Challenge Savings Account Month #3: $1,209.16

by J. Money - Published December 5, 2014

Welcome to the third month of filling up our Challenge Everything Savings Account! We hit $1,000 – hot dogs! I can’t claim all the money came from my killer hustling skills (though we did hit 4/4 things sold this month on Craigslist!), but as my friend Financial Samurai once said, why be ashamed of receiving “un-earned” money? I’ll take it any way I can get it ;)

Here’s screen shots of the last three months worth of balances::

challenge savings account

challenge savings usaa octchallenge savings nov 14More than doubling every time! (I don’t expect that to continue, of course…)

For the new readers to the site, I’m funneling all the money saved from cutting my bills over the months (the “Challenge Everything” mission) right into a separate bank account so it’s actually saved, and not “fake saved.” I’m also throwing all other extra money that comes our way into this account as well, such as gift $$, refunds, things I sell on Craigslist, and even coins I find on the ground from my daily walks (who wouldn’t pick up free money??).

The goal is to keep my wife and I motivated to continue hustling and finding more ways to save and cut back in our daily lives – without much sacrifice. The less you need to live on every month, the less you need to go out there and then earn! And by tacking on an additional rule of not being able to touch this money for a whole 12 months (now, 9 months left!), it has nowhere to go but UP. And that’s a pretty damn good position to be in, would you agree?

Here’s the breakdown of the new $802.49 now in our possession:

challenge everything nov breakdown

[It’s of by a few pennies due to interest… which I’ll also take!]

Cell Phones — Four months ago we moved from Verizon Wireless to Republic Wireless and started saving $100+ right off the bat. And even sexier than that, it’s $100 EVERY SINGLE MONTH going forward too! What a rate of return on effort! (It did mean dropping our beloved iPhones though, and while I’m now pretty much used to the new phone (Moto X Android), my wife still prefers her old one. You know what she says whenever I show her the balance of our new account though? “Yeah yeah yeah,  I’d rather have the money, leave me alone.” Haha… Works like a charm every time ;))

Cable/Internet/Phone — Our attempt to drop the phone line and lower our cable package didn’t work out as hot as I thought it would, but we were still able to lower our bill by $40-$50 by making a few tweaks and being nice to customer service. We’re still not happy with paying $130 though, so the next route is upgrading our TV and seeing if the Netflix/Hulu/antenna trick satisfies our entertainment needs where we can drop cable out completely (our current TV doesn’t support the newer technology as it’s 10+ years old). Pretty funny that we have to upgrade in order to downgrade, but whatev. It should work out in the long run financially from what I hear from everyone! And we’ll get clearer crisper TV too – so I’m up for the test.

[FYI: Remember how our bill arbitrarily went up $9 from the previous month? Verizon says it’s because everything wasn’t “adjusted” yet and so this new amount is my “real” amount, but really who knows… I’m not gonna make a big deal of it though as we’re about to call up and change everything again anyways in an attempt to reach our target goal of $100/mo (mostly covering internet)]

Car Insurance — This was an easy one. We just called up and asked “what can we do to lower our bills?” and 15 mins later we were off the phone with lower premiums going forward. Score! Not all the things we did might work in everyone’s cases (I rarely drive me car so was able to lower estimated miles used, as well as total coverage since it’s already well beat up and I don’t plan on fixing anything any more), but the takeaway here still stands solid: A 15 minute call can save you 15% ore more on car insurance! And you don’t even have to be with Geico ;) (I use USAA btw)

“Medical overpay” — What a surprise this was!!! A $500 check out of the blue for overpaying pediatrician bills apparently with our last born. Lil’ Nickel actually paid US for once – hah! My wife said this same thing happened last year cuz of our funky insurance so she was already waiting for it, but due to my bad memory it was all a surprise to me :) And while I usually just say “oh, cool – that’ll help pay the bills this month” (yawn fest!) my reaction was quite different this time around knowing it was attached to something greater – our Challenge Savings Mission. Still the same $500, but a completely different mindset. And one I’ll be reminded of every time I log into the account!

