Two Types of Saving

The golden rule in personal finance is to spend less than you earn.  Following this rule allows you to save money.

Personal finance is just that- personal.  Our personal choices can make or break us.  In the traditional sense "saving money" means taking a portion of the money you earn and setting it aside (i.e., not spending it).  However, this isn't the only way to "save" to make our financial lives better.

You can also "save money" by finding ways to "pay less" for the things you need or want. This is where saving money becomes a lifestyle.   To illustrate this principal, let's look at grocery shopping as an opportunity to save money through the choices we make.

Grocery Example:

  • Choose a cheaper store.  Anyone that lives in or near a city likely has multiple grocery stores to choose from.  While high-end grocers have beautiful displays and an interesting selection of exotic foods, they also have higher prices on everyday items like milk, eggs, and flour.  Plus, those eye catching displays and interesting items, can often lure us into buying these we don't necessarily need.  Starting your grocery shop at a more basic market, can be your first step towards saving money.
  • Plan your meals.  Before you leave home, plan your meals, and create a shopping list of the necessary ingredients.  When you're at the store, try to stick to your list.  It's perfectly acceptable to make substitutions, especially for items that are on sale.  But try to avoid buying items impulsively just 'because they look good' in the moment.
  • Coupons & Rewards. Again, before you leave home, scope out the sales flyer for your grocery store.  If they offer a rewards program, sign up for it.  Clipping coupons whether paper or digitally, can add up to some serious savings, especially when you make it a long-term habit.  Planning your meals around sale items is another strategy for saving money.
  • Expect the unexpected.  Things pop up and life gets busy.  Inevitably, you will encounter an evening now and again, when you don't have time to cook.  Having a few "emergency" convenience items on-hand like frozen pizzas, can help you avoid ordering take-out.  $10 for frozen pizzas vs. $30 for pizza delivery is an instant savings of $20.

A  lot of Little Decisions

This grocery store example shows that “saving money” is often the result of a lot of little decisions.  In the moment, it’s easy to look at any one decision and say “it’s only an extra dollar, who cares!”  That’s why we need to take a long term view, and remember that all of the little decisions we make today, will add up over a two-week pay period.  And they’ll certainly add up over the course of the year.

So far, saving money through our choices sounds like a lot of little sacrifices.  That’s why it’s important to have a savings goal in mind to keep ourselves motivated.  Here are two common savings goals to consider:

Strategies to Stay Motivated

  • Stash the cash.  You can rewards yourself for making smart spending decisions on the day-to-day by transfer that extra money out of checking, and into your savings account.  Watching your savings account balance grow over time can be very rewarding.
  • Treat yourself.  Alternatively, some people choose to be frugal in most areas of their budget so that they can splurge in a few other areas.  Using your savings to treat yourself to niceties can improve your overall quality of life.  By doing this, we’re essentially prioritizing our spending to increase our overall benefit. 
    Some people are highly disciplined, which allows them to be frugal all year in anticipation of one big reward like an annual vacation.  Others find that treating themselves to smaller things (e.g., a new pair of shoes) on a more regular basis is a better reward, and more motivating.
Remember, if your budget doesn’t allow you to save as much as you’d like in the traditional sense- you can always “save more” by finding ways to “pay less.”


If you need help creating or refining your budget, please check our financial tracker tool, My $ Snapshot securely located within digital banking.  Another easy way to save money is to enroll in our Spare Change Savings program.  With Spare Change, you can feel good knowing you’re consistently saving a little bit of money every time you swipe your Adventure debit card.

Article written by Evan Kingsbury for Adventure Credit Union