The Non-Consumer Advocate Savings Plan

by Katy on January 15, 2009 · 13 comments

Piggy Bank


I’m not sure where the term emergency fund came from, but suddenly it’s everywhere. Experts disagree on the amount one should keep in an easily accessed savings account. (I’ve read everything from $1000 to an entire year’s salary). Either way, it’s a hefty chunk of change.

So how does one put money aside when the everyday bills are already a challenge? 

First of all, I need to fess up. I don’t have an emergency fund. My house is a freaking money pit! It seems like whenever we start to have a bit of a cushion, there’s suddenly another unpleasant expense to meet. (New sewer line, decommissioning an old oil tank, etc.) However, I’m in a unique profession as an on-call nurse, and I can work as little or as much as I want. So when the expenses creep up, I work more. But the past six months have been an exception, as my husband’s career took an abrupt change of direction. It’s a good change, but it involves a big pay cut for the first year. This has also meant I couldn’t work as much as I have in the past.

Even with my husband’s decreased income and my decreased work availability, I still want to be putting money into savings.

I am a firm believer that small amounts of money savings are worth the effort. Conversely, I also believe that even small amounts put into savings can add up to significant amounts. My sons’ savings accounts hold this to be true, as each holds a couple hundred dollars, yet the deposits are never more than a few dollars at a time.

Here’s my plan. Any unforeseen money that comes into my life will go directly into a savings account.

Do not pass go, yes please collect $200.

I often come across small amounts of unexpected money — money from clothes taken to the consignment shop, things sold on craigslist, found money, gifts, and so forth. It’s rarely more than$10-$20, but that can add up quickly. I do have a number of things I’ve been meaning to put on craigslist, so this might be the inspiration I’ve been looking for. (Declutter and make money? Be still my beating heart!)

A friend of mine has a goal to save $100,000 this year. (Yes, you read that right.) She’s blogging about it here. She’s a smart and funny writer, and I’m looking forward to following her progress as the year progresses. 

There’s no possible way I could save $100,000 in a year, (it’s mathematically impossible.) But maybe I could save $300 per month. Maybe.

Are you putting money into savings? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinger January 16, 2009 at 7:17 am calls those little bits of savings “snowflakes”. I find snowflakes occasionally, but have to use them for basic living expenses. I do have an emergency fund and hope this year to add $50 a month to it.


GLM January 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

I have $20/paycheck deposited into a savings account, where I also put the coin change that I accumulate over the month, as well as whatever’s left over from my budgeted spending each week.

It’s been very helpful, because I have had to dip into it several times. It’s frustrating that it’s not as high as it was several months ago, but at least it’s not at zero.


Karen January 16, 2009 at 7:52 am

I am copying a friend of mine’s plan. Every night I look in my wallet and take out the dollar bills. I put them in a jar. I’ve done that with my spare change for the past few years. Over a year I usually get about $125 in silver. My friend does it all year with the dollar bills and gets between 200-300 in a year and that’s her Christmas money. I just started the day after Christmas and I have $32 in there.


Kat January 16, 2009 at 8:41 am

I’m a grad student and get a tuition refund every semester. First I get something I need but the cost is cringe-worthy and put the rest in my savings account. Previous expenses have been sheet music, a piccolo and a laptop.
I also have the good fortune of living with a generous friend so my rent is dirt cheap and when I notice my checking account has considerably more money than I need I move it to savings. In the end the accumulated savings are probably going to be used to start paying off my school loans.


carocoknits January 16, 2009 at 8:54 am

I do not spend coins, only paper money. Then all change gets saved up. In Canada, this is huge because we have one dollar and two dollar coins (loonies and twoonies). We are also lucky enough that we do not have a typical mortgage, we have a line of credit. We only put payments on it, but if we ever really needed cash, we could get it from there. This allows us to leave our retirement and kids university funds untouched. My husband is my mechanic, plumber, all round handyman, so there are very few large expenses that come up. We have been married for 22 years, and it seems that our “big” emergencies are around the $500 – $800 mark. This means that most of our money emergencies can be dealt with by just really tightening our belts and readjusting the monthly budget for a month or two.


Kate January 16, 2009 at 10:30 am

Like Caroco, I save my change and in Canada that adds up very quickly! I sometimes use it to by myself a craft item or two that I have been wanting.
We have a monthly savings account where we put a fair bit away. This was possible after meeting with our bank and rearranging how we paid some of our bills. While it could be an emergency fund if needed, we are hoping it will be a holiday travel fund in a couple of years’ time.


calimama33 January 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

My husband can’t stand the idea of saving change! I don’t exactly know why but it makes him crazy. I’m working on him! Other than that we don’t have much of a savings plan. But I’m working on that too!


Viki S January 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I’ve applied for disability and haven’t worked since 1/06. So, there’s not much “extra” hanging around. We usually get a hefty tax return, but probably not this year. Same goes for hubby’s bonus. I’m sure it’ll be less and we don’t even get it until April or something. My prescription meds and dr. bills are all very high, so if I didn’t need those, that would be our savings. We do automatically have $25 put into our son’s acct. and $50 put into our svgs. acct. But, when you have to go into it to pay a bill here and there, it disappears quickly! I’d love to have a plan that works and maybe a budget!!!


Kristen@The Frugal Girl January 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Yep, we’re saving. We have a bunch of different savings accounts…one for vacation, one for electricity expenses, one for emergencies, one for car repairs, etc. I find this works better than having one huge savings account.


Susan Lee January 16, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Just this week we arranged for work to direct deposit $50 per pay period (twice monthly) into our savings account. Out of sight, out of mind. Now that our mortgage reduced by $300 a month since property taxes went down, that money will go on cards to eventually only having a mortgage. Then the cards will be put far, far away.


Jan January 19, 2009 at 4:06 am

I have a Christmas Fund which I use at the holidays (although I am trying very hard to be a non-consumer & shopping at thrift stores) and I proudly put $180 each paycheck into my savings, plus any “snowflakes” (love that term!). However, my employment has ended and I have 14 weeks of severance coming up, so it’s time to find a new job!!! Hopefully, I can still bank $180/month & not use the money, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need to dip into it!


Pennie January 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

We save all coins received as change, placing them in a big coffee mug in the kitchen. This goes into our emergency fund.

I take in the redemption recyclables (soda and beer–and now in Oregon also water, sports drinks, etc.) for $$ when taking in my other recyclables (we live rural, so regrettably no pick service is available for these). This money goes into our emergency fund.

Once a year I have a garage sale to eliminate “stuff.” Guess where that revenue goes? The emergency fund.

It’s really not so hard to build and maintain such a fund, and even a small stash makes ALL the difference in the world in keeping grounded financially.


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