Every Dollar Counts

Here I am sitting on a Sunday early afternoon, thinking of what post to write.  I am currently updating my actual expenses for the month, after coming home from the Grocery store, where I spent $27.76.  I looked at my portfolio, reviewed articles online, took a sip of my coffee and thought, what the heck am I doing?  What is in my surrounding to inspire me to write a post that can attract readers, get people interested and showcase a passion of mine.  I looked in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth and noticed the grey in my hair.  Then.. it hit me.

bill

Every dollar counts

I have grey hair, sure it has more to do genetics than anything.  However, a lot has to do with unnecessary/or some can argue “needed” stress throughout each and every day.  We all work so hard, on everything that we do, such as saving money.  I then clicked enter on my keyboard later that morning to see what amount I had “remaining” after expending more of the monthly income and it dawned onme.  It really dawned on me, seeing myself, seeing the numbers, seeing it all, while sitting in my kitchen area chair.  Every.  Dollar.  Counts.  Some people may think I’m completely nuts to save $12-$15 per month for switching my cable from AT&T (T) to WOW! networks or if I drum up the argument about Netflix (NFLX) potentially raising rates again in the future.  But you know what – It’s my money and the power of each and every $1 is surreal on how much each of those, currently, George Washington’s actually matters in the savings & investing game.  How much each of those $1 bills matter in the retire early game and challenge that myself and others have taken on.

I read an article on Saturday, the 25th, that you should only focus on reducing your big expenses, because everything else is a waste of time and energy.  That you should spend more time investing in yourself, your career and more side hustles to produce more income.  Here is my question: What if you’ve worked on your big expenses, feel like you’ve done a pretty damn good job working on your career and already have side hustles going?  What then?  I then focus on these $1 differences.  Why?  Because every single dollar does in fact matter.  In the end, a few big wins for each and every $1 saved combines to form an even bigger mass to use.

I don’t necessarily mean “not doing things” either.  What I mean is I choose to shop at Aldi instead of the big branded grocery stores – because my $1 goes further for what I need at the house.  I prefer to have people over or go to others homes with a group of people, as a case of “cervesa” or a bottle of wine, is a heck of a lot cheaper than going out for drinks at anywhere from $3-$8 per drink (you also have to drive there, find/pay for parking and somehow “make sure you’re okay to drive”…).  I prefer to be healthier, always, by trying to eat in more and in hindsight – that saves quite a bit of money, and you feel better, as well as having fun making a new dish.  I do like to try new restaurants, and I would have to say after the last few years, if you don’t go to one 3-5x per week, it makes that one or two times THAT much more special and fun.  I prefer to run and workout inside/outside the home – as that saves me 30-45 minutes of driving to my rec center, time is money and driving is gas.  What I’m trying to drive at is – I try to be frugal, save (as we know, we aim to save over 60%) and have experiences with the loves ones in my life over what the typical crowd wants to do, and I am extremely happy for that reason.  Every dollar counts, in my book.

How does every dollar get you closer to retirement?

The math to the equation is very, very easy.  Every $1 saved is the first big step.  The next big step is taking each and every $1 saved and doing what is BEST for that $1 at the moment in your life.  Maybe it is for a wedding gift (Like I did with Bert’s weekend or my other best friends wedding early on in May), maybe it is for a trip somewhere (the lady and I went to Punta Cana in April/May) or maybe it is for investing into the stock market.  When your $1 produces something tangible that produces more cash flow – the dollar just became extremely real.  An easy example is with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which is one of our Top 5 Foundation Stocks.  What if you had invested just one of those dollars in 1972?  Where would you be, right now?  And… intro to this graph:

$1 JNJ

One dollar invested would equate to an 8,997.49% return.  What is wild – is if you could have bought 1 share, you would now own 76 shares, which would produce you almost $250 per year!  How is that for food for thought?  Wouldn’t you be inclined to think about the dollar you may spend on even a coffee while you are walking into work?  Wouldn’t you also think about the $13 you may spend on your lunch break at a fast/restaurant style place as opposed to just packing?  My answer is yes.  Everything DOES have a balance, but when it adds no value to my life, that one dollar is staying in my pocket.  I’ll then reach into that pocket and use those savings to buy investments, such as JNJ above or another example – Target (TGT), that I purchased recently or even go off the Richter scale and check out Bert’s watch list.

