Money Challenge Half Year Review

There are times when you are working toward a goal and it is hard to see the progress of your work.  This, my friends, is not one of those stories.  Since January of this year, the #SMCmoneytribe and I have used the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge that I created to save towards each of our money goals.  Many members of the SMC Money Tribe are saving for a dream vacation and it makes me proud that because of their planning and saving, their dream to see the world can happen without disrupting their long-term money goals.  I, on the other hand, am saving money to use as extra payments toward my student loan debt.  This process is known as a debt snowball.  Snowballing your debts helps you pay them off much faster and can save thousands of dollars in interest.  In my case, my student loans are keeping me from progressing to Baby Step 3 from financial guru Dave Ramsey because they are the last of my debts, not including my mortgage. 

Top Atlanta Blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents, shares her story on how she is tackling her debt using her money challenge and Dave Ramsey Baby Steps

JUNE RECAP

Last month was the first time I can remember actually seeing progress to reduce my student debt and this month blew last month’s money recap out of the water.  For the month of June, I saved more money than any of the previous months and the last four months combined.  I sent two major snowballs to my student loan provider to pay down the balance instead of pushing back my next due date.  This lets your money work for you and not the other way around.  I also saved $326.00 for the month and hit the $700.00 YTD mark for this challenge.  With a contribution from the Mr., we have saved a combined $1,575.00 that we could have easily spent on frivolous things.  Thanks, babe!  Teamwork makes the dream work.

MONEY GOAL TRACKING

At the beginning of the year, I wrote out my money goals and one of them were to pay off my credit card debt, which I did.  The second one was to have my student loans at or under $15,000.00 by the end of the year.  Around April of this year, I upped that goal date to October and then again, in May, I thought I would push myself further and make it a goal to have the balance at $15,000.00 by the end of my birthday month, August.  I did this because a goal date of the end of the year ensured that I would hit the goal, but with such a long time to work toward the goal, it took away the hustle for it.  By pushing the date up to August, it really forces me to review how I am spending and saving money and keeps me motivated to the short-term goal at hand.

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52 Week BINGO Money Challenge | May Recap

Hello lovelies and welcome to a 3-day weekend! Congrats to everyone who is going strong on the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge.  It makes me so happy when members of the #SMCmoneytribe share their progress and uplift each other.  I also love hearing how so many of you are making the challenge work best for you and your lifestyle.  For example, Angela from Australia wanted to maximize her savings for an anniversary trip to the United States, so I created a custom double version for her and her husband.  As of May 1st, they have already saved $1032.00 and that money is constantly growing for them!!!!  Some are saving a fixed amount every month (hey Kechia) but all in all, the majority of you are tackling this challenge the good ole’ fashion way…one week at a time with your trusty money card sheet.  Regardless of where you are in your progress, you are already winning at the habit of saving.  There is a quote that I really like from Roger Crawford that says, “Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”.  Every person who has accepted this money challenge is refusing to allow their money or lack of it defeat them.  Every dollar you save is getting you that much closer to your dream vacation, it’s getting you that much closer to paying off debt, or that much closer to building your emergency fund.  While everyone’s goals are different, just know that you can do it and that you have an entire tribe of women behind you to help cheer you on along the way.“Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional”. | Quotes on She Makes Cents

My Growth on the Money Challenge

My progress on the money challenge is much different this year than years past.  My sources of income have changed and I no longer get paid on a consistent schedule, but rather on a client by client basis.  Ugh…entrepreneurial life at its greatest!    At this point in the challenge, I am usually hundreds of dollars ahead of my current progress.  For half of a second that bothered me because I am always trying to be better than I was before.  The beautiful thing is, this challenge is made to support the one’s financial changes and in the end that numbers are the same if you complete the challenge.  As long as I complete every box, I will end up in the same savings range as the years before.  What difference does it really make if I am crossing out low to mid numbers during the first part of the year and higher numbers toward the end of the year?  It actually makes no real difference at all.  In the effort to save more money this year than any of the previous years, I must focus on the four bonus boxes that are still empty on my money card.

