If you can believe it, we’re now into month #8 of our 12 month experiment already! And so far we’ve saved a sexy $3,843.70 pretty much out of thin air. Here’s a snapshot of my account:
Some of it took more work (hustling on Craigslist) while others didn’t at all (making a few phone calls), but the moral of the story is quite clear by now: making some minor tweaks to your lifestyle can do some good damage!
This $4k came from doing the following:
- Shaving recurring bills and banking the difference
- Selling all my crap on Craigslist
- Banking any *extra* money that comes my way (which turns out is a lot! You don’t notice it until you actually start tracking it…)
- And, most importantly, putting all this $$ into ONE separate savings account. So you can see *exactly* how your efforts – quite literally – pay off, while staying heavily motivated in the process.
And let me point something out real quick: none of this has negatively affected our lifestyle. If anything, it’s improved! I have less stuff in my house taking on dust, I’ve unshackled myself to the iPhone which I was sure would accompany me to the grave, and I now look around my life challenging all sorts of things in general.
I’ve come to the epiphany that I don’t really *need* much to live a nice and satisfying life. I still *want* a lot of stuff, of course – even just dreaming of so – but my mindset has completely transformed and I’m on a mission to challenge “the norm.” Even money guys can be better with their money/lives!
The only thing that’s really been missing these past 7 months is what to do with all this banked up money. I have a tendency to prolong this thinking process because it’s just SO DAMN FUN to think about (who doesn’t like dreaming up all the ways to use their money??), but now that the newness has worn off I’ve decided to give this “free” money a purpose. And while it’s probably not that glamorous to those non-money people out there, I’m pretty sure you fine folks reading this here will more than appreciate it :)
The place where all this $$$ is going? A maxed out Roth IRA!
Hubba hubba! Haha… As I mentioned last week, I was having trouble deciding on whether or not to even DO this in general as our cash supplies have taken a beating over the past two years, but I was quickly given the kick in the ass by a few of you which got me to actually pull the trigger on this. Sure it may not be the most conservative choice at this given moment of time (less income + wallet munching kids + wife not working yet), but how can I get let my 5+ Maxing Out streak end? I can’t give up now! That’s phony bologna! (I jest a little, but I did actually give this a ton of thought ;))
We now have $3,800 in cash just sitting there, and if I forecast this out over the remaining 5 months it looks like we’ll fall somewhere in the $6,600 with our $550 average going on.
Here’s how much we’ve banked these first 7 months:
- Month #1: $203.96
- Month #2 : $202.62
- Month #3: $802.49
- Month #4: $820.53
- Month #5: $924.15
- Month #6: $488.03
- Month #7: $401.08 (breakdown below)
$6,600 gives us 1 Maxed out Roth @ $5,500 + $1,100 towards the next one! Woo! And since of course I don’t want to break the streak for the 2014 tax year, I’ll be actually pulling my $$ from our other cash reserves and then replenish it with this $$ here once our experiment is over (unless life really gets tricky). This way I’ll still be able to watch this # grow and motivate me while we’re investing in the markets simultaneously. Win-Win all around.
And then of course worst-case I can cash out all my Digit savings if need be also. Or even apply it towards our next IRA maxing out too? I have yet to give that $$ a goal as well… We’ll have to see whether I renew this challenge or not next year, but the cool part is that even if I never sell another thing on Craigslist or bank any extra cash that comes my way, our $200/mo savings just from shaving those 3 initial bills last year will still produce over $2,000 for years to come. No denying that love!
Here’s where we’re at with my Digit savings btw after 3 months:
Anyways, it never sucks trying to figure out what to do with saved up cash, that’s for sure :) Hopefully all of you who are doing this challenge and/or using Digit along with me are having fun thinking about your goals too! I hope you share them with us if you’ve already locked them in!
