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It all began with a midlifeish crisis last year. I looked back on my 30ish years, particularly the past five years, and wondered, what have I done?
Some stuff was epic, but these events seemed rare in occurrence not the norm.
I have dreams! I have a life list! But why haven’t I crossed anything off that list?
Then, I had an idea. What if I developed a simple financial goal like challenging myself to save $5000 in 12 months? I had some insight into what would bring success but I doubted that I had all the answers.
If I did I probably wouldn’t have had a midlifeish crisis.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Of all the simple financial goals, I chose to save $5000 because it was an amount that I needed to accomplish specific expeditions including wandering over to China, the Galapagos, the United Kingdom, even Antarctica.
I always get a thrill when I think about these future expeditions.
Then reality comes in and hits me in the goods when I think of paying for it. To reduce anxiety and turn a life list into life actions, I made a simple goal. The goal is to get from point A: $0 to point Z: saved $5,000. Setting simple financial goals is easy!
After that quick endorphin high, I calculated that I would need to save about $416 a month. I would need active, passive, and random income to average that monthly sum!
40-Hour Grind towards $5,000
I already had a plan for my active income. I consider active income anything that requires effort to include the standard 40-hour work week to babysitting to selling stuff.
Along with saving aggressively for a 12-month challenge, I still have to do all the other
gross adulting things like paying for bills from groceries to gas.
A budget is how I ensured bills were getting paid and my saving goal moves forward. I had to track the income and outcome of every purchase. Without this, it would have been hard to know what areas to decrease so I could ramp up saving.
Do the Hustle 🎶
Passive income is where I planned to maximize my savings for this 12-month challenge. Passive income is where next to no effort was needed to capture this windfall. This income isn’t enough to retire, but it’s enough to make an impact!
Small rewards from credit cards, health incentives, or surveys, is enough to get excited about throwing money toward a lofty goal.
Also, I named my life list savings account Expedition Everywhere because naming a savings account matters. It makes a goal feel tangible with a name.
Names have power. Why else would big businesses donate millions of dollars to have their names put on theatres, stadiums, and buildings? If a business would like to donate money to name my house, please contact me!
Free In Freedom
Along with making money, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how I save money. I save money by avoiding stores. A lot.
Have you heard about people doing a no-spending spree? I do that too but on a more consistent basis. It’s less of a spree and more of a lifestyle.
Instead of spending time in a store, I pursue free hobbies.
- Reading library books
At this point, I find it awkward to spend money for fun.
Like any human who prefers saving over spending, I try to keep my costs low. I avoid full price by shopping second-hand and discount sites.
Recently, I bought a mug for my friend. She sent me a sassy park ranger shirt and I wanted to thank her by getting her something equally fun for her birthday. I decided to get her a fancy mug and coffee. Instead of buying it all immediately, I went to a discount gift card site and purchased a $25 gift card for $22.
It was a small savings but if every purchase I make saves $3 or more, that adds up to a hefty savings sum!
This Is a Test
I was pretty confident that I could save $5000 in 12 months. Why? Because I saved $2,500 in 6 months.
Last year, I challenged myself to save $2,500. When anxiety built, I self-soothed like a homemade massage with the realization that even if I failed to accumulate the full amount, I would still save a trunk full of money.
I didn’t save $2,500 in 6 months, I saved more. I used that Wonder Woman confidence for the next shiny financial goal – $5000 in 12 months.
Ready, Set, Save $5000
In NINE months, I saved $5,000!
It was a collective effort that ensured my success.
- A specific goal
- Leveraging each paycheck
- Picking up side hustles
- Having free hobbies
- Cutting costs
- Testing before investing
Courtney Carver says it best, “Consistency matters more than intensity.”
Each step towards saving eventually became a path of success. It was a pile of money for my saving account, but it also built confidence for future savings dreams.