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Savings Challenge

October 15th, 2014 at 01:40 am

I have not been consistent with either the $20 challenge or the 52 week challenge. Since I have a lot of automatic savings allotments going on, this is not a huge deal. However, I love being creative with "frugal games" to save even a little more.

This year my plan every 2 weeks was to use any leftover envelope money from my grocery/household cash to purchase gift cards (mostly grocery) or add to my wealth account right before I withdrew the new cash amount each payday. (I withdraw $340 every pay day (every 2 weeks) for groceries, household and other.)

I did part of that--added some of the leftover money to gift cards (mostly grocery cards), but I only recall adding leftover savings to the wealth account one time this year. Holding the leftover money was not wise!

Now that I'm working on paying off the mortgage, by cutting down my retirement contribution and my regular savings contribution, I have a few ideas to add to that:

1. My 'other' credit union has a coin counter in the lobby that doesn't charge a percentage as long as you are a member and you deposit the money into one of your accounts (you can withdraw it at the same time--it just has to go through your account.) My primary bank charges a percentage for large coin deposits, so I stopped saving coins and started spending them. But now I'm back to saving coins!! Namely quarters and dimes in a jar. (The jar is in the back of my closet, so the 'family' won't use it for dollar store runs!) I'll be using that for extra payments toward the mortgage.

2. Continue to use coupons and shop wisely. I've been making my own laundry detergent (thanks to the internet). Looking for other ideas to keep the grocery budget below $100 a week.

3. Save as many of my one-dollar bills as I can. A coworker is saving dollar bills with her initials on them--she's competing with her best friend for 2014. Good idea, but I'm just going to hold onto as many as I can until the end of the year. Use for Christmas shopping or the Christmas savings account for next year. I've made a special decorated envelope for them.

4. If I have larger bills leftover ($5s, $10s, $20s!!!), I WANT to deposit in the wealth account, but that idea hasn't worked well. I will use that for the mortgage as well. The sooner I can pay off the mortgage the better. And with the bill due every month, I think I'll be more consistent.

So we'll see how it goes. Happy saving everyone!!

Savings Ideas Part 2

November 24th, 2013 at 12:33 am

Still feeling motivated! (Yay me!) To continue with my earlier blog this month about the ideas I've had for my savings...

Savings Idea #4: Open an online savings account with a higher interest rate (like Ally or Barclays) then transfer part or half of the wealth account to it.

Idea #5: Re-purpose the education account. (The Kid dropped out of college and missed his grace period to the money is MINE, ALL MINE!!) About $2,400 in cash and the rest is savings bonds. I'll probably keep the savings bonds for retirement use, but I can use the cash to pay extra on the mortgage.

Idea #6: I've been inconsistent with the $20 challenge and the 52 Week challenge. I start off well, cuz I love the idea, but I think I lack focus and a good specific plan with what to do with the money saved. So here's the plan: Focus!! Then add this savings to the Christmas account every 2 weeks AND use part of the savings to purchase gift cards for myself and others.

Idea #7: Last week, I converted $3,000 of my traditional IRA to add to my Roth. I also started contributing 1% of my pay to a Roth 401K, which is in addition to the 15% I'm contributing to my traditional 401K. In 2014, I'll adjust: contribute less to the traditional 401K and more to the Roth 401K.

That's it for now. Still tweaking the budget to see where else we can cut. I'm inspired, as always, by the saving advice blogs still. Go forth and save, everyone!!

It's a Challenge to Focus on the $20 Challenge

February 16th, 2012 at 06:42 pm

I had so many great ideas to challenge myself previously to focus on small wins (small savings). But I've fallen off the wagon on every idea!!

My automatic savings allotments are still working for me. So that's a good thing. I just haven't done the extra focus work of saving wherever I can and then translating that savings into an actual DEPOSIT in my savings account.

Too much stress at work. You would think that would motivate me to do everything I can possibly do to get my own financial buy-out package together!! But instead it has me momentarily exhausted and unfocused.

My intention is to add a lot of little wins to my name for 2012 to add up to a big win eventually.

Reading over savingadvice helps a lot. Motivated!!

Anyhoo, here's the streamlined $20 Challenge plan for this year:

I normally use cash envelopes for some of my budget categories like groceries and household items. That allowance is about $100 per week for groceries and $25 for household items. I get cash to cover 2 weeks because I get paid every too weeks.
Since I'm using more coupons, I'll challenge myself to keep track and set aside any savings I have leftover in my envelopes in these 2 categories at the end of the 2-week period (in particular dollar bills and coins, but all savings are welcome, of course). Half of the leftover money will be loaded on a reloadable giftcard for the grocery store I shop (or other store like Walmart. That will give me a little cushion when I need it.) The other half will go into my wealth account.

Ta da!! Now I just need to stick to it. Happy saving everyone!

