Your 25% Toolbox consists of tips and tools to help you save money and live gloriously. Today’s tool requires nothing more than your brain and the writing implement of your choice. You can even dictate it and send it to your own email if you want to get all fancy with it.
The humble list is nothing short of powerful. Your list keeps you on track. Your list is expandable and can be checked off to show your progress and motivate you to continue. Your list tells you where you want to be and helps you get there.
Here are some lists that will save you money and make your life better.
Budget. There are many good budget tools out there, or you can make your own. My husband designed a snazzy Excel spreadsheet with color coding and categories that actually describe the way we live. (Yes, “travel expense” is on there!) Our budget is the frontline weapon in terms of living the 25% Solution. We refer to it at least weekly and sometimes more frequently.
Menu List. Deciding what you will eat for the week helps you to make your grocery list, but even more importantly, it helps you to live a more serene life. If I know that Wednesday night will be a busy evening because I have a meeting scheduled at 7 p.m., I also know that’s not the night for serious cooking. Wednesday nights like that are the whole point of having a slow cooker. I feel much calmer knowing I won’t be standing in front of the fridge, blinking at my food and wondering how I can possibly combine mustard, two onions, and an egg into dinner.
Grocery List. This is Menu List’s twin brother. You’ll make your shopping list after you plan your menus for the week (preferably you’ve planned your menus around the store’s loss leaders, but that’s a topic for another day.) This list is also a serenity tool: it keeps you on track, saves you big bucks, prevents you from making impulse buys that cost you, and ensures that you don’t forget that one essential item you can’t do without. Being conscientious with this list means you won’t be cruising the grocery store aimlessly, adding items willy-nilly to your cart in the hopes of somehow constructing 21 freaking meals a week!
Goals List. This one is my favorite. You can have a Goals List for a project, for a deeply held desire, for your dreams. The key: start at the goal. I like to write my goal as though it has already happened: “I have finished a Masters degree in counseling without incurring student loan debt.” What do I have to do to make that happen? Well, realistically, I need to put money aside each pay period to pay for my next semester’s tuition and books. I need to complete the required courses and internships. My goals list includes a list of the courses I must take as well as the financial steps I need to follow to graduate debt-free.
Your goals list will be deeply personal and will ultimately reflect your deeply held beliefs. Not every goals-list will be rich in meaning, but every goal that’s worth committing to writing says something about you and your priorities.
Now go make your own list!