Ravings for Savings

by Katy on July 8, 2009 · 13 comments


I am an odd mixture. I feel that the pursuit of money for the sake of becoming rich is an empty goal, yet I’m also bizarrely focused on finding bits of money to stash in my savings account.

But such is the philosophy of any red-blooded Coin-Girl.

What’s my goal with my savings account? Supposedly, it’s to have an emergency/rainy day fund in the style of a Dave Ramsey enthusiast. Really though, I just think it’s cool to have a lot of money in the bank. I was like this as a kid, (I had over $3000 in the bank when I graduated from high school, and those were the days of $1 per hour babysitting) and I’m like this at age 41.

Yes, reading Dave Ramsey’s writings has plumped up my savings account faster than a Hollywood starlet’s lips. But really, I was just looking for an excuse that it was okay to have a savings account despite some money-pit-of-a-house related debt.

Logically, I should pick up extra shifts at work, as this would be the fastest way to destroy all debt while building substantial savings. But working more than part-time makes me miss my kids too much, and has the added bonus of burning me out on my somewhat high stress job as a labor and delivery nurse.

The way that I’m able to rationalize putting money aside when that action actually defers debt repayment, is to only put found, scrounged and unexpected money into my savings account.

My paycheck goes toward household expenses and anything extra goes straight into savings.

And it’s amazing how this simple mental trick has opened up my mind to finding small bits of money that really add up.

A garage sale kick started the savings, and I’ve subsequently been able to add significantly more by scrounging change from the Coinstar machines, selling some odds and ends in consignment shops and foisting a few items into a neighbor’s garage sale.

It may take me longer than necessary to get all debt paid off this way, but I know I’ve got that something extra put aside for a rainy day.

Do you put money into savings despite having debt? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristie-ND July 8, 2009 at 5:25 am

We do. Both of our families live out of state. I don’t want to be in the position to not be able to rush back “home” to California if my 90yo grandmother gets sick because we have nothing in our savings account, or have to ask family to pay for our travel expenses. If our car or insert whatever else fits were to break down and need to be repaired or replaced, I don’t want to have to scrounge for the money or God forbid, put it on a credit card…NO MORE CREDIT CARDS, not ever again. When I think about the amount of money over the years wasted just on interest rates from rolling the debt over, I feel sick.

It isn’t paying debt down as quickly, but I lived overseas, and living overseas has given me this unmovable obsession to make sure we have money in our savings account. It isn’t alot, but it makes me feel more secure as we are paying down debt.


Kat July 8, 2009 at 7:48 am

I’m fairly lucky that I have a living situation which allows me to live of very little (I rent the spare bedroom in a friends house). In addition I still imagine to live off the work-study income I had as a graduate student even though my income has increased. If I know how much I have I’m more likely to spend it all. My paychecks are direct deposit; even though I make more now I don’t know exactly how much is deposited every month. I live like I’m broke all the time (which used to be a reality). It’s always a nice surprise when I transfer money to savings and see the numbers.


lauren July 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm

we keep $1k emergency account. 2 months ago we found out that my husband was being medically retired from the military (that happened 2 days ago) – being a bit surprised – we banked extra dollars into savings and are paying minimums on our debt. that’s the way it will go until he has a job and has settled in for a month or two.


John Crabtree July 8, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Yes. And I do it because I believe that the only way to effectively retire debt for most people, is to save money first. The tighter your budget and higher your debt, the more true it is.

Without savings to serve as an emergency fund unexpected, unpredictable and extra-budgetary expenses will destroy your budget and drive you back into debt.

For me, it is the foundation of an emergency fund that virtually all other effective debt retirement methods spring from. After I began saving money towards the establishment of my emergency fund, I found ways to earn a little extra money, reduce expenses a little more, and that has made all the difference.

I’m still mired in debt, but I’ve been at this for 4 years (yes, it was really that bad) and I’ve still got a ways to go but not a day goes by, not one, when I don’t put a little money in a jar to take to the bank and deposit into my savings each and every Friday.

My savings, and my emergency fund, are crucial to my personal economic circumstance but they are also pivotal to my having the right mindset. john


Alicia July 8, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Yes! I got into debt because of school costs, got out of debt then got back in again after job loss… twice (once in 2004 and again in 2009… as well as in 2007 from moving costs out of state! So…. now I pay $300 per month to the credit cards and put in $150 to savings. This give me a small, teeny ER fund at the moment but it will equal my mortgage payment by the end of the year which will give me peace of mind as I work in an industry where my income fluctuates. It is very important to have some money in the bank so you don’t put all of life’s emergencies on the card!!! No more cards for me!


Kristen@The Frugal Girl July 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Sort of. We don’t have any debt aside from our house, but on paper it would make the most financial sense to put all our money into paying it off.

However, that money wouldn’t be accessible then if we needed it, which would mean we’d need to rack up some expensive debt, like credit card debt.

So, until we are in a good place with our savings, we won’t put tons of effort into paying the house off early.


Aleta July 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

The only time we haven’t put money into savings is when we’re not taking a paycheck and/or our emergency fund took a hit. The emergency fund gets replenished and then we’re back to savings mode. It’s so much better to have an emergency fund that is YOUR dollars, than borrowing money on a credit card!!


JerryB July 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Once your emergency fund is topped off, your next focus should be on high interest consumer debt. Once the consumer debt is retired then work on building the savings.
Although in my case I’m paying off my mortgage early, I’m still putting money into my savings and non-retirement investments.


tammy July 10, 2009 at 5:06 am

I am a big saver. I am dedicated to created side hustles to save. I sell books at half.com and sell handmade items at etsy.com. I also have frequent plant sales from the abundance of anything and everything in my yard. I also hire myself out for extra PR work and special projects.
I do have debt but am snowing flaking it down. I really believe saving first, debt second.


ToilingAnt July 10, 2009 at 7:57 am

I’m a recruiter working fulltime on a base salary, plus commissions based on my placements. We live on my husband’s paycheck, mine goes to debt reduction, and my commissions go straight to savings. In another year, we should be in a spot where I can cut down to parttime work, and hopefully that entire paycheck will go to savings.


Jean M July 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm

And don’t forget free days at local retailers! Free Slurpees at 7-11 ON 7-11, Ben and Jerry’s free scoop days, Costco or any grocery store on sample day. Once had an entire lunch at Costco that way…


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