Let’s 34-Day Reset together: Fall 2021 Style!

As many of you know, the 34-Day Reset challenge is evergreen - you can start at any time!

But it’s a new school year, we’re well into 2021, and the holidays are already starting to bear down on us (what? how is this possible?), so we thought it was a good time to start a collective push for a reset! We’ll officially start on September 1st, 2021, but feel free to jump in at any point. 

Who’s with me?! If you need a reminder, here’s the rundown of how this works. There are three rules:

1. Track all your spending: use YNAB, use a pen and paper, whatever floats your boat!

2. Buy only essentials: you get to decide what this means - tell us below how you’re defining it below 😊

3. No eating out: we can do hard things!

And of course, you get to set your house rules however you’d like. Support your best friend's restaurant by getting some takeout. Buy that gift for your spouse who’s had a tough week. Roll with your unique punches, and don’t beat yourself up!

Once our 34 days are up, you might find you’ve saved a chunk of change! It’s totally up to you what you’d like to do with the spoils of your reset: save them for holiday gifts, pad that emergency fund, harvest one of your Wish Farm wishes? You get to make the choice!

You can get started by signing up for the challenge on our website and you’ll receive the 34-Day Reset Workbook to use during the challenge.

Once you’ve gotten started, thread a reply here to let us know how you’ve formatted your house rules, and what you’re aiming to do with any extra money! We’ll be here to cheer you on and keep you accountable. Let’s gooooo!

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  • 2 week mark check in! I'm so glad I joined this challenge; the support from you all and seeing everyone else participate has helped me be so much more mindful about my budget and approach my tightening-down with minimal shame and stress. 

    This one is a happy update! I'm way, way below budget because I haven't bought any non-essentials the past two weeks (although my partner was eye-rolling when I refused to put a quart of chocolate milk on my card when they forgot theirs...we went back and got it later). I was planning on grabbing my favorite Reuben for my birthday next week, but I'm going with my sister and *she's* on a budget too, so maybe we'll just make something!

    I also found a random $500 in a savings app that I used in....2019?...that I forgot about. Classic squirrel burying an acorn behavior. I cashed out and deleted the app, and now I have the excellent problem of deciding where to put it. The amount is just sitting in my uncategorized transactions because I'm a bit baffled about what to do with a surprise extra paycheck! (Literally. My paychecks are about $500 now...biweekly. Ack.) I'm leaning more and more towards putting the down payment on a new car together and letting go of my irrational attachment to a high-maintenance wagon.

    In other excellent $$ news, the parents of two of my favorite kids reached out to me to ask for child care! I love their kiddos so much that I would totally do it for free, but it doesn't hurt that they're paying me my care share rates (when I take two or more kids from different families, each family pays a reduced rate, but overall I get paid more). l haven't seen these kids since I was teaching this past summer, and I can't wait to spend time with them again. I feel so lucky that I get to supplement my income with something I deeply, truly love.

    Another recipe for y'all as my parting words: my favorite tarragon grain salad! Made this last night for dinner and it makes great leftovers, cold or warm.

    1. In a medium bowl, toss to combine ~3-4 cups of cooked grains (wheat berries are my favorite, but brown rice, quinoa, and barley are also good), 1 diced English cucumber, 2 shredded carrots, and 1 clove minced or pressed garlic. (Optional: radish slices.) 
    2.   Add in ~3 tbsp olive oil, ~2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar, ~1-2 tsp dried tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste.
    3. Optional: toast a quarter cup of rough-chopped walnuts or pecans in a toaster oven or dry skillet, then add in. (Nuts can be spendy but you don't need a lot to add a delicious toasty flavor. For a nut-free option try pumpkin seeds, which I've found on the cheap at Aldi.)
    4. Serve warm or cold!

    Feel free to experiment with the ingredients, but I've found that the combination of cucumber, tarragon, and nuts is what really makes it. Sometimes I omit the carrots, but it's a nice nutritional boost.

    Happy Friday, everyone! Keep it up!

    Like 2
    • Bunchberry Catching up on everyone's updates a bit late - that secret savings account is a huge 34DR win! And thanks for keeping the recipe content coming 😊I'm literally saving all of it! 

