I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a new refrigerator—really I’m not. What I want to tell you about is that when I had to replace mine recently, my electric bill literally went down $15 a month. I thought the first month might be an anomaly but the second month showed the same drop (based on my usage last year and my usage earlier this year and how I compared them). With that kind of savings, with the $15 a month I will be putting in my refrigerator savings account, I will have paid for it in 3 years. As we all know, a halfway good refrigerator should last at least 10 years—most last for about 20 (some even longer). In that amount of time—let’s just say 10 years—I’ll have $1800. I have no idea what inflation will be like between now and then but I suspect I’d be able to buy a much nicer refrigerator than I’m currently using.
Here's the refrigerator I bought. It was from Costco so it might cost more elsewhere but I'm happy with it. In fact, I'm ecstatic. It's a Whirlpool 20.8 CuFt model with no ice maker and nothing fancy at all. I really would have preferred a bottom freezer but Costco didn't have one that was narrow enough to fit the location I have available so I got the top mounted freezer. It really is a fabulous appliance and I'm so glad I could get it.
That also brings me to another brilliant strategy. My mother used to live in an apartment where she did her laundry in pay machines. As soon as she had he own washer and dryer, she started putting the money she would have spent in the pay machines in a jar next to the washer and dryer. Periodically she put that money in a separate savings account to pay for replacements when the time came.
Some years back she and her husband moved into a different home and needed to purchase new appliances. Out came the laundry savings account. They bought the washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher with her laundry money.
She was quite diligent about making sure she was keeping up with the inflationary pricing of coin operated washers and dryers so she stayed current. She didn’t take the cost of water into consideration (I suspect it was a negligible amount) and she paid for small loads she might have washed by hand in the coin-op days. I don’t believe the appliances they purchased were the fancy top-of-the-line models. They were now doubt more along the lines of my $550 refrigerator (or a bit nicer) but to be able to have saved enough to buy ALL their kitchen appliances with the savings from her washer and dryer fund is pretty amazing.
There are two points here. One is that I think we are sometimes not aware of the amount of money we are spending/saving when we think about things in the tiny increments. Just imagine, only three years of energy savings and my refrigerator is totally paid for. The other is how little effort it takes to put that money aside. I went from paying the electric company every month to paying myself every month. I won’t miss that money. My mother went from putting money into a machine to putting it into a jar. It cost her no more than it had the week before.
There are other places to think about these things and possibly put the money aside. Most people have a car payment. My car is paid for. What if I were to put a “car payment” aside each month? Not only would I have a substantial down payment when the time came to purchase a car, I would also already have a budget that allowed for at least part of the car payment for my new car. Then, as soon as that was paid off, I could put the entire amount into savings and be ready to do the same thing the next time I needed to purchase a car. In fact, if I did that with a new car, by the time it came time to purchase another one, I might just have enough money already in savings to purchase it with cash.
I also used to do that with raises. Granted, I was a single woman with no children—I didn’t have a budget stretched to its very limits and beyond. I lived a simple life and didn’t have many new things in my life but I didn’t feel deprived in the least. Every time I got a raise, I put the net difference in my retirement fund (which was matched by my employer). I didn’t miss money I hadn’t had the month before and I was living a life I was happy with.
Only you know what you can or can’t do financially. Think about how you might be able to save even small amounts to make your future just a little more comfortable.