their own ‘no dollar days’; not only for the sake of discovering where dollars can be saved on a day to day basis, but also to discover the impacts these days can have on their personal lives.