How to Save Money, 9 Tips for Medical Families

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How to save money:

If you’re like me, you’d brush this thought aside.

Between the hospital admissions, therapies and appointments, you don’t need to save money, there just isn’t enough of it to go around!

I went down that path too, and over time I began to see that it was no good making more money because it disappeared as quickly as it came.

How to save money text on top of picture with woman on the phone and lots of up arrows in the foreground

Why Save?

I wasn’t looking to start eating caviar with my savings I just wanted some of the pressure to lift, to be able to breathe again.

While facing hospital constantly and dealing with a devastating diagnosis of our little boy, I just need something to go my way.

Things like being able to handle the car registration coming in, or pay the premiums or replacement costs if one of us had a car accident. 

If you’re embarrassed to be in this situation you can relax because most people are in the same boat, no savings, just one paycheck away from disaster. 

So unless you’re winning the lottery tonight, it’s time to take advantage of what you already have.

You can change from the feeling of the month left over after the money is gone. By learning how to save money.

How to Save Money, Firstly Starts With Awareness. 

Where is your money going?

Now, I immediately had lots of answers to this – clearly, my husbands coffee habit and his expensive taste was the bulk of my life’s problems!

But when learning how to save money, one lesson I have to learn again and again is that we have lots of emotion wrapped up in money, and our head is full ideas and thoughts that actually have very little to do with reality. 

Track your spending – Know where your money has gone.

Check your bank statements for the last 3 months.

Separate out the costs, things like eating out and groceries should be given their own categories. Transport, utilities, you get the drift. 

Here is where it gets challenging:

Anything outside of food, water, shelter (house, utilities) & transport can be considered a luxury. 

How much do your ‘luxuries’ add up to each month?

I discovered it wasn’t my husband who was responsible for all the overspending but food, in general, was our biggest variable cost.

Something that I was mostly in charge of making decisions about.

Use Ratios to Create Your New Budget

Specific numbers like $400 for this, $200 for that, are massively time-consuming and require keeping a very close eye on every dollar and cent.

There is only a very small percentage of anal-retentive people who manage to effectively manage a budget that way. 

The most effective way is to use ratios.

We learned the breakdown 70/10/10/10 from Dani & Han’s Johnson.

The biggest tip here is automating!

Make this an indisputable rule – ask your payroll people if they can pay you this way. Sent up automatic transfers so it happens with as little thought and input as you can.

Remember what’s going on in our heads, what we’re feeling at the time, it isn’t necessarily an accurate picture of reality.

Don’t let yourself sabotage this.

10% to Charity

The first amount is to charity. 

Feed the hungry, help house the homeless, protect the widow, orphan and the sick. 

But what about us? 

We were the parents of a child with a life-threatening condition, surely we qualified to keep the money and use it to support him?

Besides we were running out of money every month anyway.

It’s the principle of the matter, give first and somehow somewhere, things will work out.  

I stand by it.

Since we made that decision to honour the 10% charity ratio, we have given literally thousands of dollars away.  

Thousands of dollars I would have told you we didn’t have, every day of the week.

We always choose things close to our hearts.

We have feed families in third world countries, help pay for wheelchairs, international flights to be part of groundbreaking research into rare conditions. Supported the associations that support us, so they can continue to do the same.

10% to Pay Off Debt Faster

I don’t know about you, but back then between our house payment and car loans, most of our money disappeared into debt repayments. 

Statistics also show, on top of those loans most people also have credit cards, personal loans, afterpay accounts and various other debts.

Any extra money you put into paying off debt has a guaranteed return.

You can calculate it. X amount of interest you save every time you make a repayment. 

It’s got a higher return than savings in the bank. It also doesn’t carry the risk of other investments.

Debt is also a massive weight you carry around with you every day. Into every therapy appointment, every trip with your kids. 

Get free from that & save loads while you do it. 

Pay down the smallest loans first so that rush of paying them off keeps you motivated as you tackle the bigger amounts.

10% to Wealth Building

What, wealth building?!

 I am not an investor. I just want to hold my head above water. 

Think of it this way, if you this, especially if you take the further steps, this is the money you put to work for you.

This money will generate the ‘savings’ you’re wishing you had. The nest egg for retirement or the legacy to pass onto your kids.

This 10% tucked away will be the confidence you need to hold your head high when an unexpected bill rolls in.

The top thing we did to prevent us just taking this money out again every time we ‘needed’ it, was putting it in an account we could not see with our other regular banking.

Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s meant to be more than an emergency fund but if you want to know more about that check-out Han’s Johnson’s True Wealth Formula.

