2019: The Official Savings Challenge

Happy new year, everyone, and welcome to the 2019 YNAB savings challenge!

All are very welcome to join in, no matter the size of your goals or savings purpose. Claim your line on the spreadsheet and then post your goal to this thread, then check in every month to update your progress on the spreadsheet and the thread. If you have a journal, you can also link this on the spreadsheet. 

2019 Savings Challenge Spreadsheet

A special thanks to @Budget_Ninja for creating the spreadsheet and to speaking_of_art who is taking a second year as steward of the spreadsheet.

The 2018 savings challenge total is not yet completed, and there will be people still posting their final updates in early January, but I can see that as a group YNABers from both forums saved in excess of $760,000 (US $).  That is outstanding!

Let the 2019 saving begin.

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  • Mid-Month check in to report that I have officially completed my Big, Hairy Goal for the year, my 3 Month Buffer!!

    I am in awe of my efforts and the result!  I cannot tell you how many hours I've spent reading and re-reading this thread and the spreadsheet in order to stay focused on achieving my goal.  I also increased my goal by $1000 at about June when I realised I had miscalculated and at the time, thought that would be my stretch goal! HA!  

    I've gone ahead and recalculated my remaining goals to give myself some leeway in December and started looking ahead to next year as well.


    Like 4
  • August check-in.

    $1,322.08 in additional income in July:  $1,204.07 in insurance reimbursements, $40.24 net one-time increase to my usual paycheque due to having worked two shifts starting at midnight (and getting $5/hr more), $37.83 in cashback rewards and survey candy, and $39.94 in interest.

    A lovely total of $2,710 budgeted to the categories I count in this savings challenge this month, and that brings my year-to-date total to $29,350, which is 91.72% of my $32,000 goal.

    Like 3
  • August check in for me:

    I added $600.00 to my savings goals for August, which I am very happy about.

    My categories make me happy, because the values in them are growing.  I love seeing the amount of money in my chequeing account because that is my category savings!!  I love it!

    I also want to say how amazing this spreadsheet is to me.  I could never for the life of me put that together so I have tons of respect for the person who did!

    Onward to September!

    Like 4
  • Sept check-in

    things rolling into fall is going well. took up some side hustles and they are paying out now. also my monthly income has increased. so more money for savings.

    For Sept I'm putting 1500 total in each of my saving pots. $500 each, pretty excited. 

    Like 3
  • Going ahead and making my August update since I highly doubt I will have any more money come in this month (though, I wouldn't mind if it did).

    I've been doing a reassessment of my goals and it's looking like I'm reaching the point where I am comfortable with my emergency fund amount. I'm currently at 8.8 months worth of savings in total, so I'll probably knock this goal out this year and reduce it next year.  

    • Retirement: $4,000.00 / $6,000.00
    • New Car: $4,273.09/ $6,000.00
    • Investment Accounts $1,226.00 / $1,300.00
    • E-Fund:$5,055.08/ $6,000.00
    • Total: $14,554.17/ $19,300.00
    Like 4
  • AUGUST: This was a good month! $3312.00 to my six month emergency fund! Typically the number would be half that, but I got an unexpected bonus this month and was happy to put the full amount into my savings. 72% complete! On track to finish by October 3!

    Like 5
  • $727 to kids' 529s

    $437 to health care category (Any extra at end of year will rollover but upcoming expenses make having much left unlikely)

    $690 to various sinking funds

    $125 to braces fund

    $330 to vacation funds

    $189 to wish farm items 

    for a total of $2498.

    I found a used bike that was the right size for me so I had to WAM that and our tv/internet contract was up for renewal which means that I鈥檝e budgeted an extra $150 for whatever crappy fees they鈥檙e tacking on to pop out for 15 minutes to flip a switch and charge us for equipment we don鈥檛 need.  Can you tell I'm thrilled?  Also had an escrow shortage that I needed to send extra funds to.  Bit of a smaller month because of that.  

    We had new gutters installed this month; next big house projects are window replacements and new driveway.  My goal is Fall 2020 for the driveway (concrete) and summer or fall of 2021 for windows (spring with all the pollen seems like a bad idea to be open to the elements).  We could get to those earlier, depends on how we want to use this November and and next May鈥檚 third paychecks.  My husband said his boss has ok鈥檇 a 4% raise; we鈥檒l need to talk about it, but my desire is to increase his 2020 retirement contribution by 1% and our kids鈥 college fund contributions another 1-2%.   As a side note, I haven't included how much we're putting into retirement because it comes directly out of his paycheck and I don't generally see the e-stubs. 

