2021: The Official YNAB Savings Challenge

Welcome to the official YNAB Savings Challenge of 2021!

It's that time of year where we reflect back and focus forward on what's to come in 2021! I know 2020 hit a lot of us in tough ways, but it was shocking to see how much we still managed to save in 12 months. Updates are still rolling in, but we managed to save over $1 million as a community in the 2020 savings challenge!

Everyone is welcome to join in on this challenge, regardless of the size of your goal or the date you join in.

To get started:

1. Claim your line on the 2021 Savings Challenge sheet.

Fill out all sections until Column F with your name (or forum username), what you're saving for, currency you'll be recording in, and the total amount you'd like to target in 2021.

2. Share a summary of your savings goals in this thread.

3. Check in and add your savings total to the sheet for each month throughout the year! Update this thread and celebrate with others!

Pro-tip: You can use ctrl+F (or command+F on a Mac) to search the spreadsheet for your name when the sheet gets filled up.

Let's set ourselves up for success in 2021! Happy saving, everyone 🤩

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  • Hello! Wasn't planning to join this year, but met my goal quite early for the 2021 Debt Smackdown! Claiming line 100. While I still have some loans to pay off, funneling my former credit card payments into savings for the rest of the year feels like the right move to start off 2022 ready to rock. I originally paid off all my non-mortgage debt in 2015 and frittered away my newfound surplus; that plus a series of life changes (and not having YNAB until this year!) brought me back into even more debt, so I'm grateful to have this accountability to avoid past mistakes.

    To keep it simple, all my large sinking fund categories (deductibles, home/auto maintenance, vet funds) are funneled into one line item here, to be refilled if I need to spend from them. My total goal for 2021 savings is $8,750, which feels lofty at this point in the year, but my debt payoff success has shown me that I have a lot more "disposable" income than originally assumed.

    Current Progress (partly through prior month savings, though a triple paycheck this month really helped)
    1. Roth IRA (2021, to fill by April): $300/$3,000
    2. Sinking Funds: $1,922/$5,250
    3. Car Replacement: $100/$500
    YTD total: $2,322/$8,750

    26.54% to goal

    Like 2
    • August Update: Wanted to make more progress, but ended up getting some overdue roof maintenance done when I got an unexpectedly cheap quote - that's exactly why we build these funds, right? Rather shell out $550 now, than $4,000 to replace the whole dang thing in the next couple years. Spent money on a couple other things I hadn't budgeted for (and have now set up a true expense category for ren faire next year 😂), but am still making progress.

      1. Roth IRA (2021): $900/$3,000
      2. Sinking Funds: $$1,996/$5,250
      3. Car Replacement: $200/$500
      YTD total: $3,096/$8,750

      35.38% to goal

      Like 2
    • September Update: Another home repair needed this month (toilet replacement) but otherwise a pretty uneventful month. I decided to change my goal a bit - removed a sinking fund I'm delaying and replaced it with some upcoming travel I'm saving for, to finish up my degree. I had been saving for it all year but didn't originally include it because unlike the other categories I know I'm going to spend it soon... but like, that's why we save, right?!? It was becoming obvious that I would not even come close to my original goal based on my current expenses and income, and this new strategy is a stretch but a December triple paycheck should top me off or get close enough that I can slow down on my sinking funds and gather momentum for more debt payoff next year. Could they be done moderately at the same time? Technically yes. Realistically, that's not how I operate. Anyway.

      1. Roth IRA (2021): $1200/$3,000
      2. Sinking Funds: $2,595/$4,250
      3. Car Replacement: $300/$500
      4. Spring Travel: $880/1200
      YTD total: $4,975/$8,950

      55.59% to goal

    • October & November Updates: Oops, I updated the spreadsheet last month but forgot to post here. Changed my goals yet again because goals need to change as life changes. I am very nervous about an upcoming work sabbatical but need to remember that with this month's triple paycheck and cashing out all my PTO I will almost certainly have expenses covered without adding any debt. But even if I do, it will be minimal and also very much worth it because this sabbatical is in the service of completing my masters degree and looking for a much higher-paying job.

