You know when people say they’ve “saved” money, like from getting a good deal on something or using a coupon, only really what they did was spend money because savings only counts when it’s actually *saved*?
“What’s that? The Ferrari dealership is having a $50,000 off sale? Awesome – here’s $300,000!”
“A two-for-one sale on these shoes? Sweet – I’ll take 10 please!”
Well, I recently found out there’s a term for this fake savings, and it’s called “Spavings” – a combination of “spending” and “saving” :) Which I am now completely obsessed with, and have actually gone out and created my very own “Spavings Account” to start tracking my own fake savings! Haha…
It’s so pretty, isn’t it? (Although technically, if I’m now saving the spavings wouldn’t it really go back to being savings again? Or would that be Zombavings (Zombie Savings) because we’ve now resurrected the original spavings? ;))
Anyways, as you can see, the account already has $35.68 in it and that’s only after two weeks.
I freakin’ love it! The plan is to use this money here to max out a future year’s Roth IRA account, similar to what we did with my old Challenge Everything Experiment back in the day. And of course we track it all *separately* to better help with motivation and being able to actually SEE the difference we’re making – else it’ll just get lost with all the other saving and spending we do.
Here are the spavings/zombavings comprising of this new fund so far:
- $1.00 — dollar off my coffee this morning due to Panera rewards card
- $9.50 — difference between two products I was considering buying, eventually going with the cheaper option to save money (and now is truly saved!)
- $10.00 — amount I was about to spend on a new coin on eBay, only I was 10 seconds too late and someone snatched it up right from under me (not sure if this is technically considered spavings, but since I had already committed to spending the money, I’m going to count it as it’s now turned back into spaved savings)
- $15.18 — domain name I accidentally renewed for another year and was just gonna let ride, until I convinced myself the very next day to spend the time asking customer service for a refund so I can add this to my new spavings account! Haha…
So as you can see, just the mere action of setting up this new and random fund has already influenced my decisions for the better :)
Who knew we “saved” so much money over time without even really noticing? And the beauty of course is because we don’t notice it much, it kinda feels like free money in a way. Money that would have been spent somewhere else, only now it’s spent right into your bank account!
Man I’m smart….
HAH! If only I could take credit for this. All inspiration actually comes from The Lady In The Black who did a couple of deep dives into this phenomena, and whom I wouldn’t be surprised if coined the word “spavings” to begin with (have any of you ever heard of this term before? I hadn’t!).
These are her two articles that drove me over the edge:
- The Definition of Savings: A Scientific Exploration
- Converting Spavings to Savings: Another Scientific Exploration
You’ll have to check them out if you’re as into this as I am, but in a nutshell The Lady and 5 of her friends got together to track their own spavings over the course of the month, and then came back to report on the tallied results. Here’s what they found:
- On average, the amount of spavings saved per person was $5.61 a day
- They had a total success rate of 83% converting spavings into actual savings
- And all combined the 6 bloggers saved a grand total of $1,010.59 once the month was over
Not too shabby!
Here was the breakdown per blogger if you’re curious:
- She Picks Up Pennies: >$80
- Mrs. Adventure Rich: $138.64
- Budget Like A Lady: $175.47
- I Pick Up Pennies: $180.91
- Tiny Ambitions: $194.66
- The Lady in the Black: $240.91
It looks like none of us are immune to this spavings epidemic – even finance bloggers! Despite how we all like to think we’re saving all the time when we’re actually not. Of course, spending less is preferable than spending more, but at the end of the day it’s all very much still spending.
Nothing we can do about that completely of course, ‘cuz you know – LIFE, however taking a few extra seconds to really consider all these transactions can only help us become better with our money.
And that’s exactly my mission with this new Spavings Fund: to be a lot more conscious with my spending habits, while at the same time at least rewarding myself when I do have to/choose to spend!
We’ll see how long it takes to hit this first $5,500 goal (the longer the better, probably – hah!), but I’ll follow up with reports as time goes on, and if anyone would like to join me I’d love to hear your own results as time passes as well :) Hit me with a note, or drop your findings in the comments anytime!
Because as they say, the friends who spave together slay together! And we’ve got alotta expenses to slay up in here!!
UPDATE: After 10 months going strong we decided to pause this to make room for other fun challenges… Total spavings as of September, 2018? $4,040.50. It’s safe to say it was successful :)
// Big shout again to The Lady In The Black – I freakin’ love you for this idea :)
// Googly eyes pic up top by Kate Ter Haar
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I like this word! I remember back in the day when I was truly broke….spavings never went into a savings account but if I ‘spaved’ $20 on the grocery bill it meant I could keep the lights on. Anyone got a word for that?