Sharing Money Goals

Do you remember when I announced that the Mr. would be joining me in the challenge?  Well, he just started last month.  For him, doing the weekly version of the SMC money challenge was another thing added to his “honey-do” list that he never got around to.  That is one of the reasons it took him four months to join in.  He later suggested, instead of doing a dollar for dollar match, that he might try contributing a fixed amount every paycheck toward the challenge.  So far his YTD contribution has been $500.00!  From a financial standpoint, the numbers at the end of the year will be higher doing it this way than if he were doing a dollar for dollar match, because $250.00 per month translates into about $62.00+ per week and $62.00 will always be higher than $52.00, our highest (non-bonus) box on the money card.  It’s easy for him, it works for me, and it gets us closer to our debt free money goals.

Related Article: How to Win on the She Makes Cents Money Challenge

May Recap 

For the month of May, I saved $89.00 which puts me at a YTD of $376.00 by myself and $876.00 when combined with the Mr.   Every dollar saved on this challenge is helping me pay off my student loans.  Outside of our mortgages, this is the only debt we are carrying because we work hard to pay off any credit card debt that we rack up before each billing cycle.  At the end of April, I made my first lump sum payment of $679.00 toward the principle and I had originally planned to make a lump sum payment every quarter.  However, after seeing my payment drop a new passion for hitting certain milestones was reignited.  Now, I plan to make a lump sum payment every time the balance in the money challenge is over the $225.00 mark.  At the beginning of the year, my main money goal was to have my student loans under the $15K mark by the end of the year, but I decided to up the ante and push that goal date to the end of August (my birthday month).

I can’t wait to hear your progress on this challenge.  Please feel free to tweet me @shemakescents, email me, or stop by our Facebook page to say hello.  I love hearing from you and I love to hear your progress, motivation, struggles, and suggestions.  Until then, happy saving to you and yours.

Want to join the challenge?  Click here for your FREE money card download.

HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGE IF YOU ACCOMPLISHED YOUR MONEY GOALS?

 

 

 

{2016 Money Recap} She Makes Cents Money Challenge Success!!

Hello #SMCmoneytribe!  It’s the last Friday of the year and I am so happy to hear from you all who are completing the She Makes Cents  52 Week BINGO Money Challenge  today and tomorrow. I officially finished mine today!  In the past three years I have attempted to complete this challenge, I would accomplish a short term goal and just stop.  This year, however, I have made it all the way to the end thanks to my accountability partners in the #SMCmoneytribe, as well as, my will to stay focus on my goals of zero credit card debt (mission accomplished) and snowballing my student loans (current goal in progress).2016-52-week-money-challenge

She Makes Cents Money Challenge vs. the 52 Week Money Challenge

The She Makes Cents Money Challenge is a variation of the traditional 52 Week Money Challenge.  In the traditional version, participants save a specific dollar amount based on the corresponding week.  For example on week one you save $1.00 and on week 52 you save $52.00.  Doing it this way would have you shelling out the bigger bucks in the weeks leading up to the holidays.  No Bueno.  Also, doing the traditional version only leaves you with $1378.00, which is not bad for money that you would normally spend unintentionally, but it could be better.  With the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge, you have the same time period, 52 weeks, but you empowered to decide how much you save on a weekly basis.  You control your own money and have the ability to cross of boxes that correspond to your current financial situation at any given time, which is how is should always be.  Plus with the bonus boxes you can save $1900.00+.

