10 Things We Did To Save $28,000 In 3 months
This summer we set a goal to save $25,000. In the end we were able to save $28,000 in just 3 months (June-August). Sharing this feels a little intimidating because talking about money is so taboo. I spent so many years feeling overwhelmed by personal finance and that really got in the way of us successfully reaching our goals. I am choosing to share our experience because I learn best from how others have approached problems and I wish others would be more willing to share their successes and failures. This isn’t meant to be a measuring stick for anyone to judge themselves by, everyone is in a different place and we have been especially lucky in the opportunities we have been given. The focus of this post is on the habits that we worked to develop, not on the total amount of money saved.
None of the things that we did to hit this goal were particularly revolutionary but simple things add up. Saving money requires some combination of increasing income and decreasing spending. Increasing income only helps if your spending doesn’t go up with it and you can only decrease your spending by so much. Here is a breakdown of what we did within each of those categories to hit our goal.
Increasing our income:
1. We made more money
In May we experienced a 50% increase in our income thanks to my husband getting a promotion and me starting a new job. This was easily the biggest factor in hitting our savings goals.
2. We worked HARD
We both worked incredibly hard over the summer to make this happen. I worked 10-20 hours of overtime every week and Greg worked hard to get a good bonus for the quarter. Everything extra that we earned went to our savings.
3. We picked up side jobs
I had been doing some consulting work for a nonprofit so I continued and we also sought out other temp work or side jobs.
4. We had a yard sale
After moving things back and forth countless times over the last year we decided it was time to downsize and get rid of as much as humanly possible. Our yard sale helped us get rid of a ton of stuff and make a little extra cash while we were at it.
Increasing our overall income accounted for around $18,000 of our savings.
Cutting down on expenses:
As a disclaimer, I am using our spending from the months of June/ July and comparing them with April/May for the sake of simplicity. By April and May of this year, we had already cut back quite a bit on our budget so this is probably not as representative of what our lives looked like a year ago, but you can get an idea of what things looked like.
5. Finding cheaper housing
Estimated monthly savings: $300
The one upside of moving out of our apartment was that we moved into a sublease which was about 30% a month less than our previous apartment. Having a cheaper apartment was one of the biggest parts of our monthly savings.
6. Cancelling Amazon Prime and cutting out mindless spending.
Estimated savings: $200 per month
I’m specifically targeting Amazon Prime here because I feel like it is one of the major sources of my wasteful spending. In addition to the recent price hike, that “recommended for you” section under every product is dangerous territory. At our yard sale, a frustrating amount of things we were selling were odds and ends that Amazon had convinced me I needed while I was trying to purchase a new laptop case. Cancelling Prime makes me less likely to impulse buy things because I am perusing less frequently. For anyone thinking to themselves “but I couldn’t live without free shipping!” You can still get free shipping without prime when you spend more than $35 on select products.
I can’t just target Amazon here however, I often used to fall victim to the random spending. One thing I have done to combat that is keep a list of all the things I am thinking about buying. I revisit the list every few days and eliminate things I realized I don’t want any more. If it stays on the list long enough, I will consider buying it. Overall we have (mostly) eliminated the random spending and cut our budget down to $50 each in personal expenses.
7. Eating out less
Estimated savings: $200 a month
Eating out is a weak spot for us. Looking back to get an estimate on how our spending habits in that area have changed made me a little sick. It is really easy for “cheap” meals to add up quickly. I looked back at the month of April and we somehow managed to eat out or order food a ridiculous 36 times.
8. Being more intentional with meal planning
Estimated monthly savings: $100
In addition to eating out less, we have also really worked hard to shop with with a list, plan meals for the week, and only shop 1 time a week. In addition, working to eat out less forced us to cook the food we had on hand and be able to take leftovers to work saving those valuable meal tickets for date nights. Less frequent trips to the store also decreased our spontaneous “this sounds good” splurges.
9. Trading travel for free/ cheap adventures
Estimated savings: $500
While we haven’t done quite as much travel as we have in the past, we have had a genuinely fantastic summer full of tons of adventures, camping trips, and hikes. This summer our travel expenses included flying down to Texas to visit family, camping and hiking, and lots of road trips. We have been averaging about $400 a month in travel related expenses including Airbnb, hotels, flights, etc. While this is still a ton of money, travel is the one big splurge area in our budget and something that we love doing. That being said, we have definitely pulled back a bit from how much we have spent in the past.
10. Learning to budget
Estimated monthly savings: $500
A lot of this probably falls under the “cutting random spending” category but on the whole, creating a budget and tracking our spending has helped hold us accountable and prevented money from “falling through the cracks”.
In total, but cutting back on spending we saved around $4,000. In total our savings between our increased income and lower expenses totaled $22,000. Previously we had been saving closer to $2,000 a month which accounts for the last $6,000 of our savings. Between increasing our income and cutting way back on expenses we were able to increase our savings rate from maybe 30%-40% to around 80% which was such an exciting feeling.
So what did we do with our savings? Around 2/3 of our savings went towards maxing out our 401k and Roth IRA. The other 1/3 went into a high yield savings account. Now that the summer is over and our goal has been met, our savings situation has changed quite a bit. While we aren’t being quite as aggressive, it feels good to be able to say that we did it. We set a crazy goal and worked hard to get there.
Have you ever set a savings goal for yourself? How did you achieve it? Tell me about it in the comments below.