Sense & Centsibility Blog

How Planning Ahead Helps Save Money and Reduces Stress

Planning: it seems so simple, but when you get caught up in the whirlwind of daily life it's easier said than done. However, it can have positive effects on your wallet and your mental health when it's done effectively. Here are tips to help you be more successful planning, stay organized, save money, and reduce stress.

1. Use a calendar for planning purposes

Get a cheap dry erase calendar and put it up in a central place in your house where everyone can see it. Use color coding for different categories, i.e. red for birthday parties, blue for doctor/dental appointments, green for school activities, pink for vacations/days off.  Right when you find out about an upcoming event, mark it on the calendar.  Then consider using your phone or computer calendar. At work my Outlook calendar is my savior. I've said it many times that it won't get done if it's not in my calendar. You can also typically sync your work calendar up with your personal calendar on your phone/computer. I have a couple friends that carry day planners and they've been successful with those. Just use what works best for you for schedule planning.

Remember: the key is to look at it often and keep it updated.

2. Pick a set day of the week to review your calendar

Pick a day of the week that works best. Sunday is probably best because for most people the "fun" starts on Mondays. Gather around your calendar, grab your planner or phone and look at what's happening for the upcoming week. Include whoever needs to be involved. Then move on to the next step of preparation.

3. Prepare

If you determined purchases are necessary, make a plan so you can buy everything thing in one trip, saving gas money. What else can you get ready for your week? Do laundry, wrap presents, fill out cards, put stamps on envelopes, or whatever is needed. It’s all about saving time. Another biggie is lunch, which can be a budget killer. Plan your lunches and then get it ready the night before. Avoiding dining out multiple times a week can save you a lot of money over a month.

4. Coordinate schedules with your spouse/partner

Some people are better than others with schedules and remembering details/times. So coordinate calendars (Google has a great app) and follow up with each other. And if one person needs a few more reminders than the other, send texts or do what you need to remind the other person. Some phones allow you to schedule future text messages. That could work or set up reminders in your phone's calendar if you carry one with you regularly.

5. Make a list

Lists are in addition to your calendar because that's the next step to making sure you get what you need. You can break them down into categories: to do, to buy, to call, etc. Keep the list with you and if you have a problem losing it, take a picture of it with your phone. Or better yet, use a list app on your phone to keep it there. Most will let you email or text it to yourself or someone else, too. This has been a huge help with grocery shopping for me.

6. Stock up if you can

This can be tough because it requires buying items before you actually need them. But this can be extremely helpful and save you time and money. Buy food, gift bags, tissue paper, an assortment of cards, and maybe even some small gift items like toys, lotion, candles, etc. That way, you'll already have them on hand and you won’t need to run to the store every time you need a small gift. (Only buy gifts if you typically attend a lot of birthday parties or other events where gifts are involved.) Sometimes buying gifts in multiples can save you money, too... again, as long as you are sure to use them.  

Every penny and minute adds up. Planning ahead saves you multiple trips to the store and money, too. Not to mention you will have more time and avoid last minute trips to the store, which can be stressful. Bonus: you are less likely to overspend on a gift when you shop ahead of time; so planning really helps you stick to a budget. Give it a try!

If you need a little bit more support in achieving your financial goals, give LSS a call at 888.577.2227 to schedule an appointment. Our Financial Counselors will empower you to take action to eliminate your debt, create a realistic spending plan, and much, much more. Don’t wait to improve your financial future – take action today!