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As a super saver, I get a twisted kind of excitement for stretch savings goals. The 2022 saving strategy intention is $12,000. Three thousand for life list escapades, three for annual bills like car and life insurance, a website, and gifts get lumped into this adulting fund, and the greediest chunk at $6,000 gets the Roth IRA treatment.

If I had a normal salary, this would be reasonable.

I don’t do normal. Apparently.

I love my job as a ranger, have a passion for working with excellent people, but the pay is lacking. I logged into my leave and earnings statement today and my projected earnings is $40k.

The problem is it’s inflated. My temporary detail ends in 2 months, then I go into a furlough for 6 weeks, and then I have no idea how or if I’ll be employed in October.

Even though I’m wondering how in all that is sparkly and sane I’m going to save that much, I take heart. If there is one thing I can do, besides geek out about nature, it’s save.

2021: A Testing Zone

I made less last year, but I saved over $10k.

I don’t have nitty-gritty specifics even though I track my net worth. The bill fluctuations make specifics fuzzy.

My savings accounts don’t spit out contribution numbers like Vanguard. Which I didn’t realize was of interest until December. Instead of letting the fuzzies continue, I’m tracking my savings strategy this year.

I can’t manage unless I measure.

Knowing the joys of tracking, I created a fun tab on my budget spreadsheet complete with colors and comments. I love noting where the odd bits of money come in from like a milk settlement or cashback rewards.

All for One!

Last year, I sent little amounts towards different savings goals every month. A slice here for annual bills, a slice there for travel, and a slice for retirement.

It worked, but it felt bland.

This year, I’m trying something different, one goal at a time. I started with saving for travel because it looked pitiful after the silent meditation retreat and it’s easy to get excited about travel.

So, I’m throwing everything at that intention until it reaches $3k. Then, I move on to the next one.

Instead of diluting my saving strategy as with multitasking, I will focus on it like a cat on catnip.

Debt Free: The Way to Be

This heavy lifting saving strategy is possible because I’m debt-free outside of a mortgage.

I drive an 8-year old car like the winter warrior she is, college debt is a nonfactor thanks to the GI Bill, and I’m fortunate to be free of credit card debt. I don’t have kids or pets; plants are more my speed.

I may not be a high-income earner, but the lack of debt is a privilege too.

Saving $12k wouldn’t be possible if I had heavy debt burdens.

Free Fun

A third of my life is work, a third is asleep, and the last third is free time.

Well, some free time because there needs to be cleaning, maintaining, and other questionable obligations.

But, outside of that, how I spend my free time is another way to move closer to my 2022 saving strategy.

Even before this year, I’m a raging fan of free fun.

A bulk of my time is spent writing (hello world!), reading books from the library or blogs, drawing, juggling, exercising, or meditating.

I make time and space for nature too, from taking a run or going on a hike. As a default, entertainment isn’t expensive. The more years young I become, I appreciate simple moments that are bountiful, unlike rare Instagram moments.

Bust Out the Hustle

I have a few side hustles that I’m leveraging for the 2022 savings strategy.

  • I use cashback apps like Hog Receipts, Fetch, and Coinout. The effort is minimal just like the payout.
  • Occasionally, I dog sit which is more of a favor than an income driver.
  • Credit card rewards and churning is low effort and easy rewards.

Sometimes random events roll my way too.

Recently, I tried to close a credit card because I prefer 3 credit cards, but with recent churning, I’m sitting uncomfortably at 4. I called and asked to close the account. Instead, I was offered another incentive. Spend $1500 in three months to get an extra $200 on top of the regularly scheduled rewards.

I crunched some numbers, quickly pondered the next few month’s bills, and agreed.

Challenge accepted!

Even though these amounts are small, I get excited because small amounts are more frequent than the twice a month payday.

It’s the same theory as putting all your coins in a change jar: add to it little by little, watch it grow, and with patience you suddenly have that safety net of savings that felt so impossible before.


2022 Savings Strategy

Fortune teller isn’t a skill listed on my resume.

I’m not any closer to knowing if I’ll hit the $12k intention than knowing the outcome of other important events like going to the bathroom before boarding a plane. 

I worried about saving $5k for retirement last year and I ended up doubling it.

Just because the future is uncertain and I may fail, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. It’s a new year with new possibilities who knows what it will hold.

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