2018: The Official Savings Challenge

Copied  from and linked to the old...ahem...more mature forum here with the blessings of  speaking_of_art , who is this year's steward of the spreadsheet.

 

Hi Everyone! 

Welcome to the Savings Challenge for 2018 - spreadsheet (which hopefully will work!) can be found here. 

Thanks to @Budget_Ninja for creating the spreadsheet and @angiegypsy for hosting last year's challenge, which was a huge success with  $726, 926 saved. 

All are very welcome to join in, no matter the size of your goals/ savings purpose etc - claim your line on the spreadsheet and add your goals for the year to the thread below, 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. 

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  • Check in for May (and April and March?):

    Most of my "savings" this year has continued to be in the form of juggling one large-but-expected expense per month, rather than successfully building up funds ahead of time, but I have to remember it's still a huge win that I've been able to juggle these expenses without adding on debt (and while knocking down my debt, even!).

    Now the biggest expected "lumps" have passed, so *fingers crossed* I won't have too many unexpected things come up to dip into my newly established mini e-fund, or my soon-to-be-built vet expense & auto repair rainy day funds.

    I've fully funded my original Mini e-Fund and Get Out of Dodge fund goals at this point, so hoping that in June I'll be able to start consistently contributing to the other 4 goal funds! :)

    Reply Like 4
  • June check in: I've saved another $990 so far this month, which I've updated in the spreadsheet. I hope to add more savings this month once I get my 3rd paycheck (how I love 3 paycheck months!) and after I budget for all of my July expenses. I'll update again if I am able to save more.

    But in even better news, I've already reaped the reward of saving so aggressively last year and earlier this year.  Over the last few weeks, I've been able to meet heafty financial obligations (over $30k) without adding one cent to debt! I did this by saving for my true expenses and aligning with my priorities. So glad YNAB came into my life 4 years ago! It truly changed everything for me.

    Reply Like 2
  • this month I'll be setting aside $180.14 for my savings goals:

    -$100 for my emergency fund

    -$50.14 for the stork fund

    -$30 for my new home and moving expenses fund, which may actually have now morphed into kickstarting my savings for maternity pension that I pay into when I take leave... it may now be a necessity early next year...

    Reply Like 2
  • June check in: Funded college savings,  xmas fund,  and writing retreat, which I put in the spreadsheet. Other smaller sinking funds I'm not tracking here, but did add to. hooray, I'm 60% of the way there! I go on my writing retreat next week, so won't need to contribute to that in July,  and it's summer so we won't be putting money aside for that until my full paycheck starts again in October. Living off what we saved through these lean months, determined not to run out of money! 

    Reply Like 3
  • June check in: I've slacked on True Expense funding this month in favor of throwing extra at debt, which isn't ideal, but is hard to resist while I'm still knocking down some penalty-rate high-interest balances.

    I'm prepping myself to try to chill out on the debt attack in July in favor of actually building up some of these True Expense reserves, especially since I effectively "unbuffered" myself by choosing to send my entire 3rd June paycheck to debt paydown rather than rolling it into my monthly buffer like I'd originally planned, so my checking account balance is alarmingly thin, and those True Expense funds would really help give it back some safety cushion. :)

    The only savings goal I contributed to in June was Vacation/Trips, but it was because I had expenses in that category. I'm realizing that most of the "saving" I've been doing in this challenge really has been budgeting money in the month a particular expense is actually happening (indicated by the purple fields above). The only times I've really successfully managed to save anything *ahead* of time (and then let it sit!) have been to fund my mini e-fund, and then partly while saving up moving expenses.

    I can see why the e-fund and moving expenses were more motivating savings goals than the others - they were particularly large amounts I wanted to save, and the e-fund in particular was my current "snowball" target before really hitting my debt paydown snowball, which I was *really* excited to do. :)

    I'm not sure if there are ways I can use that knowledge to my advantage to help me with these other savings goals, hmm. I've been starting the month fully *intending* to add to these funds, but I inevitably end up stealing that money throughout the month to use towards other things instead. I need to start treating these funds as important enough to not touch.

