How I’m going to save $30,000 in 10 years

It seems like the American dream is to own nice cars, a great house and have piles of debt. Until five years ago, I would have agreed with that!

Until I discovered Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover book. We’ve lent it to many friends since we read it. Basically, he helps people pay off debt and gain financial freedom in seven baby steps. He recommends paying with cash and actually making a budget – telling your money where it should go instead of asking where it went last month. (My friends in their 30s just paid off their house following Dave. Wow!)

One thing I never thought about was money in 10-year increments. Like dining out. That’s a total budget-buster for me. I enjoy going out to eat, and we have plenty of great places here in central Iowa. But $150/month x 12 months x 10 years = $18,000. That’s a car, some college, or nice vacations!

So here are some ways I’m looking to save, besides budgeting (and sticking to it) better:

Abigail's coupon bookMobile coupons

They’re popping up all over the place, including Kum and Go gas, Hy-vee, Target and many others. I also downloaded Ibotta, which includes mobile coupons for groceries and more.

Ditching cable

We haven’t had cable in more than seven years. I thought I couldn’t live without reality shows, but there’s so much on Netflix and over-the-air TV we record on TiVo, I haven’t missed it. And I’m more productive by skipping some of that stuff. So we’ve saved $70/month by switching from cable to Netflix. $70 x 12 = $840/year. $840 x 10 years = $8,400! And with new options like SlingTV, we can watch ESPN again.

Second hand clothing

Thanks to my generous family with a daughter just a year older than ours, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars getting their hand-me-downs. And if I do need something, I check out Stuff, Etc or the other second-hand stores in the area.

What if you stopped buying new clothes altogether? What if you only bought second hand stuff? And how many different outfits do they need?

If you cut back from $100 to $50 per kid per season, that’s a savings of $200/year per kid (which is still a generous amount). That’s a savings of $200/kid per year, or $2,000 per kid in 10 years.

The library

There are always book fairs going on at preschools and elementary schools. They can be hard to resist. But how many books do your kids need? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE books. Kids enjoy a used book as much as a new one. Tag sales are great places to find books at a seriously bargain price.

Or you can get them from the library for free, as long as you remember to return them on time.

Say you spend $100 a year on new books for five years, as there aren’t as many book fairs in middle school and high school. That’s another $500. Now that’s not thousands in savings, but it’s a some good spending money for a freshman year of college.

Good reason to go to the library. Or check out half-priced or discount bin books.


What additional money-saving tips do you have?