Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Holy Savings, Batman!"

Remember recently when I talked about Rhonda Hetzel and the hard job of simplifying your life? Well, her message continues to inspire me. Actually, it feels like when you return to something you once loved very much--like long walks or reading thick historical novels or eating chocolate cookies--and wonder to yourself again and again, "Why did I ever stop this?" (To be honest, I never stopped eating chocolate cookies.) 

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I've been feeling lately that I need a challenge of some sort. I debated a zero-waste challenge. I thought about giving up buying any clothes for a year. Then I thought of something more fun and in line with my goals right now: saving money.

My husband and I have a list of short and long-term financial goals: mostly things we want/need to save for (housing repairs/kid's college fund). Because we don't have any consumer debt anymore (a post for another time), we plan out what might need replacing/updating around the house, vacations we want to take, etc., and then sock away money for them in advance.

We've been in a bit of a saving slump since our Big Trip of 2016 (southern California for a week was our celebration for finally saving up our Emergency Fund).

For me, saving without a goal is completely un-motivating. I mean, I do it, out of habit and because there really isn't a lot I feel I need right now, but it's not much fun.

So, I've embarked on a secret challenge: saving as much money as I can to surprise the Mister with at our next budget meeting.

High-tech money-saving system
It's been eye-opening how much money one can just fritter away on dumb stuff (like cake--who knew that a frosted birthday cake was so freaking expensive?!).

While I haven't made any huge goals for this month, other than to save a little everywhere I can, I'm thinking of making a big goal for next month: save XX somewhere in our budget for short-term savings and to put extra toward our mortgage.

So far this month though, I've saved $88.52. Not enough to shout about but not pocket change either. The best part is how fun it is! It's a game to see how I can save more to add to the envelope. Curious how I've been saving? Here are a few ways:  

  • $5 per day in gas when I either work at home or ride the bus to work (I have a wonderful employer who allows me to work at home sometimes, and also pays for a free bus pass for me!)
  • I saved $8 when I made two loaves of homemade, organic bread earlier this month, and $15 when I baked my son's birthday cake instead of buying one already made
  • I saved $2 and change when I returned a tube of frosting to the store (I didn't realize it needed a tip that I hadn't bought, plus I felt guilty throwing all that plastic out after using it so we just did without) 
There are still a couple of weeks left in the month ~ I wonder how much I'll be able to add to my little yellow envelope before it's over? 

I use a free app on my phone that has sticky notes. It's easy to track in there how much I save. Going to the bank to get cash out is more of a pain but I want to do it this month because it's encouraging to see the money grow. Plus, I can't wait to see my husband's face when I empty out the envelope! 

Want to play along? Feel free to get in touch if you want more details, or simply create your own rules for the challenge. I'm planning to do this again next month (with a goal, maybe!) so you can join me on May 1st, too. 

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