Hey guys :) I’m putting together a page here for all updates surrounding our “Challenge Everything” series. That way anyone can follow along here easier and hopefully join in and save too!
If you’re new to the series, it’s my new mentality of challenging the “norm” and getting my expenses as low as possible without sacrificing quality of life. Every month I focus on a new bill or expense that has been status quo for years – or even decades (damn) – to determine what’s truly important now in my life. Things like cable, cell phones, cars, insurance, you name it.
It all started by reading this clip from a friend’s blog post:
“The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income. The reason is that every permanent drop in your spending has a double effect: it increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month, and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.”
That last line stopped me in my tracks: “it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.” This hit me hard, especially now that I’ve come to realize retiring early hinges heavily on your monthly expenses. You can attain freedom much quicker if you only need $1,000 a month to live on vs, say, $10,000.
Total [Monthly] Savings Since Starting This Challenge:
- Cell Phones: $112.58
- Cable/Internet/Phone: $80.00’ish
- Car Insurance: $30.59
- TOTAL: $223.17
All recurring savings EVERY SINGLE MONTH by taking a few simple, and easy, actions (mostly be picking up a phone). And to fully comprehend just how much of a difference this is making, I’ve opened up a new separate savings account that will track it over the next 12 months, along with other “extra” money I find/earn over time.
Here are the monthly balances so far:
- Month #1 balance: $203.96
- Month #2 balance: $406.60
- Month #3 balance: $1,209.16
- Month #4 balance: $2,029.81
- Month #5 balance: $2,954.14
- Month #6 balance: $3,442.39
- Month #7 balance: $3,843.70
- Month #8 balance: $4,097.22
- Month #9 balance: $4,485.22
- Month #10 balance: $4,738.13
- Month #11 balance: $4,990.84
- Month #12 balance: $5,484.07
*I now have a running tally of everything we’ve sold off Craigslist so far since starting this challenge… You can see all the items and $$$ earned here –> Craigslist Tracker :)
UPDATE: MISSION COMPLETE!!!
Over $5,000 saved in one year – woo! You can click here for the full breakdown on what made up this pot, but here’s the quick cheat sheet:
- All of this money feels like it was FREE! Because it normally wouldn’t have been saved!
- It’s really freaking EASY to cut back when you stop and pay attention…
- You adapt a lot easier than you think you might
- I’ve realized just how much MORE I still have to go in cutting back my things and my expenses
- I’ve come to the conclusion that some stuff just takes way longer to make money off of than others
- And lastly, I learned I need to make it “a thing” in order to hold myself accountable :)
The full wrap up and and details can be found here.
As for the future, well… We’re gonna dump all this money out as it was earmarked for maxing out my Roth IRA, but I’m proud to say WE’RE GOING ANOTHER ROUND, BABY! Why stop now when it’s been so easy? We’re going for the gold and gonna see if we can beat out this measly $5,500 over the next 12 months ;) Wish me luck! And I hope you’ll be joining me too!
Saved so far in Round II:
- Month #1 balance: $253.31
- Month #2 balance: $590.62
- Month #3 balance: $908.28
- Month #4 balance: $1,210.92
- Month #5 balance: $1,548.12
- Month #6 balance: $2,103.45
How We’re Doing All This
Here are all the blog posts from the challenge that go into the details. I’ll continue adding to it as time goes on (it’s amazing how many opportunities there are to save when you stop and pay attention!):
- Why I’m challenging everything
- How I switched cell phone carriers and now save $100/mo
- How I cut our cable/phone/internet bill by $80/mo
- How I cut our car insurance bill by $30/mo
- The new “Challenge Everything” savings account
Other related posts:
- How to get [basically] FREE home phone service
- How to stream media/internet to your TV – for free
- The switch that saves us tens of thousands of dollars on investment fees. (HINT: Vanguard)
- My new rule – list one thing a week on Craigslist (Where we challenge all “stuff” in our house and bank the earnings into the same “challenge” account we just set up)
What others have been saying (and saving) so far!
I hope it motivates you to hit pause and challenge your expenses too!
“I found out the other day that my boyfriend spends $180 on cable each month. ONE HUNDREND AND EIGHTY DOLLARS!! I told him about your challenge, had him call in and he reduced his bill down to $60 a month. That’s $1,440 a year! Thanks for the inspiration, J$!” – Kimberly
“I have already cut $502.79 out of my MONTHLY budget! I’m really shocked to be honest… I think I might get to $1k/month in savings without even cutting cable! Apparently I’m a sucker for the free trials that I don’t end up cancelling… $19/month here, $27/month there, $49.99/month over there… it all adds up… I always tend to focus on making more money than saving money but this exercise have proven to be very profitable and I’ve learned I need to go through my credit card statement with a fine tooth comb to avoid these shifty charges. I actually ended up staying up until 7AM (all nighter baby!) once I started seeing all these expense I could cut and going through 3 years of credit card statements looking for more fraudulent and not-authorized charges.” – B.
