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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Step Down for Real Savings

Sometimes cutting expenses is as easy as swapping an expensive habit for a less expensive one. Did I say easy?? Experts tell us that it takes at least 28 days or 28 times of doing something a different way before it becomes a new habit. That's for the good habits as well as the bad ones.

My husband and I work hard and often don't feel like cooking dinner so we eat out. We are looking for ways to save more money so the obvious way is to cook at home. Boy is that a hard adjustment to make. Then I heard about the step down principle. Basically what it says is you don't have to go from one extreme to another to save money. You just have to step down one or two steps.

Our eating out habit is a great example. Instead of expecting me to become "Betty Crocker" all at once, we have begun to step down. Instead of eating at a full service restaurant, we might instead do a fast food place. Next time in place of a fast food place, we might get a ready prepared/frozen meal at the grocery store. Then we might get prepared mixes at the store that take a little more work at home and finally eat the majority of our meals at home made from scratch. It is a way to change our habits a little at a time so it's not so painful. You wouldn't expect a couch potato to get off the couch and run a marathon would you? It's the same principle.

The best part is that you are saving money from the very first step. Instead of spending $40 at a sit down restaurant-we might spend only $20 at a fast food place-that's saving 50% right away! If we put that $20 in our savings then we are winners all the way around. I still didn't have to cook dinner and we saved money and now there is $20 more towards our retirement fund, Christmas fund or the family cruise we are taking a year from now. If we can save at least that much for 15 meals a month, for the next 12 months, we could pay for our cruise, on-board fees and all our extra excursions! It would be like getting our cruise free. We could also eat healthier and probably feel better.

The step down principle also works for the number of times a purchase is made. If you get an expensive coffee at the coffee shop 7 times a week, you could step down to 5 then 3 then 2...etc.

Try the step down principle the next time you go to buy something . It works with food, clothes, cell phones, cars, vacations, wedding plans and more. Just ask yourself....."Can I step down?"

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