Yeah, it’s called “doing what you have to” and you were doing it!! :)
Hey, yeah its just about getting it into your head.
For the comment above that just sounds like savings ;-)
Good luck with the spavings.
Love this. I wonder if there’s a way to apply the concept at the macro level. Hmm…. Heading to the lab now.
I went hog wild with my business credit card during Airbnb renovation weekend. Time for dinner? Let’s go to this pub or that pub! At least the rest of the swipes were for business purposes. But still adds up so damned fast.
I guess I haven’t fully wrapped my ahead around the concept. I can see that a high spavings rate is good if the spending (less) is on things that you need or a bring you sustained enjoyment but if you buy something because you see it’s on sale should that X amount that is saved really be considered “savings”.
So my question is should the goal be to see more or really less money in your spavings account (because less money is actually spent)?
Haha…. yes, technically the more you’re spaving the more you’re spending, but in terms of this mission here (and prob for most of us reading $$ blogs?) I’m going to say the more spaved the better since it’s pretty much just *extra money* in the bank on top of all the other ways we’re saving/cutting out expenses already :) Kinda like an extra way to push ourselves, if you will? (and my hypothesis is that it will eventually get us to spend even *less* to begin with since we’re even more closely watching things?)
Did your USAA set you up with the auto savings sms ‘Dog’? I forget his name but about 2-4 times a week he auto transfers money from my checking into my savings and then daily texts me pun jokes and my savings/checking balances. The amount transferred depends on how much is in your checking. I’ve saved about $500 so far since it started.
Hah – nice!
No, I haven’t used that before but I do remember when it came out – pretty much soon after my beloved Digit did – which they’re pretty much mimicking ;)
I need to get back on the Spaving bandwagon! It was really eye-opening to see how much the coupons, discounts, and deals could add up to in a month :)
I love the spaving idea too! That’s how I got myself a cotton candy machine and I spaved at least $20 by getting it…*awkward laughter*
Oh jeez, haha…
I love saving for the purpose of spending. It makes it feel less “dirty” at times.
Nice approach thinking to apply your garnished spavings toward a year’s Roth contributions – it’s good to take care of your future selves. I usually apply it to my dog’s annual vet bill or the dog’s insurance premiums (she has better health coverage than I do).
I’m not quite sure though how this is different from an app like Qapital (https://www.qapital.com/) that we use to “round-up” and set-up other purchase rules to transfer $$ to a savings account. I guess I see the behavioral side of it though.
Qapital and other apps are great too, yup! This is just another fun way to up your game even more ;) It’s kinda like tricking yourself to pay *full price* on stuff, only part of the money is going into your savings vs to the store since you had spavings! I.e. if a watch you bought was on sale for $80 instead of $100, you’d act as if you were paying the full $100 only really $80 of it would go to the store and $20 to your savings. w/ Qapital and other apps it might round up your $80.25 to $81.00 thereby saving you $0.75, but in this case you’d actually be banking $20.00 total.
Oh cool! I think I have heard of this term before, but I don’t know where and from whom. It’s such a cool concept!
I have to be honest. I’m a bit too lazy to track all of my expenses. I do a monthly food budget report series, and it’s already a challenge to keep track of what we spend hehe. I’m curious how this project is going to turn out. Keep us posted!
Haha yeah – it would be too much to track *everything* in your life for sure :) i tend to only be able to track one main thing, and maybe a 2nd, before i burn out.
Hit the nail on the head Ms. FAF! Tracking food expenses maxes out my numbers brainpower… everything else, that’s what Mint & PC are for. It’s a great idea though, putting the “spaved” money aside rather than letting it sit in the bulk of your checking account to tempt you to spend on something else…
Doesn’t Mint track your food spending for you? That’s how I discovered that I spent $500/month on restaurants, takeout, and delivery.
Interesting Idea. I was about to spend $2100 on a new TV, then I compared at best buy and found one I like almost as much for $1500… So I guess now I’m obligated to spave $600. Or maybe I could gamble it away on bitcoin??? Since once spaved it somehow is no longer real money right..lol.
Haha… something like that.
The spavings challenge was fun! It was cool to see how much money you can spave with discounts. I have to do this again soon.
Oh wow, really cool. I learn a new word. We just got back from Cancun and we spaved over $4,000! I’m way ahead of you guys. After Black Friday, we’ll be even closer to $5,500. ;)
It only counts if you bank those spavings!
