Save 10K in 2016

How I Plan on Saving $10k in 2016

There’s this thing that has been floating around the internet for several years, something along the lines of “The 52 Week Money Challenge”.

The idea is that in week 1 you save one dollar, week two you save two dollars, week three you save three dollars et cetera et cetera until the end of the year when you are saving a whopping $52 per week.

Voiila!

You have a magical Disney World vacation fund all ready to go.

Flying away on vacation

Sounds like a great idea.

Except.

How many of you would be financially capable of saving $52 a week without increasing your income or adapting to a different standard of living?

Saving money as a habit is important, but you also have to learn how to have that extra money in the first place.

It all comes down to two things: making more money and spending less.

My goal in 2016 is to save $10k. Weekly that’s about $192.
Whew! Here’s how:

I’ll break my strategy down into three categories: making more, spending less, and saving skills.

Making More Money by…

Arm wrestling for money

…Working More

For the majority of last year I worked part time in my career job and part time as a subcontractor. For 2016 I plan on working close to 40 hours per week, and do additional contract work up to 15 hours a week.

If you do not have specific career skills that you feel you can charge for, here are a few ideas of odd-jobs you can do to make extra cash:

  • Work security at events (some companies do not require any experience at all)
  • Babysit, dog sit, or house sit
  • Do yard work for neighbors (seriously, I would pay a friend $15 to mow my lawn)
  • Work temporary weekend gigs like fair booths

…Charging More

I currently charge clients 5x what I was charging a year ago, and my rates are going up again. The biggest thing I have struggled to learn as a freelancer is my own value.

I have a valuable skillset that people are looking for. I have never had to seek out clients and sell my services.

If you work for yourself and you have a heavy workload and aren’t making as much as you think you deserve, inform your clients that you will be increasing your rates or pitch a higher rate to your next client.

There is risk in upping your rates – you may lose a client or you may lose a prospect if you are asking for an unreasonable amount. If you’re like me you’ve been undercharging all along, and they will gladly agree to your new rate.

Spending Less Money by…

…Exercising Moderation

Cheetos not in moderation

I am the queen of go big or go home. Moderation is barely in my vocabulary.

I love to lift heavy weights as many days a week as my body will allow. I love to work 12 hour days and 7 day weeks.

I love to drink coffee out (in fact, I’m in a coffee shop now). I love to eat out at restaurants. I love to buy trendy dog print clothing that I will never ever wear.

Here are a few things I plan on moderating to save some money:

  • Only go to coffee shops 3x per week
  • Only buy coffee at work 2x per week (I can brew coffee at the office, I don’t need to pay to buy it at the cafe)
  • Only buy lunch/snacks at work one day per week
  • Only eat in a restaurant one day per week
  • Switch from a 3 gig data plan to a 1 gig data plan and use wifi more

…Thinking More About Large Purchases

When I want to make a big purchase, I usually want to do it NOW.

If I decide I want a new computer, I make the purchase within 5 hours. If I decide I want a new phone, I make the purchase within 5 hours. If I have an idea for a new tattoo, I book the next available appointment.

My goal is to have a two-week buffer period from the time I decide until the time I purchase. That way I’m really certain that the big purchase is much needed, and I’m really certain that I’ve found the best product and price.

Saving Money by…

…Putting Money Where I Can’t See It

Saving pennies

My bank account is set so that with every debit purchase I make, a dollar is trasferred from my checking account to my savings account. Then, in a few weeks’ time I have accumulated multiple dollars of savings.

Like the 52 Week Money Challenge, it’s great in theory.
Except I do all of my banking online, and when I look at my checking account balance, I look at my savings account balance. And usually I transfer all of those saved dollars back to where I can spend it.

This year I plan on putting more money where I can’t see it – or at least where I won’t regularly see it.

This week I set up my retirement contributions to the maximum that my company matches so that every paycheck a portion of my income is tucked away to where I will only see it when I get a quarterly report.

I also downloaded an app called Acorns, which is linked to my bank account. With every debit purchase that I make, Acorns rounds up the price to the nearest dollar and tucks away the change in an investment account.

 

Will I actually save $10,000 in 2016? Who knows. But I will work hard to save as much money as possible.