    For July, I'm contemplating trying out actually *hiding* these categories once they're funded (I'll probably hide my entire "Rainy Day Funds" and "Commitments" category groups) so that they're not as visually tempting when I view my budget throughout the month. I'd tried collapsing those groups, but it's way too easy to expand them with a single click without really thinking about it, whereas actually hiding them might give me enough pause that I'm not just staring at those numbers completely absent-mindedly.

    This feels a little like a crutch, but hey, what I'm doing now isn't totally working, so I gotta let myself try something new. :)

    At the same time... I do also have to step back and realize that despite all the disappointment I've expressed above, I also have actually already funded 63% of my savings goals for the year, and we're only 50% through the year, so maaaaybe I should lay off myself just a tad and realize that I'm actually completely (more than!) on track, even if things maybe haven't been going as exactly perfectly as I'd ideally hope? ;)

    Reply Like 2
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Resistant Punch Roller 

      From my own experience, saving and money and letting it sit was something I got better at over time, and after messing it up and restarting, got better with each attempt.  I'd define it as a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened.  The corresponding skill you need is the ability to stubbornly say "no" to yourself and any "bright" ideas you come up with.  That too gets better over time.  Make hard set-in-stone rules for yourself. One of mine that  I would recommend for your consideration is: NEVER repurpose all your true expenses AND your buffer to pay down debt quicker (or spend, or invest) ever again. It just leaves you too defenceless.

      Reply Like 4
  • 1st Half of the Year Check-in + Strategy Shift for 2nd Half! :)

    In reflecting on my last post, in which I realized I've been doing so much better at saving towards my goals (and letting the money sit!) when I've been doing it in focused chunks, rather than saving a consistent amount to each goal each month (as I'd been aiming to do but not at all succeeding at in practice), I've decided that maybe it's worth trying to work *with* this tendency rather than against it.

    So for the 2nd half of 2018, I'm going to try "snowballing" my remaining savings challenge goals. Each of my four remaining goals have differing timeframes for when I'm likely to need the money available, which naturally suggests an order for tackling them, so I'm going to run with it!

    1. Vacation & Trips (these are currently underway so I need to be funding this immediately)
    2. Gifts & Xmas (shouldn't need this for another month or two, so this is ideal to focus on 2nd)
    3. Vet Expenses (no anticipated expenses until January, but they've generally had at least one "unexpected" vet trip per year)
    4. Car Repair (again no anticipated expenses, but I want to try to anticipate some of the unanticipated!) ;)

    My plan is to send a dedicated $700/mo towards my savings goals (regardless of my debt snowball and other expenses!), working in the order above, until each has reached my original total for this challenge. At the $700/mo rate, I should max them all out in November, so this gives me some wiggle room as well as the potential to exceed some of the goals (as I'm realizing some might benefit from more cushion that I'd originally planned on).

    I'm hoping that this consistent $700/mo goal will help motivate me to see this overall pool of savings as important enough to remain untouched (except for planned spending from those categories), and am already feeling optimistic about the shift in mindset this is causing! :)

    In addition, I finally took the now-obvious-seeming step of pulling these four categories into their own Category Group (named "🏆SAVINGS CHALLENGE!!"), which I've placed prominently at the top of my category list, right under my "💰 Financial Freedom!" group, which houses my Debt Snowball and Mini eFund categories). I previously had them mixed into my Rainy Day Fund and Commitments groups, along with other categories, but I'm hoping this will help me focus on preserving at least these categories, for the time being.

    With my paycheck this morning, I've budgeted out the first half of July, including reserving $500 in my vacation category, which feels like I'm off to a good start! Just $200 more from my next check, and then I'm free to send however much I can squeeze out of the rest to debt, as long as I leave this untouched ;)

    Reply Like 3
    • Resistant Punch Roller Snowballs everywhere!! 🙂 I find the technique helpful to help me build up my True Expenses as well. Best of luck with the 2nd half of the year!

