The 34 Day Reset!!
Happy New Year, everyone! 🎉
With 2020 officially in our rearview mirror (finally!), we’re kicking off 2021 with a brand new challenge for your budget! I don’t know about anyone else, but I could use a reset from 2020 in general.
The rules are simple:
Track all your spending. Do it with paper, do it with YNAB, we’re not picky.
Only buy essentials. Good news, you get to decide what essential means.
No eating out. That’s painful, I know, but there’s room for exceptions!
After 34 days of following these rules, you’ll have a nice little nest egg! What you do with this money is up to you - will you pay off debt? Will you save it for a rainy day? Will you buy that fire pit your backyard has always needed? You decide!
Get started by signing up for the challenge on our website. We’ll send you the 34-Day Reset workbook to use during the challenge, and we’ll be here to cheer each other on all the way through!
If you’re joining in, use this thread to tell us the rules and exceptions you’ve set for your Reset and what you’re aiming to do with the extra money! We’ll be around for the entire 34 days for accountability 😀
Yes, I have used Save for Later, but typically my impulse buying on Amazon is on lightning deals where I'm convinced that if I don't buy the item right then, I will have to pay a higher price later. That is why I think I would do better to stay off of Amazon altogether. Let us know how the online shopping and grocery pickup works for you. My adult kids with their own families all use it and love it. I don't really know why I have not used it yet. On a positive note regarding my groceries, I typically go to the grocery store once/week and have only gone once in January so far.
So... have any "big" spenders found the challenge so far... easier than what they anticipated?
I love to shop and am pretty mindful about what I buy and where it comes from - this normally comes with a much higher price tag. To give this up for 34 days was somewhat do-able.
I can't however, say no to one of the five cafes I pass on my way to work each morning. I would be spending ~$20 per day on coffees, lunch, breakfast... snacks.... anything. If I'm at work late, what do you know there's a food delivery on the doorstep.
Relying quite heavily on eating out made me think I for sure couldn't do this reset but it has actually been fine! I haven't given in to the temptation nor have felt the need to. I have felt a bit of a sting when I see some clothing brands I like are having sales - it's hard.
With all this being said, I've probably saved a couple hundred (single income, no kids) and actually have some categories funded for Feb. I get paid bi-weekly and live paycheck to paycheck. It's currently the 'off' week so normally I'd have under $100 to tide me over for unexpected expenses. I currently have ~$650 in my checking account.
I know this isn't necessarily sustainable to do in the long term but I have been thinking of ways I can "spring" a mini reset on myself to save more. 🎉
I wanted to do a progress check as far as the challenge goes and I'm both very proud and ashamed of my findings. 😓
By this time last month, we had spent $496.49 on food ($378.36 of which was fast food). I know I mentioned previously that it had been a rough month (a Really rough month), but in hindsight, having spent almost $500 in two weeks did not make the month better.
In comparison, we've spent $85.69 on Groceries so far this month with No fast food purchases! Other than gas and groceries, the only payments have been for scheduled bills (mortgage and home warranty).
I know we're not even to the half way point yet, but I can definitely say I Needed this reset. 🥳
So far so good. Spent some money on a necessary basking light for my bearded dragon $10, but will get a refund for the previous one I bought from Petco(which ended up dying in 1 week).
No money has been spent on eating out. No money has been spent on unnecessary stuff. I want to sell some of my clothes, but don't really know how that will work with COVID. Ex: If someone doesn't fit into the clothes, I wouldn't want to accept the return. I will wait until after the situation has been stabilized.
Furthermore, my fiance has been on board with the 34 day reset. She constantly asks me, "Would this count towards the reset?" I tell her that birthdays are fine as long as they had been previously budgeted before we started YNAB.
I have lost 11.5lbs since the New Year stated, of course most of it is water. Nonetheless, I am interested in tracking my progress and will see how effective this reset will be for my pocket and pants!
