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How Saving $5 A Day Can Change Your Life

How Saving $5 A Day Can Change Your Life

How many times do you spend $5 each day? That morning coffee, a quick sandwich at lunch, a snack at the gas station after work, or a drink out with friends at night can all cost $5 or more. What if you decided to not purchase one of those items each day? What if you made your coffee at home instead of buying it at a fancy coffee shop? What if you packed your own sandwich or decided to get water instead of a coke when you went out at a restaurant? Many people will say they don’t want to give up life’s little luxuries, but here’s what could happen if you did and saved the money instead.

If you saved $5 a day for a month, you would have $150. With that money you could do the following things:

  • You could buy a new smart phone.
  • You could buy a new bike.
  • You could buy a brand new outfit.
  • You could buy a really expensive pair of shoes.
  • You could pay your friend back.
  • You could buy your books for school.
  • You could have a nice day at the spa.
  • You could purchase birthday gifts for 5 friends or family members.

This could change your life significantly if you, for example, rode a bike every day and got in great shape. It could also barely affect your life if you only got to enjoy your new shoes every now and then. So why not save $5 a day for a little longer?

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If you saved $5 a day for six months, you would have $900. With that money you could do the following things:

  • You could finally repair your car.
  • You could pay for a month of rent.
  • You could buy a plane ticket to New York City for two.
  • You could pay for your gas for 3-5 months in cash.
  • You could get ahead on your electric bill.
  • You could finally start that emergency fund.
  • You could pay off your credit card.

Not bad for just giving up a tall café mocha every day for 6 months, right? You can easily see how $5 a day for six months can change your life. Having an emergency fund just in case could prevent you from going into credit card debt. Paying off your last credit card would make you feel so much freer, knowing you were financially stable. Buying a plane ticket somewhere fun could give you memories for a lifetime. Yet, if you saved for a little bit longer, here’s what could happen:

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If you saved $5 a day for a year, you would have $1,825 dollars. That amount of money could get you the following items.

  • You could go on a really nice weekend vacation.
  • You could finally buy your girlfriend that engagement ring.
  • You could put a down payment on a car.
  • You could donate it and make a difference to a charity of your choice.
  • You could pay for a college class.
  • You could fully fund an emergency account.
  • You could finally see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • You could buy a really nice watch.
  • You could pay for 2-3 months of rent in cash.

All of these scenarios so far have involved spending the money you save right away, but what if you grow it instead? Many people say they don’t have enough money to do this, but here’s what could happen if you only save $5 a day for one year.

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You could take the $1,825 and invest it. Even if you add nothing to it, you could reap significant rewards. A very conservative estimate if your investment earns 4% and is compounded once a year shows that you could have $147,000 after 35 years. All you would have to do is give up life’s little luxuries for 1 year, invest that amount, and theoretically let it sit for 35 years.

With $147,000 to spend, you could not only change your life, but the lives of your family. With that you could do the following:

  • Pay for a modest home in cash.
  • Send all three of your kids to college.
  • Go on a luxury trip around the world with your spouse.
  • Start your own business.
  • Invest even more and make even more.
  • Buy an outrageously expensive car.
  • Quit working for 5-7 years.
  • Pay off all of your consumer and student loan debt and that of your children.

As you can see, the best way to change your life with just $5 a day is to save the money for the long term. Sending your kids to college will definitely change their lives. Quitting work for a little while and seeing the world will give you the experience of a lifetime. Paying off debt or buying a house in cash would be a tremendous personal accomplishment. The truth is, no matter what you do or how long you save it for, saving $5 a day for any length of time can make your life better whether it’s in a small or in a really significant way.

Featured photo credit: Making money concept via Shutterstock

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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