Sunday, January 3, 2010

Silver Linings Savings Plan

Saving money while living on a small income can be daunting. It is for me. However, having a little stashed away gives me some vital security and independence. It matters less how much I've saved than that there's money nearby for emergencies. When you live on the edge, that's essential.

While my offspring were at home there was a beautiful crystal decanter on the kitchen counter, which I found at my favourite second hand store. It was for dimes only, because they took up less space, were less missed, took a long time to fill the container and resulted in the highest overall amount when counted. Leaving it in plain sight reminded us to check and see if any tiny shiny dimes were lurking in a pocket, begging to be added to the growing pile. The contents were for specific reasons, the main one being a ten day stay at a summer camp for both children every year.

During my working years, I had income tax deducted as a single person. That resulted in a larger return at year end, since my total income from various part-time employment was usually too low to be taxable. I used the money to pay off a yearly lump sum of my mortgage without penalties. I arranged for a bi-monthly mortgage payment and shortened the amortization from the initial 25 years to ten years as soon as it was financially possible to do so.

I also committed an extra ten percent of my net income each pay cheque into a special 'house payment' account I had set up with the credit union. Then I invested that in eco-friendly ventures. Despite the unavoidable dips into the pot for renovations/repairs to my house/mouth/auto, it has grown over the years.

Such steps to maintain control over my tiny income have empowered me with a sense of self-pride in what I can accomplish. Equally important, I feel beholden to no one.

After taking care of the big money items, I make good use of the remaining income. I plan a budget and stick to it. I even allow for enrichment, such as an occasional spray of fresh flowers to grace my home during the gloomy mid-winter months, a trip to a favourite art supply store, or a few dollars to share with a friend.

All things considered, my life in the lowest decile of income isn't a bad one, largely because I have taken ownership of it.

No comments: