A reader asked me today "what is a snowflake box"? So I am putting this question out there to my fellow blog writers because I think there are a variety of answers to this question. I hope my bloggy friends will add their own unique answers in the comment section that will help to explain this concept.
Here is my answer and I hope it makes some sense:
I was fortunate in being given a bright red box with a snowflake design on the lid. It previously held aromatherapy bottles that I've used up over the years. This has absolutely nothing to do with the snowflaking concept. It just happens to be the right size for keeping money in. I know people who use a jar, an envelope, whatever works.
My understanding of "snowflaking" is finding extra money somehow and storing it in a container to use sometime in the future. This can be done in a multitude of ways. Here's how I find extra $$ to add to my box:
- I am the beer and wine bottle returner in my household. My daughter and her boyfriend tend to leave their empties in my house. Every two months I return those bottles and get the deposit. I add this to my snowflake box. Free $$ :)
- Many people have "side gigs" from which they earn extra $$ - they then add this money to their container.
- I over estimate my bills. Ex. I budgeted $70 for Union Gas this month but the bill was only $54. The extra $16 increased my misc budget line. This is one of the easiest and oldest tricks in the book and it motivates me to try to save on utilities
- I'm on a 10 month property tax plan. I don't pay in December and January. That is an extra $300 for the snowflake box. The idea being to save anything extra!
- Some people buy and sell on Ebay & Facebook. I hold one garage sale a year and add those funds to my box.
- Other people, myself included, save and roll their change, turn it in for bills which they add to their container. Living in Canada those loonies and toonies really add up quickly.
- I use my President's Choice Mastercard to purchase absolutely everything! This results in a minimum of $500 extra each year in points that I use very judiciously.
- My biggest contributor to my snowflake box is by using a strategy I call "Grandmother's Purse" - I hope I can explain it properly. It's based on a very simple system my gramma used. She did it on a monthly basis whereas I do it on a weekly basis. It really works. For me. And did for my gramma :)
Both my gramma (she passed away in 1986 but her incredible impact on me is still alive and well today) and I live(d) on pensions. Most of our "snowflakes" are derived from our set monthly pensions. We haven't had side gigs so we learned to squeeze our money extra hard.
When my gramma got her pension cheques she would cash them and put the money in her purse. Her "everyday" purse. At the end of each month whatever was left in her purse, however little, would be transferred into purse #2; I guess you could call it her "snowflake purse". She didn't spend the leftover money, didn't splurge on anything she didn't need, she would tuck it away and forget about it. She kept the snowflake purse hidden behind a pillow in her spare bedroom. Each month she would do the same thing: cash her cheques, pay her bills, buy food and tuck the leftover amount away.
Since I also live on pensions, a set amount each month, I've had to get creative. I follow zero-based budgeting methods (create a budget where every penny has someplace to go) and after bills are all covered the rest of the money goes to savings, gas, groceries and misc. I divide the misc amount by four and take out that amount once a week. For December that amount is $120 each week. Every month it could be a different amount depending on my bills. I always try to have a few "no spend" days so that the misc amount will stretch out to cover 31 days.
So far this week I've used $80 towards Christmas supplies - napkins, Bailey's for morning coffee, wine and chocolate. I also used $80 worth of my points to buy stocking stuffers. The remaining $40 may or may not end up in the snowflake box, depending on expenses for the rest of the week. It's funny but you'd be amazed at how motivated you can get by the idea of adding extra money to your snowflake box. I think and rethink every purchase. I can't tell you how often I've been tempted to blow the money on something. But my inner dialogue goes like this: do I need more clothes? NO!! Do I need more Christmas decorations? NO!! Do the cats need more toys? Hardly!! That usually stops me cold. So the hope is that I won't use the remaining $40 and I'll tuck it into my box. I admit this is harder to do in December but I'm trying :)
Before you think that I am poor and deprived (or depraved :) let me say that my snowflake box paid for over 700 British pounds for my last trip abroad. I paid cash for my car. (That $$ came from multiple savings accounts in addition to snowflakes.) I recently purchased a Yamaha keyboard using savings. That is to say...I purchased with my mastercard to get the points then paid it off the same day. What a racket!!
So...to summarize - at the end of each week whatever I have left in my wallet from my misc budget line goes into the box. I am encouraged to spend less so that I can put at least a little bit into the box. It really adds up. I don't think I could wait and do it only once a month - I find weekly is more gratifying for me. And I can hardly feel deprived when every week I give myself an amount usually in the $160/week range to spend on whatever I want! Right now there is $1000 in the box. Yes, I have a really good hiding place for it!! If for some reason I need to use some of it this month I will - I'm not a miser. Though once I put $$ into the box I really hate taking it out - it's some sort of psychological barrier - it becomes "untouchable" once it's in the box!! Whatever is left at the end of December will go towards my trips planned for 2018.
Having something you're really passionate about, like I am with travelling, is also motivation for saving vs spending. I know a couple of bloggers who would agree with me on that!!
Fellow bloggers: What is your version of snowflaking...do you use a box?? Where do your snowflakes come from?