Sword sold — You’ll get a kick out of this one… I picked this up earlier at a yard sale for $4.00, you know – in case I’m attacked by pirates – and after listening to Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy telling me to “do something with it” a dozen times so our kids don’t poke their eyes out, I told her that yes, fine – I will.

Her response? “You’re gonna go sell that on Craigslist and then blog about me, aren’t you?” Haha… It’s as if she doesn’t fully appreciate what I’m doing here for our family! It’s a 500% profit! ;) And turned out to be a replica of a real sword the buyer actually had 1/2 of himself – who knew? (He only had the handle part of the authentic sword and wanted to show friends what it looked like in whole)

cool old sword

Vintage Tables — I had these cool French nesting tables I picked up over a decade ago at a thrift shop, and finally decided to let them go… I actually really REALLY like them (and they’ve served me well over the years) but after asking myself the “would you go out and buy this again?” trick, I knew what I had to do. And turned a $15.00 purchase into a $28.00 sale (though she got the better of me – I gave her a $7 discount because she said the tables come in a set of 3, and that it’s not a complete package. Fine… It was hard to argue with someone who met me in the hospital parking lot where her father was getting treatment for cancer (!!)).

antique french nesting tables

Vintage decanters — This was a fun story :) I’ve had these listed literally from month one with not a single bite whatsoever (even after dropping the price twice), and then out of the blue – right when I was thinking of taking them down – I get an overly excited message from some dude saying he wanted them bad. I asked why, and of course scheduled the time to meet with him, and he said he was looking for vintage items for his wedding! And that these would go perfect on the buffet table to be used for salad dressings and other liquid toppings (good idea!). I told him they’d be even better as holders for liquor, but he said he’d need at least another dozen or two more which would cost a pretty penny. I agreed. And then asked if I could attend (nope).

We then met up and turns out I was talking to a chick the whole time – oops. And a chick who REALLY liked glitter at that. I tried to make a joke about being a vampire and that we should have met up in the night time as to avoid sunlight, but apparently that was only funny in my head :)

old vintage decanters

Shakespeare Books — This was the quickest turn around of them all. I literally sat here at my computer looking around my room for something to sell as I was out of ideas, and straight in front of me (quite literally) was a 10 volume set of Shakespeare works I had picked up on a whim also yard saleing (I’m seeing a trend?). My blogger library was looking a little sparse, and thought these old books from the early 1900’s made for a good decorative piece so I picked them up for $12 I want to say… and of course I wasn’t going to read them.

But do you know who did? The guy’s daughter who emailed me within an hour of posting it up asking if we can meet that day down the street. “See ya there!” I shot back and a cple more hours later they were swapped for $22 in cold hard cash. No fuss, no muss.

And here was my favorite part of the story – the dad was going to sneak them into his girl’s bookcase so she randomly sees them and is completely surprised :) She’s currently in college going for some theatre/English degree and had told her dad how badly she wanted an old set of Shakespeare books. Not only to spruce up her own library (we’re kindred spirits!), but to actually read through them too for “learning” – whatever that is. A perfect match!

shakespeares-works-10-vols

Challenging Your “Stuff” Along w/ Your Money

This whole Craigslist thing came out of challenging our expenses originally, but now it’s turned into challenging all of our “stuff” too, and for the better. Every last item above I actually thoroughly liked and was comfortable keeping, but it turns out I prefer money and feeling free-er even more. And let’s be honest here – who needs a random sword or 100 year old books never to be read anyways? The book on thriftiness of course excluded.

I’m still gonna do my antiquing and yard sale adventures, if not just for cheap entertainment and possible flipping for cash (remember my antique pram? Hah!), but I can see my habits changing from “Oooh that old thing looks cool, gimme gimme gimme!” to “Would I rather have this, or more savings?” I’ll still chose some collectibles over time which is fine – especially in the coin department – but something tells me I’ll be a lot quicker in the decision making process now than I used to. And that’s one helluva switch in mindset!

