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SavingAdvice Challenges

January 10th, 2014 at 08:20 am

Work is crazy busy and has been for a while. & will be for a while.

Of course, January through April is our most profitable time of year. Too busy to spend, and raking in the overtime. Then I generally have the rest of the year to relax and enjoy.

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This is our January discretionary spending, to-date:

$134 groceries
$ 34 fuel

Exciting stuff!

Actually, about $20 of those groceries were a "Christmas Redo". I was sick on Thanksgiving, and Mom and dh were sick on Christmas, so we got together last weekend to spend some time with my parents. My parents are generally pretty easy and very happy to eat anything we cook, or even just leftovers. But my mom was really looking forward to our "Christmas Pizza".

Dh was going to pick up cat litter on sale today, and pick up a gift for a birthday party.

I did charge $200 for school lunches, on the reward credit card I am working on. (I charge every January, so did nothing different for the reward). I charged up some insurance also. I've got about $350 left to spend. I was expecting a $140 Sprint bill (100% my parents and they will reimburse), but Sprint didn't bill us this month. Ugh!! I thought that charge would be perfect since it isn't even really mine. I checked last years' January and February expenses and can't come up with anything else foreseeable, and so will probably just pre-pay some health insurance this weekend. That reward is going to be $580.

Unfortunately, I have no exciting plans for the $580 but to "clean up the checkbook". After the year we had, it's a miracle I did not have to dip MORE into savings, and so I am happy with the outcome. Could be happier (would make a nice snowball!), but happy enough.

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I am not participating in the savings challenges. We save very aggressively with a "pay ourselves first" mentality. (Literally, 43% of my regular take-home salary goes straight to savings. Plus, we tend to bank and snowball the extras). The idea of having anything extra leftover to save = harharhar. We keep it pretty tight. This doesn't mean we can't make spending decisions out of our savings. It just means I will never ever ever spend less than we budget, in a single month. Has probably never happened. Absolutely nothing leftover to increase savings. I guess my approach is more to "oversave" up front. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Saving coins is like nail on a chalkboard, to me. So I have to go get more money out of the bank so I can throw it in a jar and let it earn -0- interest? I don't get it and I never will. Even in the early days when we had to use cash more, we'd just spend the cash (change) we had before we'd go and get more. I am reluctant to waste a single penny. If I don't need it right now, it gets saved or invested.

{My kids are big change savers and if I ever find change I give it to them. I think for their age it is appropriate - they are learning that small amounts add up}.

Of course, in regards to the challenge, having to save a certain dollar amount (different) every week, just gives me a headache.

I don't fault anyone who thrives on the games or for who any of the above works. I just blog to say that these things do nothing for me. & so I am sitting it out. (Really and truly - it's important to do whatever works for you).

The declutter challenge? I was excited to see that post yesterday.

Again, I am not really interested in finding a specific amount of items to purge each and every day or week. But, I am embracing the challenge as far as keeping it front of mind and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Trying to make a little progress each and every week. Instead of complicating things with some fixed number, I will just do whatever makes sense.

I personally can not imagine purging 1,378 things from my home, but I have an open mind and will see what we can come up with. We regularly purge trash and broken items so I am not counting anything that I would toss under normal every day circumstances. I've got better things to do than to count every trash item and junk mail item that I always toss anyway. Wink Looking to see what I can improve on, so will only count the "out of the ordinary" purges. We do also regularly purge outgrown clothing, toys, games and kids' things, so not sure how much of that I will count. Will see how I feel about it. I mostly want to acknowledge going above and beyond "the usual". Wondering if I will ever really feel on top of my "stuff". I have been on major purge mode for well over 10 years. I ramped it up last year because we are planning to downsizing our home in another decade. I want to pick up and move what we have and need - and to have the excess long gone by that point. (Why 10 years? I think our house is *perfect* for 4 people, but would prefer a smaller space for when it is just two of us. Kids will be on their own in another decade or so. Dh and I were more than content when we used to live in half the space).

One thing that makes decluttering hard for me is that I detest throwing things in the landfill. We try to freecycle, donate or sell anything possible. This is my "declutter" achilles heel, but I will stick to my guns. Once I get on top of it, it should be easy to keep on top of, know what I mean? It's the "stuff that I didn't know what to do with 10 years ago," that is driving me crazy at the moment. When I stop finding THAT stuff in my house, I will find some peace in this area.

