This weekend we had quite the coup on the financial front. In short, we saved $3000 in a single weekend. The largest portion of these savings is very counter intuitive. Specifically, it is something we *didn’t* do that resulted in the savings.
Our sidewalk has sunk down into the ground quite a bit and we need it back here on earth. To do this we were considering hiring a contractor to repair and replace our entire front sidewalk.
We diligently obtained lots of quotes – some as high as $8000 and one contractor quoted us is a good deal at $2000. And the contractor seems excellent. And the firm is made up of U.S. military service veterans. So, heroes.
And then we paused.
We are all correctly hardwired to an action for bias. But to pay for school means to prioritize spending in a most singular way. And that often means *not* taking action. After some thought we decided to pass. $2000 saved immediately. There are lots of other much lower cost options available to us. The alternatives aren’t as quick, or as fancy looking, as a new slate sidewalk. But a $40 slate patch serves a more important purpose.
Many people say this and I can’t stress it enough; The most effective way to save money is to not spend it.
It is not the 2 for 1 deals, coupons or thrift stores that get it done. Those are indeed effective tools – but only after not spending is considered as the first choice.
The saving super power of not doing anything is often forgotten. It goes against our bias towards action.
And it is sacrifice. That is what is required to pay the tuition for someone else. Embrace it. The lower cost solution still meets the need and makes room for something more valuable. It also has the benefit of keeping us from getting a little too proud or having the neighbors get envious of a brand new slate sidewalk. Instead they will see a nice and neat, but uninspiring, repair job.
So that is the first $2000.
The remaining $1000 was saved on a train trip using an Amtrak rewards card. We had enough points to take a required family trip for free. Score! This is what most of us will get excited about. Goods and services for free! Points! Free travel!
I want to reiterate that this isn’t where the magic happens. It happens on the cracked and aged (but still serviceable) sidewalk staying that way. Boring, simple and requiring no action. Embrace the self-restraint and acknowledge that it is difficult to do. The children aren’t the only ones who get an education from a private school.
$3000 saved in 2 days, most of it through pausing and then… doing nothing.
Are you sure you can’t afford to pay for private school?
December 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm
LOVE this one. LOVE. Now – to DO… 🙂
December 21, 2016 at 4:06 pm
You made my day – thanks for the nice note! 🙂
December 22, 2016 at 4:23 pm
A visitor from RockStar Finance —
We made the sacrifice and paid for private school up to Junior High (4 kids). It made all of the difference for their High School. We selected a small, charter school for the High School. I do realize tuition can be out of reach for many, even with sacrifice. I encourage you to look at charter schools in that case.
There are times we have put off expenses, but sometimes that just makes the future bill higher so weight that potential as well.
Great score on the train trip.
December 22, 2016 at 6:48 pm
Great points Chris – thanks for the note and highlighting Charter (and Magnet) schools as good alternatives!
December 22, 2016 at 8:28 pm
This one caught my eye, so I had to read it first.
Awesome concept, and such a simple one, too.
If more folks would think, and rethink, before spending money, the more that they would have.
I’ve caught myself a few times thinking that I “Needed” something, and then re-thought it and came up with “no, I don’t.”
Now, I need to set up a “Saved $$” account, and every time I don’t spend an amount I put it away.
Might add up a bit, for sure.
December 22, 2016 at 8:53 pm
Great idea on the Saved $$ account! That would be a very visual way to see the results add up!
December 23, 2016 at 8:30 am
Nice article, but I don’t like to call these as “savings”.
Not spending is obviously cool (and it’s my default behaviour), but savings are by definition what you earn minus what you spend.
“Hey, RIP, I’ve saved a dollar running behind a bus instead of taking it!”
“You’re a fool my friend, had you ran behind a taxi you’d saved 20 bucks!”
December 23, 2016 at 8:55 am
I hear you RIP – and great point. The terminology is off – perhaps it is better to say we avoided $2000 in potential expenses that came onto our radar and saved $1000 on a trip. There is a subtle difference when compared to not taking a trip to the tropics. In this case we perceived a valid need for both of these items and avoided the $3000 normally associated with them.
It is very situational and we might need a new word for it (any suggestions?) – if I used to take a taxi every day and now I am walking – I avoided 20 bucks in expenses. And if I used to take a taxi and now I take the bus I saved $19. Either way, by examining my assumptions of what is needed, I improved our finances. Thanks for pointing out this important distinction.
July 18, 2019 at 4:50 am
Great info, thanks for sharing this!