52 Week Money Challenge

For those of you checking in to see something deep and meaningful, you won’t find it here today.  But, it may be helpful anyway.

One of my goals for 2013 is to save $10,000.  I’m not exactly bringing home big bucks these days and I’m not interested in cutting back my lifestyle too much, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge.

First, my spending habits.  I don’t have a rigid budget.  I guess you could say I do the envelope system…..in my head.  I don’t make huge purchases.  I don’t like to get even close to overdrawing, so I spend if I know I have the money, and if I want to make a purchase that would push me below this magical “suddenly I might be scared if I had an emergency” threshold, I either wait till payday or don’t buy it.  That being said, I still fritter money away…not so bad but I know there should be more left over every month than I actually have.

The Game Plan: I’m debt free (!!!!!!!!) as of December, so my student loan payment, which used to go to my parents, will now go straight to the savings account.  Amount to be saved: $6000.  $4000 to go.

Step One: Cut Back
I read several articles about how to cut back and they weren’t super helpful for me, but maybe they are for others.  I already don’t have cable (I do have the streaming-only version of Netflix and I’m not willing to give that up).  They tell you to give up drinking….well maybe that makes a difference for some people. I was going through maybe two bottles of cheap wine a month, but ok, I’ll cut back to one.  So that’s $120 extra saved over the course of the year.  They tell you to give up magazine subscriptions since you read it once and never learn anything so important that you need to keep them.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), all of my magazine subscriptions are gifts from others.  Savings: Zero.  They tell you to stop going to movies — I haven’t been to a movie in the theater in a year.  Not that I don’t enjoy it but I just don’t think to do it.  Then they suggest you cut out name brands…yeah, been doing that one, too.  You get the idea.  Apparently I am doing extremely well in my spending when compared to the average American.

Step Two: Control the Incidentals
Is there a 12 step program for people who get a stomachache from purchasing $75 items who at the same time will spend $75 on 15 things without blinking an eye?  Because I might need it.

I don’t really have an “entertainment” budget since I rarely do anything.  I know the money is there and I don’t spend it on expensive things.  The problem is that, like my father, $5 rounds to zero in my mental check register and it doesn’t in real life.  I will spend $2 for a Sheetz Latte on the way to church, $10 on Kindle books or $1.29 on an iTunes download without thinking.  In my mind I haven’t spent the money.  It was shocking to me when I totaled up my “freebies” of the last three months.  Oops!  Solution: iTunes and Kindle need there own budget categories and I can’t go over. I’ll save the difference, though I’m still not sure what that will be.

Step Three: Save the “Bonus”
Part of my job at the high school is serving as the SAT and ACT test coordinator.  While it really stinks to give up a Saturday morning once a month, the pay is pretty good.  I’ve never really counted it in my budget and I should have, since last year it kicked my butt at tax time (I did take that into account this year).  Still, when I budget expenses, that money is not included in my start value………so………it should still be there.  But it’s not.  Stupid Sheetz and it’s toasted marshmallow Latte’s.  You took  my SAT money.  While I can’t be sure of the exact amount I will earn from those tests in advance (my pay is based on the number of tests taken at my site), I do know that I will be able to save AT LEAST $2046 if I get the minimum payment each time.

Step Four: The 52 Week Money Challenge
I saw this on Pinterest and decided to go for it.  Basically, the graphic said to save the dollar amount of what week of the year it is ($1 the first week, $27 the 27th week and so on).  Instead of counting up with the savings, I am counting down.  Last Friday I moved $52 over to my savings account and this Friday it will be $51.  I did this for two reasons.  First, I am motivated right now so $52 was not painful.  I am pumped!  I doubt I will be as excited in November, but this way I’ll only have to give up $7 when momentum is waning.  Along that same vein, I always spend more money at the end of the year (Christmas gifts…Christmas COOKIES) and I know I wouldn’t follow through.  How much will I save this way?  $1378.

This brings us to a current savings anticipated total of…………….$9452!!!!!

Only $548 to go.  I actually feel a lot better about this now that I’ve written it down.

I know I haven’t shown you my “real” budget, but if you have any suggestions about where I can “find” the rest, please leave a comment.

Happy Saving!

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