Fight the Good Fight

June 27th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Trying to fight discouragement. Job-burnout has me EXHAUSTED and impatient to hurry up and meet all my financial goals NOW. The thought of 10 more years of this job zaps my energy. I'm eligible for retirement between 7 and 10 years barring reductions/downsizing, which can happen at any time. Can I make it?

I'm grateful for my job and income. If we go through reductions/downsizing, I'd rather choose job-burnout. And at the rate I'm going, I need at least 10 more years of saving and investing and to pay off my mortgage. I'm just really really tired. I need to take it a day at a time.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can with all the money management skills I've practiced. I seek inspiration at saving-advice and else-where.

I've committed to saving at least 70% of any extra income I receive over my paycheck.

I save change. I clip coupons. (Has anyone seen that show 'Extreme Couponing'? OMG! Not exactly for me, that investment of time, but OMG!)

I've fallen off the wagon in playing the $20 challenge. So I'll commit to my own version for the next 6 months on a daily basis and try to save as much as I can each day in addition to my regular saving allotments. Say, $1 added to savings for every no-spend day...

I can dream about winning the mega-million lottery while I clip coupons and count quarters, but while I'm dreaming, I have to keep clipping coupons and counting quarters in order to push forward. Heavy sigh...

October 2009 Challenge

November 18th, 2009 at 12:47 am

$135 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Oct 20.

$250 transfer from excess from Oct budget

$15.28 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $12,530

Balance toward extra mortgage payment Oct 30, $820

Total in account October 30, $13,350

September 2009 Challenge

October 8th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

$130 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Sep 20.

$200 deposit from excess from Sep budget

$15.02 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $11,950

Balance toward extra mortgage payment Sep 30, $820

Total in account September 30, $12,770

Note: I just read over my blog entry at the beginning of the year regarding my $20 challenge, and how I planned to add to this account. I can't remember having any 'no-drive' days to speak of. (I said I would add $2 for each no-drive day.) That's crazy. The good thing is, I've "supersized" my $20 challenge in other ways and have made good progress. I have 3 months, however, to save $3,000 to meet the goal I set. Hmmmm.... It looks like it will take 5 months to do that...

Aug 2009 Challenge

September 14th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Late again with the update but here goes...For August 2009...

$130 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Aug 20.

$29 leftover dollars and coins from allowance and grocery money

$8 refund check from doctor's office for overpayment of copay

$210 deposit from excess from Aug budget

$100 birthday gift deposited

$35 not spent ($15 not spent at restaurant because friend treated me, $15 not spent at restaurant because I previously won a $15 raffle doorprize gift card for that restaurant, $5 not spent for son's fast food when someone else treated him.)

$15.10 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $11,505

Savings toward extra mortgage payment Aug 30, $740

Total in account August 30, $12,245

July 2009 Challenge

August 4th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

For July 2009...

$195 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on July 20.

$345 from overtime from June/July paychecks

$14.53 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $10,877.90

Savings toward extra mortgage payment July 30, $660

Total in account July 30, $11,537.90

June 2009 Challenge

July 13th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Getting later and later with the wealth account update, but here goes...

For June 2009...

$130 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on June 20.

$730 from overtime from both May and June paychecks (!!)

$27 in leftover dollar bills and leftover budget change.

$8.63 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $10,218.37

Savings toward extra mortgage payment June 30, $580

Total in account June 30, $10,798.37

May '09 Challenge

June 11th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

A little late with the update, but only because I've been too busy.

May 2009 was not as exciting as April's challenge but I'm still plugging away and regaining my focus...

$115 in paycheck allotments

$180 my automatic transfer on May 20.

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $9,322.72

Savings toward extra mortgage payment May 30, $400

Total in account May 30, $9722.74 on May 20

May's total interest: $17.90 deposited

Other activity: I increased the balance in the Certificate of Deposit that I hold in this account from $3,054 to $5,000 even. (It's a 6-month CD: Renewal time falls in May and Nov.) Interest rate is low, but I'm trying every angle to increase deposits and keep things simple.

April '09 Challenge

April 30th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Getting a little concerned about upcoming expenses now that summer's almost here. The kid will be home for summer and hasn't been job hunting yet. I've stockpiled on groceries but am concerned about the increase in utility usage, arguments about the car, upcoming school costs. Also, we have major dental work coming up. Yikes. I'll keep thinking good thoughts... I've tried to prepare but feel like I might be a little short since I don't want to withdraw anything from the "challenge account"...

Anyway... April's Update...

