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How One Small Spark Can Lead to Greater Savings

By Darlene Arechederra

It's true, you know. Even the smallest of sparks has the power to create a raging inferno! The good news? It works the same with a mere ten dollars!

Years ago, I had a just-over-minimum-wage job that paid me only once a month. And out of that one check came my rent, used-car payment, utilities, and health and auto insurance. I paid all my regular bills the same week I got paid.

I divided the other expenses (gas, food, etc.) by four, then set aside the weekly cash for them in separate envelopes. It was the only way I could see to survive a whole month until the next payday.

It was tough, and sometimes I wondered if I'd ever get ahead.

I couldn't afford magazines back then. But in the employee lounge at work, I came across an article with a really cool chart. The chart drew a picture of how much money I could save in a 401(k) account after 40 years -- based on adding only ten dollars a month.

You see, those ten-dollar amounts would compound over time. They'd create a nest egg for me -- even if I stopped contributing down the road. Time was my friend, the article said.

And you know what? It *clicked.* I understood what it was saying. Time *was* my friend. I had very little money, but as far as I knew, (smile) I did have time.

That day, I clipped the chart out of the magazine and taped it inside my organizer. I'd see it every time I opened my calendar. And I'd wonder what it would be like to have money down the road. Money to take care of myself, regardless of my future marital status. Who knew what the future held for me?

But, was it really possible to find that ten dollars to get started?

That chart became a powerful incentive for me. It gave me hope. It made me determined to do something, even if on a small scale.

Over the next few weeks, I stopped wondering *if* I could find ten bucks. I began to focus on *how* I'd find the money.

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But, find it, I did! I focused on food and household products. Each payday, I'd buy one different item in a jumbo size. Something like laundry soap that I used on a regular basis. And I checked to make sure that I really was saving money by buying a larger size.

A family-sized pack of hamburger was split up into sections and frozen. It would become many meals. All leftovers were transformed into omelets, soups and other yummy treats.

This simple strategy allowed me to shop less often, kept me out of the stores (temptation) and helped me live on less.

And along the way, I learned a really valuable lesson. Even though I couldn't save a lot, that little bit was all I needed.

Tucking it away on a regular basis is what makes the difference. It isn't the amount that counts.

That chart still brings a smile to my face, even after all these years. It reminds me of that small spark that became a raging inferno for me. How freeing it was to discover that a mere ten dollars could change my entire future in such a large way!

So, how about you? Have you found your own tiny spark? Something that motivates you, tugs at you to set aside a bit of money?

Why not create a scrapbook? Clip those money-saving morsels you come across!

Consider printing web articles that motivate you (set your printer to draft quality--it's nice enough to read and costs less). Place your articles or tips in a three-ring binder.

These are wonderful gifts to give yourself. (They make great gifts for others, too--especially newlyweds.)

Now you can page through your binder or scrapbook when you need a fresh idea. Or even when you're having a bad day or feeling down due to a lack of funds. You may rediscover something you had forgotten all about.

Remember, one tiny spark is all you need!

© Darlene Arechederra
Darlene Arechederra leads the delightful series, "Coming Home: A Woman's Journey to One-Income Living."Women of two-income households who want to find their way back home from the workplace will enjoy this gentle, energizing jumpstart. Visit with Darlene at


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