My husband and I have been doing the challenge, and are long-time YNABers. We're in a dispute about whether we should be funding some of our categories for January, even though we won't be spending from them. "Grooming" is a good example, which covers haircuts, brow-waxing, etc. "Gifts/celebrations" is another. We usually fund those as true expenses, even though we don't necessarily use them every month. So for purposes of the 34-day challenge, absolutely we won't spend from those categories. I still think we should fund it, because we're still going to need the same amount later on. But he interprets the challenge as: every non-essential dollar should be funded into the goal category (in our case, a down-payment fund). What are others' feelings? Save before or after funding those non-essential categories (even though we definitely won't spend from them)?
How did I spend $250 on eating out the first 2 weeks of the month? Holy cow!!! I know 2 of my daughters came home, but still... Ouch. I’m actually looking forward to not eating out. I’m hoping the benefits will be for more than just my bottom line.
I am also debating deactivating my Facebook account for a bit. I love to craft... or, more honestly, I love to buy craft supplies. I’m in a lot of craft related FB groups and seeing everyone’s projects with their new Cricuts and such makes me want to go buy more.
I did see this meme today, and I thought it was appropriate for this forum.
Mid challenge check-in:
(My WAMable categories)
90% of my take out budget remains (I had one last take out hurrah before the challenge started);
90% of my fun money remain (online book);
100% of pet fund (this goes towards grooming and food);
100% of Amazon;
100% of gas;
60% of groceries;
100% of clothing;
100% of giving; and
70% of stuff I forgot to budget for (this is for a subscription that I haven't committed either way to... to keep or not to keep... ?).
My pets have all the food for the end of the month and I'm forgoing grooming this month. I will possibly need to fill up once so gas should have leftovers. I'm ahead of the game with groceries, so leftovers there as well (no pun intended). Not buying any new clothes or use Amazon this month and won't roll those funds over. I thought about skipping giving this month... but this isn't someplace I'm willing to sacrifice from.
My goal is to have an additional $1100 in my "let's get 🐿ly" category. Right now I've stashed an extra $180 there. My calculations based on following the spending trajectory for this month... I should have an additional $400+ that I can move into 🐿's account. I get one more paycheck this month. That generally funds the beginning of the next month. However, I am going to divert some of it to help me reach my goal.
All in all... I'm pretty pleased with the progress 🎉
Well, we have not spent much extra- wife and I took a much needed weekend away at our daughter's cottage (only extra cost was 2 hours worth of gas for the truck)- did not realize how tired we both were, so it was well spent. Also got an unexpected insurance rebate and two other unplanned small bits of income, so that is $234 extra for the challenge. Grocery spending is down a lot, which is interesting- we are frugal there anyway, preparing just about all our food from scratch usually. With the stores closed here for all but essential spending it is easy to say we are saving money, and indeed probably have met the challenge amount. However, the accounts build up and eventually will need to buy those new socks and get a real haircut...
I spent $7.40 on 2 work lunches. I rationalize by saying they were cheap and needed, but.... a little advance planning would have negated the need. $5 of payment for that came in unexpectedly also from a kijiji sale. Oi, the choices we make. Last year when we were so focused on paying down debt we were so careful on every dime, and for the most part still are. YNAB has helped us relax just a little. Still, that puritan angel sitting on one shoulder doth shake its finger at me.
We have spent $1988 on expenses this month so far. About $750 in regular bills still coming up this month. Other than that it is only living expenses, so I think we will make our goal of $1000 (fingers crossed).
Edit to above: our average groceries per person per meal for the year 2020 is $3.61. Another couple of cents if we include eating out, which is a very small budget line item for us. So I guess spending $3.70 for a work lunch is pretty well on target. What do other folks spend on average? (Our grocery budget is only food, all our household supplies etc. are separated out.)
Working from home and having everything in lockdown doesn't help the waistline. Sure I am not eating out and cooking from home, but I'm also not as active as I was at work where I do about 9,000 steps a day plus hot yoga 5x a week. I'm going for daily walks in the forest, some days have been more hikes with the snow & ice, but it's a struggle to get past 10,000 steps a day. I need to get out of the house & need fresh air, so that is my cardio. I'm looking into starting an online workout subscription and being frugal and within this challenge, I'm going to jump around doing the trials! Beachbody has a 14 day trial. I'm going to sign up today and do the Barre program which is 30 min a day of much needed body resistance (plus daily walks) and then after 14 days cancel it. Then I'll sign up for a different program or continue using a different email & credit card. I do know that my monthly fee for yoga motivates me to keep going, and unlike gyms memberships in the past, I am motivated to go 5x/week since I love it so much: the heat, the zen, the stretching out of all the aches, the clearing out of my head, the community, my group of friends that go, the detox...I just can't replicate it at home so I'm going to try something else.
