Many money bloggers use the word snowflakes to call the little bits of money they save or accumulate on the side in order to put towards debt. I've not read much directly from financial planner Dave Ramsey, but my understanding is snowflakes are part of the bigger savings plan to pay off debt, by snowballing efforts on either the largest debt, or the largest interest debt. After living very tight financially in our early years of marriage, when we finally started to have more favorable means, we didn't rush out and spend to our new income levels, thus not accruing unaffordable consumer debt. More than a decade ago we decided to throw a chunk of personal savings and a bit of money DH received after his grandmother passed away and payed off our mortgage.
We have a 0% interest loan on my car, which could be paid off at any time should we want as there is enough in a side savings we set up when we finished paying off a different car. We just kept making payments to ourselves, and continued to do so even after buying the new car two years later. We used that fund to buy a car for DD2 to use, straight cash, after DH came across a brand new small car that through his layering perks and discounts, was able to get for about the same cost as an equivalent five year old car. DH has a lease car through work. Others may disagree with our car budget, but for us, with me commuting 300 miles a week on both freeway, and isolated roads, the peace of mind is worth it. Plus having cars available for our kids to use when they launch out of college is a gift we can afford to give them as one less worry when they started completely on their own. While the older kids did not have new cars to use, both got years out of the cars we passed on until they became unaffordable to drive, saving needed cash flow at the time.
So this is a long back drop story to why we don't really have the need to put snowflake savings towards snowballing debt. We have been extremely fortunate, some through just luck of being in families that elders had put away a bit of money. We've been fortunate to mostly have good jobs, with a few blips in the road with unemployment. In hindsight, those blips probably helped ground us to not spend to our supposed means. This is why for the extras in life, I like to have other pots of money, rain drops for rainy days, that we can tap into without derailing savings that is intended for retirement and college. The car account is one of those. Continuing to pay ourselves was one way, even after buying the new car, that our cash flow stayed the same with increased earnings, but also did the set aside bank account.
I've been much more deliberate about using credit card and store perks and gift cards, particularly when there are bonus dollars attached, the same as cash, using them towards items or activities I would have spent money on anyway. As of today, I have $215 in gift cards and store perks. These will help in December when we have extra people in the house and to put towards remaining Christmas gifts.
$30 in Kohl's cash
$25 Kohl's gift card from Mother's Day as for new sheets for cabin, but I ended up getting them elsewhere)(
$15 Target cards
$50 Bar and Grill from last year
$25 balance on movie card from last year
$20 on two different Caribou Coffee cards
$25 Green Mill card from ages ago for coaching
$25 McDonald card that I can't even remember what it was for
I've also started to count and measure the little extra earnings in this way. I've earned $50 reffing volleyball a few nights, and am committed to four more before the end of the year, so another $120 in rain drop money. Well, it covers a few beers out with the girls at least. I helped at a couple fundraisers for choir that will put $50 in DD2's account, which means it won't come out of our bank account. It's not a lot, but every bit helps in not feeling too stretched at the end of the year. I'm a newbie to this snowflake and rain drop game. If others have had great success, let me hear about it. If you blog about your efforts, feel free to include your blog link. No one knows when a little rain in life will fall.