I also gotta say –  meeting all these interesting people with their stories these past few months has also been icing on the cake. The money is nice, and mandatory of course, but it’s fascinating to think that you probably wouldn’t have ever met any of these people had it not been for one random transaction online. And they’re from all walks of life too – money doesn’t discriminate!

Anyways, it was quite the month of earning and having fun. And again, since this was all “extra” money coming outside of the normal day-to-day hustles and being stashed away before it goes out the door, it’s proving to be quite the endorphin machine. We have $1,200 in cash just sitting there waiting to be used! How fun is that?? And how motivating!

If I haven’t convinced you of giving this a shot yourself yet throughout this 20+ article series, hopefully this does the trick ;) And I’ll be back every month anyways continuing to pound it in regardless!

Over the weekend, really ask yourself if your hard earned money is going towards the things (and people – namely you!) that genuinely matter to you. Look over all those bills that have become the “norm” for months, and maybe even decades, and see if they’re truly important any more in your lives. If they are – which is great! – see if you can find a way to tweak them a bit and pocket a little every month going forward.

The idea isn’t to starve ourselves from the awesomeness that money buys, rather to be more *conscious* with why we’re spending our money where we do, and whether it aligns up with what we say our goals are. I tell myself all the time that I want a million dollars and to retire early, but my actions don’t always match up.

This quote – one of my favorites – says it all:

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” – James W. Frick

Something to consider, indeed…

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[Cool penny shot by JD Hancock]

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Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Frugalwoods December 5, 2014 at 6:51 am

Woohoo! Nicely done! I find myself thinking about this challenge everything thing a lot these days, which is awesomely motivating. We primarily need to get on the ball about challenging the stuff we’ve got stored in our basement. I’ve challenged it in my mind, but I need to take it up a notch and actually put it on Craigslist. I’m also considering trying to sell some of the stuff I’ve found on the side of the road because I really love the idea of making money off of other people’s trash…

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2 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Hah – yes! Do it! “The Trash Fund” :)

Just take one step at a time and list *one* thing a week – so much easier to do and to avoid burning out.

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3 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life December 5, 2014 at 7:30 am

Sword, vintage decanters, and Shakespeare books? You could’ve put on a whole production of Romeo and Juliet with that stuff ;) Nice work J!

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4 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm

I didn’t even think about that. That’s pretty funny actually :)

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5 Brian @ Debt Discipline December 5, 2014 at 8:33 am

Keep killing it J! We are in the middle of a house clean up / de-clutter. I’m going to see what stuff I can find an list on Craigslist or e-bay.

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6 1MansMoney December 5, 2014 at 8:35 am

Inspiring! I can’t help but glance around the room to see what I can turn into cash. Anyone need some well used toddler toys? My son won’t miss a couple…

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7 John @ Frugal Rules December 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

Very nice J! I know I say this every month, but nice work on the cell savings. I just added up what we’ve paid Verizon this year and it made me physically ill. Our contracts are up in April and I can’t wait to slash that bill. As for challenging the stuff – I couldn’t agree more. It has been a few months since we sold anything on CL and need to be at it again. This time I have a bunch of clothes to sell (many of them brand new) as I’ve lost some weight this year. :)

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8 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm

It’ll be a good thing to look forward to :) And even better if you attach a goal/mission for that difference in cell phone savings too!

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9 Petrish @ Debt Free Martini December 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

I love those tables you sold and that sword for $4.00 you bought at a garage sale was a steal. I use to sell on Ebay when I was living in the U.S. and made a killing. I can’t wait to get back and start that side hustle again.

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10 Deasy Noel December 5, 2014 at 9:25 am

Nice! I have tried to ‘flip’ a few thrift store stuff in the past, to no avail. But to hear your success on the site makes me wanna try again!!!