Has anybody else signed up for online workout trials? :)
Check up for 34 day reset challenge:
My challenge was disrupted by the arrival of guests for four days, good thing Jesse reminded me that I need to feed them. I was truly blessed by their visit although I forgot how much children and their parents eat on a day to day basis. I used to think that my mother was being thrifty when we came to visit it was as if there was never enough food and I would run out to get more. I humbly admit that she was just in the same position I am. Used to buying for one family and not 3! This is a public apology to her. Anyway, I am way over what I thought I would be spending on groceries, but it is ok. I moved the money from things like transportation, leaving me some ability to juggle my food budget. I also made sure I am using the stuff from my pantry and am going to start a pantry list as recommended. I have an app I use but it doesn't help me much in the pantry because I forget to update it when I take something out or before I go shopping. The thing is: I have not given up. I am still not buying any extras, unless absolutely necessary, I have one more reimbursement this month the money has already left my budget so I had to reduce even more spending to cover it, I hate seeing red in to be budgeted, so I will replace the categories that I took it from. On the positive side, I hope that my life style creep where I was watching my grocery bill rise each month by about $100 over the past few months, will have halted and I can go back to a less wasteful grocery bill. So, even though I had to roll with the "blessings" I will still be ok. I may not be able to buy my blackout curtain but the other rewards are just as important.
In answer to how I tracked the savings (which are now no longer) I used the 34 day reset calendar and circles the no spend days and on the days I bought something wrote it down. I also made a point of moving the money not spent for the week in my grocery category to the black out curtain (now empty). 😉
The other really important thing that was part of the challenge was to check my budget before I bought something and write my spending in as soon as I spent it. I hope to keep these two habits and not rely on remembering what I think I saw last time I checked. (or even worse, not caring how much I have in the category for some new bright shiny thing that all of a sudden I want or need.) The phone app makes it so easy, I just need to do it.
Thank you all for your shares, the support has kept me motivated.
My challenge has been going better than expected. At the start of the month I wasn't able to fully fund the month so I figured that I may as well join the challenge in order to just get through it.
I wasn't able to fully comply with the no eating out rule due to a prior commitment but I made a few other changes that have stuck. I reduced my grocery budget by $200 and didn't fill my fun money and clothes categories. I also reduced the amount of money I spend on my cats by 25% because I found their food on special. These changes allowed me to fully fund the True Expenses I otherwise would have had to make up in future months. I was also able to put $125 towards a retirement savings goal.
I was happily surprised by receiving money from a scholarship. I used this to fund my insurance excesses (temporarily doubling as an emergency fund), fund 12 months car registration as opposed to the 6 months I planned (which will save money) and fund a decent chunk of next month finally rebuilding my 1 month buffer after I used it last year to eliminate CC debt. I have one final pay this month which will be more than enough to cover the remaining immediate obligations for February and so I will have some left for my saving goals.
Although this seems against the challenge I did use some of the scholarship money to treat myself... to an aerobic step and 12 months on an online workout subscription. However, this means that I can happily cancel my gym membership. This challenge prompted me to consider this as an unused expense. I wasn't going to the gym as it was out of my way, the class schedule didn't work for me and I did more exercise when the gym was closed due to covid. The step was on sale and buying 12 months saved me $125 upfront and will free up $70/month in my budget. I have added the subscription to my true expenses so I can keep those savings going long term (which is only $19/month leaving me $51/month ahead). Therefore, looking at my long term financial and health goals this was definitely in the spirit of the challenge.