70% is for everything else

Living expenses and having fun.

Most people when they start applying these principles are living on 100 – 110% every month and can’t imagine being able to survive on just 70%.

Consider for a moment though, of your first job:

How much did you earn then?

Are you earning more now than you were then? 

Sure things have changed, you’ve had children for example – but most people have just expanded their lifestyle to fit their income. 

Go back the totals you got from your bank statements.

Let’s make some savings so you can start pushing your budget in the direction that makes the future look good again.

Food

If take-away, coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinners were a massive number on your list (hint they are the biggest on most peoples) it’s time to think about what you can do about it.

I can picture it, take-away breakfast after a rough night, no sleep.

A crazy day ahead. 

Whether it’s off to work or like me waiting with Matthew in ED for a bed on the ward after another ambulance trip. 

Then lunch on the fly, grabbing something in a few stolen minutes, mostly just to take a break.

Dinner, well now the whole family needs feeding and I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet. 

Nothing adds up on the food bill faster than this. 

The stress momentarily abates when I swipe my card, spending our hard-earned money in an instant. 

But it’s really only deferred. When I check the bank balance a week or so before pay-day and there is definitely more month left than money. 

“It’s alright,” I said at one point. “We’ll start doing some of our shopping at Costco, we’ll save loads buying bulk and we won’t have to shop as much.”

Yeah, that was before I ran my bank balances and checked my totals.

$600 at Costco didn’t stop me spending over $600 a month on food.

It’s a trap that just ties up your money in your pantry, fridge and freezer shelves.

That’s the money that could be in your 10% debt, 10% wealth, 10% to help take care of an orphan. 

Meal Plan

Boring, more stress, and I have no control over what might happen this week. I don’t even know if I’ll be home.

Yep. So how long has that been the case? 

How long have you been dealing with that kind of unpredictable lifestyle?

Begin to plan for the unpredictable. 

You know that you can bank on it.

I planned and shopped for meals that could be cooked in the hospital

Planned for meals that could be cooked in half an hour when we got home late. Meals that I knew the kids would eat.

Some people bulk cook and freeze it. 

I didn’t because I sold my big freezer when I stopped shopping at Costco.

Allow for those scenarios. Plan grace for you into the schedule.

Aim for AUD $30 per person per week.

Taking a little time now, it will save a lot of stress later, and protect your bank account for the long term. 

Look Into Your utilities

Make sure you’re getting a good deal on the thing that comes in every month that you must use.

Think about turning the air-conditioner up to 24 and keeping the heater between 18-21.

Make sure the dishwasher and washing machine aren’t put on with half-loads. Turn the TV off when no one is watching it.

Bundle internet, mobile and landline costs. Consider as you are learning how to save money, do you even need all three?

Perhaps your mobile data is enough for the household? Or can you cancel the landline all together? Maybe your mobile plan is too big?

These things all add up to how to save money.

Other Savings to help balance your ratios:

  • Alternatives to hospital parking. Leave the car at home or have someone visiting take it home for you. Park further away in a free (or cheaper) parking spot. Take public transport.
  • Check for generic brands for everything don’t let brand name marketing sway you from a life without budget stress. (Including medications – chat to the doctor and pharmacist.)
  • check for unused subscriptions – I’ve heard of a lady who had 6 gym memberships coming out of her account every month she had forgotten about
  • Pack lunch to take the hospital – or go to the supermarket and buy food to have for lunches. Don’t do take-away.
  • Inflate your tyres – increases fuel economy
  • Carpool for work or school – ask around see who is driving your direction every day as well.
  • Wait 30 days to see if you still really ‘need’ that purchase
  • Share entertainment – lend DVDs with friends, share joint Netflix accounts
  • Take people up on their offers to make dinners (home-cooked meal with no preparation for you.)
  • Go outside – lots of free activities for the whole family
  • Take a water bottle – don’t buy bottled.
  • Order smaller or share dishes when you eat out – I enjoyed seeing if by ordering small I can try more different options for less.
  • Don’t save your credit card details on your phone or computer, so you have to get out the card each time to enter the details.

Finally

These are only a few things to consider as you learn how to save money, but the real way to win this battle is mindset. The steps and systems to get yourself out of the way. Like we talked about earlier, inside our head our ideas of what is really going on is so often skewed.

Look at this way, what results has your current approach got you?

When we did Dani Johnson’s War on Debt course, we reduced our grocery budget to under $100 a week. Since that time in 2017, we started learning from Hans Johnson and combined the learning we have paid of over 6 figures of debt, have a high 4 figures in our wealth account.

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