What’s your biggest roadblock when it comes to saving money and how do you plan to overcome it this year?

Busy Planner

How to Make Time for Anything (and Drop the “Too Busy” Excuse)

I am a chronically busy person.

I have a wonderful full time job that pays my bills and provides basically all of the  benefits I could ever want. I couldn’t even imagine just working full time. When people tell me they “don’t have time” to go to school, or that they “don’t have time” to exercise or eat healthy, I have to laugh.

This is what 2015 looked like for me:

  • Work full time (around 35 hours per week)
  • Subcontract work for 2 different companies (up to 10 hours per week)
  • School full time (13-17 credits per term)
  • Train to compete in 2 sports
  • Travel out of state 3 times

Here is what I am planning for 2016:

  • Work full time (35-40 hours per week)
  • Subcontract work for 2 companies (up to 15 hours per week)
  • Start grad school in fall
  • Train for powerlifting nationals

Now I am not completely naive or insensitive to the fact that some people actually are incredibly busy, that some people don’t have the same energy level that I have, and that throwing parenting and marriage responsibilities in the mix makes things increasingly complex.

Some people are busy. Some people don’t have the energy. Some people have obligations and responsibilities that make free time scarce. I get it. That is totally okay. Skip to the next article.

However if you are overwhelmed with your current responsibilities or feel like you’re using “too busy” as a weak excuse, here are a few tips to help you squeeze in a little bit more.

Get to Bed on Time – and Wake Up on Time

Alarm Clock

 

When someone tells me that they are really busy and outlines a day where they wake up at 11am and then do lots of things I have to laugh. I know some people genuinely operate better later in the day and have their best productive hours far after I’ve gone to bed, but chances are if you’re waking up at 11am, you are not actually “too busy”.

It may seem contradictory, but a great way to add time to your day is by making sure that you sleep enough. My ideal sleep duration is 9 and a half hours. Your ideal sleep duration may only be 7 or 8 hours – even better!

When you know how many hours you need to sleep, it’s easy to get into a regular sleep schedule so that you are sleeping enough to function optimally throughout the day, making it easier to accomplish everything you need to accomplish.

Go to bed on time. Set an alarm on time. Maximize the hours in between.

Write Things Down

Writing things down is a great way to unclutter your brain and make the world seem much less overwhelming. Especially when you have different activities pulling you in different directions (work, school, family), writing things down can help you organize your thoughts, keep you on task, and allow you to spend your mental energy where it belongs.

Monthly calendar

Here are a few ways I write things down to keep my life more organized:

  • Virtual sticky notes on my work computer for tasks
  • Trello boards for subcontract work, content calendars, and random ideas
  • A weekly calendar book for school work or anything with a deadline
  • My phone calendar for appointments

Have “Productive Time” Set Aside on Weekends

I always set time aside specifically to be productive on weekends. For me this means that I get up, have breakfast, and then spend an hour or two working on subcontract work before I start my day. Then Sunday afternoons are reserved for chores like sweeping, mopping, and laundry.

I still have plenty of time on weekends to go to the gym, watch Netflix, and go out with my friends, but I also know that my work and home are never compromised.

Scheduling in productive time on the weekends helps alleviate some of the craziness of weeknights.

 

Do you feel like you’re stretching yourself thin?

What do you do to manage your time?

Vegas 2015

2016 Goals and Resolutions

Eyy, it’s January 1, what a perfect time to start yet another blog.The purpose of this blog will be to share a little bit more about what I do professionally and personally, and to share some of the information and resources I pick up along the way.

There has been a lot of talk around the web about how badly 2015 sucked, but frankly 2015 was my best year. Ever.

I had two main (and substantial) accomplishments in 2015:

  • I pulled myself above the poverty income level for the first time in 5 years (poverty sucks, just BTW)
  • I graduated from college with a bachelor of science in psychology (I never graduated from high school, so cool!)

And now that I have a reasonable income, safe place to live, and relative mental stability, I’m ready to smash 2016.

I’m not huge on “resolutions”, but I am big on goal setting, so…

Here are a few things I am hoping to accomplish in 2016:

  • Double the income I made in 2015
  • Save money
  • Start graduate school
  • Compete at the 2016 USAPL nationals

What are your goals for 2016? Did you make a New Years resolution?