My $20 PLUS challenge to my money market/wealth account included
(1) $48.25 deposit in 'leftover' five-dollar bills, one-dollar bills, quarters, and dimes, from budget envelopes over the two paychecks
(2) $40 not spent (one day the hotel parking attendant waved us out of the parking garage without requesting our payment and on another day a coworker brought me lunch. I also cancelled a doctor's appointment that wasn't needed until December)
(3) $50 transfer from tax refund (still stretching that tax refund)
(4) $100 gift from my parents after their visit
(5) $250 transfer from paycheck due to surplus in April's budget (partly from cancelling IRA auto withdrawal)
(6) My automatic transfer of $180 was deposited on Apr 20.
(7) A new paycheck allotment of $50 per paycheck was deposited (I changed my tax exemptions/withhold--I was paying too much in taxes through the year)
(8) April interest added was $9.39 (part of this account is a 6-month Certificate of Deposit) and $8.12. Total interest added $17.51

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $9,089.76

Savings toward extra mortgage payment Apr 27, $320

Total in account Apr 27, $9,409.76

Hope to keep this up and not get derailed by upcoming expenses. FOCUS!!

March Challenge '09

April 7th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Christmas account new balance Mar 25, $1004. (After regular savings allotment and income tax refund money.) Goooaaalll!

Money Market/wealth account:
My $20 challenge to my money market netted a $31.75 deposit in 'leftover' dollar bills, quarters, and a cancelled lunch date.

My automatic transfer of $180 was deposited on Mar 20.

March interest added was $8.45 (part of this account is a 6-month Certificate of Deposit) and $6.66, total interest added $15.11

I deposited $500 from my tax refund.

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $8,443.90

Savings toward extra mortgage payment Mar 25, $240

Total in account Mar 25, $8,683.90

The challenge is to get this account to $15,000 or better by Dec 15, 2009. Now that the Christmas account and checking account cushion are fully funded, maybe I'll get more focused (FOCUS!!) on automatic deposits, drive-by deposits, allotments, transfers, quarters, pennies, etc.

February Challenge 2009

March 3rd, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Christmas account new balance Feb 27, $669. (After regular savings allotment.)

I added $281 to my checking account cushion -- New balance Feb 27, $1001.

My $20 challenge to my money market netted a $15 deposit in 'leftover' dollar bills and $2 in quarters and dimes, plus $10 not spent when we tried to find a local playhouse to see a $10 play and got lost (oh well!). Total challenge deposit $27.
My automatic transfer of $180 was also deposited on Feb 21.
Withdrew $401 (money order fee was $1) to pay extra toward mortgage.

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $7,824.04

Savings toward extra mortgage payment Feb 27, $160

Total in account Feb 27, $7,984.04

January Challenge

January 29th, 2009 at 12:42 am

So this month I thought I'd begin to focus (?) on any extra savings going into my money market account. However, before doing that (and being the hyperactive and easily distracted person I am), I had preliminary savings goals I wanted to check off the list quickly this year.

I want to fully fund my Christmas account and beef up my checking account cushion and my freedom account cushion. (The list goes on and on, since I'm usually all over the place with these savings goals, but I'm REALLY trying to limit my focus!)

I got a bonus at work (about $620) for which I'm soooooo grateful considering the times we're in. Instead of adding it to my 'challenge' account, I added $600 of it to the Christmas account.

Christmas account new balance Jan 28, $649.

I added $30 to my checking account cushion -- New balance Jan 28, $720.

My $20 challenge to my money market netted a $35 deposit (this included leftover budget money in dollar bills, quarters and dimes, PLUS a $20 bill I found in a zippered pocket of a purse I haven't used in a few weeks. Yay me!)
My automatic transfer of $180 was also deposited on Jan 20.

Previous money mkt balance, $7,531

New money mkt balance Jan 28, $7,666

New balance toward extra mortgage payment Jan 28, $480

Total in account Jan 28, $8,146

Random Acts of Deposits - My 2009 $20 Challenge

January 27th, 2009 at 02:53 am

Last year I made several random acts of deposits to various savings accounts (I have many!), but this year I want to focus. FOCUS!! While I still have several automatic savings plans in place and several savings accounts, I plan to use the strategy of the $20 challenge on primarily one account, the wealth account (or my money market emergency fund).

I had to use $2,000 from it to pay part of my son's tuition bill last semester, so I not only need to replace that, but I want to get the balance up to at least $15,000. Already I have an automatic $100 going in each month (plus $80 going in for extra payment toward the mortgage).

Can I do this?

I might be able to increase the allotment. In addition, the random acts of deposit will be more consistent (every week?) and will include:
1. My loose change
2. Adding money to round up the account balance
3. No drive days, I'll add $2
4. I'll add money that I planned to spend but ended up not spending. (For instance, I planned to pay $12 for lunch earlier this month, but my friend insisted on buying.)
5. On days that I mail out submissions, (I write), I'll add $1 per submission
6. Leftover dollar bills from budget envelopes
7. Found money
8. Gift money
9. Extra budget money
10. Household refunds and the occasional 'surprise' sales (i.e., if I planned to pay regular price for something and then find it on sale, I'll bank the difference...though I rarely plan to pay regular price for things!!)

Balance Dec 31, 2008: $7,531

Balance of extra mortgage payment savings: $400

Total in account is $7,931