The Breakdown of Money

This past year,  I found myself keeping track of the weekly and monthly savings and comparing the amounts during my frequent progress reports.  I saved the most money in the month of January with $286.00  and the least amount of money during the month of September with $76.00.  Below is my breakdown of the monthly savings that reflect my grand total savings for 2016… an even $1900.00!!!!2016-money-challenge-yearly-report

Join the #SMCmoneytribe

Thank you to everyone who did this challenge this past year.  It was so much fun.  We all cultivated the habit of saving and you might have made a new friend in the process like I did, hi Alysa!  Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get  access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.  Mark your calender’s for the next round of the challenge starting January 7th!

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{Mark Your Calendars} The 2017 BINGO Money Challenge is Here!

I only have one more week of the 2016 version of this money challenge and I am excited for the updated 2017 version that starts in January. This challenge is not meant to make you rich, but it quickly shows you how putting aside money here or there (or actually every Friday/Saturday) quickly adds up to something great.

Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.

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{Reader Success Story} A Shockingly Easy Way to Save Money for Fun

In my posts on this site, I share my progress toward financial freedom sort of like a diary to the world.   Sometimes the stories reveal  my failures and the things I learned from the experience so you don’t make the same mistakes.  More often than not, my stories are transparent accounts of gained confidence in regards to my financial literacy.    Every week, I have diligently crossed off numbers on the 52 Week BINGO Money Sheet and I update you on how those funds are being used. As of week 15, I have saved $590.00 extra dollars that I have put toward my credit card debt.  I am proud of myself but I am equally proud to know I haven’t been on this journey by myself. This week, I wanted to shift the focus off me and begin to  share the stories of other smart women who are kicking debt’s butt and redefining the “fab life” for themselves.  Our very first reader’s profile is from Alysa T., a 28 year Marketing and Communications Manager out of Washington, D.C.  A friend referred Alysa to shemakescents.com about 3 years ago and interestingly enough, the BINGO Money Challenge was the first article that she read.Alysa copy

When asked why she decided to join the challenge, Alysa explained, ” It’s a very simple and kind of fun way to put aside a little extra money each year! I think checking off all the boxes appeals to my organizational side too.  This year I’m putting [my savings] towards a vacation.  I am recently SCUBA certified and want to explore the underwater world more! It is awesome to know that she is using the money saved for things that (if you follow the blog, you already know what I am going to say) FEED-HER-SOUL!   Over the past few years, Alysa has become more than a loyal reader.  She is my Twitter pen-pal/accountability partner who sometimes sends me her progress updates before I have the chance to check-in.  I  LOVE THAT!  I love knowing that we are on this journey together.  “In past years”, Alysa reveals,  “I used it for a new computer and a down payment on a car”.  

SMC Reader- Alysa T copyThe journey towards financial freedom isn’t a easy one…if it was, no one would have debt and everyone would be building wealth.  Alysa’s  biggest financial goal is to get her emergency fund to a healthy level so she can put more savings towards fun things.  I’d say with a savings of $515.00 year to date, she is well on her way.cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg

How Much Have You Saved on the BINGO Money Challenge?  Share Below


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{Week 11 Recap} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Happy Friday Lovelies! For whatever reason, this week has seemed to drift by slowly. I thought it was Friday at least twice this week (#epicfail). Now that Friday is actually here, it’s time to kickoff the weekend and share progress for the 52 Week BINGO Challenge. After scheduling bill payments and doing my zero-based budget for the next two weeks, I decided to cross off $11.00 this week. It was more important to me to focus my money toward savings, so I upped my savings contribution and lowered the amount I decided to save for this challenge this week.

Related Post: What is a Zero-Based Budget?

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Thus far in the challenge, I have saved a total of $432.00 and my credit card balance is down to $2800.00.  I hate that I even got myself back into credit card debt with charges from the wedding and car repairs that happened months apart.  But, hey, you live and you learn.   I learned that even if you hit your goal, like I did when I got my credit card balance down to zero the first time, it is very easy to relapse into old habits or make poor decisions that get you right back to where you started.  It happens.  On the bright side, I have never been more focused on my financial goals as I am now and taking this step backward has inspired a new and focused momentum.  What number did you cross off this week?

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