    Like 4
  • August Update

    I was pumped to close out my big goal for the year, my 3 month Buffer.  At some point during the year I had also upped the amount an extra $1,000 so my pleasure at attaining the goal is immense.

    My son is paying a percentage of his modest income from his part-time job which I am putting straight toward the Grad gift I am saving for him so that goal is slightly ahead of budget and will probably end early.

    I also learnt I am taking a work trip to London in January (with a few planned vacation stops along the way) so have added that as a savings goal and any extra saved from the early completion of former goals is going here instead of towards other goals.  I know I will feel more assured that I am saving money to spend on my trip more than I would finishing these goals early.  

    Like 3
  • Spent some from the home repair savings and got my foundation inspected, yard cleaned up and some HVAC filters. But saving is just deferred spending, so it still counts.

    August total: $1841.11

    Wants for home: 50
    Needs for auto: 200
    Savings for home repairs: 802.11
    Savings for secure future: 581
    Veterinary: 183
    Travel: 25

    Like 1
  • September check-in.

    $486.30 in additional income in August:  $191.84 in insurance reimbursements, $210 gift of cash that my mom insisted on giving me for looking after her house and garden and in lieu of bringing me back a gift(s) when she traveled to visit relatives (there's no arguing with her), and $84.46 in cashback, interest, and survey candy.

    $1,765 budgeted to the categories I count in this savings challenge  when I budgeted the month of September, bringing my year-to-date total to $31,115, which is 97.23% of my $32,000 goal.

    Like 1
  • Check-in for July & Aug: I've caught myself up on the spreadsheet. Savings is taking a hit, as expenses have increased significantly for us with daycare and baby stuff. Also dipped into the emergency fund because I had a big car repair and bought a king bed because our queen is too small for us with middle of the night feedings (so many more pillows needed for propping up elbows). I've rationalized it  because sleep is our #1 need right now, so better sleep is an emergency. My partner did finally get a new full time job (previously was in a part time job that didn't pay well), so I'm hopeful that we will be able to get back to a semblance of budget normality again in the next few months. One month at a time.

    Like 3
  • I've been keeping up with the spreadsheet, but have been forgetting to post here in the forum. I'm really trying to ramp up my Roth IRA and 6 month emergency fund to get as close to fully funded as I can by the end of the year (which will also my 2-year Ynab-versary). I also save monthly for sinking funds and water my wish farm every month, but I don't count that in the spreadsheet, since I plan to eventually spend that money. Those sinking funds sure do come in handy and have kept me from going back into debt! Once I have my 6 month EF fully funded, I'll keep saving for retirement and sinking funds, as well as focus on saving for a car, as I'm not sure how many more years I will get from my current car. I love YNAB and continued to be inspired and motivated by  everyone in the forums.

    Like 2
  • Behind in the updates.

    In August I put $200 towards vacation, $1,150 towards the animal fund, and $240 in m HSA. Bringing my savings total for the month to $1,590. That puts me at 80% complete!

    Like 2
  • September Check In

    No spreadsheet snap today but I am happy to have completed more of my major savings goals I set out to complete this year.

    Despite my deciding an extra $1000 throughout the year my emergency fund has , at August, 3 months of expenses, now funded at $9,100. 

    Christmas is completely funded to a total of $2,300

    The Grad gift is a a two year plan with Year 1 now fully funded at $500.

    My car replacement fund goal for the year is at 91%.

    I have added a goal to save $3k for my January trip to London and it stands at 65% funded.  All money that would have been saved for other funds will be going either here or towards clothing robust enough to survive a British winter.

    At this point in the challenge, between these and other regular saving efforts, my savings rate is 50% of income which I'm really happy about.  I'll get a bonus in December and hopefully it can all go in to my car replacement category.

    Edited to Add:  I added in my new London goal and am surprised to see that I have almost doubled my original target which I had doubts of ever being able to complete.  The power of focus and intention is an amazing thing.

    Like 2
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view


      Fantastic!  If there was an award in this challenge, you would have won it hands-down.

      Like 1
  • Update for September. It looks like I won't hit my E-fund goal since I decided to put more money into my investments instead after a review of the finances last month.  I will hit my overall target though without issue, which honestly is more important.

