Round 2! What Savings Looks Like

It took 458 days to pay off my student loans. I celebrated for 2 weeks and took a breather. Since then, I’ve been saving. As of July 10, I’ve been saving for 458 days.

July 10th marked the end of my saving experiment, Round 2. I paid off a lot of debt during Round 1. I wanted to see what I could save during Round 2. The experiment is up. It is time to see how far I came. Could I save the equivalent of my student loans in the same period of time?

Short Answer: No. 

I knew I was going to face challenges with Round 2. As I wrote when I set out the experiment, the numbers didn’t work on paper. In Round 1, I only had one goal: Kill the debt. In Round 2, my money was going all over the place.

While I didn’t reach my goal, I got awfully close. I also learned a few things along the way. Gather ’round.

 

Let me tell you about my savings.

It fluctuates.

When I typically think of saving, my brain defaults to fixed savings amounts. Save $458/month and you can max out your IRA. Save $1500/month and you can max out your 401k! For certain savings goals, fixed amounts work. Set it and forget it. But what about stretch savings goals? What about saving when life gets in the way?

I knew I couldn’t commit to $x per month with my savings goal. I didn’t want to. I wanted to commit to whatever was left over, while maximizing what was left to save.

Here is a chart of what I was able to save each paycheck. You can see that there is nothing flat about this line, though it does bounce around the same numbers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.35.28 PM

I set up my paycheck allocation to cover my fixed expenses with the first check of the month and variable expenses the second check. The dips are from the fixed costs and the peaks are from the variable expenses. Hubs is is an hourly employee, so some months were better than others.

There were no unexpected windfalls.

I get an annual bonus. Can you guess when that hit my accounts? Other than this one time windfall, we did not come into any money during the saving experiment. I would have loved to come into money, but we took what we could get.

I don’t like relying or expecting windfalls to save, especially unquantifiable amounts. It feels like whenever you see money coming your way, it is so easy to spend it a few times in different places, even if that is saving!

I kept going even when I knew wasn’t going to get there.

I knew when I started this savings experiment that I probably wasn’t going to make it to my savings goal. I wanted to save what I paid off in my student loans in the same amount of time. If you zoom out from the House Fund, I did that. I’ve saved a lot for retirement. But the House Fund didn’t get to where I wanted it to go.

Below is my progress over the last 458 days.Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.37.48 PM

 

  • The Blue Line is what I needed to save to meet my goal.
  • The Red Line is what I actually saved

 

 

I was ahead of schedule for exactly 1 paycheck. Then the trend was clear; I wasn’t going to make it. Every months I slipped a little further below the blue line. I accurately predicted my only windfall during the year. With all that, I kept saving and I kept pushing myself.

 

Overall, I’m thankful I conducted this experiment. I saved a lot. It was way more that I could or would have saved otherwise. In the back of my head, I was constantly reminded of my obligation to Round 2 and that kept me motivated.

Hopefully, I can get to the full $45k before we buy a house!

 

Have you tracked your saving?

Advertisements

12 comments

  1. I generally don’t track it because everything I make more than about $20,000 goes directly to savings and investments. I find it easier to think about saving when I don’t track it because then it’s my default position, but I recognize that someone without this proclivity could benefit by tracking it

  2. I am a huge advocate for shooting for the moon – you know the whole quote about landing among the stars? You did just that! $30,000 is nothing to balk at. You have done amazingly well!

  3. I love that you tracked your saving by paycheck! What a great experiment. We’ve never done this, but it seems like we should. We mostly just track our market positions, which reflects both what we put in and what the markets do (honestly, way more market than us these days), so it’s hard to make a distinction between those unrelated actions. Good luck hitting your round 2 goals! I know you’ll get there on the house fund fast — that arbitrary line might make you feel “behind,” but just look at how much you’ve saved in the last year! You’re definitely continuing to pick up steam.

    1. Surprisingly, I don’t feel behind with this one. It would have been nice to get there, but eh. It wasn’t for a lack of trying.

      It was fun to track the cash because the interest didn’t help too much. With investments, it would only be worthwhile to track contributions to make sure I wasn’t slacking off, but … ooo that sounds fun. It’s like anti budgeting!!

  4. You did amazing! I haven’t tracked my savings in this way… but maybe I will in the future? It is pretty cool to see. This is the first year that I’m even tracking our net worth, so baby steps for me. I hope you are proud of your accomplishments!

    1. Baby steps, baby steps. Don’t try to track too much, otherwise you might give up! I shuffled the excess money from my paychecks, so tracking every 2 weeks made sense. It was like the fun of a net worth update but twice per month!

      Thanks ARBM! I am proud. 🙂

  5. Wow, congratulations! You may have come up a bit short, but life happens, and it sounds like you just adapted and did the best you could. Plus, it occurs to me that after 458 days of paying off your student loans, you were probably in “deprivation and deferral” mode the whole time. I don’t know all of your financial specifics, but if you went a year and a quarter without buying certain things, you probably got to the point where you just HAD to buy some things after paying off the debt. I put off buying a laptop and replacing my couch for as long as I could, but at some point when it literally breaks apart, you can’t defer that expense anymore. I hope you’re cutting yourself some slack for that! 🙂

    1. Hi Yeti! Thanks! I had a little deprivation and deferral, but not too much. This is the new normal now — Small living and a lot of cheap and free entertainment. Travel was our only big splurge. I will need a new couch soon. I’m not looking forward to that. Most of the expenses haven’t been deferred to save money though. I’m waiting until we move. Gotta keep building that house fund to do that!

  6. This is wonderful! Our goals should stretch us. Even if we don’t reach them this time, we are at least more limber for next time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s