Oh, and I printed up the challenge for work, too. Today I tossed a small trash bin full of old seminar and tax reference books. (Like 2009 - 2011, which is all obsolete by now). I found a fan in my office and no idea why, so moving it to the common area in case anyone has any use for it. I've been here 12 years and I haven't moved offices in a long while, so it's probably time for a good cleanup. {Oh - since we deal with large amounts of paper - we have a recycle dumpster - so everything I purged today will be recycled}.

At home I have done nothing, but dh just gave me two pairs of pants to purge. I've at least got two items for this week.

10 Responses to “SavingAdvice Challenges”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I hear you on the coins. We used to save them and turn them in at the bank, but that is when we still had a brick and mortar bank. Now it is a challenge to use the coins we do come across. I think the challenges are really good for those still struggling to get an emergency fund in place, but it sure isn't us.

    I'm excited about the declutter challenge. I'm just going to count as I go along, and I'm not including trash that I toss, unless I pull it out from the depths of a closet or bin! Smile
    Take care during this busy time!

  2. just a thought Says:

    You can always count individual sheets of paper when you go through your files if you need to up your numbers Smile

  3. snafu Says:

    Thanks! I feel 'Obsolete' will fit my purge project perfectly as I focus on deep cleaning a different room each week. I'm not a collector, keep few knick knacks and in the summer find it easiest to go nearly Zen to reduce housekeeping as much as I can. We have a lot of out-of-town visitors staying at least three days due to festivals and nearby resorts. When possible I re-gift items when someone comments on an item that I see as superfluous to our needs. Selling on a local CraigList is easy and efficient. We don't get a tax benefit but I'm happy to donate items in good condition as I like that someone else can make use of stuff that is merely taking space. [Having downsized from house to condo we need to be diligent to keep quantities from increasing]

  4. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Coins?! Throw them my way!! I use them constantly (my husband takes them out of his pocket every night, hmph, which also means he is breaking bills every day BOO). But those coins are supremely used: for the once awhile starbucks treat, for the 99c store two or three things, for the occasional post office visit. LOTS of ways I use them.

    Great philosophy on the reuse instead of trashing stuff. There are so many needy organizations that might be interested: a few new ideas if you need? animal shelter, foster children, transitional homeless groups, high school, arts.

  5. ThriftoRama Says:

    43 percent? That's awesome. We used to save that much, until kids! I'm working on getting us back there. Once the mortgage is gone, it will be easy.

  6. Single Guy Says:

    T-o-R is right, once the mortgage is gone, high percentage saving is easy. If you include retirement plan savings, I am probably at ~66%, at least for the last 2 years. That could always go down in the coming years, but its very beneficial for now.

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    None of the recent challenges have specifically appealed to me; that said, I love seeing what people come up with and occasionally joining in. Someone did a no-eating-out challenge for a month and that was a good one for me to take part in.

    43% is indeed amazing! I just checked (because I lump savings and extra debt repayment together and don't really know what we save) and we're at 16% of our take-home pay (about 10% goes to retirement & 6% to EF and other savings). Could use some work, but once we're done with college tuition & student loan debt (hopefully by the end of this year), that number could jump to 26% overnight!

    I'd say I'm jealous, but I know we could do it if we stretched. We're uber-frugal in some ways (no car) but not so thrifty in others (travel/vacations).

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Whatever change I have in my purse when I go to church generally goes to the children during children's story. I prefer using change than bills because then I can divide it up amongst more kids. Smile (The kids carry baskets around and collect change before storytime - I think what they're collecting for now is paving the parking lot.)

  9. MonkeyMama Says:

    Oh, I wouldn't be overly impressed with the 43%. It includes our "short term savings" for non-monthly expenses within the year. 20% is for long-term savings.

  10. scfr Says:

    MonkeyMama - Thought provoking post. I too have elected not to participate in the SA yearly challenges (our savings level is more than sufficient now, having grown over the decades), but I definitely applaud & support those who do. As you said, many of the participants are new savers and as we all know if you are going to get anywhere you have to take that first step. What I really like about the challenges is how Jeffrey thinks outside the box. But the decluttering challenge has got me thinking ... One thing I am really bad (in fact, TERRIBLE about) about is deleting Emails. Since it's free and has no direct impact on my life, I just hang on to them forever. But I know that somewhere out there my useless undeleted Emails are causing Email providers to have to increase storage capacity, and that can't be having a positive impact on the environment. I think I'll make it one of my goals to delete a certain number of Emails. Maybe I'll join the decluttering challenge just for fun and a way to track!

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