I know we really have a week left of the official challenge... but the last day before I get one more influx of dollars to assign - I'm pleasantly surprised at what I'm going to be able to tuck away into the 🐿️ category (I just realized that looks like a chipmunk rather than a squirrel! 🤔) Anyhow... I tuck away $425 into a category earmarked for debt paydown. By not just chucking it straight away at the debt and making a lump sum payment a few months down the road, it is my nod to having a pseudo emergency fund. If something comes up between now and future lump sum payment date... I have that as a buffer - but it truly is marked for debt and I don't touch it for random overspending. Ok - tangent!! Anyhow, my goal was to have a little more than the extra $1,000 in that category. I've played with the amounts remaining in my non-true expense/emergency fund categories... and I will have $1,493.95. What?! 😲 That doesn't even include the $$ that are coming in tomorrow, and I might still toss a few to 🐿️. Clearly my budget contains a lot of wants that are disguised as needs. Now to be fair, that does include $200 from the 2nd surplus check, and I didn't need to buy food for my pets this month because I get a delivery every 6 weeks and this was a month that didn't have that. But I could shave off portions from quite a few categories. Will I as a rule going forward??? No, I don't think so - at least not as a permanent change, but it is refreshing to know that I have quite a bit of wiggle room if needed. I think that I am going to have a month of budgeting as per normal, but I might intersperse that with a group of categories that only get 75%, 50%, 25% as a way to sock away a little extra until my debt is paid off.
So, with only about a week of challange left I had kind of a hard time keeping up. I've been eating every snack in the house the last week. It's not that I had the urge to overspend when shoping for groceries, but the long night home alone gave me a lot of cravings.
The first thing I'm going to buy in a week from now is probably kibbeling, french fries or something else really salty. When I cook I barely use any salt, but that does give me cravings for salty snacks every few weeks or so. I did empty a bag of potato chips or two, but it didn't really stop the craving :D
What are you going to buy as the first thing on the 8th?
I do not ever remember such a long January. Today is finally the 31. I will stay on until the fourth of Feb, I won't know how much I actually saved until I see my the coop budget which arrives on the 15 of the month and includes charges such as electricity and water and other fees that budget by guestimate and usually I am ok. I definitely overspent my planned groceries by100$ but I guess if I were not being careful it would have been by much much more. I actually ran out of oatmeal so mixed up 1/2 oatmeal and 1/2 amaranth , (I normally add 1 tbsp to my reg oatmeal), celery, carrots and an apple . Sounds awful but it was delicious and I felt very virtuous about using the veggies. Also very satisfying. I may keep doing that in the future. I did use my pantry to the bare bones except for some things that I don't know why I bought them in the first place. The freezer is in good shape for the month of February as well.
Lessons learned: entering my spending immediately is an excellent habit as is looking at my categories before I spend . It helps me to decide whether I need to wait a bit more. The other thing is breaking my grocery categories into weeks. I plan to continue to do this. I also learned how hard it is when money is tight. I am grateful to YNAB that I no longer have debt, but before this challenge, I was considering buying a new dining room table. I haven't been able to save for it or much of anything else on my wish list that is 3 digits. After this challenge and my fresh start for 1/2021 I really understand why. I am so grateful that I did this challenge just to open my eyes to the possibility that my mind might trick me into thinking I can go into debt for something that is not essential (I have a perfectly good gifted secondhand one, I just don't like it). I have to decide what are essentials, what I can do without to get something else. When my emergency trip and appliance replacement funds are fully funded, maybe by the end of 2021, then I will be able to do a bit more of other things. Extra income is not a possibility.
So, see you all in another few days. Blessings,
I wasn't perfect, at all, on this reset - especially with eating out. But I still saved a great deal.
My Savings Goal for January: $500
Total Saved in January: $1,472.00
Also, a big change - my Income vs Expenses report has been in the red for the last few months. (And not because of large expenses; mostly eating out and 'stuff I didn't budget for')
Net Income December: −$504.15
Net Income January: $1,058.78
These wins even during an imperfect month have encouraged me to try to make an effort to not-eat out in February (or at least a very conscious scale back). I definitely want to have green net incomes going forward and January has shown me it is more than possible!
After a very stressful day, we caved in to Panda Express. I have to tell you that it made us feel awful this morning. Our bodies are not used to eating greasy food. We are going to continue with this challenge in the month of February as we've seen changes in our pockets and waists. It's encouraging to know that we can stay away from eating fast food and focus on making meals at home. It is a habit that I'm reinforcing throughout February and hopefully changes our overall outlook on eating out.
