Do you like saving money?
I know that I for one love saving money. Welcome to the first week of my money saving journey. I am challenging myself to spend only 100 dollars a week on everything except for bills for the next six months. I’m positive I’m not the first person to think of this kind of challenge, but the idea was original to me so let’s just roll with it. Before I get into it, some backstory on my financial life might help:
The Back Story
A few years back I was making about 600-800 dollars a week as a waitress and saving money was no problem for me. But I wanted a different career that wouldn’t be so physically demanding. People that had been working there a majority of their lives had really bad problems with their feet, back, and wrists. I already had my ankle broken in a car accident. Needless to say that if otherwise healthy individuals were limping around after putting years into the business then I would be even worse off.
So I set out to find a job where I could either stay sitting or have the option to walk. Finding such a level entry job was difficult; I took on a lot of odd jobs. Some I knew weren’t going to be for me but took them just as a transitional job until I could find something that worked (because I still had bills to pay, after all). But I never was able to get to that 600-800 dollars a week that I was used to. I was getting paid either half that or even less than half at some of the jobs.
After a while of doing this it really began to take a toll on my finances and my life in general. I was no longer able to save money; I was eating away at my savings trying to find a better job until there was practically nothing left.
Before I knew it, I was living paycheck to paycheck.
Or at least I thought I was. Because even though I was living paycheck to paycheck I still was able to go out with friends occasionally. I was still buying alcohol, and I still made nice dinners occasionally with expensive ingredients. I would still drop 16 dollars on a bottle of lotion like it was nothing. The things I did cut back were clothing, the amount of times I went out…and honestly that’s about it.
Recently I was fortunate enough to get a job that has the potential to get me back into the 600-800 dollars a week range. Sometimes even more than that. The pay is commission based, so the amount I get paid is inconsistent. Sales relies heavily on effort, skill level, the time of year, and a little bit of luck. With most jobs I’ve found that effort is what counts the most (and believe you me I have had a lot of jobs in the past few years).
So now I’m finally at the stage in life where I can start saving money again. I saved a thousand dollars in a couple of months! But I DID have to plan and budget to make that happen regardless of the increase in pay. Even though I was saving money, I was finding myself back to my old spending habits before I ever took a hit in pay. Going out more often, buying more expensive foods, and more expensive toiletries in general. I also got some new shoes and some new clothes too.
Then I thought, what if I kept living like I was before I got the new job?
Yeah, I was saving money, but I would have saved even more money if I hadn’t made those extra purchases. So I decided to start living like I was still making half of what I was used to. I became more aware of spending money things that weren’t really that necessary. A bottle of wine here and there, going out to have lunch or dinner, a cup of coffee or tea from a café. Or just random things I thought were cute and didn’t cost much anyway like a cool throw pillow or a new bottle of nail polish. Keep in mind, I’m pretty much a minimalist so when buying these new things it’s because I had the space for them and saw potential use out of it.
But I wanted to save money even faster.
I want a really nice, long vacation. After years of working multiple odd jobs I never really got to stack any vacation days. Honestly though many places didn’t even offer vacation time anyway and I’m long overdue for one; I feel burnt out all the time now and wondered how I could make it happen. I felt like I wasn’t spending that much money, and in truth I wasn’t. There is nothing wrong with getting a bottle of wine, going out to dinner, and buying things for yourself if you have the money to do so. But still, I wasn’t saving money at the rate I wanted to.
I checked my bank account one day and saw that I was finally in a place were I had more than enough money in my checking account for automatic payments to fly out of there all month without me having to check on anything.
But then it came time to take some money out for myself and I found that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to ruin all this hard work, but I still needed gas and food for the week.
So I thought $100 dollars should cover it. $20 for gas, and the rest on groceries sounds like a solid week. The fridge was already stacked on a lot food in my house that I never get around to using because I get lazy and go for something easier and quicker to make, or I just buy prepared food.
And that’s when the money saving began.
On October 23rd of 2019, I decided I would spend only 100 dollars a week for at least 6 months. That excludes all bills which are automatically deducted from my account when they are due. What it does include is food for both me and my dog, toiletries, gas, entertainment, and literally everything else. I started officially on the 25th because it was a Friday and that is when I get paid.
It will be a challenge, and that I will have to make a lot of changes in order to accomplish this. I realize some days it will seem just downright awful, but imagining having that money it makes it not so bad. In fact, it energizes me and makes me want to be even more frugal. In the first week I was even trying to save some money out of that $100! Which did not work out, but I still kept it under 100. As I’m writing this I’m three days into my second week of this journey. It has been especially humbling this week. However that post will come when the week is actually over. For now, I’ll just talk about the first week which has passed.
As I mentioned, I knew I wouldn’t really need any groceries for myself, but I knew I would need gas, laundry supplies, and dog food. Here is the break down of how it actually went, and these figures have tax included:
So I got the stomach flu on the 29th and I was out for the count and really didn’t have an appetite. I also really couldn’t spend money even if I wanted to because I was bedridden. When I finally felt well enough to eat I wanted something easy to digest and good for the body. The grocery purchases made on the last day were fruits and Kombucha; dog food was the most expensive part of it. Sadly, having the flu meant missing work. My paycheck a couple Fridays from now will be quite sad, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
For now I can happily say that I accomplished this weeks goal. Next week will be more tricky as I am going to have to get more fresh groceries. If anyone else wants to join me on this challenge feel free to do so! If you have any questions or perhaps would like some advice feel free to reach out.
I’ll be posting my updates weekly from here on out.
Hope everyone has a great day!!
For some good money saving resources you can read now, here are some that I like!