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It took 12 months, but I saved $12,000. Considering I made less than 40K, that’s impressive. I’m not staking my savings authority, but sharing success.
Sharing is caring unless we’re talking about the flu or a toothbrush.
To accumulate such a sum, I needed to do things and not do things. As much as I’d love to single out one special habit, I can’t. It was a combined effort because teamwork makes dream work, even if that teamwork is with inanimate objects.
The shortlist starts with a budget. A budget is always at the top of my finances, not because I’m a creepy bean counter but because whatever I measure gets managed.
I measure finances with every single input. Even something as small as a $2 refund is a sum worth of a budget entry.
Saving $12,000 in 12 months takes a day-by-day approach similar to traveling to the moon, climbing a mountain, or learning the art of patience while sitting in a medial waiting room waiting for someone to yell your name.
Everyday brings a choice and cost. If I do the right thing most the time, then I’ll get there mostly on time.
Nestled inside my budget like an alien residing in a chest cavity, I had a special tab on my excel spreadsheet called the 12K challenge. The color-coded entries were how I kept momentum over 12 months, even when I’d rather spend my money on books, period underwear, and a blanket hoodie.
My shopping desires are equal parts stimulating and fascinating. 😉
Having a roommate cuts costs and ensures more funding for all.
My roommate is the permanent kind. So we split groceries, utilities, and a mortgage. Cost-of-living is the most expensive and draining for every budget, but having it split is a boon for both.
Another serious savings is living in a cheap area. I live in a state with no sales tax, which is better than living in a state with a 6.5% sales tax.
My area is more rural than most, but expenses are lower too. This trickles down to less money spent on things I don’t want to buy, like inflated gas taxes, ballooned housing costs, and property tax that’s more painful than a colonoscopy.
My biweekly payday was the main engine that fueled saving $12,000 in 12 months, but I hustled in other areas too:
- I eagerly accepted overtime
- Volunteered to work holidays
- Received a monetary award
- Cashed in credit card rewards
- Churned credit cards for bonus offers
- Maximized birthday and Christmas gifts
- Rolled over returns, refunds, and rebates
- Participated in paid surveys
- Dog sat
- Sold clutter
- Used cash-back apps
On their own, these instances didn’t contribute as much as my primary income, but they did contribute $3,000 as a collective.
These smaller side hustle deposits were more frequent than my gov payday which was helpful at sustaining motivation between pay periods.
I’m debt-free outside of a mortgage which is how I can save so much when I make so little. If I was paying off a car, school, or personal loan, the title of this post would be different.
Being debt free isn’t without sacrifice, but it has been worth the effort.
I chose to have an older but paid-off vehicle even though the bank says I can afford more. Joining the military for four years is how I received a free degree. I would rather deploy a monthly no-spending spree, enjoy free hobbies, and be a regular at the library than have debt.
Humble Dollar has thoughts about debt, “I’d rather walk on broken glass than pay a penny of interest on my credit cards.” An efficient broken glass walker isn’t something I want to add to my skills set. I prefer to avoid debt and keep my blood too.
The choice to be debt free started with small, consistent choices. Over time, it’s become a lifestyle of content over consumption.
How To Save $12,000 in 12 months
When I first pondered how to save $12,000 in 12 months, I had no idea if that would happen.
I didn’t have a blueprint, directions, or even the confidence to think it was possible. I put the goal out there and hoped that if I did the best I could for 365 days, it would be enough.
I tried to self-sooth with thoughts like even if I don’t save $12,000, anything less is still more than never trying.
I spent six months of the year, behind on my savings goal. Instead of giving up, I kept aggressively saving and hoping the next month would be better. I tried to shift my focus on a hopeful future versus the dismal present.
Like a helicopter budgeter, I’m glad I got my goal, but I’m proud that when riddled with doubt, I held steady and true.
I kept calm and carried on and saved $12,000 in 12 months.