I love this idea – the one downfall is that it’s not super easy and I’m lazy :) Using the money for something good like maxing a future year’s Roth is a great way to use that extra money though!
yeah, it’s definitely a manual thing with both tracking it and moving the money over and REMEMBERING it with every transaction too. Could prove to be too irritating, but so far in the honeymoon stage I’m feeling good about it :)
I like it, one of the reason I started using Acorns was to catch some of these “savings” that would just get spent if they weren’t moved. I don’t know that I would actually track this accurately, but I do really like the idea of the challenge/idea behind it
Yup – Acorns is great too! I’m a fan of *anything* that gets you to push more $$$ over than you’d normally be doing.
Spavings reminds me of the concept of opportunity cost. I know it’s real, but it is hard to wrap my brain around.
I suppose if I was diligent about moving those spavings to a dedicated account having something tangible to point to would help me appreciate it more. However, I struggle with the discipline to move regular savings each month and not touch them!
Haha…. maybe this is just what you need to get into the habit, then? :)
I like to shop for stuff that is on sale and before I need it. A good example is clothes. I always buy them at a discount of at least 40% off or more of the original price. Of course, there’s also the buy two items and you get an extra 20% both items or if you spend $100 bucks, you’ll get an extra $10 off.
I often fall prey to those “Spaving” schemes. Most of the time, it works pretty well if I really use the items that I bought at some point in time. At other times, I question myself, “why did I buy this item?”
To get around my “Spaving” spree, I now force myself to ask a simple question when I am trying to “Spaving”. Do I want this item or do I need it? I put the item back if I don’t need it.
Had no idea there was a term for this. When I first switched to online banking years ago I started transferring my savings into my savings account. Now that I know this is a thing, I want to set up my own spavings account to see just how much I spave,
Let’s spave race each other!!
Deal. I was sooo close to dropping $60,000 on a new truck a few days ago, but better senses prevailed and I kept that money in savings. I’ll move it into my Spavings account right now :D
Already beat you to it – I just skipped out on a $500,000 house!
Wicked idea; I’m going to start putting my Ebates rebates and Earny price-protection dollars in my underused savings account, to see how they add up!
I wonder if airline miles and credit card rewards points would fall under spavings. They’re not money, but they definitely buy things!
YES!!! DO IT!!!
If you can calculate what each mile or reward equates to in $$$ you can always bank that as well every time you cash out your rewards. No shame in over-saving! :)
Spavings huh? Well I can get behind a discount… in fact, we try to time most of our buying to when we know there’s going to be discounts (like black Friday)
Over the years, a buck here or there has really added up for our family (millions in spavings?)!
I’m willing to bet we’d ALL have a million in spavings over the course of our lifetime :)
“Spavings eh?”. Well I am GUILTY.
My wife and I were recently at a fancy restaurant and they had “Cristal” on the menu at a mere $300 per bottle. I recognized that the price in the restaurant was actually LESS than what it costs at the liquor store ($304.95).
So we “spaved”. My wife tells me that we “made money” by drinking it!
Fortunately FI day for me is well in the rear view mirror. For those who are still striving for FI, do as I say (and don’t follow my example) by failing to “Spave” (and call me a hypocrite because I deserve it).
Good post J Money. You continue to inspire me.
Cristal – hah! Haven’t thought about that in years… I used to have an old boss who would order it anytime it was on the menu to show off in front of clients. I never did really enjoy the taste, but I’ll admit I felt like a baller every time I had a glass ;) (and especially when it wasn’t my money!)
In my field (Procurement) we call this specific type of savings “cost avoidance”. It differs from a run rate savings, in that the latter is actually cut out of an existing baseline (i.e. – I used to spend $8 a month on Netflix, but I cancelled it). Cost avoidance is a one-time save, but run rate hits annually and, potentially, forever.
But yes, spending less is way, way better and is a great goal. I like the idea! So you just put this ‘savings’ aside in a different account? Clever!
Also, I have coins for you. :) Let me know where to mail them, friend.
Nice! On all accounts!
Will hit you on email for coins (thank you!), and yes to moving this $$$ separately so i can watch it add up faster (or else it’ll just get mixed with everything else and won’t notice the difference).
The run rate stuff is exactly like my Challenge Everything mission from back in the day as that was focused on cutting recurring expenses and then banking those differences every month going forward…
Ending up saving $5,484.07 in 12 months! (and technically I’m still saving hundreds of dollars a month from those one-time cuts years ago…. which is all “spavings” since i’m not banking it anymore! haha…)
I love this idea. I’ve recently cut back on the number of savings accounts I have, but I should try doing this anyways! Maybe I’ll transfer it to my investing account to make the money work for me more and track it in a spreadsheet.