  • So we did it - today was our last day - 34 days done!

    For me, that was so so so hard! Although we had some expenses I didnt expect, like my daughters dance lessons (which Ive now started budgeting for as a true expense) and I bought a rare CD Ive been looking for for years, we literally stuck to the rules without question. No eating out or takeaways at all. We actually spent less than 10% of our typical discretionary monthly budget. At the same time we hussled to give us our biggest extra pay month so far (plus we have an almost empty freezer!)

    With our challenge money, we part funded a spa day for me and my wife for November. Half funded a new bed for my daughter. Gave ourselves both some spending money and padded our true expenses to give us an AOM of 32 Days! We put money aside for gifts, clothing for all of us and funded a trip each to visit family. We put a big chunk of money into Family Days out (tickets/food/souvenirs etc). Oh and we also made our subsciption payment for YNAB!

    Ive been using YNAB since it was YNAB 3 - I remember updating to YNAB 4! But I have a confession. I was a YNAB Cheat. I didnt follow the process. I projected forwards by budgeting money I didnt have. I didnt follow the rules. I thought I knew better (despite somehow acquiring £26k debt, I was still too smart to follow the process. When YNAB went online I turned my nose up. I wasnt going to budget with all my data held online?! Thats what I told myself as I logged into my online bank, online credit card, online utility account etc etc. Crazy to have that sensitive data just "out there"! Ok, so I humbly admit my stupidity. Im now 100% committed to following the rules. I know there is a lot of advice out there and everyone thinks they know best. But for me, Im now doing what YNAB says. Ive been watching endless video's (thanks Hannah) and Im going to follow the method with zero deviation. We will be debt free in April 2023, which we are going to try and bring down to December 2022. Instead of just dumping money on debt repayment, we are building our True Expenses as future debt prevention. We have a plan which is realistic and still allows us to enjoy an acceptable quality of life whilst allowing us to get out of debt in a very realtic time frame.

    Thank you Rachel and the YNAB team - count us in for the next 34 day challenge you do. Its tough, but so worth it. And keep going those that are on the home straight - just a few more days to go!

    Like 2
    •  Hammett98 Wow! Those are some huge shifts!! I love that you discovered a missing True Expense. I admit to not having done a reset yet, but you're really persuasive at how impactful it can be. 

      Like 1
    • Hammett98 Ahhhh yay! Congrats on crossing the finish line! And what am amazing testament to the power of the four rules - not matter how long it took you to get on board. I hope you and your family enjoy the spoils of your reset and all the lessons you learned throughout. You are so awesome! 

      Like 1
    • Hammett98 Woo! That sounds amazing. You guys did so much!

      Congrats on finishing.  🎉

  • Down to the last few days for me! And I'm really happy to see that even though I had a large car repair bill happen in September, I was able to keep my total monthly spending below my monthly income. 

    It's not that much below, but it is below! 😂

    And I am so looking forward to getting some celebratory takeout after this is done.

  • I just saw this and I spent way more than I meant to this past summer, so I'm going to give it a shot starting tomorrow as I just went out to lunch with a friend today.

    I will follow the rules as posted, with my definition of essential including that I am going to be buying some books to go into the little free mental health library I started on campus in my friend's name who died of suicide in 2019.  I have been waiting to start it since just before Covid, but we finally have a spot on campus and I have already given away so many of the books I bought awhile ago that I need some more.  But I will also send an email around to other friends who knew him to see if anyone wants to donate a book or two to the cause.  We all miss him very much.  For more about my project, check out the virtual version of my library here.  


    Other than that I should probably just be buying groceries, unless any other major household consumables are used up in October.

    I'm going to take the leftover money and put it towards a new car fund.

    Like 3
    • PhysicsGal Your free mental health library project sounds wonderful (though I am so sorry to hear of the loss that inspired it) ❤️

      Welcome to the challenge - we're so glad you're here! 

  • Today, my watch has ended!

    All told, I was able to save $513.66 over the 34 days. Which honestly, is about $150 more than I expected to save. 

