Imagining the Future: What I Did This Week to Save Money

Black bean soup - Dinner at home

Black bean soup – Dinner at home

It has been busy at work this week, and I have to admit that by Thursday night I was thinking, “I can’t believe I have to make dinner again tomorrow night!”  While we could have gone out to eat, I already had all the groceries for dinner.  I thought about how great our budget was looking this week and how nice it would be to deposit some of that money back into our savings, and I sucked it up and made dinner!

I read a study today on NBC news that a key to success in saving money is, in fact, the ability to imagine the future effects of your actions.  The study showed that the more people could imagine themselves in the future, they better they were at delaying immediate gratification.  This might look like: “Boy, I’d really like to just forget about looking through the grocery ads and dealing with sales and coupons….but it will be so great when we can save up enough cash to travel to Europe as a family. . . . ”  The article even mentioned writing a letter to your future self, which is exactly what my friend over at ‘The Debt Break-Up’ did in this blog post.

So, with a vision of an early retirement and enough money to travel we:

  • Made dinner at home
  • Had a no-drive day for me and no spend day for both of us
  • Thinned the bok choy and arugula in the garden and enjoyed the baby leaves in our salad – micro greens!
  • Planned how we would utilize our smartphones on an upcoming trip to avoid being hit with data overage charges
  • Waited until our time-of-use electricity rate kicked in to run the dehumidifier in the basement and wash/dry clothes
  • Renewed a due library book online so I could wait to return the book tomorrow when I will be driving that way anyway.  No fine, and saves on the gas for the car.

I recommend reading the full article on which is linked above.  When you are trying to achieve a financial goal, do you draw strength from the vision you have for the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

9 thoughts on “Imagining the Future: What I Did This Week to Save Money

  1. Anona Mead

    as part of the EU and seeing what has happened to Greece and Spain I don’t have to try and locate my one and only Einstein brain cell to know that having a bit of money behind me and a well stocked pantry makes a lot of sense. Hmm have an even better stocked fabric and yarn heap so I will be adequately clad as well!!!!

  2. lili@creativesavv

    Hi Jen,
    This is just so funny. I was just now on another blog making a comment about the differences between some folks ability to save for a future goal, and other folks seemingly lack of this ability. And it’s all about vision. If you can envision a better future for yourself (whether that’s a special trip, or the purchase of a first home) you can forgo instant gratification in exchange for that better future.

    And the larger impact you perceive your future goal will have on your life, the easier it seems to be to delay gratification. So, for our family, buying our first house was a huge step up from renting, in our minds. It elevated us to the status of “homeowner”. This motivated us to save aggressively, live in an impoverished neighborhood for the cheap rent, spend as little as possible on extras, etc. But if we were to say think of saving for a second home. The step up from renting to first home is much greater than the step between first home and second home. And consequently, buying that second home wouldn’t have the motivation factor that buying the first home did.

    At this point in my family’s life, we do have to remind ourselves why we’re working hard to save for the future, because the goals feel less tangible to us (comfy retirement, do things for our kids and grandkids).

    About making dinner — I so often think to myself, “dinner? I have to make dinner again? I just made dinner, well yesterday!” When I have too many of those nights I know it’s time to change things up a bit, like do a big batch cooking for the freezer, or, plan a bunch of leftover dinners for a week, and double up on every dinner I make, with the idea of cook once, eat twice.

    I don’t mind that laundry is a never ending task, but cooking dinner from scratch (and coming up with something interesting and new each night) seems to be more difficult for me.

    1. healthfulsave Post author

      Yes, exactly my thoughts, Lilli! We are grateful that we aren’t struggling to pay bills at this point in our life, but at the same time, we need to continue to have a vision for the future and shared goals as a couple. When we don’t have financial goals, we have found we tend to go back to impulse spending/buying out of boredom. One thing I am thinking about this summer when we visit New Mexico is whether I would like to retire in that area of the country. I have never been there, so I have no idea, but I am exploring these ideas in my mind.

      I thought the article had interesting points about envisioning the future and positive outcomes for staying married, eating well, abstaining from drugs, etc. If I were back in the dating stage of life, this article would be key information!

      Making dinner… I work in a kitchen, so some days I come home and I don’t feel like standing any more. Next week is going to be lots of long days, so I am dreaming up a meal plan with minimal prep… and one day of dining out inexpensively so mom gets through the week! I know that things will ease up and I can be back to my regular meals in a week or so.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  3. thisgirlsadventure

    i am certainly going to check out this article! Vision is so important. At the moment Im really in the emotional limbo of my debt smashing journey – often feel frustrated and the numbers seem to tick down soooo sllooowwwllly….but VISION…oh I imagine as much as possible that day where all balances are zero. And then I imagine my bigger goal – which started this whole journey – a year of travel around the world, debt free. It will come. Im holding on to that vision! Thats for the post and mention of my blog 🙂

  4. Suzanne@FrugalOrganicMama

    Thanks for the interesting post. Your ideas are exactly what I strive for in my life and on my blog. Being frugal is not necessarily the same as being cheap, it’s about saving what you can in order to enjoy the things in life that really matter to you. My family of 4 (almost 5) lives debt free in a nice suburban neighborhood while eating organic 90% of the time. We do this by watching our spending very carefully, we don’t eat out very often or spend money on fancy clothes or cars. In our neighborhood and among our friends there are many who eat out almost every night, stop at Starbucks every morning and buy expensive new clothes (and designer purses) regularly. Even though they make more money than my husband and I, several of these friends are always complaining about being in debt and how they can’t afford things like vacations…or making jealous comments about the fact that we live in a nicer house. It’s all about keeping your eye on the prize and determining your priorities. Thanks again!

    1. healthfulsave Post author

      Thanks so much for your interesting comment! I think we have a similar perspective, and I agree about the distinction between frugal and cheap. It would be cheaper for you to eat another way, but you value organics and budget accordingly. It would be cheaper for me not to have a family vacation, but it is more important to us than a bigger home, or a status-type car, and we are willing to work a budget the rest of the year in order to fund a special trip.

      I will enjoy heading over to your blog to get acquainted!


  5. GirlCountingPennies

    To keep myself motivated while on my journey to becoming debt free, I certainly use visualisation tactics on a daily basis. I often visualise little “wins” to help me keep going, like a long weekend with my boyfriend, away from all the hustle and bustle of London in a nice little boutique hotel that we’re setting money aside for… I also think a lot about the day I become debt free (my big “win”), and when I think about the end result, I certainly don’t want to get a take away or have a costly night out anymore. So yes, I guess this is really working for me! 😉

  6. Pingback: Under the Spell of Retirement | The Healthful Saver

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