Well, friends – we had our lowest savings yet from this Challenge Everything adventure. Only $253.37 banked this month which is a hard fall from the $800+ levels we were at just a few months ago. Still a nice chunk of change considering it was all free, but it appears my hustling in this department has since waned…
Am I mad at myself? Yes and no. Yes in that I started slacking in my Craigslist postings and I STILL haven’t gone outside of my 3 main bills there to cut down (I should start calling this the “Challenge Some-things” mission! Hah!), but no in that my time has been redirected in other – much more income producing – areas of my life in exchange. Such as taking on that high paying writing gig from last week, as well as other areas more linked to my online projects. It’s hard to swallow the fact that spending just a few hours on writing one article can produce more money than 7 months of selling my junk on Craigslist! But I guess it’s just the way the money crumbles…
So I’ve really been trying to focus on that old adage of “working smarter, not harder.” And when you do that – as I’m now figuring out – it means dropping the ball in other areas/goals of your life and stinging a little. Even though it makes the most sense, and I’d highly recommend it all day, every day ;) If you don’t allow yourself to adapt as time goes on, you’ll stay stuck in your ways forever. Even if they’re solid ways… Gotta keep tweaking and swapping in *better* avenues as you come across them so your cash continues to grow! Hustling 2.0!
Regardless, hard to complain when you’ve got an extra $250 for doing absolutely nothing. And I challenge all you new readers to the site to really stop and think about where all your money’s going too to see if there’s a better path for it! The beauty with cutting your recurring expenses is that it then becomes recurring savings EACH MONTH. And if you bank it all away into a separate savings account as I’ve been doing, you’ll find it really stacks up and motivates you along the way.
Here’s what our balance now looks like:
- 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
That’s $4,000 towards maxing out our Roth IRA – BOOM! Which I only know because I separated it all out from day 1. Just like what Chenell said last week on having multiple savings accounts, if this was merged in with my main savings I wouldn’t be able to see what an effect this mission has been making. And even more so now that I attached a purpose to this money! Makes all the difference in the world.
Here’s the breakdown of how April went:
Cell Phones — $100+ savings every month totaling almost $1,000 now since switching over to Republic Wireless. The iPhone was nice, but cash money early retirement is better!
Cable/Internet/Phone — Haven’t changed much in this account lately, so just laying back and enjoying the savings… I am considering upgrading our internet though once we start podcasting as I hear that’s key. I’d consider nixing cable again too if it was massive savings, but it only costs $20 or so more to keep it around since we need internet already, so it’s worth the value in entertainment it gives us. I love me some escapes from reality for a little each night. Can’t be hustling 24/7!
Car Insurance — This was the easiest of them all – literally took 15 minutes to save
15% 47% on a single phone call. And I didn’t even have to use Geico!
Found Change — $0.48 in total, I’m getting better at this! :) Finding almost as many dimes as I am pennies – much more efficient this way, haha…
Found Birthday Money — This was my favorite find of the month. $30 stashed in a birthday card I had lost in our car – oops! But the best part was that I had mentioned that Drop Stop invention from Shark Tank in my article about this, and then their fine social media team reached out and sent me a few to test out for free :) It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Haha… And I’ll let you know how I like them, btw. Maybe we’ll even give some away… I hear they’re great at stopping change from going down in the cracks, so it would probably pay for itself! :)
Craigslist Sales — #FAIL #FAIL #FAIL #FAIL
In other news, I’ve updated our Money Experiment page!
Last year I put together a page on all my crazy experiments I’ve done over the years with money, but every couple of months I come across some new ones I’ve forgotten and I then update it.
You can find the page here: J’s Money Experiments
Long time readers will remember some of these down below from back in the day, but thought I’d re-share again for all the new readers here and also because I have a habit of not following up on some of these things once my excitement is gone ;) Just like how I handle my money, I tend to only focus on the stuff that’s interesting to me at the time w/ this blog. Which is why you don’t find every “how to” in the world here – if I’m not actively participating/experiencing a particular financial thing, I won’t write about it! Helps me stay as “real” as I can here. And plenty of other kick-ass bloggers cover the rest anyways :) That link there goes to my blogroll of fave sites – check ’em out sometime.