    • Retirement: $4,500.00 / $6,000.00
    • New Car: $4,793.62/ $6,000.00
    • Investment Accounts $1,751.00 / $1,300.00
    • E-Fund:$5,158.38/ $6,000.00
    • Total: $16,203.00/ $19,300.00
    Like 2
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
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      Awesome.  I think it's often harder to save than to smack down debt, but you've made it look easy.  Nice consistent application.

      Like 1
  • October Check In

    $189.96  in additional income in September:  $65.94 in interest received, $74.02 in cash back rewards and loyalty rewards redeemed, $50 gift.

    $1,535 budgeted to the categories I count in this savings challenge  when I budgeted the month of October, bringing my year-to-date total to $32,650, which is 102.03% of my stretch $32,000 goal.

    Colour me delighted with my progress this year. It really makes up for all those times I told myself "no" on an impulse treat this year.

    Like 2
  • My last update was in July so I'm checking back in. Here are my totals:

    $2396 - 401K
    $1400 - ETF
    $1000 - ETF

    $3698 - 401K  (includes matching)

    $8494 Total

    This puts it at $42,784 for the year. We are only $1,216 away from the goal of saving $44K this year.

    I am really proud of what we've been able to focus on and do. This includes us only have 1 paycheck from June-mid September (partner not working for 3 mos).

    We sacrificed vacations and lots of lunches/dinners out over those 3 months but still did this. We cooked at home, only drove 1 car (put off car repairs on second car), said no to three different trips and didn't have any major events for big gifts. We didn't do anything big for our anniversary.  We did take one small weekend/overnight driving trip during the summer and it was very low budget.  We saved up for it.

    We also had a huge 6K unexpected tax bill come up in August that we are working on cash flowing and pulling out of savings. Because we have been saving, the hit, while certainly a big setback, is not hurting us daily. It would have been really nice to replace our broken car with that, but oh well.

    I am excited to meet and hopefully exceed this 44K goal. I want to be realistic about the holidays though, and potentially take a trip before the end of the year. I know I will keep the 401K on auto-pilot but will have to be much more disciplined if I want to attempt to continue to save an extra $1,000 per month. That has been the most challenging part. 

    Like 2
  • For September I added $240 to the HSA and $340 to the vacation.

    Vacation is now over and paid for.

    I am at 88% complete.  Which is a little misleading because one of my goals was to add $4,500 to the animal fund, but I actually need those funds to pay for animal care throughout the year so that fund is nearly $0. I still have been saving towards it, unfortunately it just gets spent as fast as it gets saved. But at least it was there for when I needed it which is the goal. 

    Like 2
  • October update: I've not really been able to save much, just for rainy day expenses. Otherwise, I've needed to drain savings and most of our emergency fund to pay for expenses related to a recent storm that knocked out all 3 tvs, wifi router, charging cords, all of our Nest products (thermostat, 4 smoke detectors, & our new video doorbell), our AC unit, furnace, electrical GFIs throughout the house, and more. I'm paying for everything out of pocket until I get approval on the claim from insurance. 

    Another drain on our savings in our adorable little baby. But geez babies are expensive. Always new stuff needed, it's more than I prepared for, and I prepared a lot by saving what I thought was enough. I guess not! Oh well, he's worth it. I hope that next year we can build savings back up. One month at a time.

    Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Spring Green Rain 

      ((hug)) of support.  On the bright side, you've reached the point where your life is more dramatic than your debts/bills. 馃檪

      Like 1
    • HappyDance Virtual hug of support much appreciated! And now to foster less drama going forward.  馃槀

      Like 2
  • I am grateful to be able to report that I reached my savings target goal for this year! I will continue to save for the next few months 鈥 overachieving the goal set at the beginning of the challenge. Really, I do feel overwhelmed by this result and at the same time I have mixed feelings about it.

    In the past year, I developed a dislike for the work I do, due to all kinds of circumstances which have to do with reorganization, outsourcing and the adverse impact this has on our customers. Time and again, as a customer facing resource, I am supposed to come up with complex solutions that I know will be very difficult to produce within the current company structure. Our promise as a company is broken time and again, and it really gets at me. It eats away my belief in the company 鈥 which I once was so proud to work for as I genuinely believed we make a positive contribution to society.

    Not being able to fulfill our contractual obligations, breaking our promise, and being very much aware of this fact really is incompatible with my character. I feel this eats away my personal integrity, my personal brand if you like.

