The 30-day challenge

granite_cliffFrugality is being able to just say I’ll pass til later; It’s time for us to help each other say enough is enough. There are so many ways to make yourself healthier while saving money it’s incredible and senseless not to take advantage of. It takes dedication though, to pass on those things you consider daily essentials, when in fact, you could easily do without, or with less. What do you waste your money on? How about you take that money for one month and start a savings account – of which you will take to invest thereafter. Join me on a journey, and challenge yourself to save everything you possibly can for one month – to see the power in frugality, while learning how to budget, overcome your impulses by understanding how your brain thinks, and learn how to invest. I’m quite excited to join you on this journey I must say, my intentions are to take my investment money to start some overdue 529 plans for my children (I’ve got 3 now, and another one here within the next week… so I don’t have much time to make up lost ground). No matter what your reason is, you can certainly find a reason to save and invest – whether it be to start your own retirement fund, save and invest for a home, or for any other reason you may have.

So, let’s get right to it, there’s no better time than now. First, lets list all the things I’ve wasted money on today and see if I can do without, we’ll get to all the other stuff in a little bit. Then, you need to do the same. Don’t convince yourself otherwise; by being frugal you’ll not only save money, but you’ll likely shed some unneeded weight and start feeling good about yourself and your outlook on life. I’ve gained some “sympathy” weight I need to shed too so don’t worry.

Today was a Monday, rather cold and damp outside. I woke up early to drop my two young one’s off to daycare, while the wife got a well needed break for a couple of hours (we send them for half days a couple of times a week to get them well needed interaction). Driving into work was the same as usual, fast as hell after dropping off the kids. Fortunately, it’s not too long a drive. I arrived at work before most others and headed straight for the coffee pot. I usually get a cup every morning to get the juices going, I typically spend about $2 a week, so no big deal I guess. Before long lunch arrived, and I took the usual walk to the car to drive somewhere to get some crap I really dislike, today being Rally’s big, disgustingly good and greasy, but terrible for your heart and mind, bacon swiss burger, along with artery clogging, grease ball fries, oh and don’t forget the “medium” 32 OZ pibb. The total was $6.27. The round trip drive to the drive thru the fast food joint was at most 2 miles.

Not too bad I thought, by late afternoon I was dragging though, so I headed down to the break room and bought my usual Dr. Pepper, and added a pack of cashews to fuel my hunger. $1.65 was the damage. That put my work day total at $7.92.

I headed home a bit before 4:30 as my daughter had an ear appointment to get her antibiotics for an infection. I thought the tubes were supposed to fix that. Guess not. So, I spent $15 on her copay and another $10 on the prescription. I took my little guy with me, dropped off the prescription and was told it was going to be 45 minutes. What was I gonna do I thought? Well, the little guy wants Gatorade and gum, for his brother too. So we rolled off to the gas station where I dropped about $4.50 for some goodies. I then headed over to the carwash to clean and burn some more time. I spent $3 to wash my car in record time while making the little tike laugh his ass off while watching me race around the car like a mad man trying to spread the soap on the car while brushing every last bit of the car in under a minute.

Then the wife called for Castor oil, of all the things in the world this pregnant woman could send me on a mission for. So I grabbed my little guy and shot to the grocery store. We rolled up and he spotted one of those spiffy little grocery carts with a wheel on it, it was like his little dream cruiser. Hell, might as well get some other stuff while I’m here I thought. So I bought several items, blueberries and strawberries for the kids, along with turkey meat from the deli and salami. We passed an aisle and Jake spotted little squirt bottles with characters on them, he wanted one for himself and his sister, I obliged. I grabbed a couple gallons of mott’s apple juice and headed on my mission to find castor oil. I had no idea what the hell that stuff was, I honestly looked at the cooking oils for a good two minutes before asking for help to be sent over towards the laxatives. My wife heard an old wives tale that it helps induce labor. Whatever makes you happy babe. All told, the damage was a staggering $37 bucks. Holy hell I thought, I only came here to get castor oil.

