Challenging Myself (and anyone who wants to join)

saving-challenge-grafficA few stories have set me off lately.  First, a range of stories of people dropping off their designer pure breed pets at the pound because they can’t afford to pay for their care.  Today CNN even ran a story about people abandoning their horses!   

This bugs because I believe that if you take on a pet, it’s a huge responsibility and not a handbag accessory to be dumped and put down when it’s no longer new or fashionable.  If you are living paycheck to paycheck or anywhere close, perhaps a $2,000 puppy is not your best choice.  Likewise, wasn’t there a time when only super mega wealthy people owned horses as pets? (not talking about work horses, here) 

Second, CNN ran a story about a formerly “rich” yuppy banker from California who is now down and out and has to live with his mother.  He tells of his former life of fancy cars, extravegant vacations, and how his young daughter would ask to go to Vegas every year for her birthday.  (SURE, I’m sure little 6 year old pumpkin wanted to go to Vegas with no prodding from her dad who likely spent time at the craps table at night).  Now, how much did this “rich” banker make to afford such a lavish lifestyle where money is no object and little princess is never told “no”?  $70,000 a year.   

Maybe I’m going to sound crazy here, but I don’t think the problem is that this schmo got laid off.  I think the problem is that he considered $70,000 a year to be so rich that he was entitled to live like Paris Hilton and not save a dime.  This man was a California banker.  Cost of living anywhere in California that has a bank (i.e., he must be in a metropolitan vs. rural community where that money could go farther) is quite high.  $70,000 is nowhere near enough to support such a lifestyle but these people are incapable of ever saying “no, I can’t afford it” until every last credit card is max’d out, all equity is drained from their houses, and there is no visible source of money on the horizon. 

This is insanity and people need to feel the harsh consequences of their actions (or learn from others) in order to reverse this insane situation.

I choose the ‘learn from others’ route.  I want to honor and encourage the art of saving money.  The idea is that you save money while you HAVE it, so that when a rainy day comes, you still have some means to support yourself till you figure out plan B.

As such, I’m crafting a challenge where for the next 3 months, every week I’ll write about at least one event where I took an active step to save some money by doing something different than I normally would have done.

This is an open invitation for any readers to join, and if there are any takers, I can write summary posts once a week of what people are doing.  Let me know by March 27 if you want to join (and I’m sure I can take stragglers if you are reading this late) and we’ll challenge ourselves to make savings fun!

(note: everyone should use their own discretion regarding choices they make that affect health and safety — i.e., please don’t skimp necessary medicine, or whatnot.)

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4 Comments

  1. Mommy, Esq. said,

    March 23, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hmmm…I’m considering joining your fun but unfortunately most of the things you can do to save money such as make your own baby food, pack your own lunch are things that require time and to be honest my time is more valuable than the money I’d save (probably because I know how much I am billed out at).

  2. Gretchen said,

    March 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I have little discretionary income so must say I likely wouldn’t be an interesting addition to the challenge, but I’ll enjoy reading your ideas!!!

  3. Theresa said,

    March 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Yeah, I have limited (no) sympathy for that guy. Your challenge sounds fun. I have been making choices as we all have, and for me, it’s more keeping up what I’ve been doing. It’s easy to do something once and then fall back on old habits. So I have been trying to keep good things going. For example:

    * doing an inventory of my fridge on Saturday when I plan our meals for the week – how can I use up anything that’s in there? Good way to get creative.
    * having a very “loose” menu for each week, then going to Whole Foods and seeing what’s on sale and making changes based on that. I will apply the same principle to the farmers market when it starts back up again in June.
    * stocking up on meats from Whole Foods when they go on sale.
    * clipping coupons for toiletries, and paying attention to the double coupons, etc at CVS. Great for toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.
    * EATING OUT LESS!! Yes, this has kind of forced my retirement from the blogging world, but I kind of like it. Having a night at home in the kitchen is, in general, a much nicer way to spend an evening with the hubby.
    * a new thing I added this week – preparing lunches on Sunday afternoon (chopping veggies, mainly, for a chopped salad – the same thing I would get at a local lunch place for $7.15 each day, I was able to reproduce for much much less – though I am too lazy to actually calculate, I sense that I am saving more than $20 per week.)

    As far as the $2,000 designer puppy – UGH! These people make me sick, and I feel so bad for the animals that are being abandoned. A dog is expensive, there is no way around it. But there tons of dogs out there looking for good homes. We donated $450 to a local rescue in exchange for the most perfect dog on the planet, AND we got a tax writeoff!

    I will be looking forward to your updates, I am sure there will be some good ideas I can start using too!

  4. almostima said,

    March 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    MommyEsq., to the extent you are on the fence, I wanted to give you some words of encouragement. Sure, there are lots of money-saving techniques that require more time than a billing mom of twins can afford. But I have to believe that there are choices made every day that aren’t necessarily a time-suck but still enable savings. For instance, I made your pasta carbonara recipe – yummo! – and I would totally love to make extra of that and take it in a tupperware for lunch. That takes less time than picking up lunch at work. Unfortunately, I overate and there were no leftovers, but I’ll remember for next time. 🙂

    Also, our jobs can be cyclical — so, some months are out of control busy, but other months are slow (more common these days). So, it’s not necessarily the case that any amount of time spent on ourselves could always be spent billing. (Though, I have to admit that I’ve used the “my time is valuable” line to justify some expensive boots last season.)

    I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t promise that every week will be a life changing success. But it seems like it could be a useful dialogue that at leasts makes us think about how we spend money and whether it’s worth it to us.

    Theresa – Great tips! Keep em coming.

    Gret – I bet you have much to teach us! You were my coupon role model in college and I remember fondly our clipping sessions around the kitchen table.


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