52 Week Money Challenge
Every year on the last day of December many of us pick a few things to improve starting the next day. We are only two weeks into 2014 so New Year's resolutions are (hopefully) still going strong. I've picked a few of the most common - drop a few pounds, eat more fruits and vegetables, get to the gym more and to be diligent about bulking up our savings account.
The first three are pretty straight forward. I just have to grow up and do it. I want to set a good example for our kids. My mom died from cancer in 2012, my father-in-law had a heart attack and bypass surgery and a good friend just had bypass surgery. I have a friend in her mid-30's that was just diagnosed with cancer and five other friends or family members have breast cancer. I have big plans for retirement and I need to make it there. If it means less cheeseburgers and more veggie burgers on whole wheat buns AND cheeseless — bring it. If it means less soda and more water or tea — ugh — I'll try my hardest. I'm not giving up pizza. Ever. No matter what. I could be on my deathbed and pizza would be my last food request. To make it a bit healthier, I order it without the meat and add veggies instead. My logic is that no one has gotten fat by eating vegetables. I'm hoping a few simple modifications will yield big results.
I was pretty undisciplined about my diet last year. We had a bunch of huge changes and something had to give. We moved back to Minnesota, started new jobs, sold our house in Chicagoland, started a hobby farm, rescued a dog, adopted two cats, went on a two week trip to Yellowstone and I was mourning the loss of my mom. It's a new year and time to get this train back on the tracks.
My last resolution was my idea but I can't take credit for the way that I'm going to go about it. One of my friends posted a link on Facebook to the 52 Week Money Challenge which was developed by Kassondra Perry-Moreland. The principle is simple. Each week you make a deposit into your savings account. Week one is $1, week two is $2 and so on until finally, at week 52, you add $52. According to her calculations at the end of the challenge you will have $1,378 in savings plus any interest earned along the way!
Now, while this is an amazing idea, $52 in one week, during the holiday season, probably isn't going to happen. So, I'm taking Kassondra's idea and shaking it up a little. I printed off the sheet and have it pinned up next to my desk. I've already started and have $3 in my little money jar and have week one and week two crossed off. Next week I hoping to add $52 and be able to cross that big one off my list. However I do it, it doesn't matter, I just have to do it. If it's something you are interested in doing, tweak it to make it work for you. Even if you saved half, you could end up saving $689 by the end of the year. $26 would be the most you'd have to contribute each week.
Another simple thing that I want to start doing is using cash. I love my credit card because the cash back rewards are amazing. However, swiping plastic is much easier than prying cold hard cash out of my hands. I figure this can have two healthy side effects 1) spending less money and 2) getting coins back as part of my change that I will put into my change jar. Once it's full or I just can't stand it anymore, I'll bring it into the bank to trade in for bills. I don't get out a lot so I think the coin counting machine at the bank is cool.
I'm trying to get our kids on board with saving money as well. Our eight-year-old girls and I love garage sales. We call it "sailing". Last weekend we had lunch at my dad's house. After we were done eating and had everything cleaned up we played the card game "31". The girls and I agreed that if one of us won, we would put our big winnings into my change jar and use it for sailing adventures. My husband didn't know that if he won, his winnings would go into the jar as well. It's something simple to do and will teach the girls simple saving techniques.
Britanie, who works at the Pioneer Journal, read about another interesting saving idea on Pinterest. When you pay for something with cash, save the $5.00 bills that you get back as change. She's saving a lot of money by doing this little trick and funded most of Christmas with her savings. She also has a change jar that she uses to fund fun weekend away with her fiancé! Simple!!!
I'm saving for something really exciting and fun. I want to run a water line out to our barn and install automatic waterers. Hauling three gallon pails out to the goats, chickens and horses (more on THAT next week!) when it is -28 degree is getting old and I'm kind of over it. My husband is more over it. Having to haul water for one winter will make us REALLY appreciate having water handy. Oy.