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11 Robin @ The Thrifty Peach December 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

I have that exact nesting table (just the big one) that I bought for three bucks at a yard sale… I got tired of it and spray painted it, so I probably ruined its “frenchiness” and my ability to sell it, huh?

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12 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Hah! I guess they weren’t as unique as I had first thought :) The lady who bought them told me I had the 2 smaller nesting ones and that there a bigger table they both slid under. Not sure if that’s true or not, but it’s what helped convince me to give them to her cheaper as she wanted the bigger ones – hah.

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13 Kate @ Money Propell December 5, 2014 at 9:58 am

I love that French nesting tables! I’m planning to sell some of my unused things and clothes too.

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14 jestjack December 5, 2014 at 10:12 am

Well done, indeed….Craigslist is crazy…..an item will sit and then all of the sudden there is interest. After following your blog about the CL postings I decided to repost a vehicle I had placed on CL for sale with no luck. Put a 20 year old vehicle with several….”challenges”….on CL and got over 30 hits the first day. A very cool guy showed up with cash ($750) and intends to fix up the vehicle and drive it….very cool. Dear Brother in law had commented Thanksgiving I’d be lucky to get $250 as scrap metal prices have dropped significantly. It’s crazy what folks will buy AND what they sell. IMHO ….patience is the name of the game. Thanks again for this experiment on your blog as I’m thinking this motivated me a bit to get rid of stuff I don’t need.

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15 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

GREAT!!! That is an awesome end to the story indeed :) I had sold a car years ago as well on CL (and eBay for that matter) which were also broken. One was missing an entire piston! Haha… But turned out there was a guy who not only had spare pistons for this car laying around (??) but that he *collected* them too. I was like uhh… All yours buddy! And 48 hours later he showed up with a trailer to haul it away after giving me a handful of $100 bills…. Win-win, right?

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16 jestjack December 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

Oh and I forgot….Those vintage tables you sold are sitting in my basement…but I have all three. They were a wedding gift from a dear Uncle & Aunt many years ago. Had no idea they were worth that kind of money!

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17 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm

You could probably get $50+ for the set I’d imagine?

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18 Jen @ Jen Spends December 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

Last month I sold a 6+ year old stroller for $150. Brand new it retailed for $600+, but I had purchased it on clearance for $350 because the color was discontinued. My husband didn’t think I’d get that much for it, but I did and the buyer was absolutely thrilled.

We rocked our November budget because all of the big things we needed to buy were paid for by selling other things and we cashed in some health insurance rewards as well. My husband’s folks were visiting from England, which meant spending more money than usual to entertain them, but I still was able to put a few hundred in savings.

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19 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Way to go!!! I’d go gaga over stroller savings too! Those bitches are expensive…

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20 Will December 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

I once sold a car to a 16-year-old kid who’s mom had just passed away from cancer. He was a class act though and didn’t mention it until after the sale. I thought of giving him a little money back but that probably would have made things super weird.

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21 Mel @ brokeGIRLrich December 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

I love forgotten money! I feel that way whenever eBates checks turn up or I get a rare Amazon affiliate deposit. It’s a party in my bank account!

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22 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Haha… I want to join that party! :)

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23 [email protected] and the Beach December 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

ha ha love the sword. I just wrote about posting stuff on Craigslist today. Although an extra $50 right now is nice, I feel like I’m spending too much time and energy on too many little things. Right now I’m in the middle of figuring out what health insurance plan will be best and I only have till the 15th to do it. Unfortunately no matter how I shake it, my insurance will go up, but I’m trying to minimize the damage. I also tried to lower my internet bill but they said they would have to downgrade my speed. OMG, no thanks…not for $10 less a month. There would be a whole lot of swearing going on. Other than that, just trying to pick up some more side hustles this month and trying to focus on some bigger video editing projects.

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24 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I feel your pain :( The wife and I have a date tomorrow to do the same thing, ugh…. Our insurance will be raising at least an extra $200 or so it seems like at first glance (!!)