This is why I and others in the community are so determined to save, be frugal, be smart and investment like made people, I mean hell – we are the gosh damn Dividend Diplomats for a reason!  Without challenging every cost that I have in my house (even though Property tax & house insurance have kicked my ass – see my recent housing expense update), and trying to think of fun ways to enjoy the weekends (though with weddings and family events, it’s been hectic), while saving money is important – No way I would have been crushing over $7,000 in projected dividend income without saving a dollar here, 12 dollars there, 50 bucks here, etc.. and then pumping that back into undervalued stocks in the market place.  Therefore, there are 3 words I’ll continue to repeat – EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS.

concluding thoughts

After my rampage above with my words, how does the community feel, relate or debate that?  Do you know and feel that every dollar counts?  Are there other challenges you face into protecting your hard earned money?  Do you go for experiences > material possessions?  Are you frugal or cheap or neither?  I know I am now in my frugal routine with my grocery shopping, fun weekend festivities, house living – all while balancing out experiences, moments and having a great time doing this.  It’s all about getting the most out of each dollar and I know today, it smacked me in the face when looking in the mirror and looking at my financial spreadsheets, that… EVERY.  DOLLAR.  COUNTS.  Now the question is… can YOU make every dollar count?  LET’s HEAR IT!! Please share your thoughts, feelings and comments below!

-Lanny

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28 thoughts on “Every Dollar Counts

    • D4s,

      Very deep right there. A dollar is worth nothing if it costs too much time for that dollar. I do agree, there. I think my response over at Charlie’s post probably sums up what could be the best approach. Thanks for the stop by D4s.

      -Lanny

  1. It is true that every dollar you save can help push you towards your goals. While I agree that you get more bang if you concentrate on a big ticket items, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grab low hanging fruit just because it is small dollar values. If one phone call saves you $15 a month moving forward, why wouldn’t you make the call! Small dollars can compound into big ones when given the time to grow. Nice post Lanny!

    • IPD,

      Thank you! And yes – that’s the driver here, even if it is a painful and sometimes a “I wish I was bashing my head through a wall” call – saving triple digits in a year is worth it. That can be used to cover trading costs for a year, easily.

      -Lanny

  2. Have to go with D4s. My approach has generally been along the lines of the 80/20 rule, meaning one can capture 80% of the reward with 20% of the effort. The remaining 20% may not be worth the time expended unless time carries minimal value.

    • Charlie,

      Definitely understand, there obviously is a time/benefit value to it all. I think it helps when there is a “routine” built to it, right? Such as – buy ___ here instead of there, as it’s less expensive and you receive the same value or something along the lines of – make a 30 minute call with the telecommunications company to save $150, those I would say are worth it. Or vacation shopping/trip/travel shopping – where you can save hundreds with a few search engines, etc.. The other $1 efforts, can really come from habits of “knowing”, or no?

      -Lanny

  3. Cutting major expenses can help your savings rate but in my opinion the small things matter just as much. Every time I see people pay for a gym membership or buy a bottle of water I cringe. Why buy a bottle of water unless it is an absolute necessity at the time? I carry around my own water bottle and save loads of money from that alone. I workout around my area just like you and save however much a gym membership is a month but that is money I pump back into investments to secure early retirement.

    • Stefan,

      Thanks for the post my man! I know, I know, it’s hard a lot of the time – the convenience factor!!! It’s funny I just talked to Bert about the water thing, hilarious.

      I just finished a nice run and am doing an “every 5” pushup work out, i.e. 25, 30, 35, 40, etc.. it’s intense, you should try it. Love that every dollar saved goes towards something meaningful. Let’s go!!

      -Lanny

  4. As noted above a couple of times, it is (as usual) a balancing act. I love the idea of the 80-20 rule, and I think we live by that as well. That being said, purely theoretical, every dollar (or euro) does count and will add up on the long run.

    • CF,

      Agreed – I won’t spent 2 hours to save $1 but I’ll spend 20 seconds to that, you know? haha. I couldn’t agree more with that. I may spend 2-3 hours talking to banks to see if it makes any sense at all to refi to a 25 year mortgage if I can have low closing costs and a 3.65ish% rate. We’ll see. Great comment though!

      -Lanny

  5. I agree with everything that you wrote in the post. And it is all a matter of perspective. Every dollar certainly counts. How we decide to spend, earn and save matters in relation to our goals.

    One thing I decided early on in my career however, in contrast to so many financial bloggers, etc., is that I am going to focus so much more of my time and effort into income, rather than expenses. I am not a huge spender or shopper, so really my expenses are quite low as it is, without any extra effort. So I exert all my effort into increasing every single dollar on the top part of my income statement :). Fun post!

    • Stacker,

      THanks for the comment. It does all matter, and it becomes easier as you start developing your habits, mindset and knowledge of information.

      Very smooth – if your expenses are already low – focusing on income is a smart way to transition. If you’ve tapped out on savings, then increase the other line – income. Pumped for your journey, keep it going!!

      -Lanny

  6. Hey Lanny, definitely agree with where you’re coming from. Buying soap from Aldi is worth it over soap from a big store (it’s cheaper, and is about the same amount of time). MAKING your own soap, isn’t probably worth the extra effort.

    $1,000,000 is just a million 1 dollars after all. Plus, it’s worth it to save a dollar now rather than in 10 years, as a dollar saved now can grow lots with investment income. Plus inflation makes that 10 year in the future dollar, not so good.

