Everyone has probably started the New Year full of new hope, dreams and renewed energy. The personal finance blogosphere is full of great advice and ideas about how to save money this year. I will add another idea to the list, a little unconventional, but one that worked great for me – slow down!
I had some health issues that forced me to shut down pretty much my entire schedule for the month of December. I didn’t think about saving money at all, but as I paid my bill for December, I realized that it was the lowest for all of 2011. I, however, never felt like I was actually doing anything to save money.
I went through our credit card bill to see what we did differently in December. I took off from work, so I expected the gas bill to be low. But even factoring that in, I had to double check whether there had been a mistake. It should have been obvious, I didn’t realize how much of a difference there was when I was relaxed and not running around like a headless chicken.
Why we spend?
We do a lot of things when we are too busy. For example
- Pressured? Eat out. When we feel we have a deadline at work and feel pressured, we usually eat out. We won’t take the time to plan our meals and cook them ourselves. This not only affects our wallets but also our mid section.
- Unhappy? Shop more. There are several reasons to shop and one of the major reasons, even if we don’t admit it, is we shop when we are unhappy. For a lot of us shopping is a therapy to unwind and relax.
- Stressed? Make mistakes. When I am stressed out I make a lot of mistakes. When I am tired, I don’t want to think too much about my investments, insurance or any financial affairs. I won’t even understand all the details about that financial product and will be prone to make errors in my decisions
- No time? Pay for convenience. When you are exhausted do you really comparison shop? Personally I pick up the first thing I see that will do the job even if it is a high priced low quality item. I will let the cable or insurance bill run for several months without picking up the phone to check for quotes.
I was totally relaxed and as a pleasant side effect, I didn’t spend much at all.
How slowing down can save more more?
Slowing down can save you money in almost every category.
Save money on groceries and eating out : Taking time to plan out meals and not shopping in a hurry will save a good chunk in the food category.
Save money on gas : Many times, by driving at the posted speed limit I feel I am a hazard to all traffic. According to fueleconomy.gov, due to aerodynamics and other conditions, a car loses 23 percent of it fuel efficiency when driving at 75 instead of 55 (and 28 percent at 80). At $4 a gallon, that’s a savings of 89 cents per gallon.
Save money on insurance : Over 100,000 people a day receive a speeding ticket in this country. The average speeding ticket costs $150.00. The average raise in insurance costs for one speeding ticket over the course of 3 years is $900.00. And add in the fact that we are too busy to comparison shop insurance, that’s a lot of money.
Save money by not impulse shopping : The more relaxed we are, the more thoughtful we can be when buying anything.
We are entering the time of the year that is hectic for most people. When our to do lists get longer and calenders fill up, it’s hard to resist the temptation to race around. Slowing down may be counter-intuitive, but it is good for our wallet and for our sanity. By slowing down, we might even be able to check things off that list even faster.