An old lesson is new again

We started playing and tracking the Money Game with $5 on July 13, 2016. It’s only been 10 months.

I’ve said before that it took on a life of its own. I thought I’d figure out early on something that could be bought and sold for a profit to make it grow.

Instead, I kept noticing places where we were wasting money. The game was fun and it was to “find” extra money. I thought that part would dry up pretty quickly but it didn’t. Watching the budget changed from a bothersome chore into a treasure hunt.

Next, when a windfall came, all our budget categories were in the black. The Money Game was defined with such clear goals that it was easy and fun to just put extra money there.

I never expected this. I did think it would grow and I was hoping we’d have about $5,000 after the first year. I never dreamt we’d be staring down a balance of almost $14,000 in ten months.

Thinking about all of this really made me see the value of keeping money from going out as well as bringing money in. When I worked outside our home, I made great money as a software developer. I also wasted a ton of money because my job involved long hours. I was often too tired to properly plan meals and get the grocery shopping done. We wasted a ton of food taking something out to thaw for dinner only to find out one of us had to work late (again). We’d end up meeting late somewhere for dinner. I was shocked to see how much our finances improved once I was back home full time.

I think groceries and eating out is a bigger expense that most people realize. There is so much opportunity there to grab savings while eating way better. If this interests you, say something and I’ll write more about it.

A tool like YNAB will help you see where your budget busters are. If you want to spend all your money on a particular budget category, that’s fine. It’s your choice and it’s your money. It should be that way. But if you know all your money is going to a category that isn’t fun, YNAB can show you how much and help you control it. Then it lets you take the money you saved and put it where YOU want it to go.

I love figuring out a way to spend less on something we have to buy (like laundry detergent) that isn’t really fun. I just didn’t realize it happened so many ways in our life.

Since I’m rambling, I want to say I’m glad it worked out this way so far. If I had figured out how to make money right away, we would have kept spending and spending on things we really didn’t want without realizing how much it was really costing us.

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