Jan 1

2010 Savings Challenge

I’m participating in Mrs. MoneySaver’s 2010 Savings Challenge! With a New Year starting up, now is the time to get motivated, create a budget and savings strategy to stick to, and stay accountable with your spouse or friend.

My husband and I wrote down our 2009 accomplishments recently which included finishing Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step #1 (Saving up for an emergency fund), and working on Baby Step #2 (paying down debts by using the Debt SnowBall method).

In 2010 my goal is to pay off all debts, with exception to our mortgage. This will be a tough one! On paper, it looks like it will take probably 1.5 – 2 years, but we’re going to set the bar high and try our best to do this in just 1 year. It will take dedication, determination and self-discipline, but my family is up for it!

I plan to:

  1. Continue doing my main grocery shopping at Aldi, and clip coupons for deals at other grocery stores that make the following scenario worth my while: Store Sale or Store Coupon + Manufacturer Coupon = Extreme Savings.
  2. Continue shopping at CVS and Rite Aid to stock up on free or cheap toiletries and household items by playing the “drug store game” or in other words, “rolling” CVS Extra Care Bucks to buy other items that earn back ECB’s (and thus paying very little out-of-pocket for items like toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), and buying items at Rite Aid that are “free-bates” or free/money-makers after manufacturer coupons and Single Check Rebate.
  3. Start being more disciplined in meal planning.
  4. Start using SwagBucks which every other blogger I know has said is a great way to earn a little bit of money for something you already do (searching the internet)
  5. Start using the envelope system (set aside actual cash in envelopes to be used at the grocery store and other stores, so that I don’t over-spend or have the urge to charge it on my debit or check card which means I may go slightly over-budget each month which adds up to a lot over time).
  6. Switch from currently using an Excel spreadsheet for tracking our daily and monthly expenses, to something like Mint.com per suggestion of fellow frugal bloggers Holly and Dana.

So those are my goals for savings this year!
Good luck with your own savings goals and New Year’s resolutions for 2010!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly January 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

That is awesome Laura! I love your goals. Congrats! You have my full support!

I would strongly suggest you mention “Paying yourself first” or consider the “Baby Step 1” equals “Paying yourself first”. That way before you pay any other bills including debt you immediately put money into your emergency fund and retirement. I’ve been doing that for years! It works everytime. Then you know exactly how much you have left. Plus, we have found that after we pay the debt and bills we have extra to put into the savings or debt payment.

This coming week my hubby and I will write our goals out too.

Too funny you mentioned Mint.com because I’m actually updating my account right now. :-) It really does help show our over all expenses and net worth. It also does a great job showing our investments. It takes a couple hours to setup your accounts so be prepared to take some time to set it up. Include everything like cash accounts, investments, loans and assets then you can see your net worth. This is a huge motivator!

I will write an updated post about my views on it. I don’t think it should be your only monthly budget tracking tool. There are some weird issues with it that I’m frustrated with. For example: Today, Jan 1, it says we spent over $2k in Auto & Transport ON Jan 1, but there are no transactions in any of my accounts that match that up. That’s crazy! I reported the bug. *sigh*

I’m not a fan of excel just because it is overwhelming to keep track of all of the details and you can stress yourself too much. Unless someone has a great template that is free to use that doesn’t require a lot of work. If you know of one then that would be great to share!

I like the idea of cash only but I’m not sure I would like to do that either. The concept is great but the implementation is a huge mind change. I don’t like carrying a lot of cash on me and don’t know if my hubby will be good about keeping all of those receipts. That is why debt and credit cards are great because I can keep track of what we each spend. That is also a frustrating part with Mint.com, you can’t track cash transactions easily -you have to adjust an ATM/Cash transaction with all of our small transactions and that is tough too.

Keep Saving! – Holly

Reply

frugalfriends January 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Thank you Holly for all the great tips and encouragement!
I really appreciate it and love having such fun and supportive fellow NOVA/DC area frugal bloggers. Looking forward to a great year in 2010!
Laura

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Gina January 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm

OMG, you’re not doing Swagbucks?! You should be! That has been such a huge blessing to our household. You’ll be amazed at how many you earn just sitting and researching your own blog posts, hunting for IP coupons, etc. And I agree with Holly about paying yourself first. That’s what we decided to do by putting a debt first, the money needs to come out before paying for groceries, household, clothes, and other variable expenses.

I’m curious about Mint.com, but haven’t jumped in yet. I’m also looking at BudgetPulse. Can’t decide.

Great goals–have a great year!

Reply

frugalfriends January 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi Gina,
Thanks for the comment! I know, isn’t it silly that I’m just now getting into Swagbucks? Not sure what I was waiting for! After 3 days of using it, I’m up to 7 Swagbucks. Hopefully I’ll do as good of a job “swagging” as you gals who have had success accumulating Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards and other great things!
Thanks for the tips and for also mentioning BudgetPulse; I hadn’t heard of that one. So many choices… where to start? I’ve liked keeping it simple, but am looking forward to another online tool to help track things even better.
Love your blog Gina, and thanks so much for taking the time to stop by mine and leave a comment!
Laura

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Dana @ Mrs. Moneysaver January 5, 2010 at 8:28 am

Thanks for taking part in the Savings Challenge, Laura! I think your goal to pay off debt is great- and I like that you planned something that will be very challenging. We did the same, and though I feel kind of overwhelmed at the challenge, I think it will be a good exercise for us.

And congrats on your 2009 accomplishments!

I second Gina- Swagbucks is wonderful! We were able to do nearly all of our Christmas shopping from the Amazon cards I earned on Swagbucks this year. It’s a great program. Definitely something you should stick with!

Thanks again for joining me in the Challenge, Laura!

(I got your link to work on my Savings Challenge post, by the way!)

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frugalfriends January 5, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog Dana and thanks for the encouragement for the 2010 savings goals!
I am definitely looking forward to accumulating more Swagbucks (currently up to 10 SB); that’s such a great idea to save them up for using on Christmas shopping!
I love your blog Dana and hope you know how much it helps inspire me and other frugal readers!
Laura

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