Make the journey more enjoyable with a better destination.

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What’s the point of being frugal if there’s no goal, no destination? After all, saving money is difficult. Over the years, I’ve figured out a way to enjoy it. The secret is not to save for rainy days but to save for something great. It can be a new business, retirement by age 40, long term travel or a home.  It’s important to have multiple destinations or goals instead of just saving for age 65 or the next disaster.  Don’t get me wrong, the rainy days will definitely come along, but don’t think of them as disasters, just think of them as a slight delay on the way to your excellent destinations. I say “destinations” because, instead of just saving for retirement, you save early and save often for the many destinations along the way.

Start Simple

Around the Frug household, you may occasionally find a cost savings thermometer stuck to the refrigerator. At the top of the thermometer is a travel adventure that the entire family has bought into. The simple idea here is you can make any journey (eg. Saving Money) more enjoyable if you have a destination or a goal.

I am generally the one who uses the thermometer, but SuperK and the boys occasionally come up with some savings surprises.  For example, just this week, we’re skipping one honor roll dinner out by combining two of them. We are switching to a cheaper dog food and that will save us $25 a month.  Props to Otis our black lab for getting soft-serve poop from the fancy-pants organic dog food he was eating and agreeing to switch to a brand with fewer ingredients.

The Little Things

Let’s use this dog food example.  Our 110 Pound Lab Otis has maybe 10 years left in him. To calculate the true value of any ongoing monthly savings, invested at 7% return compounded over 10 years, you multiply the expense by 173. Formula explained here.  So, if Otis can stick with his new food, we can save an additional $4325.00 over 10 years.  If you start applying this formula to many other monthly expenses, you can start to see how flexing your frug muscles can really pay off.

Why do this?

If you’re a Frug, you’ve probably already saved for that rainy day, so why not save for some sunny ones.  In our case, this is not for something years from now. It’s usually more like six months away. Gives it more a sense of urgency and serves as a reminder of what all the frugality is about.

The Next Step

Taking this to the next level.  How much would you need to save in order to earn enough return on your investment to travel several months a year, forever?  At this point, it becomes about using the return on your investments to actually pay for the travel instead of using cost savings to pay for individual trips. This is a bigger goal, but it has bigger payoffs. I believe if you find enough monthly expenses to cut, including the big ones like automotive expenses, goals like this are realistic.

For tackling these bigger goals, there are some great tools available.  Start by downloading this calculator from the MMM software department they have links to some kick ass calculators for finding the true compounded value of monthly recurring expenses you can ax. Go ahead and type in your satellite radio fee, your daily latte at Starbucks, condo fees, deluxe supersonic quadruple play cable package, anything.

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Once you develop your goals and fantastic destinations, you can set up some automated tracking for the larger goals. I really like Mint.com for this. You can actually link specific  brokerage accounts like 529 college savings plans to the total amount you’d like to save for college educations. When the savings grow, it adds the compounded interest and investment returns to your total so you can see your progress towards any goal.

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Your turn. I always like to hear about other monthly or weekly expenses that you have given a major haircut.

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