When you think about saving money, visions of a brightly coloured pens and a canvas don’t usually come to mind. However, that’s exactly how my story goes.
Last year, after three years of living in separate houses, my partner and I finally decided to move in together. We quickly became settled into our new life and enjoyed our weekends of breakfast in our PJs, Sunday afternoon films, cooking new recipes, going to the pub and taking walks round the local parks.
We were enjoying our time together, and we weren’t really looking too far ahead. Yet, every so often, we would feel that pinch as it got nearer to the end of the month and realized the amount we were spending on items for the house, entertaining and going out. It took a big decision to realize just how much we were spending and how much we should have been saving all along.
The Big Decision
Even though we had just moved in together, when we both talked about the future, we knew that we wanted to buy a house together. Renting was fine for the short-term but we wanted a place to call our own and to be able to put our stamp on it. We just knew that we would continue to be restless if we carried on renting.
So we started to look though homes for sale online, and we realized very quickly that depending on our desired location, the cost of a really nice home could be anywhere from £150,000 upwards.
We knew we would need to start saving straight away if we had any chance of getting a 10% deposit together.
Colouring Wasn’t In The Plan
As the practical person I am, I decided to find out everything I could about saving and what other people had done.
I found the usual stuff about making a budget, tracking your expenses, putting your pennies away, and so on. I started a spreadsheet with a budget, and looked at how much I could save.
I decided that I would record how much I saved each month on this spreadsheet. The only trouble was that I knew I wouldn’t see it through! Tracking money on a spreadsheet did not excite me at all! It felt boring and painful.
It was only when I came across an article about how a woman got out of $26,000 worth of debt that I actually got excited about saving. She was able to get out of debt by colouring in a piece of artwork. For each swirl she coloured in, she reduced her debt by $100. Absolutely genius!!!
This was it. This is what I had been looking for!
Because I’m a really visual person, I knew this concept would help me save the money I needed. I went to the shop as soon as I could and bought a canvas and some pens.
Because I wanted to share my own creativity, and bring the canvas to life with my own design, I decided to draw a circle with circles within it.
As I started drawing, I told myself that the circle would need to represent £15,000 (a good-sized deposit for a house), and then worked out how many circles I would need within it. I designated each circle as a sum of £50 and then started drawing.
When I had finished the drawing, I realized the enormity of saving all that money, but I also felt good about seeing it broken down into small circles. I couldn’t wait to get colouring in!
It Actually Worked!
Each time I get paid at the end of the month, or when I receive any extra money, I put the money into my savings account and colour in one of my circles. It’s the best feeling ever!
I’ve positioned my canvas so that every morning when I am putting on my makeup, I can look at it and see the progress I’ve made. It keeps me focused and drives me to save and earn more income towards my goal.
So far, I have saved £5,000 towards the house deposit, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon.
You wouldn’t think that colouring in circles would have that much of an impact, but it definitely has!
Why It Works So Well
Colouring in is more than just putting pen to paper. There is a psychology behind it.
I came across an article on LifeHacker about Jerry Seinfield. He reveals a unique calendar system whereby he will put a big red cross on a calendar when he completes a task.
When you see the visual chain of red crosses, your subconscious mind doesn’t want you to break it. You are inclined to keep going and to take consistent action.
This concept is simple and is very similar to colouring in my canvas of circles.
I look at the canvas every day and it’s very easy to see where I am with my savings, and that I need to continue to keep taking action. It becomes addictive to keep colouring in.
I feel like I need to keep colouring it in until the canvas is complete. I cant leave it unfinished.
How You Can Reach Your Goals
By using the canvas, it has helped me to start and continue saving money for a house deposit. However, you can use it for other things.
You can use it to reach any goal, whether it’s saving for a wedding, losing weight, keeping to a habit, or counting down to something special. The list is endless.
You set your goal and start colouring in!
To get you going, I have designed a smaller version of the circle. Just sign up in the box below for your free printable.
The illustration has been hand-drawn and digitized, and has 31 circles within a circle. This is to represent a month, however you can use the circles anyway you like and for whichever goal you are working towards.
Each time you complete a small action, colour in a circle!! Simple.
You wouldn’t think that colouring in a canvas would enable me to save £5000, but it did. When I was finally forced to be creative with my savings, I stopped spending.
Who knows what I’d do without my canvas and my pens!! I’d probably still be at the computer desk pulling my hair out over a spreadsheet. Instead, I can look at a wonderful piece of artwork whilst saving towards my dream home.