Find Savings Using P.E.R.K.

By: Geoff Stam, Director Default Management and Financial Literacy, Office of the Chancellor

 When trying to create savings a budget can be a very effective tool.  Sometimes monetary discipline (or lack of discipline) can inhibit progress towards completing savings goals.

Maybe using something other than a traditional budget could be more effective.  Robert Pagliarini, founder of Richer Life, certified financial planner, and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, offers up an easy and effective money-savings plan, he calls the P.E.R.K. system.  Pagliarini’s P.E.R.K. system is designed to make reducing expenses easier.  Similar to a “spending diary,” the first step is to identify and list every expense over a budgeting period.  The next step is to determine which expenses to “Postpone,” which to “Eliminate,” what to “Reduce,” and what to “Keep.”

P.E.R.K. is quicker and easier to set up than a traditional type budget and the benefits can be seen almost immediately.

List all of the normal or routine living expenses and upcoming expenditures, everything from groceries and cable to insurance or taxes.  You can utilize receipts from the past month of purchases, possibly a bank statement to show debit card usage, or check old credit card statements and checkbook registers for reminders of expenditures. Categorize each of the expenses along the way.  The actual dollar amounts are not as important as the category itself, (cable, phone, groceries, insurance, car expenses, etc.).

Once the list is complete, next to each category, write a “P,” “E,” “R,” or “K” to correspond to the system’s four categories.

  1. Postpone

If the expense or purchase can be postponed, mark it with a “P.” Items such as buying a new car, remodeling a kitchen, installing new carpet, or incurring a smaller expense like buying a new TV or upgrading to a new “smart” device would fit into this grouping.  Most of these are items to be purchased or spent on in the future.

By postponing an expense or purchase there is more money available today that can be saved or invested, Pagliarini says. It can help to avoid impulse purchases. Mr. Pagliarini indicates that if a purchase is postponed even for a few months, the consumer is less likely to purchase the item when the time comes.

  1. Eliminate

Search out the expenses that can be eliminated, such as magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, cable TV charges, or unused gym memberships.

Pagliarini indicates that this category is where the most time possible should be spent.  “These are things that made a lot of sense at one point but don’t anymore and probably haven’t in a while,” he says.

  1. Reduce

This is a category that is full of opportunity. Pagliarini says, “Look at each of your expenses and ask, ‘Is it possible for me to reduce it?’” Some of the largest opportunities to cut costs are spending at restaurants, movies, cell phone bills, cable TV bills, and groceries. Skip the Starbucks latte and pack a brown bag lunch two to three days a week see savings of $100 a month or more.

  1. Keep

Some expenses are absolutely necessary, such as insurance, (health, auto, and other), housing payments (mortgage and rent), and necessary utilities like electric and water. Mark these with a “K.”

Using the P.E.R.K. process is designed to create an awareness of where the money is going.  As Pagliarini says, “The thing that it gets people probably more than anything else is awareness. That’s what’s lacking for most people.”  With awareness comes the ability to make changes to spending behaviors and ultimately create a livable budget that provides the ability to save for the future.

(*Sources for this article:;

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional assistance.  I can be reached at (904) 296-3440 extension 139, or [email protected].