Rather than go into a huge amount of detail about the "big picture" of financial success, I thought I'd share a bit of the "little picture" - simple things that I've done that have helped me along the way.
One occurred this past weekend - while grocery shopping I noticed that our infant's formula was about $1.50 less than usual, but that there were multiple price tags on the shelf - one said it was $9.99 a can, the others said $11.49. I double-checked that the barcodes all matched up, and was able to compare the price to the "usual" price in my price book. When we checked out, the formula came up at $11.49, and I pointed out the pricing error to the cashier. A few minutes and a check of the shelf later, and the price was corrected. Why is this a "little picture" success? Simple - it's a policy of the store that if the price at the till doesn't match the lowest price on the shelf sticker, they'll give you the item for FREE (up to $10). Since we were buying two cans, we got one for $9.99 and the second one for free - a net cost of $5/can, or a 65% discount! This is an especially big success since we figured out that the generic brand we buy has exactly the same ingredients and composition as the brand name formula, which costs $24.99 a can.
A second thing that has become part of my financial success is one of the tasks in Your Money or Your Life - I've tracked every penny that I've spent over the past five years. While this might sound like an onerous task, it's pretty easy using Quicken and downloading transaction information from my bank. As a result, I know how much I've spent on, well, everything. It's really hard to achieve financial success until you know where your money is coming from, and where it is going. One of the "little picture" successes we've had is that we've trimmed down our budget for "eating out" enormously. Rather than spend money on eating at Applebee's (where the food is good, but nothing we couldn't make at home), we've focused on making dining out a real treat by going to high-end restaurants. We spend less money (because we eat out less), but we appreciate it more, because it really does feel like a treat.
A third "small success" has been that I've discovered the magic of goal setting. When we bought our house, we committed to having it paid off in 15 years. We're not there yet, but we'll definitely be meeting the goal. I set a goal of maxing out my retirement accounts, and with some diligent saving, it happened. There's something magical about making a goal and writing it down that seems to make it far more likely to happen. One of my "little goals" for the next year is to save up and buy a Wii, but perhaps chance will favour me and I'll be selected in the GRS contest.
Have you paid off your debt? Managed to save for your dream home? Had an awesome investment pan out? Share your personal finance success stories here.
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