Saving for the Big Things

June 13, 2012

By Mike Sullivan, Director of Education, Take Charge America (Follow them on Twitter)

Big purchases usually cost big bucks and that means a big challenge for someone trying to accumulate the cash.

Since it nearly always takes a long time to save a lot of money, I often suggest the Weight Watchers® approach. For the skinny folks among you, Weight Watchers is a weight loss program that uses peer support and life style changes to achieve a long term objective. And saving $1,000 dollars is a lot like losing twenty pounds—it is a big task and it takes a while to see the rewards!

You begin the process with peers. Find some workmates or classmates who also lust after some substantial item (that should be easy). Everyone doesn’t have to want the same item or need to save the same amount. A flat screen television and a week in Hawaii are all the same to a savings account. Everyone starts with a 3x5 card that has the date they started and the financial goal they hope to reach.

The second part of this approach is life style changes and peers come in handy here. The group could agree to all carry brown bag lunches and eat together so they don’t get tempted to go out for lunch. Instead of happy hour, everyone can meet at one person’s house for a bargain basement social with no brand name snacks permitted.  Sacrificing is much more fun with a group!

Then once a week, the members meet to announce from the 3x5 card how much they saved that week and how they did it. Members vote on the best idea for saving at each meeting. Soon the journey becomes fun and fun is often the missing element in saving. Everyone gets a kick out of peer saving. Nice people enjoy seeing others succeed and nasty people like it when someone falls off the wagon and has to withdraw money from the savings account.

And with Money Watchers, like Weight Watchers, there is a chance that some of the new habits will stick and the saving will go on and on. And unlike Weight Watchers, there is no fee!

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