Haha yeah – I struggle w/ the “extra” accounts too, but have since made peace with just having *one* extra which I dedicate strictly for whatever current experiment I’m working on :) This one here is the same one I was using during our Challenge Everything mission a cple years back.
OMG I totally am guilty of this. It seems easier to recognize and confront now that you put a name on it! Hilarious.
Ya can’t save unless you buy stuff on sale – everyone knows this!!!
I had never heard of this concept before but it makes perfect sense! I like the idea of not only having a spavings account, but also putting those spavings into a Roth IRA or some other investment to put them to work!
Double bang for your spaved buck ;)
I LOVE the idea of spavings because I had never even realized I was guilty of it until reading everyone’s blogs! The trick of spending money to save money is a sneaky one that retailers pull on us again and again. I fall for it, too. Ugh!
great idea. i try to think of this whenever spending money as well…….ok, i’m saving $10…….but do i really need this, and if i don’t buy it……i’m saving $25………
My dad is a Spavings king…well more the spending and less the saving. He loves a good sale.
I used to be the same way but recently just try not to spend on clothes, etc. (Though with all my stuff burning to the ground recently I have had to loosen up the purse springs a bit).
Good luck with the spavins. Another few months and you will have that college fund funded.
Do you ever feel GLAD/liberated that all your stuff burned to the ground? I know it’s a horrible situation of course, but as friends, and knowing how open and honest you are, I’m super curious to hear your thoughts :) I’ve told myself many times over the years how freeing it would be to have all my stuff just disappear one day as I wouldn’t miss most of it, but actually *having it happen* to you I imagine is way different than pretending. Would make for an interesting blog post if you haven’t talked about it yet!
I too am guilty off this. You are right, why call it saving when you are in fact spending? Now that you brought it to light, I will be more conscious of this.
So how do you distinguish between saving and spending at the end of the day?
I struggle a lot with resisting deep discounts, sometimes I just wish all retailers would take away how much they are discounting and just give us the final price. Obvious we buy this kind of advertisement.
I wish there is an app that compares the value of an item and its listed price.
“sometimes I just wish all retailers would take away how much they are discounting and just give us the final price.” – wouldn’t that be nice! :)
there’s really no distinguishing between saving and spending as anytime you give your money to someone it’s *spending*, and anytime you put money into a savings account it’s *saving*.
unfortunately we all need to spend money whether we want to or not, so the trick of course is just trying to do less of it while at the same time enjoying your life :) and if you’re going to spend the money, hopefully you can get discounts on it rather than pay full price!
I am obsessed with this website and I have learned a lot from reading the recommended books, using the apps and posts on this site. So far, I have started to gain control on my finance, and started building my savings, credit and investments. In addition, I opened a Roth IRA to start contributing ( I am 30 years now and in pharmacy school, and I hope I am not too late). Also I am employing new strategies to fend off some school loans before I graduate (I love the Qoins App). One thing I have done differently from SPAVING is that, If I cannot afford something , I don’t buy. And then ask the ultimate question “Would this purchase help me move forward?” Thank you for all you Do…
Music to my ears!! All of this!! So glad you’re getting something out of this blog! And it’s never too late to start working towards financial freedom. I started only a few years before you at 25, and i get emails all the time from people in their 40s 50s and even 60s/70s sometimes :( Be thankful you had the epiphany sooner than later!
This sounds like what i had been talking about a few months back… I’m still working at it too. And, I have a new goal for it which is towards our new house (any bit helps!)
I put in:
Ebates $,random tax refunds, directv refund, savingstar$ to name a few
still haven’t gotten around to using my cashback bonus (credit cards) or all my coupon savings towards that– i’ve gotten way too used to that $ over the years its almost accounted for in my budget.
anyway good luck to you too!
Yes! Love! I’ll probably start throwing in all found money as well that randomly pops up, just to speed up the time to IRA maxing… every little bit helps, indeed :)
This is how the Duggar family got to where they are…..they save the difference, physically in the bank….great wealth builder….at least when you’ve got nearly 20 kids!
HAH – I bet! I don’t know much about them at all, but so far I am a fan :)
Hilarious and I Love it. Challenge everything and truly are putting the money aside and actually saving it. I can’t wait to show the fiance this one… hahah
PS wish me luck, I’ll need it.
Enjoy the sweet love making you will get because of it!!! Spavings Are Sexy!!!
Does it count as spavings if you get the item for free. I do a lot of dining mystery shops where the cost of food is reimbursed. Since I’m not spending the money and am only doing the shop to get something for nothing would the money I would have spent go into a spavings account.