Here are the recent experiments we’ve since shut down and added to the list:
The $2.00 Bill Trick
There was a brief moment in time where I was obsessed with $2.00 bills and realized the more I came into, the more I was saving and not spending them. Which lead me to a light bulb moment: the more I actively pile up these bills, the more I’ll force myself to save and have fun at the same time! :)
So every time I walked by a bank I had a rule where I’d have to walk in and “buy out” any $2 bills that the teller had in their drawer. Sometimes this would be $4.00 worth, and other $40.000 (they’re super common at banks, even though you NEVER see them in the real world – isn’t that strange?). After a couple of months I had like $600 or $700 I wanna say, and ultimately decided that it was dumb just holding onto all this cash in my safe not earning or growing anything.
So I slowly started using them up instead of taking out cash at the ATM every month like I do (I always pull $100 or $200/mo to be used as “blow money” where I don’t have to account for it and give my brain a break :)). I gave them out as tips, gifts, stocking stuffers, you name it. They’re literally only worth $2.00 a piece, but people just love receiving them! And a fair number of them also asked me if they were “real” money, haha… Yes. They are definitely real. They don’t really serve a purpose, but they’re real. And if you’re having trouble keeping money around, consider giving this a shot yourself!
The “Active” vs “Passive” IRA Test
This was one of my crazier ideas… After I left my 9-5 to blog full-time, I had the decision of what to do with my old 401(k). I wanted to roll it over into my own USAA accounts so it wouldn’t be tied to my old employer anymore (who later screwed me), but where to put these funds were beyond me as I hadn’t discovered the joys of Vanguard yet.
So I did what any normal person would do – I split up all $180,000 of my money into 3 separate IRA accounts and pinned them against each other in a friendly competition :) These 3 accounts looked like this:
- A portfolio that USAA recommended, but didn’t manage (I set it up once and then left it alone)
- A portfolio that USAA recommended, but DID manage (with only USAA funds in it)
- A portfolio that USAA recommended, managed, but had both USAA funds and outside funds in it.
The test ran for almost three years, and we had a clear winner throughout almost the entire time. Wanna take a guess on which one won out? The final results:
- IRA #1 (NOT Managed): $79,141.43
- IRA #2 (Managed, USAA funds only): $73,199.26
- IRA #3 (Managed, ALL different funds): $74,024.92
The unmanaged (and no fees) one beat out the two other managed ones by $5,000+. Not a scientific test in the least (and three years is a horribly short amount of time to compare anything in the stock market!), but still a fascinating thing to watch. At least to me ;) Only some people over at USAA appreciated it, haha… (they were nice to get on the phone with me afterwards to explain why they performed as they did – which made sense to me at the time – but unfortunately I have since all forgotten the reasons why…).
While I still have love for managed/mutual funds, nowadays I have my entire portfolio in one main index fund at Vanguard and it’s nice and streamlined. Most people consider this an even crazier experiment – hah! – but for now I’m happy with its home and will take average gains any day of the week vs trying to chase the next “hot thing” every other month. I much prefer betting on the market as a whole.
The “Non-Spending” Tracker
This was the quickest experiment of them all, basically because I totally forgot to do it the second I hit publish on the post :) But I still think it’s actually a pretty damn good one!
You know all the times you find a killer deal on something, or even just something you REALLY REALLY want, but you hold yourself back and don’t get it, feeling awfully proud of yourself? Well, the idea with this Non-Spending Tracker would be that it would serve as a place to give yourself a pat on the pack and just motivate you even more to continue saying “no” to stuff you don’t really need or can’t afford. You’d just list each item you passed up on one side (like in a spreadsheet or piece or paper or something), and then on the right jot down the price tag.
It would look like this:
- Flower oil painting: $20.00
- Hand-painted table from Peru: $40.00
- TOTAL SAVED: $60.00
Those are literally the only two items I listed before I unintentionally gave up on this. Killer idea though, right? I hope some of you do try it out and then share your results with me at some point :) At the very least it helps you stay cognizant of where all your money is going!
That’s all of them for now, but I’m sure more will pop up in no time ;)
I share these with you just to show there are soooooooo many different ways to manage and save/ invest your money, and the more you experiment the more you’ll stumble across the tricks that work for YOU. Money is a very emotional thing, but it’s not untamable. Just takes a while to find what clicks!
What awesome experiments are you currently immersed in? Anyone else challenging their expenses and totally whooping me? Lay it on us!
UPDATE: Y’all are good luck – had two sales today off Craigslist! We’re back in action, baby!!
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!