Well, today I saw first hand how budgeting for hosting will help me! I received an emergency call for help from some relatives were out camping but were asked to leave the site because of predicted bad weather. They called and asked if they could come to stay! We have all been immunized, so of course I agreed. I had food in the freezer and ran to the store to fill in. I charged the things I would not buy for the house to hosting (including the guest tooth paste that I had run out of). What isn't finished will be sent home with them. Maybe it is a "game" that I am playing with my grocery budget, but it truly is making me aware of my buying. They restocked our store with some amazing things that I would have loved to buy, but after coming through the challenge I am being more aware of spending on wants vs needs. It is an important distinction.
Thank you all,
So my 34-day reset is complete... what a success! I was nearly able to meet my goal of $1625 in my squirrelly account. I automatically fund it with $425, then there was the stimulus of a whopping $202, and my pet's food/treat order comes every 6 weeks - January did not have an order, so I was able to save all of my pet category of $150 (vet/licenses are separate). With the help of the above $777, I had $1495 and change in my squirrel category. I get one last income influx on the last business day of the month and I went ahead and topped off the 🐿️ to the $1625. I honestly felt like I was cheating a little, and then I reminded myself that the challenge did continue into February and I've chosen to not fund a travel category that is for at trip that's over a year away (plus, I'm getting a tax refund, so first thing's first... Travel TE catch up 😉).
So what did I do with the reset windfall???? Today... I paid off a 36 month $20,000 loan, 3 months early.... serious happy dance here 🤸♂️!!! That frees up $540 a month and I am super excited!! I really didn't think that I could shave off over $700 from my budget. A bit refreshing to realize after a year of such uncertainty... if needs be... I can reduce my spending without much effort (not to say it was easy saying no to so many things). But I survived just fine and I wasn't really looking at true cost-cutting measures like cutting back on services and subscriptions that I still had going but aren't an actual necessity, temporarily stop funding non essentials in my TE (I don't see anybody and my dogs don't care if I have a few extra grays 🤷♂️). So in a real emergency... I know I can tread water for a long time.
Thank you YNAB for encouraging me to try something I never would have considered and would have scoffed at the thought if I'd have come up with it independently. Such a great program and people!
Completed the challenge time for us. Did not save a lot in groceries- $100. Spent a tiny bit eating out, work related. Got a gift card for $100 for voluntarily helping someone put a couple of windows in. Does that count? Made a bit of extra income $180. We had hoped for $1000. We likely met that challenge- it is a bit hard to tell. Have spent very little money in many categories, simply to stay out of the stores. Shopping opened up for non-essentials in our area, but stores were a little too busy for our liking, so we stayed away.
Will we spend later what we saved? I think only time will tell. Was it a good reset? Sure! Easy to get lazy, especially when all the debts are finally gone. This was a good reminder. I face a (voluntary) work slow-down, so financial goals will have to change, and this is a great way to prep for that.
For those of us who started on January 5th, the 34 Day Challenge is officially over! However, I didn't wake up today with the sudden urge or need to spend (I'm actually feeling reluctant to buy the things I put on my "buy later" list). 😅
I plan on writing up more of an overview tomorrow, but how is everyone else feeling? Any waves of "We Made It!"? Good reflections? Lessons learned? I'd love to hear! :)
So, here's my results for the challenge.
Depending on how you count it, I spend 350 euros less than january last year, and compared to the 2020 average I even spend almost 850 euros less.
So where did I make a difference? It's a bit harder due to the fresh start, and reordering categories at the same time, but this is what I found:
- 75 euros less spend on groceries
- Buying no alcohol saved me 55 euros (that's probably so high due to my birthday last year :D)
- Not dining out saved me 70 euros
- No birthday party due to covid saved me around 110 euros
- Also due to covid I spend 25 euros less on travel
There are some other minor changes, and also some bills that got more expensive but that about evens out. The last week of the month was a bit more expensive, so I feel a bit sad I didn't save more. Although I'm still eating from the groceries I bougth at the end of january ;-)
Overall it was an interesting challenge to do, and good to see I can shave off even more if I really needed to.