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It’s fair to say that most of us would love to save more money. But between busy-day takeout and kids’ activities (whether online or socially distanced), life is expensive, especially for families, and it’s easy to get to the end of the month and wonder where all your extra cash went.
The ‘10% solution’ for saving
Ballou has a savings strategy she calls the “10% solution,” and it’s an especially good hack for families.
“In my experience, [saving] has to be an ‘all-in’ moment for a family to be a success. If only one spouse is trying, and none of the children are engaged, it usually implodes or is sabotaged,” she says. “So I suggest that it become a family game and I call it the 10% solution.”
To play Ballou’s 10% solution game, families should start by reviewing all discretionary spending. That includes dining out (including takeout), shopping, and activities. (In non-COVID times, this category would also include going to movies, concerts, plays, etc., and taking vacations). To do this, print out your bank statements for the last month or two and review them with your family, highlighting all discretionary spending.
From there, make a commitment to cutting back in those spending categories by 10% for a certain period of time. Plan to save a certain amount of that cash, and do something fun with the rest.
Use some of your savings as a ‘reward’
The 10% solution is a game, so there has to be a reward for winning. Ballou suggests using a small amount to treat your family.
“Take a small amount of that savings and go to the park with a picnic, play miniature golf as a family, or something else similar and cost appropriate,” says Ballou. “When you get the kids engaged and they see the details and know the objectives, you are also teaching them great money management skills.”
Ultimately, Ballou says living below your means is critical to saving money. It’s not always possible or easy for every family, especially in this topsy-topsy economic period, but if you can make cuts to your spending or move somewhere with a lower cost of living, your money can go a lot further.
“We waste money in ways we don’t even consciously think about, often in the name of expediency,” says Ballou. “But if everyone is involved [in saving], and it’s fun and there’s a reward, it’s a win-win.”
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