eight simple snowflakes

December 8th, 2008

Eight Simple Snowflakes

The M-Network is continuing their holiday tradition this year of taking the song The Twelve Days of Christmas and putting a financial spin to the days.  I started the whole thing off last Monday with The First Rule of Personal Finance, and I am continuing today with Day 8.  Did you miss a day?  Check out the end of the post for a complete list of participants and contributions!

Snowflaking is the practice of taking small amounts of “found” money and applying them to your financial goals, be it saving, paying down debt, or something else entirely.  There are many ways that snowflaking can be implemented into your daily financial life, and here are eight of my favorites.  Hopefully within them, you’ll find more than a few that apply to your situation and can streamline reaching your financial goals!

1.  Automatic deposits.   From having a portion of your paycheck deposited to your savings account to making an automatic withdrawal from your checking account each month, one of the most powerful methods you can employ is the “set it and forget it” one.  Once something becomes automatic, you adjust to it and it is a fact of life, not an extra effort.

2.  Pay it twice.  Did you make a frivolous, unplanned purchase?  Large or small, when I spend money spontaneously without thinking, I make a matching payment to the debt I am working on paying off.  If I wanted that frivolous item enough to essentially pay twice for it, I help meet my financial goals at the same time.

3.  Pay immediately when received.  As soon as you receive money that you want to snowflake – do it.  Make an immediate payment to debt.  Move that money to your savings account.  Don’t let the money get lost in the shuffle.

4.  Sell something.  Be it craigslist, ebay, a yard sale, or something else entirely, there are many avenues to sell your unneeded possessions.  I’m not saying to sell everything.  Look around your living space.  There is probably at least one thing that has monetary value that you don’t use.  Find a way to sell it and use the profit for your financial goal.

5.  Cut a bill, use the “profit”.  Can you lower your car or home insurance by raising the deductible?  Can you lower your cable bill by making a simple phone call?  Explore strategies for lowering bills, and when you successfully lower one, use the money you saved for snowflaking.  I know it is hard to make the call – I have trouble with it myself.  Start small.  Just make one call.  You’ll be surprised how simple it can be.

6.  Go under budget in a category.  If you use a budget to track your spanding, set a goal to use the money that you are under budget in a category towards that financial goal.  Utilities $50 under budget this month?  Gasoline $40 under budget?  That’s money you can use towards making your financial dreams a reality.  But see #3 – make those transfers or payments immediately so the money doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

7.  Do something yourself you usually pay for.  Do you eat out several times a week?  Does someone shovel your snow or mow your grass (for convenience, not health related reasons)?  Just once, do that service yourself.  Make a meal at home when you were planning to go out.  Mow your own grass.  Whatever it is, just replace it once with your own time and effort, and then snowflake that saved money.

8.  Take a leap and commit.  This is the hardest one, or the simplest one.  Take a leap of financial faith.  Decide what is really most important to you – and then commit 100% to it.  You’ll be surprised how many ways you’ll find to snowflake if it really is your #1 priority.

Did you miss one of the previous 12 Days or want to keep up with #9-#12?  Here is a complete list of the previous days and locations, and it will be updated with the final days as they are published.  Bookmark this post for future reference, and enjoy our 12 Financial Days of Christmas!

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22 Responses to “Eight Simple Snowflakes”

  1. I love these tips because they’re useful! Instead of “Skip your daily latte” (never been a habit of mine) or “Pack your lunch” (have been doing that for 2 years now). One thing that has really helped us is focusing on each and every bill we have. We’ve recently lowered our car insurance (savings=$200), renter’s insurance (savings=$64) and cell phone bills (savings=$55 per month). The benefit? Getting our bills down to one income so my husband can quit his job to go full time freelance! Our disconnect is putting those savings into a separate account. We’ll have to work on that now!

  2. Hi, and thanks for the good ideas about ways to save cash in these economically challenging times. If I may, I wanted to add another valuable reference to a service that has helped both me and thousands of others save an average of $487 every year. In particular, customers with plans by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular are seeing substantial savings achieved through the website http://www.fixmycellbill.com by a company called Validas.

    As I dealt with my own hefty cell bills, I discovered Validas when looking for a way to cut spending. Validas analyzes your online cell bill for free and calculates how much money you could be saving. Eight of ten wireless customers are paying more than they need to on their plans. Validas fixes this discrepancy by tailoring a customer’s plan to fit their specific needs. Validas saved me over $230 per year on my Verizon plan. That almost works out to getting a free month of my plan annually. If you choose, Validas will provide your personalized cell bill adjustment report that is emailed, for five bucks, to your wireless provider in industry specific format so you can actually implement these cash saving changes. If Validas can save you more than $5 on your bill, this obviously provides a very cost effective solution.

    I was personally so impressed with my Validas savings that I actually took a job with the company. Validas is rapidly becoming considered an advocate for the wireless customer. Check out a feature about Validas on The Big Idea with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch at http://www.cnbc.com/id/22782456/. Any cell subscriber who wants to cut costs should consider this service. It’s free to consult and you only stand to save.

    Take care and good luck to everyone trying to reduce expenses,

    Dylan

  3. I love #2 – so poetic, coming from paidtwice.com!

    I don’t have debt, but I use this principle when I indulge in fast food: the same amount of money goes straight into the snowflake jar for charity donations.

  4. Your tips keep me on my toes. Although, I can’t pay any more than the monthly minimum on my educational loan at this point, by March, I will be able to! The almost $300 I pay now for health insurance monthly will go to the loan as well as my regular payment.

    All I can say is yea for turning 65!

  5. lol #2 is part of how I came up with the name paidtwice originally. :)

  6. Nice post! Nice term “Snowflaking”

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