Spring 2018 Spending Challenge

Most of us have heard of finding a workout buddy to stay motivated in order to achieve personal health goals. It’s helpful to have someone working towards the same goal and to hold one another accountable. What you may not realize is that the same applies to personal finances! Your spending habits are likely influenced by the spending of those around you, particularly in your social circle. That’s why we’ve decided to challenge ourselves to spend less this spring. And to make it a little more interesting, we’re making it a competition! Each week we'll update this page with how we are doing. For more details on our household structure, view this post.


We’d love it if you joined us in this effort to minimize spending (and ultimately maximize savings and achieve financial freedom)!  Comment below, or send us an email, and we’ll connect with you to help you stay motivated!  With your permission, we’ll even feature your progress to highlight your achievements. 


This should be fun!

Spending Challenge Totals

Sarah's Spending by Week/Category

neil's spending by week/category

Spending Challenge commentary (or our attempts to be funny and rationalize things)

Week 1 - beginning 4/1

Sarah won the challenge on spending less this week. It was a low spending week for sure in her household! Neil had a little spending less envy this week - Costco runs add up fast and buying food for the geriatric cat is always a treat! And those transportation costs… can’t say much about those toll lanes.


Week 2 - beginning 4/8

Neil won the challenge on spending less this week. Sarah got hit up with a few dollars spent at Costco… and teeth cleaning for the sweet dog.


Week 3 - beginning 4/15

Sarah won the challenge on spending less this week. Hands down, easy win… even with a little house maintenance in the mix. The strange thing on Sarah’s household spending for the week? Only $21.46 for food on the home front… that prior week spike in food costs really helped out. Neil lost big time this week thanks to food costs (both at home and eating out) and the need to pay for swim camp for the kids and some stuff for the house.


Week 4 - beginning 4/22

Sarah won the challenge on spending less this week. Overall her household spending jumped from the prior week… needed to restock some food at home. Neil got hit up with yet another Costco run, a restock on diapers (we get them online from Amazon), and a few other random expenses.


Week 5 - beginning 4/29

Sarah won the challenge on spending less this week. Three weeks in a row now, even with spending too much on restaurants and getting stuck with picking up a tab for friends. Neil’s wife had a birthday this week, so costs crept up in the other category a bit higher and a down payment towards a summer camp for the older kiddo was made.


Week 6 - beginning 5/6

Neil won the challenge on spending less this week. It’d have been an even bigger win if it weren’t for some periodic car maintenance costs. Sarah’s household had a big Costco run, a little lawn maintenance, expenses on new clothes… and Sarah celebrated a loss for the week in the spending challenge by getting a haircut!


Week 7 - beginning 5/13

Sarah won the challenge on spending less this week. Even buying some expensive dog food and spending a few dollars on the first part of a getaway weekend, she still won it easily. Neil spent way too much on eating out... a Mother's Day lunch, and a really expensive Saturday night dinner. But on the flip side, it's great to do your own maintenance at home... buy parts, and install them... it's a pretty big savings as compared to calling a plumber to do the job!


What we've Learned

Six weeks into the challenge, we've had some fun. The challenge hasn't really changed our approach to spending for either of us, but it's made for some incredibly fun conversations along the way. If nothing else, it's acknowledgement of the importance of thinking through buying decisions, and how friends can help encourage each other to consider the trade-offs with those buying decisions. In many ways, the challenge thus far has re-enforced what we already know/ think about budgeting and spending. 


The bottom line with spending is it's important to remember that you need to spend less money than you make every month. Build up a reserve with those savings - because the unexpected will happen from time to time. We are fortunate so far that neither of us have had any major unexpected expenses... and hopefully we can avoid them for the foreseeable future.


We try to target a savings rate of 20% of our income each month - some months we don't make it, but that's the goal. Over time, we'd actually like to raise this savings rate to something significantly higher. We recognized that it's not things that matter, but people - and as a result, cutting spending on things is a goal, with spending being focused on the necessities of life, experiences, and both saving $, and giving away both time and money for things that we feel are important.