From Financial Integrity
Maryjo - My Road to Financial Integrity
Everyone’s road to financial integrity is somewhat unique. Each person needs to decide for themselves where to start, what’s critical for them and where they can have the most impact. For me, the road I’m on started when I realized I didn’t want to work forever and if I wanted a different lifestyle I was going to have to set some goals and make some changes in my life. The first thing I did is track every penny I spent. This is a recommended step in most financial integrity programs, and although I thought it would be a real pain to do, I’ve found after a year that it’s actually very easy and quite enlightening!
The next step for me was to identify 3 questions I promised I would ask myself on a regular basis. The answers to these 3 questions have led me to a multitude of cost saving practices that are further helping me meet my financial goals. The questions are:
1) How can I do this for less? Here is an example of how I applied this question. I don’t have a lot of extravagances but getting my hair cut and colored on a monthly basis is one of them. I routinely would spend upwards of $80 to accomplish this. I know I could go to a cheaper place or dye my own hair but neither of those options appealed to me. So on a visit to my hairdresser I told her of my dilemma – my desire to stay with her but my need to cut expenses. She suggested two ways I could cut my bill. First, since I live in a warm climate and generally have my hair appointments in the evening when all I do is go home and go to bed afterwards, she suggested I skip the blow drying which is an extra charge. Done. Then she suggested I get my hair trimmed only every other visit or as needed, further cutting my bill. Done. Now I routinely pay half to two-thirds what I used to pay and still have great hair!
2) How can I reuse or recycle instead of buy new? I travel for business and always like to have water with me. I used to buy my water at the airport, spending $3.00 or more on each flight. Now I carry an empty water bottle with me, take it through security, and fill it at a water fountain before I board the plane. I’m not only saving money but being “green” too!
3) Can I suggest a cheaper alternative? A lot of times I spent money just because I didn’t speak up. I used to go to restaurants with friends on a regular basis – expensive, and often so noisy it was hard to have a good conversation. Now my friends and I get together at each other’s homes, or better yet, we each pack a cooler with food and drink, grab some beach chairs, and meet on the shoreline to watch a sunset together. It’s relaxing, quiet and beautiful, and inspires great conversation. And everyone agrees it was a great idea!
Being more mindful of what I’m spending and thoughtful about the questions I ask has helped me on my road to financial integrity and freedom – retirement day is closer than I’d every dreamed!