Saving vs. Not Spending

Kohl’s, Target, Krogers, and even IGA like to tell you on the bottom of your receipt how much money you “saved” by shopping with them.  I had no idea they could peek into my savings account!  Wait…they can’t.  So did I really save anything?  Probably not.

Saving Money vs. Spending LessUnless I missed something, when I purchase something, money leaves my pockets.  I do not believe that I have ever truly been paid to shop (credit card points and store rewards aside).  So no matter how much I “saved” according to stores like Kohl’s, I actually just traded in my hard working and hard earned green employees for something disposable, and my account balance at the bank got a little bit smaller.  I certainly did not “save” any money.  I may have spent less than planned, but then again, maybe I didn’t.  I often find myself thinking, “look!  the shoes that I needed for work are on sale!  I can afford to buy those really cute boots, too!”  So, I went from “saving” money to actually buying a little bit more.  For those of you who are disciplined enough to purchase only with the on sale shoes that you went in to purchase, did you put the funds that you “saved” in your bank account?  Or did they just kind of disappear?

Even with my goal of not shopping (still going strong by the way!), last month I did not see the savings from that goal hit my savings account.  I forgot one vital step:  I didn’t move the money in my budget from the shopping line to the savings line.  Consequently, those funds never made it to my savings account.  I suppose a few of those green employees are floating around in my checking account, but I noticed that we over spent on groceries last month.  We covered the overage by not spending my shopping money.  I strongly suspect that if I had moved the money I normally have budgeted for shopping into our savings account, we would have stayed on budget for groceries.  Lesson learned:  put green employees in savings at the beginning of the month.  Then, they might stay put and actually go to work earning me more little green employees!

This is one area where I actually disagree with Dave Ramsey.  His position is that if you completed the zero based budget, and it’s in your budget, go ahead and spend the money.  In fact, one of the stories he likes to tell is that a lady came up to him and thanked him because she no longer felt guilty for buying something for herself as it was in the budget.  I would argue that she should feel guilty if she didn’t need it and it didn’t make her life better/easier in a significant way.  Every time I open my closet, I think about how blessed I am to have so many clothes, and I feel the same way when I open my children’s closets, the pantry, or even the storage room where I keep our lesser used kitchen items.  We have so much stuff!  Additionally, Dave Ramsey’s position would be that if something is on sale, you just freed up a little bit more room in your budget to add more items.  The Keller Family’s (newly updated) position on this is that when our budget benefits from a sale, there is now more money to go into savings.

My updated no shopping challenge:  continue to refrain from buying myself clothes and accessories and put those savings into our savings account.  Not spending money on something is not the same as actually saving money. Whenever I realize that the Keller family has refrained from spending on something that we normally would have, I will move those funds into savings.  Then, and only then, will the Keller Family have actually saved.

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