      Anyway, saved $475 towards goals in October and an additional $815 in November. I also incurred some medical bills in October which will wipe out my insurance deductible, but hey - that's why I saved it in the first place. Haven't started paying on those yet but will have to figure that out quite soon. And I can save that money up again, and I will.

      1. Roth 2021: $1800/$2100
      2. Sinking Funds: $2075/$2450 
      3. Tuition: $610/$750
      4. Income Replacement: $580/$1000 (this is the shortfall from accrued PTO)
      5. Spring Travel: $1200/$1200
        YTD Total: $6265/$7500

      84.66 % to goal

      Like 1
  • July check in: I had a bit more in my July paycheck for some extra work and used it to add to my "get a month ahead" goal. Currently 2/3 of the way to breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle. Still working on tweaking my budget to help me reach my "month ahead" goal sooner. Battle in my brain is whether to fund this goal or keep adding to my sinking funds (but it's a good problem to have). I also slightly upped my monthly retirement contributions, so that feels good. Otherwise, everything else stayed the same and I met my monthly goal.

    Like 2
    •  I also added 2 new categories for August and increased my year end goal to add these amounts

      1. 2022 Medical Deductible $125/$750 funded in Aug.

      2. House Down Payment (this will be a multi-year goal, so starting small this year and will increase next year) $250/$1500 funded in Aug.

      Like 1
    • bookyarncafe August check in: Met my major monthly savings goals (retirement, car replacement, med deductible). Decided to put more money into sinking funds instead of month ahead (at least for August). Might change that in future months. Ended up postponing my house down payment sinking/saving monthly amount until Sept or Oct.  Needed a few clothing staples, so spent some money on those, but they were definitely needed. Also spent more on fun money than usual (experiences), and am ok with it, but need to reign it in next month. 

    •  November check in: didn't quite have as much as I wanted available for my savings/investing, but still on track to meet my year end goal. One more month friends! So grateful for this challenge and community.

      Like 1
  • Back from my week-long couldn't-dock-due-to-covid sea voyage abroad, so I'll have to inspect Shetland closer later on. I did at least get to see some of the coastlines between shifting rain and fog.

    June: 64.8%

    July: 81.51%

    Like 2
  • mandiferous said:
    If you've got the category set up as a "spending target by date" then the progress bars in YNAB will show you when planned spending has been completed, so you don't need to refill the category and can easily track your total savings there and in this forum.

     I haven't, because I have no way to predict when it's needed by. But that makes sense. And should work because when you set that type to repeat it remains fill of you don't spend it by the date. 


    mandiferous said:
    Agreed that pre-paying will help reduce those costs, both by being able to negotiate an up-front payment discount and also the fact that you can make less emotional decisions

     That, and places around here apparently have pre-pay discounts without me having to negotiate. 

  • This month and September are a little bit rough due to unexpected travel and financial assistance related to my parents' health. We still managed to save a total of $340 in August, but the remaining amount we'd have otherwise been able to save was needed to keep our debt smackdown on track. Likely my September update will come with a reduced Saving Goal amount due to ongoing family expenses, but we haven't had time to really sit down and do the math yet. 

    Saved in August:  $340
    Saved in 2021: $18,210.35
    Goal Remaining: $11,789.65

    Like 1
    • tekgy Way to adjust as your priorities shift, and heck yeah to continuing to smack down debt! I hope you've been able to care for yourself as well as you can during what sounds like an extra hectic time. ❤️

  • My savings have been plummeting lately, but in the long run, this shouldn't matter.  I'm confident this is a temporary setback, even if September's been my first negative month. Not sure if I'll meet my yearly goal at this rate with only three months left.