      Reply Like 2
  • Savings 

    JAN    

    FEB    

    MARCH  

    APRIL   

    MAY  

    JUNE 

    JULY

    TFSA  

    0  

    0  

    10  

    10  

    20 

     20 

     20 

    Investment  

    0  

    0  

    0  

    20  

    20 

     20

     20

    July is consistent, I can't add more as I'm still funnelling money to my last debt before I tackle a fixed payment debt. Also, I overspent and decided to book a flight, which would have been ok as I got the cash to cover the cost. However, I had a lot of additional expenses. So I've had to dip into some debt repayment funds.  I will be getting a refund on those payments, but sadly it will be after Sept. 

    All in all, better that I'm maintaining and not dipping into these savings, which usually would have happened.

    Reply Like 1
  • June Check in! I forgot to check in for May, because I was on my super amazing trip to Europe (London, Belgium and Paris), which was a big thing I was saving money for. Feels SO good to go on a trip and know all the money is there.

    So for this month:

    Big Trip Fund 141.37 (started saving for next years trip! Don't know where to yet, but it will be smaller/cheaper than europe. Probably an all inclusive Carribean island)

    Wee Trip fund 658.67 (all my little trips, and I have 3 in august!, just got back from camping)

    xmas: 100

    For a total of 900.04 this month, 90.46% of my original goal and 4781.57 for the year! I added a few little trips so it is good I will be going over 100% of my real goal.

    Reply Like 5
    • juuniper77 What a great feeling to go on a fun big trip knowing it's all paid for and you're not adding debt.  Congrats on being so far ahead of your savings goals!

      Reply Like 3
    • Spring Green Rain Thank you! Since the big trip was in May, I knew I had to keep on top of it!  It was such a wonderufl trip! 

      Reply Like 2
  • Starting out July with a super small paycheck, but everything we need to pay now is budgeted, so that's good. Also found out that June was our last orthodontia payment ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Won't feel that extra $200 until August after I get paid for summer teaching, but every little bit helps. Feeling weird that I'm starting to take money out of savings instead of putting money IN, but that's what summer is like for an academic, so I'm just working through it. Enjoying my writing retreat; last full day today. 

    Reply Like 4
    • Navy Blue Unicorn Having the savings and avoiding adding debt is such a good thing. Enjoy that. :)

      Reply Like 2
      • Navy Blue Unicorn
      • Science is real.
      • Navy_Blue_Unicorn_6d071
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Spring Green Rain I really am enjoying that!  

      Reply Like 1
  • July 2018 Check-In (cross-posted in both forums - link )

     

    Pretty much on track to hit my stretch goal of $19,300 by December. 🙂  This may sound dull, but I've been through exciting times, and when it comes to money, I'll take dull consistency any day.

    Reply Like 3
    • HappyDance Not dull at all. Sounds freeing. Congrats!

      Reply Like 2
  • Glad to be back in this challenge.  We are officially debt free and focusing through this challenge on building up our large emergency fund.  While starting this we had to dip into our baby emergency fund for a new garage door.  Someone tried to steal my truck and in the process backed it into our garage door.  😔 But at least we had it there and didn't have to use any credit or debt to take care of the problem.  Now its time to start stashing away.  

    Reply Like 4
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      cebingham3 

      Cheering you on!

      It took me most of 2017 to get 5-mo of expenses saved while also building up some neglected true expenses categories. Initially I wasn't sure about just leaving that much cash liquid in my bank accounts to (hopefully) never use, as opposed to my old habits of always investing those dollars for retirement, but now that I've completed the e-fund saving, I can't believe the level of confidence and the peace of mind having those funds available to me has provided. Best decision ever!

      Reply Like 5
  • Still on track as of the end of July with just over 70% of my savings goal accomplished. We might be down an income starting next month, but this is great motivation to keep going! Let's keep it up in August!

    Reply Like 3
  • July check in!

    So, last month I made grand plans to start "snowballing" my remaining savings goals for the year, starting with Vacation, since the related anticipated spending looked like it would come in a neat orderly one-at-a-time fashion.

