Many times it's the little things that make a huge difference. That's why found money fragments are so important. All the small parts together make up the whole. No matter how big the figure, even if it's millions, it's still made up of so many single dollars.
Have you heard of or read the story of when Jesus fed over 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes? You can find it in the book of Matthew, chapter 14, verses 15-21.
The part I want to draw your attention to is verse 20. It says- " And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full." The whole thing is miraculous, but think about the fact that they ended up with 12 baskets full by simply keeping track of and gathering the fragments.
How could you improve your finances by believing in the power of fragments? We can all find little bits of money in our budgets if we try. I'm not talking about being a tightwad. I'm talking about taking an honest look at how you live and do business. Then take action to discover and collect found money fragments.
How do you do that? One step at a time. Everybody has their own unique situation. An important key is to avoid the tendency to say "But I can't do such and such". Don't whine about what you can't do but focus on what you can do. Just get started and the ideas will come.
What about a person that smokes. Let's say they went from 7 packs a week down to 3. Depending on the cost per pack, that could save +/- $20 per week. That's $80 a month. If they quit completely it's about $35/week or $140/month. That's a mighty big fragment! Not to mention the health benefit.
Do you buy your lunch every day at a restaurant? Even at a fast food joint it could cost you anywhere from $3-$8 per day. Let's say it was $5/day for a $25 weekly tab. Depending on your preferences for food, you could easily make your own lunch and save at least half the cost of eating out. That could be $50 per month. Also (with proper choices) bringing health benefits, saving travel time to and from the place, and in the long run keeping your medical expenses down.
Speaking of travel time, there are lots of ways to cut down your car expenses. You can car pool. Think ahead and consolidate your trips. Develop better driving habits with respect to how hard you stab the throttle. Go easy and you will save gas. By driving the speed limit you will save fuel as opposed to speeding everywhere. The faster you go, the more wind resistance you have. That burns extra fuel.
A word of advice though. Make sure to maintain your car/ truck/ motorcycle properly. Do the recommended maintenance and it will save you money down the road, which is kind of a found money fragment.
One extra tip here. Keep the recommended tire pressure in your tires. This can usually be found on a sticker on your door/ door jamb/ gas lid or in the owners manual. (You know that book you never read, but should, that came with your car). DO NOT use the max pressure listed on the side of the tire. That pressure is too high for normal loads. Too high of pressure will wear out the center area of your tread, too little will wear the outer edges. Proper pressure and alignment will make your tires last their longest.
How about your energy use habits? If you make several small changes they will add up. One thing I do when cooking on the stove is to shut off the burner a little before the food is done. If you use cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans they will retain heat for a few minutes and continue to cook the food even with the stove off. By doing this, it will add up to a savings at the end of the month. In the summer this also reduces the load on your air conditioner.
Speaking of that, you can help out your A/C by closing blinds to keep the sun out during the day, using a microwave to reduce heat buildup and keeping your A/C unit clear of debris and plant growth outside. Also keep the filter clean or changed out as needed.
Another energy saver is to use the fluorescent light bulbs instead of the old style. They use about 1/3 of the power. Don't forget to shut off lights when not needed.
Here's one I read about years ago. It's called the 50% method. Take toothpaste for example. However much you put on your toothbrush, cut it in half. Use 50% of what you normally do and see if that does the job OK. If it does, then cut that in half. Keep going until you find the minimum amount you can use and still do the job satisfactorily. Do the same with shampoo, window cleaner, paper towels, etc. It will generate more found money fragments.
Make sure you get in the habit of writing down everything you spend. That way you can see where your money is going and it will help you to find ways to save. It will also help you track your increase in found money fragments. It is very motivating to see the extra money growing on paper.
I could go on for a long time on this, but I think you get the idea. The actual dollar figures will vary, but when you add up all the things you can think of that will produce found money fragments for you, it could easily be equal to a car payment.
It may seem boring and tedious, but it's not. It starts to be fun once you begin to add up all of your findings. Then the best part is to make a smart decision on what to do with it. Pay down debt? Invest? Save it?
It's your call. Use wisdom in deciding and you'll be happy you did.
Mitch Ferguson, May 2009