Oh, and what about regular monthly expenses? Say I saved 15% on car insurance by switching to Geico. Does the money I saved now go into spavings?
What are the rules here?
The rules are that the more you can bank the more savings you’ll have later :) So I say spave as much as you can and see how far you can push it!
You have waay too much fun with this topic…Ha
So, I have a question. If I’m online, putting items in my cart, doing some window shopping without actually pushing the “purchase” button yet…..I wait 24 hours to see if I really need it, of course……. And I intended to spend the money but at some point after the 24 hours, decided against it… Would it be called “window shavings?”
Sure! I like it! ;)
I’m suprised you don’t include cash back rewards! The other day I got US75 for a credit card referal. Spavings???
Spavings indeed! And I would most def. add it to the account :)
I like acknowledging this phenomena and using it to spur actual savings. Very neat.
Thanks ZJ :) Let us know if you end up giving it a shot!
I love “spavings” and have been doing it for about 8 months now even though I didn’t know it had a name. (And I love the name!) I have this app called “Lucky Bitch” that I use to track my spavings….$754.75 to date! I include things like Amazon gift cards I get for internet searches (I use these for “necessities” I buy so that’s a spending of my spavings). rebates and % cash back websites, and money I don’t spend on things I want but don’t need. So even though I’m tracking it I don’t have a separate account….on the to-do list!
BOOM! Do it!
And then label the new account “Lucky Bitch” haha… brilliant.
So we sort of do this, but differently. We are still pretty heavily in debt. So we are working very hard on digging ourselves out. But we still need to make our regular purchases (utilities, childcare, groceries, clothing, etc). We started with the envelope system, and it was okay, but we frequently ran into issues where the envelope we needed was at home, or I had the grocery envelope in my purse, and he needed to grab milk on his way home.
So we did eventually go back to using our credit cards, with two important rules:
1) we pay off new purchases *absolutely* no later than our next paycheck. We are extremely strict about this rule. Usually, we make our payment the same day of the purchase, and we laugh because frequently the payment will post before the purchase did. (This also has the effect of lowering our daily average balance, and so we pay much less in interest than we were before we started that rule.) We have a spreadsheet which tracks our “envelopes” for us, and if the money is not sitting in the bank, we don’t spend it on a card. With the exception of unexpected medical purchases, which we pull out of our very next paycheck.
2) We only use two cards, both of which earn cash back rewards, and we use each card according to the rewards it earns. So our Chase earns 5% back at Amazon, and 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and the pharmacy, and 1% back on everything else. Our Capital One earns 1.5% back on every purchase. So if we make our purchase at Amazon or Walgreens, we use the Chase; Kroger, we use the Capital One.
Now, our trick is this: we pay the full price of the purchase when we make our card payments. Then when we cash out our rewards, it always goes as a statement credit. When we started, we were carrying about $2000 balance month to month on the Capital One, and about $6000 on the Chase. We have made additional payments to each (based on a very complicated spreadsheet where we are basically paying off old purchases and their interest), and we have used the rewards as completely bonus money. Eight months later, we now are carrying only $109.90 in old debits on the Capital One and only $3890 on the Chase. Our rewards cash out is now usually around $100, and is way more than our minimum payment on the Capital One, and is nearly the minimum payment on the Chase. We are still making our minimum payment in addition to paying off new purchases, as well, effectively quintupling our minimum payment each month on the Capital One and doubling our minimum payment each month on the Chase.
So our “spavings” is going directly to paying off debt. When the Capital One is completely paid off, we will still use it for some new purchases, but when we make our payment, we will pay 98.5% of the purchase to the Capital One, and 1.5% of the purchase to the Chase card, knowing that the Capital One rewards will keep the balance at $0. By our birthdays in May, we plan to have both paid off, and then we will pay 98.5% to Capital One and 1.5% to a school loan, and the same division with the Chase purchases.
This method is very rigorous sometimes, mostly because it requires daily diligence. And there have definitely been times that I have thought about making a purchase and thought, “I don’t want to deal with the spreadsheet tonight” and just never made the purchase. It’s a way of forcing that pain that comes with using cash, without the impracticalities of actual cash.
Good job finding a system that works for you!! I remember re-thinking purchases too when I first started tracking our net worth, asking myself – “will this increase my net worth or decrease it?” and since it was always the latter it helped me cut back much faster :) Spreadsheets are great for this stuff!
Can’t wait to try the new app! Always looking for a new way to “trick” myself into saving more!
You have absolutely inspired me to create a “spavings account” as well. This is brilliant!
I’ve actually found a few apps that do something similar to this but mostly geared toward rounding up your purchases to the next dollar.