    July: 81.51%

    August: 81.94%

    September: 60.60%

  • Soooo, it's been 9 months since I joined this challenge and haven't been updating my progress.  Funny how motivated I was on the debt smackdown sheet, but for some reason I'm not as eager on this one.  However, the good news is that I have been saving, so I just lumped everything into November - a total of $21,200 (in round numbers). I'll have to re-think my goals for next year and see if I can light the fire of motivation to exceed them!

    Like 1
  • I'm getting new insights by tracking my savings, that's for sure,  but not sure if I'm learning anything. 😄

    August: 81.94%

    September: 60.60%

    October: 45.07%

    November: 77.29%

  • November check-in

    Wrapping up 2021. My goal back in January was:

    "Save a neat $75,000 for retirement and long term goals this year (gulp!)".

    I amended that in June, after buying a house: 

    "For this year, include home-buying and home-improvement costs in spending, and offset by counting the increase in my home equity toward savings. Subtracting estimated loss if I resold my house today (10% of home value), to keep my numbers reasonable. Next year, resume normal tracking (excluding home equity and home purchase costs)."

    Total goal: $75,000 🎉 (I'm going to call this a win.)

    Spent YTD: $122,815 😬($74,604 in living expenses & $48,211 in home-buying, repairs, improvement expenses)
    Saved YTD: $111,185 (including conservative estimate for home equity gains) or $37,880 (excluding it)

    Pre-tax: $23,797 (401k) + $6,826 (HSA)
    Post-tax: $6,640 (Roth 401k) + $73,305 (home equity gains, minus cost to resell)
    Also: Added $617 to emergency fund (See brokerage account below)

    Investment gains YTD: $55,309 (surpassed my savings!!)

    401k & Roth 401k: $48,051 
    HSA: $5,191
    Roth IRA:  $2,067

    Most concerning savings categories that I wanted to replenish:

    Self-preservation / Job Loss fund: $10,617 (Refilled this and grew, Individual Brokerage account)
    For When The Car Dies: $0 (My car is approaching 11 years old. Yikes. I spent all $2k from this category.)
    Keep The Car Running: $314 (Only added a few dollars this year.)
    Home Maintenance: $949 (That's not going to maintain much, but headed in the right direction.)
    Christmas: $1,056 (I filled this mostly in Oct & Nov, but it was better than last year.) 
    Medical & Dental: $71 (I'd like to avoid using my HSA, so need to continue to build this up. But I did pay for braces out of pocket this year, and all other expenses to date, including hundreds in therapy from Oct - Dec.)


    I no longer feel over-extended. :) I haven't quite saved more than I've spent this year, but considering that I bought a house and had to do major repairs, I think I've done well.

    I spent $16,000+ on travel, and learned some good lessons that should bring the costs down by $4,000 next year. (Managed to get 3 international trips, plus 3 domestic trips in, this year! That was one too many, for us to fully appreciate each adventure. Scaling back to 5 next year, pandemic-permitting.) 

    I'm also working on a job change, which should bring a raise and signing bonus. Goal is to hold spending steady, and invest all additional income for the future. I'm guessing I'll have a week or so less vacation time in the new gig, too, so that should help me be more mindful about travel plans.

  • I can't even find my old posts, but to finish out the year, here's how I did in 2021:

    Goal: $34k

    Amount saved: $36,227.48

    106.55% of my goal

    Like 2
    • xgirlmama 

      Congratulations! 🤩🎉

  • My 2021 saving challenge re-cap:

    • met and slightly exceeded my goal
    • 103% of goal funded

    Thanks for another great year. I definitely save more than I think I can thanks to this challenge, ynab app, and the ynab community. 

    Looking forward to next year's challenge. 

    Until then, wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. 

  • 2021 is finally over, so it's time for a quick recap. I started with no clear idea about how my investments were doing, and thanks to this group, I gained & saved more than I ever thought was possible! 😁

    August: 81.94%

    September: 60.60%

    October: 45.07%

    November: 77.29%

    December: 90.91%

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