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25 Mom @ Three is Plenty December 5, 2014 at 11:02 am

Nice sales on Craigslist. I have a lot of things I’m going to want to get rid of once it comes out of storage. I have a clean slate to work with at the new place, and I’m only going to find homes for pieces and “stuff” that I really want to keep. The rest is going to hang out in the basement until craigslist or freecycle folks come calling. And I can already name a few furniture pieces that will be going because they won’t “fit” in the new place!

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26 Shannon @ Financially Blonde December 5, 2014 at 11:52 am

Awesome job!!! I have to confess, I have not been good with the Craigslist and other stuff; however, I have a $100 auto draft set up for the cable/utility savings I know we have, so we are up to $523 since the beginning. I am hoping for things to slow down in a few weeks and I can work on some of these projects that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. I have a closet full of stuff that needs to go on eBay or Craigslist, I just have to find the time to do it.

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27 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm

If I lived closer I’d come over and do it for you for a tidy commission ;) As long as you gave me some tasty beverages while I work.

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28 Kim @ Money Under the Cushions December 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I love it, J$! Good way to get rid of stuff even when you still like it! Thanks for the updates. They always reignite me. My pattern is to list on Ebay and Craigslist for two weeks and then stop. Even at one item per week I start to feel like it’s a chore. But it does work and I need to keep it up.

In November hubby and I sold a secretary desk that I found when in college (hated getting rid of it, but we’d rather have the space), and a dresser I inherited from my grandmother (wonderfully solid, beautiful 1950’s piece) that took up a ton of space and weighed a ton too. Sold them both for a total of $155.

Funny thing that I knew would happen. The secretary desk was listed at $75. I knew a woman was coming to buy it so I told my husband not to worry about negotiating, because many women sadly still don’t engage in this practice, Do you know what she did? She gave me $80 and told me not to worry about whether or not I had change! Whaaat? Who does that? I was like, what does she know that I don’t? Maybe she’s gonna fix it up and sell it for $3000. Nevermind, I’ll keep the desk. ha ha. I had $5 and I hope she does resell it for more if that’s what she wants. The dresser was being purchased by a man. I asked my husband what he’d be willing to settle for because I figured the man would be more likely to haggle. Sure enough he did. Got my husband down from $100 to $80. All in all, not bad for 45 minutes of work with pictures and listing. You have sufficiently motivated me to get back to it and sell a dining room set and a settee. Have a great weekend!

Also had some unfound money come in! My mortgage escrow overestimated how much was needed and we got a $263 refund.

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29 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:42 pm

HAH! Funny that you mention that $5.00. The vampire chick who got my decanters off me was gonna give me $5.00 extra too if I didn’t have the change :)

I will say though, I’m finding it more annoying when they negotiate on the spot vs in the email correspondence before hand. I’ll always negotiate up front, but when someone says “they want it” and then ask to pay less later it always aggravates me. Some times I just say “no, sorry – I’m not in a rush to sell” and call their bluff (they already told me they wanted it!), and then other times – like with the French tables, where there was what seemed like more of a valid reasoning behind the lowering of the cost – I’ll accept.

I’ve also been trying to remember to tell people before we meet that the price is final so it clears everything up before we even go to meet. And also gives them an opportunity to save time and make a counter offer then as well, which one person did.

At the end of the day though, as long as we’re getting rid of stuff and making money, the mission is being completed :) I’ll still deal with the jokers, haha…

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30 Free to Pursue December 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

WOW! Talk about setting the bar in November! I also got good news this year that I’m likely to get a $5K+ one-time additional pension fund payout, despite having cashed out of it earlier this year. That’s 4 months of regular savings for us. Woot woot! Ya gotta love free money. It’s the BEST.

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31 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm

WOAH!

Now what’s the plan for it?