    I'd also decided to commit to sending a dedicated $700/mo towards my savings challenge goals, so I started the month with $700 budgeted to Vacation, as planned.

    But then, I had a couple gift expenses come up that I realistically should have seen coming, and also my pre-camping-roadtrip oil change turned into a much larger Car Repair expense, so I shuffled money around from Vacation to those categories.

    So good news: Since I'd already set aside $700 towards my savings goals, it was easy to reallocate that money between the goals as needed! Also good(?) news: I ended up setting aside more than $700 towards these goals in the end - but it's because I ended up needing to SPEND more than $700 from these categories, so yet again I ended up funding these savings goals only to have to spend it all immediately. So less-than-good news, I still am not successfully actually saving *ahead* and rolling over money in these categories. Sigh. But the expenses ARE getting covered, and that's a huge win :)

    The best/most successful outcome of my planning was actually gathering these goal categories into a distinct category group, and labeling it with my $700/month goal - this REALLY helped throughout the month in making these funds feel untouchable, whereas it's been SO easy to steal from these categories to fund other things in previous months, when I had the categories all spread out.

    In fact, I think that dedicating the $700/mo to the savings goals as a whole is really the key - I can allow myself to shift the specific goal allocation around each month if needed, but only BETWEEN goals, not out of the goal categories to other frivolous things :)

    So for August I'm actually going to try skipping the snowball idea and budgeting the $700 across my remaining four goal categories, and see how that goes!

    Reply Like 4
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Resistant Punch Roller 

      Love this.  It's an inspired idea.

      Reply Like 2
    • Resistant Punch Roller This is a great approach! Life happens and we need to adjust, but barriers can also be really helpful to keep the budget on track.

      Reply Like 1
    • Nina Shelly said:
      Life happens and we need to adjust, but barriers can also be really helpful to keep the budget on track.

      What a great way to put it, yeah!

      Thanks for the encouragement HappyDance & Nina  - I feel like I'm finally starting to gain real traction with these goals!! :)

      Reply Like 1
  • August 2018 Check-In (cross-posted in both forums - link )

     

    I budgeted some funds for a long overdue mani/pedi this month, so my usual savings total is a little lower than usual due to that salon appointment.  .....crickets chirping.......  Oh, yes I did! And I'm planning on enjoying every second. ~~~wiggle of anticipatory delight~~~

    Reply Like 3
    • HappyDance hehe ENJOY that pampering treat, you truly deserve it!!! :)

      Reply Like
  • AUG Check-in

    Savings  

    JAN     

    FEB     

    MARCH   

    APRIL    

    MAY   

    JUNE  

    JULY 

    AUG

    TFSA   

    0   

    0   

    10   

    10   

    20  

     20  

     20  

    20

    Investment   

    0   

    0   

    0   

    20   

    20  

     20 

     20

    20

    6 Month Buffer

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    10

    I went through my money and semi-glad with how I'm balancing everything. I'm still learning the small victories. I decided randomly to create a new category - 6 Month Buffer. I created 4 goals to mark my victories. 

    First Goal: Monthly Payments/Bills for 6 Months

    Second Goal: All my Payments/Bills (monthly and one time, yearly ones)

    Third Goal: All Payments/Bills + Basic Living Expenses

    Fourth Goal: All Payments/Bills, Basic Living Expense + Comfortable Living Expenses 

    Honestly, I have no idea how long it's going to take me to create this buffer. My primary focus is to clear my debt. In that time the 6 months basic living will change. But, I'm creating this category so that it's on my radar and something I consider when I am dividing my money.

    Reply Like 2
  • July & August check in: July got away from me, with so much going on. But I was able to put over $2500 into savings in July all thanks to a 3rd paycheck end of June. All hail the 3 paycheck months!

    And so far for August I've budgeted over $1300 toward savings, and am over 94% of the way to my goal for the year. But I may need to move some of what I budgeted toward savings this month to other categories to cover expenses from a vacation stay at a cabin the end of the month. I actually put extra in my savings this month with the expectation I'll need to move some of it to other categories, so I'm perfectly okay with doing that if needed. I love debt-free vacationing. I never knew what that was before YNAB. 

