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2014 Savings Challenge

This year I resolved to save more, not just for the actual Savings Challenge, but as a whole in my life. I’ve been carrying around a lot of debt for too long, debt that keeps me from living the life I imagined myself having (namely, owning a house) and it was time to do something about it. Time to utilize my income in the smartest way.

 

I made small efforts like only allowing myself to buy X amount of pre-order books at the start of the year and to fully preview albums before just buying the whole thing because I frequently only end up liking 2-3 tracks and it would have just been cheaper to buy the singles. It’s unreal how much those two things I love rack up quickly.

 

I made other choices that impacted my spending money, too, like water consumption. Water is all I drink (well, and tea, too) and I drink a lot of it (on average about 120 oz. a day). Prior to this year, I’ve always just bought water bottles to drink at work (I have an H2O Filter Pitcher at home), but after realizing a great many of my headaches could have been a result of BPA’s, I bought myself a Tervis (BPA-Free) and a Whirlpool EveryDrop (also BPA-Free) and stopped buying water bottles altogether. When I did the math, it looked something like this:

 

2 cases of bottles a week at approximately $4 a case = $416 a year in bottled water

 

-OR-

 

1 EveryDrop + 4 pack of filters (that will last me longer than a year) = $50 for the first year, $30 for every year after

 

Leaving me with a savings of $366 a year. Just from water consumption. It’s sort of amazing when you look at it that way. Not to mention, so much healthier for the environment, right?

 

I didn’t factor my Tervis into that calculation because any cup will do, I just prefer Tervis. But even if I did factor it in, we’re only talking about an additional $20 which is still an impressive savings.

 

The biggest contributing factor to my success this year was all the overtime I put in at work. For almost half of the year I was working 60-70 hours a week and as you can imagine my paychecks were nice and fat as a result. But instead of growing accustomed to the temporary increase in pay, I started throwing large swaths of money at my credit card debt, starting first with the card that had the highest interest rate and not stopping until they were paid off. I also steadily dumped extra money every week into the Savings Challenge envelope, leaving me with $3000 instead of the $1300+ I was hoping to save. In addition to that, I actually let my real savings account bloom, too, setting aside almost 2K for Christmas and emergencies.

 

All of this savings helped me pay off and close 4 credit cards this year worth almost $9000. Sadly, I still have a ways to go before I’m in the clear, but I will definitely be keeping these techniques in tact in 2015. I can’t wait to see where I am financially this time next year! I’m a firm believer in being responsible for the debt you acquire and it’s really rewarding to see it on the decline by hard work. Certainly, I’ll never find myself in this place again.

 

Did any of you try the savings challenge this year? Have any tips for spending your money more wisely? I’d love to hear about it!

 

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2013 Savings Challenge

At the start of 2013, I saw this ‘savings challenge’ floating around FB and since every year I make a mental hope to myself that I’ll actually save some money to help get out of debt (which is hard when you live paycheck-to-paycheck and I never succeed at), I figured I’d give it a shot. The old fashioned way, with money in an envelope.

 

The idea behind the savings challenge is that if you were to save the value of the week (ex: week 1, save $1 – week 2, save $2 – week 30, save $30 and so on) then by the end of the year you would have saved $1,378.00. That amazed me, especially because it seemed so simple. And in those first ten weeks, since the values were so small, I jump started the savings by putting aside $10 each week until I’d actually reached week 10. But as week 40 approached along with holiday season, it got a lot harder to put that much aside every week.

 

Ultimately I decided there was no way I could set aside money for the savings challenge AND Christmas spending so at week 40, I set a $30 value and stuck with that for the remainder of the year. While I didn’t quite reach the total I was hoping for, and I ended up having to use some of it for Christmas presents, I finished the year with $1000 bucks – almost enough to pay off one of my credit cards (which is something I haven’t been able to do in a long time).

 

I’ve decided that for 2014, I’m going to do the challenge backwards because with the holidays out of the way, I could afford to set aside $50+ bucks aside a week now. And I think that if I work backwards and get comfortable putting aside $25 or $30 bucks a week when I reach that week, then I’ll just keep putting that much aside for the rest of the year, which will leave me with even more money to pay off another credit card next Christmas.

 

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for succeeding at this. I have more debt than one should at my age, with nothing of that much value to show for it, but I’m a firm believer in actually paying those debts down and being responsible for them. Otherwise, I’d never learn to spend more wisely with age. It feels good to finally put a dent in something that’s really heavy to carry and I’m confident now that I can continue to get this under a more reasonable control with this yearly challenge.