    I am torn between my employer鈥檚 interest, my personal interest as an employee and our customer鈥檚 interest. My employer鈥檚 interest is to keep producing services, and to keep selling them, my personal interest is to continue to earn a very good wage plus commissions for at least another two years reaching financial independence, the customer鈥檚 interest is efficient IT infrastructure and -systems supporting their business.

    I am impacted to much that I called in sick. I feel I cannot continue like this anymore. At the same time,  my current savings are not enough to be able to pull the trigger and be done with this work altogether. I am looking for answers, discussing options like leaving prematurely (I can comfortably live for at least six years so there is no immediate emergency.

    I am questioning myself, my character 鈥 why do am I bothered so much whereas many of my colleagues do not? Sure, they recognize the issues, but they seem to be able to continue without much difficulty. Should I try to change my viewpoint?

    So, here I am. Not sure how to continue, and if I can continue this job. Perhaps I should find different employment, but that鈥檚 not so easy at my age. Perhaps I should retire, and live really frugally for the coming twelve years until my retirement kicks in? Not sure, I need time to think about this.

    If I could continue for another two years, then I can comfortably retire and bridge the remaining ten years at the current spending level. At time of retirement, I expect the pensions will pay out significantly more than our spending levels 鈥 it will effectively feel like a pay rise.

    Like 3
      • QC
      • HaplessFinanceProfessional
      • Queenofcoin
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Optimist Great work on the savings!  I'm sure it feels good to hit the mark early and good on you for committing to over-achieving!

      • Optimist
      • Optimist
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

        QC Thank you! :-)

  • October Update

    I completed another two goals this month (Grad gift and Christmas) which means more to throw on my London trip. 

    I added in tentative numbers for November and December and realised my numbers were out which, after some digging, led me to realise I'd been calculating my goals wrong close to all year.  My revised (but probably not final) total goal for the year is  $16,365.36.  My original goal was $10,779.20 so more than 50% increase as a stretch has been a fantastic result for me.  

    I've pencilled out some savings goals for next year and am already raring to go for 2020!

    Like 1
  • Saved $240 in my HSA for October. 

    Like 1
  • Well, guess what? I met my savings goal yesterday! I saved $44,000 from March 1 to Oct 31. This is by far the biggest financial achievement I have ever had. We also paid off our debt to the IRS. What now?

    • Try to continue to save $1,000 per month in brokerage
    • Keep up the max 401K deductions through the end of the year
    • Taking a vacation to celebrate  (low cost $600)
    • Enjoy buying gifts for my loved ones this season without debt, by saving up about $1000 for gifts and sticking to that budget (I always go over)

    If I can do this I will make it to 50K by the end of 2019.  This will be a challenge, hopefully I will be able to meet it! If I can show this result to my partner, hopefully he will agree it wasn't too painful and get on board in 2020. Up until this month our finances have been separate so it's a brave new world now.

    I should say I'm very grateful for my circumstances in the last year that enabled me to do this.  Most of my has been paycheck to paycheck and I worked my way up in my career for two decades. It hasn't always been this way - infact not for most of my working life. I am grateful motivated to keep working really hard so I can do it again in 2020.

    Like 8
    • nordstromaddict Congratulations!! 馃帀 

      I'd consider that a pretty hefty savings goal and you knocked it out in just several months! 

      Like 1
  • I met me goal of $2000.00 in September and was able to add another $700.00 in October.  I am really happy about that.   We are in the middle of a construction zone in our house.   Its been about 6 weeks now and we have about 3 more weeks of insanity until this renovation is done.  I am going to go over budget so there is not likely to be any more savings this year.

    Something Nordstromaddict said really struck me.....about the sacrifices they made to reach their goal.  I am really going to look at that for 2020.  

    January 1st will be a full year of YNAB for me and it has changed my life.  But I can do a better job of saving.  I spend altogether too much money and I am going to reign that in for 2020!

    Like 3
  • I haven't been as focused on my savings pot because I have been building a nest to service medical debt I was planning to get this month. But I'm pretty pleased that I've been over my worst case savings planning. By the end of the year I'll be 161%  completed. This information I will use for my next year plan and give myself more of a challenge. Very pleased with the saving lessons I've learned and excited to use them for next year, while I'll be servicing a very large debt load.

    Like 2
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