Saving up for a new "Wants" purchase.
What I wanted was a 4 quart Crock Pot. Now, I do believe every frugal home should have at least one Crock Pot, and I already had a 6 quart one. I also, until very recently, had a small 2 1/2 quart one, but I accidentally knocked it off the top of the fridge (where I kept it) while trying to wipe down those totally useless cabinets above the fridge. It hit the floor and dented so badly the sides partially separated from the bottom, and I figured that made it potentially not safe, so I ditched it. It was over twelve years old and I didn't use it that often anyway. It had been great when my husband and I were still sans children because I could cook a few chicken thighs and some veggies in it, and I did occasionally use it to melt some cheese for dip, and make smaller batches of apple butter, but, really, the death of the 2 quart slow cooker wasn't too great of a tragedy.
The problem with my 6 quart cooker is that I *have* to cook a large batch of whatever I'm cooking, or I run the risk of scorching or overcooking something. It's great for soups and whole chickens and such, but not so great for other things, so I wanted a smaller one.
I've seen Crock Pots for sale at Goodwill for as little as $3. But this was one of those very, very few places where I felt going new would be better. In recent years slow cookers have been "upgraded" for safety concerns and there's no telling how old the used ones really are. On those times when I'm going to purposely purchase something new, I have a special way of saving up for it.
I found a 4 quart Crock Pot at Wal-Mart for a little over $15 with tax. Making note of it, I began saving for it. What I did was keep my change, as long as it was from a shopping day where we hadn't gone over budget. Every Saturday, after shopping, I put whatever coins I had left in a jar on my bathroom counter. This never amounted to more than $1 or so, but it slowly and steadily added up. I also tossed in a few pennies and dimes I'd found in parking lots. (Yes, I really do pick up coins off the ground!) Finally, this past weekend, I had enough to buy my Crock Pot. Woo!
There are two really great things about saving up for a purchase this way. First, If you've budgeted $45 for the shopping week, but you only spent $44.20, then that .80 cents won't really be missed in the grand scheme of things. But more important, by making yourself save up this way, which can take weeks or months, you will give yourself time to *really* consider if you want to even make that purchase after all. This takes all the danger of "impulse buy" right out of it.
There are some downsides, admittedly, such as possibly missing a sale on the item because you haven't saved enough yet, having the item sell out or go up in price, or simply wanting the item by a specific time. However, as I am specifically talking about "wants" here, not "needs," I have found this to be the most effective way for me to squeeze that want out of our budget without digging too much into money that should be spent elsewhere, and this far out-weighs the downsides.
And as everybody loved the BBQ beef and beans we had yesterday, I guess my family is happy enough with my latest acquisition. :)