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32 Ben Luthi December 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Good stuff, sir! We’ve been tacking on an extra $100-$200 to debt payments the last couple of months with our own challenge. I need to get back on the ball with Craigslist, though. I’ve been too busy to even want to look at stuff to sell…

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33 Crystal December 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

These updates pushed me to finally make a few changes. We cancelled cable outright a few months ago, so there’s $120 a month. Yesterday, we finally switched to Ting wireless from Sprint, so that should cut out another $50-$75 a month (will know the exact difference in a month). Today, we cancelled our house keeping services, so there’s yet another $175 a month. Every year, I change our electric company to keep us in the 8-9 cent per k/h range, so that keeps our bills between $80-$200. BOOM! I don’t think there are any other bills we are willing to cut right now. We’ll try eating out less, but we are generally happy with our food bills, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the $100 or so a month we spend on entertainment. I think we are pretty much done with bill cutting for right now. :-D

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34 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I think you’re pretty good right now too, haha… you guys are doing great!

What are you doing with this saved money now? Just letting it sit in checking or have a sexy game plan brewing?

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35 EL @ Moneywatch101 December 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Good job on the big increase it will go a long way to buy hair gel for the Mohawk. If you use it to buy apple stock in 2040 you can officially be financially independent since it will compound like crazy and Apple stock will split every 4 years. (Don’t follow this advice)

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36 J. Money December 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Haha… I nominate this for comment of the day :)

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37 Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm

4 digits!

I loved the story about the books. I think she’s going to really appreciate the gesture and I think the dad got some pretty easy points there!

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38 Mark @ BareBudgetGuy December 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

If my wife would only let me sell the wedding dress…I challenge that one at least once a year.

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39 LeisureFreak Tommy December 7, 2014 at 12:21 am

Love the post and congrats on the cash scored. After reading this I was motivated to look at what I might sell. I have a pair of near new made in Italy 1986 Air Jordan basket ball shoes that were never worn other than on the court a couple of times and with the original box. I think I have an Ebay sales ahead of me.If the Bride and I dug into things we might have to start a store site.

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40 J. Money December 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Woahhhh I’d say! I bet a rabid collector would love to get their hands on that!! List it up and see what you can get! (and of course do your research before hand so you don’t get ripped off ;))

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41 Nicola December 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

4 figures – go you! I need to have a look and see if there’s anything we can sell :) thanks for the motivation!

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42 Ronnica, Striving Stewardess December 7, 2014 at 11:53 pm

I love the idea of “real” savings! Right now, I’m throwing every spare penny at my student loan, but I’m going to do a “Buy Little” month in January and track exactly how much I save/pay down my loan by.

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43 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank December 8, 2014 at 3:00 am

I should probably be transferring to Republic Wireless. That $100 difference is very enticing. I imagine the effect it can make to my savings. Wow! Unbelievable. I am willing to sacrifice my Iphone, if I am getting that benefit. Way too go!

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44 J. Money December 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

And there are other companies that can help with the same effect too. So def research it :)

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45 How To Save Money December 8, 2014 at 4:20 am

Cool how you managed to sell all of those! Agree with you that they look good but I also love cash!

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46 Ashley December 12, 2014 at 11:59 am

Just so you know, the older Roku devices (Roku 1 and 2 I think) work with older TV’s and have the composite (red/white/yellow) cables instead of HDMI only. In case you want to try it out and see if you like it before you pay the money to upgrade your TV.

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47 J. Money December 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Thx for the tip!

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48 Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions December 14, 2014 at 1:21 am

Selling my unused stuff gets a little addicting. Mt newborn just few out of his 0-3 month pj’s and I’m almost ready to list them on eBay!

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49 AnnieG December 15, 2014 at 8:38 am

I’ve been picking up money on walks for years. My take for a year can vary from $25 to over $100. Change goes on my Starbucks card via coinstar. Bills usually go to a fun splurge. (We already save over half our income.)

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50 J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

Great idea for them :)

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51 Michelle February 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm

That is a great job by hitting that 1,000 mark!

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52 J. Money February 17, 2015 at 9:41 pm

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