So, I get home, and we finally get the kids down. She sends me on a mission for Twix and a milkshake. I call back after arriving at the gas station asking if she wanted kit kat. Hell, they all look the same. After the call and berating, I spent $1.55. After spending another $3.75 on a large Orange Freeze from Steak n Shake, I make my trip back to the pad, thankful I didn’t get myself anything.

Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this, I spent a ton of money today – which is not necessarily completely typical of my days, but certainly typical of every week. I need to change my ways, and cut out all the unnecessary spending, and put that money towards something for my kids and their future, as I already have a retirement plan of my own. This is the reason I am presenting this 30-day, 401kMaze challenge. I’m going to challenge you to join me in seeing what you can do with that money that was wasted on junk. Moreover, I’m going to help you along the way learn how to set a goal, make up a budget, setup a savings account, move that money into an investment account, and start making money off our money, instead of our money making us.

Take my day as an example, I could have easily saved money by not buying the following if only I had thought ahead; I know I could have spent a few bucks on lunch if I brought it, I’m gonna do that tomorrow, I’ll let you know how much it cost. Not to mention, I wasted money at the vending machine, I’m only willing to cut my coffee in half now, I know I’ll get immediate relief in my teeth – so there’s reason alone. In cutting out the vending machine and two cups of coffee a week and substituting free water, I’ll save $2 a day. For lunch, I’m making my own out of deli meat, fresh apples and water. I’ll reap the benefits as my chest hurt a bit today after the crappy lunch anyway. Third, I spent $4 on those stupid squirt bottles the kids didn’t need, not to mention the Gatorade and gum was a terrible sugary idea that is bad for the kids and a waste of money. I could have easily saved another $4.50 there. Finally, if I would have planned better, I might have been able to save money by providing a healthy snack for my wife – even though sometimes she’ll have her way. Bottom line, I had no intentions before heading to the grocery store. And I spent money without thinking. At least 10-20% of the food we buy goes bad before we eat it. I’ll chronicle my refrigerator cleaning tomorrow too. It makes me sick to even think about the waste there, with a little planning we can cut that out or down tremendously. I’m excited, I know by putting a plan together, and seeing that money go into savings in the future gives me reason to think. It’s for the freaking kids! What’s your reason? Why waste an ass ton of food when that money could be paying for you to sit on the beach somewhere every year. I’m going to cut out $5-10 minimum a day in wasteful spending and put that into a savings account to then invest. In 30 days I’m going to have at least $150 (30 days times $5 a day) to make me money with. You will too.

Tomorrow, the plan is simply to not buy unnecessary crap period, and I will document my day. I want you to do the same. Document all things you would have spent money on and throw that money into a safe place, like in a can or Tupperware bowl or anything as simple as envelope- in a child’s top drawer that they can’t access (read that one in readers digest as the place robber won’t look, hah). If you don’t have kids, find somewhere else to store that can. Let’s see how far we reach in just 30 days.

Finally, the next 30 days we’ll setup a weekly budget together and talk about how our mind works while concentrating our efforts on saving money to collect in our savings can. Within 2 weeks we’ll setup a savings account and by the end of the 30 days we’ll setup an investment account. In the meanwhile, if you’re bored look around at the site and explore the many articles I’ve built. If you’re new to investing and curious, I recommend you start with the lessons. Regardless, I’ll have an update tomorrow night (around 11PM CDT – I have kids you know!).

Keep up on the daily progress by signing up for my RSS feed, or contact me to be added to my mailing list – where I can deliver to your inbox the latest money saving, budgeting and planning, and investing tips. Alternatively, just come to my site on a daily basis, and if you’re interested in following this challenge look up at the bar above this post and you’ll see a link to Challenege, with a drop down box where you can see each day’s progress and information. If you find this information useful, please, advise your friends to check us out – they’ll thank you and so will I.

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