    Tristan

    • DDU,

      Thank you – I agree, it’s the habitual easy saving that will add more value than one would imagine. Love the soap analogy, $3.99 somewhere else or $0.99 at Aldi, easy enough and is fairly the same. Loving it.

      -Lanny

  7. I actually do make my own shampoo/conditioner and pomade. It is cheaper and I look better because I could tailor it to my personal needs. I spend so little on my appearance, and can focus that money where I need it.

  8. I spent money on drive-thru breakfast and fat laden lunches without a care in the world. Started feeling run down as I packed on the pounds and purchased ever larger pants. Got into dividend investing and reading these blogs. Simply adding as little as $5 a month to my dividend income gave me a thrill. Started thinking if I care so much about getting that $5, why do I spend $12 a day on food that is killing me. Why don’t I value that $12, or my own health? I think about that every time I want a soda or a coffee or a heart clogging fast-burger. I now make lunches or hit the salad bar. My weight is slowly dropping as I pack on the dividends.

    • Terp,

      Haha, I think we’ve all gone through a phase of not having a care in the world. Valuing your health, turning that around and using the savings for assets. Pack on the divvys and cut the LBS!! Nice.

      -Lanny

  9. Preach it, brother!

    Gah, lost the link already. Recently one of our compatriots, blogging in the Personal Finance space, went off on a mini-rant to emphasize how the apparent split between the “raise incomes” and “lower expenses” is really illusion. Those are both means to increase the gap, which one saves and invests to reach FI. Sometimes removing an unfulfilling expense is the best move to play, sometimes asking for a raise, sometimes preventing a huge ongoing outlay by buying the smaller house outright instead of the larger house on mortgage.

    • Sabb,

      Thanks for the post. I couldn’t agree more. You increase your income, perfect. You cut expenses, perfect. Your moat/gap gets bigger, regardless. Obviously increasing your income is awesome – in the work for a boss world – that typically carries/means MORE work, typically, that is. My income will grow in the next 4 weeks, as our raise discussions occur around the July time frame. Obviously the biggest ways to cut expenses are on the bigger ticket items. However – there is always room to save a few bucks based on habit. I love the journey and it seems like you do too!

      -Lanny

  10. Very thoughtful article. I think in a very similar fashion, especially when it comes to everyday items and how quick these items can add up over time.

    For example, one of my co-workers buys a 20oz Soda from the gas station every single day. Probably costs him $1.79 plus tax. He then only drinks half the soda and wastes the rest as it sits out all day. I always wondered how much money he is wasting by not buying in bulk. This blog made me want to figure this out.

    For comparison I drink a lot of cherry Coke Zero and I’m always looking to buy in bulk to save money. I just bought 4 twelve packs from Target last week for $10.80 (including tax). I was able to get 48 cans for $.23 each. We each drink one soda at work each day, however he’s spending $1.90 and I’m spending $.23. My total cost for a year (excluding weekends) comes to $55 while my co worker is paying $456 (8.25x more than me) for the same amount of soda (since he never drinks it all).

    Over the course of one year he could be saving $401 if he decided to buy in bulk instead of buying one each day.

    Given he takes an advance each week at work and barely gets by it just blows my mind that some people can be so ignorant and lazy when it comes to simple saving money matters such as this.

    Not only are they not realizing how much money they could save each year by taking measures like this but, and more importantly, they don’t realize how significant these large savings of money could turn into a small fortune down the road if they knew anything about investing and compounding interest.

    I try to examine to various friends and co-workers about the power of long term dividend investing and compounding interest but it usually just goes right over their head. It’s like I’m speaking a different language!

    It reminds me of that saying Einstein had about interest; “those who understand it earn it, those who don’t pay it”. He’s absolutely right on the money about that!!

  11. You are correct about watching every dollar. It builds habits. I notice I start getting sloppy when I get loosy goosey here and there. I just looked at my budget and noticed my coffee out budget has slowed been creeping up again. Time to mind my dollars

    • Josh,

      Thanks for the comment. Couldn’t agree more, it builds habits and it’s real easy to keep up with those without thinking, without debate and without any distraction. I love at the end of the month, even after I’ve saved over 60%, that I still have some left over – it is amazing! Thank you for coming by, keep the dollars counting!

      -Lanny

  12. Enjoyed reading this post and could not agree with you more. I wrote a post today on the Millionaire Minute, which focuses on how a millionaire spends just one minute more per money event than the poor person. Seems small, but over a life time the difference is huge. It is not being cheap, it is a mindset, which will set you apart.

    • Tycoon,

      Thank you very much for coming by and the comment. I’ll have more posts later on how I am even more going to make every dollar count, be prepared and on the lookout for that, that’s for sure. Each dollar matters, you know that, the community knows that – we need to keep the strategy up and the dollars count!!!

      -Lanny

  13. Thanks for the article Lanny! I couldn’t agree more. I especially identify with what you said about having already harvested all the low hanging fruit and still feeling a burning desire to do more. Make those dollars count!

    Jeff

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