    I rediscovered how much fun it can be to "shop the pantry", and see what I could make with what I had, or at least with buying as few ingredients as I could. Between this and the rule to try to avoid premade grocery store meals, I ended up saving a lot more than I expected apparently. It also doesn't hurt that one week I had grocery pickup scheduled, and the store got super behind, so when they finally got my groceries done they gave me and everyone who had pickup scheduled that evening a nice little discount. So yay for patience!

    As for my rules and exceptions: 

    I did end up going to a BBQ for a friends birthday this month, so I was really happy to be able to pick up something from the store for that. 

    I am sad a little bit that I didn't get to pick up some games that went on sale this month, but to be perfectly honest, I pretty much know that they're going to go on sale again sometime. I can pick them up later and I have plenty of games already to keep me entertained. 

    I've never been a big dining out/takeout person, but I am really looking forward to picking up takeout on Friday, my reward for this. 😄 The rest goes into the emergency fund.

    Good luck finishing up everyone! I'm cheering you on!

    Like 3
    • Coral Network I didn't fare as well as you in not picking up pre-made goodies from the grocery store (a Trader Joe's trip was my demise 😆). 

      You crushed it - I hope your takeout is the best ever (what are you gonna get?!) - it's well deserved! 

    • Rachel I had the knowledge deep in my soul that I would do the exact same thing as you if I dared to step foot into a Trader Joe's. 😀

      So I just didn't go. I miss my boxed sangria...

      There's a mongolian grill near me that has been around forever, and I love being able to customize what I get so easily. It's gonna be delicious!

      Like 1
      • Hammett98
      • Sea_Green_Vacuum.15
      • 1 mth ago
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      Coral Network Well done, thats a great achievement!

  • Oh wow, has it already been over a month!? Possibly close to 34 days? I didn't mark the specific day I started, but maybe  Rachel can see?

    Either way, I'm SO glad I started and followed through on this challenge, and proud of myself for how closely I stuck to it! I think I followed all my own rules (no eating out for a whole month until this past weekend, when someone else was buying!) and saved far more money than I predicted.

    Some wins:

    • I feel like I have my cooking mojo back! I was deeeeeeep in the eating-out-because-I-don't-feel-like-cooking rut this summer, and it was costing me hundreds of dollars that I didn't have every month. I was doing well on making myself lunches, but by dinner both my partner and I were so exhausted that we could barely think about food, let alone make it. When I went cold turkey on eating out, it helped me form the mindset that I could and would make dinner, and/or coordinate it with my partner. I turned out  lots of delicious fall soups and simple grain salads that I hope will carry me through the winter.
    • By focusing on my own goals and sharing about my experiences, I connected with my partner and sister who both decided to implement budgets within the past month as well. In the past, I've pushed and pulled my partner along on my budgeting journey with me, and this time I found that it worked better to release all control and focus on myself. It turned out that others saw what I was doing and wanted to come along without me even trying! There's a saying in some of my teaching circles: "Be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage."
    • Having the support of the YNAB community has helped me so much in my transition to a new job. It's had its ups and downs, and the low pay could have been a much bigger emotional issue had I felt alone in dealing with it. It's meant so much to know that we're all in this together! Setting financial goals has also helped me to remember that this experience (think a national civilian service program) is helping me work towards my own professional goals as an environmental educator, even if it means experiencing difficult moments and rocky parts along the way. Perspective!
    • Did I mention that I didn't buy restaurant food ONCE?! I'm not even that excited about eating out again (who am I????), because that little voice in the back of my mind reminds me that those dollars could go towards my wish farm instead...

    I'll add another post with some of the numbers and a bit more reflection on my savings journey/what I didn't spend, but for now I part with the recipe I made for my birthday cake: David Lebovitz's divine Boston cream pie.

    Happy mid-October, y'all!

    Like 3
    • Bunchberry Congratulations! I love that you got your cooking mojo back. 🎉A perfect time to switch to fall soups.... Looks like you posted to this thread for the first time on Sept 9. 😊

    • Bunchberry I think we might be recipe soulmates - I love David Lebovits (oh, and happy belated)! Congrats on making it through - I love hearing how your experience had such a ripple effect with your loved ones, too. What an awesome side-effect!

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