    Reply Like 2
      • Navy Blue Unicorn
      • Science is real.
      • Navy_Blue_Unicorn_6d071
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Spring Green Rain July got away from me too!  But I'm back, and on track!  glad to see you!

      Reply Like 2
  • Late with July check in but here it is:  Funded college savings,  xmas fund,  and vehicle repair, (total = $1340) which I put in the spreadsheet. Other smaller sinking funds I'm not tracking here, but did add to. hooray, I'm 65% of the way there!  My husband is switching jobs, which has been a LOT of stress, but he will get his vacation days from the job he's leaving at the end of August, so that is going to be a really nice windfall.  Meanwhile, I'm also still on track for the debt payoff, and have added zero new debt. So cool!  

    Reply Like 1
  • August check in: Funded college savings, holidays fund, additional sinking funds for $1350. At the end of the month, will add to some savings/sinking categories, but this is good for now. 

    Reply Like 1
      • Navy Blue Unicorn
      • Science is real.
      • Navy_Blue_Unicorn_6d071
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Navy Blue Unicorn almost 74% there!  woot!!!  

      Reply Like 1
  • I have maintained consistency in my savings pot. Most likely for the rest of the year I will be setting aside $50 a month. Nothing to complain about, I'm pretty pleased as I have not considered taking this money nor future expenses savings for debt reduction.

    Savings   

    JAN      

    FEB      

    MARCH    

    APRIL     

    MAY    

    JUNE   

    JULY  

    AUG

    SEPT

    TFSA    

    0    

    0    

    10    

    10    

    20   

     20   

     20   

    20

    20

    Investment    

    0    

    0    

    0    

    20    

    20   

     20  

     20 

    20

    20

    6 Month Buffer 

                 

    10

    10

    Reply Like 1
  • September 2018 Check-In  (cross posted in both forums - link)

     

    By my reckoning I'm now off pace by around $50/month, which will result in being $200 (possibly more) short of hitting my stretch goal by December.  I think my Christmas category is sufficiently funded right now, but I'm not willing to divert the monthly amount and risk coming up short. There were funds left over in Christmas last year, and If there are funds left over again this year, I can top up my savings challenge in the final moments of December.  Who knows?  Maybe an unexpected small windfall or two will surprise me and make up the difference. I live in perpetual optimism.  🙂

    Reply Like 4
  • Sept/Oct Check-in

    With the extra cash I got in Sept I added an addition $20 to my investment category - total $70 for Sept. $50 has gone into my respective savings pots for Nov. I plan to continue doing that for Nov and Dec. 

    Reply Like 2
  • contributed $239 ($50.59 net, I spent out of the stork category in july, but decided this month to make up for that spend. my spend was baby-related, but only marginally.) overall to my savings goals this month:

    -$75 for my emergency fund

    -$95 for the stork fund

    -$19 to my maternity pension

    Reply Like 2
  • Sept check in: I was able to save more than last month, so now I'm 99.52% of the way to my goal for the year. Will be able to begin saving for 2019 goals starting next month. This challenge has really kept me on track! One month at a time.

    Reply Like 3
  • Fell off the check in wagon for a couple of months, but didn't fall off the savings wagon.  Plugging away at the EF, 31% now.  Going to be a slower month this month as we have a family trip coming up but we will still put some away.  Should have a large in flow coming between now and the end of the year to try to make a big push towards our goal.  Keep up the good work everyone.

    Reply Like 2
  • October 2018 Check-In (cross posted in both forums - link)

     

    I received an unexpected gift of $200 at the end of September. This was added to savings categories, and it helped to narrow the gap between what I know I can save and the stretch goal which is just excruciatingly out of reach. I am still around $150 short, which is just too tantalizing to give up on hitting, so I will remain alert to ways to find the funds or squeeze my budget tighter in the next two months.      Excuse me now while I go molest my couch cushions in search of treasure...

    Reply Like 3
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