I’m going to show you how I manifested $360, and how you might too. This method (if we can call it that) is also proven to work for thousands of dollars.  No joke.  Here’s the story and the basic arithmetic that makes it all possible.

San Francisco recently introduced Clipper Cards to its commuters, which are pre-pay, pay-as-you-go.  Yes, cities like New York were already doing this with their Metro Cards billions of years ago.  But hey, we trend faster on some things out here and later on others.  So, originally, our bus agency, Muni (rhymes with puny and is short of Municipal), distributed Fast Passes that were valid for unlimited rides per month.  It sure beat having to deal with exact change or transfers that expire after a couple hours.

The first one I ever bought back in college cost me $30.  I figured, the fare was $1 each way and I had school nearly every weekday, which would cost me about $40 monthly.

Math: $1 x 2 rides per school day x 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month = $40.

So, it made sense.  I would stand to save $10+ a month (um, if I went to all my classes).  Then, if I remember correctly, the Fast Pass was eventually raised to $45 and the one-ways went up to $1.50.  At this point I was no longer in school, but was traveling to multiple locations for employment and various projects.  The fare hike irritated me but again, I did the numbers and it still looked OK to buy the Fast Pass.

Math: $45 = 30 rides per month x $1.5, same commute value as the previous price.

And as economy would have it, the price went up again, this time to $70 with individual fares costing $2.

The sneaky math: $70 / $2 fare = 35 rides, meaning every commuter would now have to ride 5 more times than before in order to break even.

But having been psychologically trained to hate it and buy into it anyway, I did exactly that.  That is, until the Clipper Cards came out earlier this year.  Muni is still serving Fast Passes, but as an experiment, I got one of these new cards to see exactly how much I was really spending on transportation.  Well, these days, I work mostly from home, I order my groceries online as well as office supplies and books, plus I have generous friends who own cars for those occasions when I may need to move large objects or travel through torrential downpour.  It turns out I’m only riding the bus about twenty times total per month – that’s $40.  Crazy. I was overspending by $30 every month and didn’t even feel it. And contrary to common financial anxieties, nor did I feel any constriction or discomfort when I “tightened my belt”. I didn’t fire anyone, increase my workload, or downgrade my quality of life. Rather, I was liberated and, in fact, I have expanded my budget.

Math: $70 Fast Pass – $40 Clipper Card = $30 savings monthly.

I have since switched permanently (until future circumstances shall determine otherwise) and I’m now saving a total of about $360 annually on this one maneuver alone.  I had no idea till I tested.

So… is this post really about pinching a few dollars on transportation? NO, please don’t get it twisted. This is really about your either healthy or unhealthy relationship with money – or wealth consciousness as some personal mastery experts might put it.  It’s not about being miserly or on the reverse side, funding a ridiculous spending spree.  It is about learning to leverage the money that you do save.

What can a person do with $360?  I could buy an iPhone, a digital camera, a new printer, or an external hard drive.  I could enroll in a full semester of classes at City College, pay for admission to a conference, or cover airfare for a research trip to any American city.  I could throw an appreciation party for valued partners and clients, hire an assistant for a short-term project, enlist the services of a graphic designer, or pay for web tools to help out with the optimization or analytics of my sites.

Maybe you’re doing something similar – spending blindly and out of habit.  What auto-payments or contracts do you have that you can renegotiate, cut back on or cut out entirely?  Do have cable television you hardly use?  A gym membership that is waisting, oops I mean, wasting away?  Is your building still using incandescent lighting?  You too might have hundreds, even thousands, of dollars leaking out of your bank account.  Imagine what you might be able to do, how you might advance your education, organization, or business, and how saving that money could ultimately help you make more money, thereby enabling you to make more moves, both personally and professionally.

Anyone still unconvinced of the importance of examining their spending records should consider this.  In the 1980s, former head of American Airlines, Bob Crandall, famously eliminated a single olive from its salads.  No customers complained.  I’m not sure anyone even noticed!  It was a simple move that he thought might save a few bucks.  And he was right, to the tune of $40,000 a year.

I’d take a peek around for such savings if I were you.  You may pleasantly surprise yourself.