“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 inspired me to make some calls this past weekend and I saved:
$10 a month on cell phones
$150 a year on car and renter’s insurance
$20 a month on internet
I also signed up for direct deposit at the bank that has my car loan, shaving .25% of the APR. And refinanced my student loans, going from 6.55% interest to 4.8!
And the savings are also going straight to my IRA. Thank you!” – Sara
“I just saved $450 per year thanks to this challenge. I had called my previous insurance company and reviewed line by line just three weeks ago, but when I saw that your wife was at about half my annual premium for a really similar car situation, I called a new insurance company. I got $380 in annual savings for the auto and $70 for homeowners. Amazing!” – Hannah
“Thanks for the awesome article. It is very inspiring, and it convinced me to start challenging everything as well. Since reading this article, I have done the following:
1. Satellite TV – reduced by $15 ($60 down to $45) by switching to a lower package that still has our preferred TV channels, but I am working on convincing the wife to drop completely :)
2. Cell phone – reduced by $90 ($160 down to $70) by switching my phone line to Republic Wireless $10 plan and moving my wife to a single line plan with Verizon ($60) – I am trying my hardest to stick to the $10 Republic plan but may have to go to the $25 plan whenever we go out of town away from my usual wireless networks.
3. Internet – reduced by $25 ($55 down to $30) by doing a quick online chat with a representative to ask them how I can lower my monthly payment because I have noticed another competitor offering lower cost/higher speed. They quickly gave me a monthly bill credit. Maybe I should try this with my satellite bill as well! :-D
Total savings so far: $130 per month” — Jordan
“Thanks for the reminder to constantly check your bills. I just called them and we are now saving $40 a month between home and car insurance. You are my MVP of the week!! :-)” – Shannon
“Saving on car insurance inspired me to do the same with cable. I’m now saving xtra $35/mo ~ Thx 4 inspiration” – @MomCentsPF
“Thanks for posting this. This is a line item I just didn’t pay much attention to – thinking a savings would only be a few dollars…. Holy cow! My rate just dropped from $77/month to $41! Went with esurance for the same coverage versus Allstate. Tried to get the agent to match or reduce but they couldn’t-sooooo…..” – JayP
“Thanks for the kick to do this: I saved $62/year. Now I pay $34/month for TWO cars and drivers. Woo hoo!” – Samantha
“Since reading through your site about a month ago I have been able to put a realistic budget plan in place and started pouring through our monthly expenses and was able to save about $1,030 PER MONTH! My largest single savings achievement was dropping AT&T and going to Republic Wireless (saved $220 per month!) While I still have a lot to learn, I feel like I have better understanding on how I can secure a better future of financial freedom for my family.”
“WhadUP, J Money! Lil Vee from Charlottesville, VA here. Love, LOVE this and your entire challenge series. Wanted to let you know that you have inspired me to go on a serious challenge of my own. I am calling it the $10K challenge and have enlisted the help of my husband, friends and colleagues to meet this goal. I started September 15th after reading your blog. The idea is that, instead of being a spend-machine, I will sock away ten grand by getting rid of crap and doing side gigs from your Side Hustle Series – and I will hit my savings goal by Christmas. A bit ambitious, right? Well, pop-POP, J Money – Lil Vee is up $4100!!!” – Lil Vee
(Check out Vee’s entire comment, along with the awesome article it inspired here!
“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
“I just started doing this a couple weeks ago, and we’re already at $1,806. Just from getting rid of junk, I haven’t even started trying to haggle the bills (cellphone and internet). Hoping to make some dough on ebay this week too. Thanks for the motivational kick in the ass I’ve been needing. ;)” – AJ
“Over the last several years I’d say we have been very aware of our finances, always budgeting and tracking spending and setting goals. 2015 we felt like we really hit our groove, and I was putting things on autopilot. However, your Challenge Everything series was always in the back of my mind, so in August I opened another savings account (Thanks, Capital One 360!) and deposited a check from Ebates in there. Since August, I haven’t done any bill-challenging… All I’ve done is transfer any unexpected money into the account – Craigslist sales, Ebates, a refund from the city for unknowingly overpaying our water bill, Christmas cash, etc. Most of it has been <$50 increments at a time.
I checked it this morning and realized we’d hit the $1,000 mark…basically without lifting a finger.
First, I wanted to thank you for the inspiration! That’s $1000 that would’ve just unknowingly slipped through our fingers in the last five months, even being pretty hands-on with our finances. Second, I just wanted to encourage anyone who feels like their life is pretty lean and their finances in check… there are always unaccounted for dollars. Don’t get complacent and always hold yourself accountable! I was getting lazy and without the Challenge Everything series, that inattentiveness would’ve cost me a thousand bucks in six months.” – Britt M.
If you’ve been following along and had success too, let me know and I’ll add you up here It’s pretty powerful seeing so many people saving on every day expenses without changing any quality of life. And if you’re banking the difference like we are every month you’ll literally see your efforts paying off!
Now get out there and start pocketing those green backs!
[Money photo up top via @Saigon]