Speaking of which, I’ve been helping Digit showcase some of their active members on their site (if you recall, I’m now an “advisor” to them), so if you want to get a glimpse into their goals for the money or see how much they’ve saved up too, you can check ’em out here on their blog: blog.digit.co. So far the record is $1,500 and the best profile pic includes a dolphin, haha… This is the stuff I do when I’m not blogging here ;)
Here’s how March’s Challenge Savings broke down:
CELL PHONES: The switch to Republic Wireless continues to save us over $100 every month! The one tweak that started it all!
CABLE/INTERNET/PHONE: Downgrading some stations and cleaning up our account here also pays dividends to the tune of $80’ish every month. At one point we had considered cutting out the whole thing, but it turns out we actually enjoy watching TV (*gasp*) and keeping internet only would still cost us about $70 or so anyways. We’re okay not taking frugality to the extreme :)
CAR INSURANCE: A solid $30/mo in savings just from a single phone call in the fall of last year! Even if you don’t think you can save any more, it’s always worth 15 minutes to double check – especially if it’s been a while since you last did so.
Here’s what a fellow reader shared with me recently:
“Just got off the phone with my insurance agent and knocked $30 a month off my rate thanks to this article. I had all of your notes there in front of me and we were able to cut the mileage driven, raise the deductible, and reduce the medical coverage to save some cash! Getting ready to cut the cable cord this week as well” – Barry
CHANGE FINDINGS! I know this is going to sound silly, but it totally made my day to find FIVE pennies all in one walk! It usually takes me a month to find that many in the Summer, haha… And then to come across a dime a few days later – which is like a gold mine in comparison! – made my week even sweeter. I swear it really is the little things in life :)
SOLD VINTAGE RAZORS: This was the only thing we sold last month :( But it’s totally my fault – I’ve gotten lazy searching for better stuff to hawk. I keep trying to get rid of stuff that should probably be donated or trashed just because they’re in eye sight, haha… My mission for April is to start going through more of my closets and basement containers looking for more valuable/cool stuff to get rid of. Kinda like my killer dragon from last month!
Anyways, here’s a pic of the old school razors I sold… I picked them up a few years ago for around $1 a piece I wanna say, with the intention of selling them individually on eBay, but unfortunately I never got around to it. And considering the slew of offers I got from all around the country when I listed these bad boys up, I definitely priced them too low! (I also learned that people not only collect these, but they USE them to shave with still! Apparently they give you a much smoother cut and are incredibly cheaper than using today’s gadgets)
TAX REFUND: This was the closest to breaking even I’ve ever come before. Usually I owe thousands of dollars or *I’m* owed thousands of dollars, but it’s amazing how much better you get when you keep your accountant informed of these things ;) Surprises are hardly any fun, and especially when it involves taxes. But this $150 I’ll gladly accept any day – woot woot.
All this to say little action items add up over time. I’d literally have $3,800 less right now if I kept things status quo and didn’t get off my a$$! So I (again) strongly urge you to pay attention to everything around you and see if your money’s truly going towards what’s important in your life too. And even if it is, there’s no harm in seeing if there’s an alternative that gives you the same quality of life but saves you $$ in the process.
I’ll leave you new readers out there another message from a fellow Challenger:
“Just wanted to let you know I made $1800 this year on a snow day (I’m a teacher) by making 4 phone calls. Cut $220 a year off my car insurance, $55/month off my cell phone bill, and $49 off my cable/internet per month. I also “found” $320 in cash rewards by calling my credit card company and asking them to mail me the rewards check. Thanks for your motivating posts/emails- I’m tackling clutter and Craigslist, next.” – Nicole
You can follow along with this experiment here: Challenge Everything Series, as well as read about other rocks stars sharing their experiences too. Remember – the lower you get your expenses, the less you need to work later on! Hustle hustle, baby!
PS: This Roth money, just like all other investment $$, will be going straight into my VTSAX index fund w/ Vanguard as well. Keeping things nice and simple!
[Googly money by katerha]