July Wrap Up

July was a great month that saw us cross the $18,000 line. We are thrilled with this progress! Our account grew more than 9%. This is growth that some people would be happy to see in an entire year. We only leveled up once this month.

Monthly Deposits Beginning Gain Ending % Growth
         
July, 2016 0 $509.86 $509.86 N/A
August, 2016 $509.86 $1,214.77 $1,724.63 238.26%
September, 2016 $1,724.63 $1,422.87 $3,147.50 82.50%
October, 2016 $3,147.50 $1,493.36 $4,640.86 47.45%
November, 2016 $4,640.86 $1,119.90 $5,760.76 24.13%
December, 2016 $5,760.76 $1,502.69 $7,263.45 26.08%
January, 2017 $7,263.45 $473.73 $7,737.18 6.52%
February, 2017 $7,737.18 $979.77 $8,716.95 12.66%
March, 2017 $8,716.95 $3,795.91 $12,512.86 43.55%
April, 2017 $12,512.86 $896.85 $13,409.71 7.17%
May, 2017 $13,409.71 $937.35 $14,347.06 6.99%
June, 2017 $14,347.06 $2,170.43 $16,517.49 15.13%
July, 2017 $16,517.49 $1,553.47 $18,070.96 9.41%

I’ve also been tracking sick days. Last week,I had a really bad headache for 2 days with a lot of queasiness. I don’t know if it counts as illness or not. No cough, no sneezing, but I slept in for hours both days and went to bed really early the first night. Maybe I was fighting off a bug? If I had been working outside our home, I doubt if I could have driven to work. So I’m calling 2 sick days. These are the first I’ve had since I started blogging. We’re still eating tons of veg, laying off the sugar but may have grilled one too many burgers LOL.

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Looking ahead

This was another post I wrote right after Black Friday last year. The Instant Pots didn’t sell. I got several people who contacted with offers in the $40 range. I decided to use them as gifts instead and made several people very happy indeed.

In spite of my selling efforts not working out so well, I now know that the Money Game still worked out well for us and that more money came to us in different and unexpected ways. Remember, if you get something at a lower cost because of diligent shopping, you don’t pay tax on the money you saved!

And now enjoy this old post that I never published:

The overall conception of the Money Game is that money will grow 5% at a time, picking up speed and amount over time.

I’m not sure what “time” division truly apply in this model. But if I want this to happen during my lifetime, I think monthly units are a great goal. Writing this makes me realize that I need to find a way to publish a graph of our fund’s growth over time as that picture will convey what’s happening better than anything else I know.

In that spirit, I realized last month’s deposits were less than the previous month’s. I saw it coming and knew sales has to happen NOW! On Black Friday, I bought three Instant Pots and posted the first one for sale yesterday on Facebook.  No nibbles yet. That’s okay. I’ll keep posting trying again perhaps closer to Christmas.  I thought about gift wrapping it too but I want the buyer to open it (they are new in box), verify good condition and plug it in so I can sell it with no returns (they’ll have their own guarantee from the manufacturer right?)

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Today I’m happy to report a power up of $2.50 left over in the category for AT&T our cell phone provider. Additionally, we used two coupons at the grocery store today. $2 off Tide and fifty cents off a bag of organic carrots.

Today’s Deposit: $5
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,555.97
Total Balance: $18,073.46
Our Money Game fund has increased 9.4% so far this month.

$72.18 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Practice financial freedom

When you’re financially free, your investments will pay for your lifestyle.

Here’s my challenge: Make what you have now buy your luxuries. Just try it once and see how it works.

Let’s pick an example even a teen could do. Let’s say you want a new phone. Jot down what features you need and start researching costs. Meanwhile, do you have anything you aren’t using any longer that you could sell to raise money for the phone?

Could you also sell your old phone? What else could you do using what you already have – except your wages – to get what you need? If you can use income from investments to pay for your luxuries, more of your wages can go to investments. (I got this from the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book.)

To me, this is like practicing being retired. If you can’t even get your luxuries from what you’re investing now (and from selling stuff you no longer use), how will you know how to manage investment income to support yourself later?

It’s a challenge but it’s a challenge with an upside. If you are an average teen, you probably have a lot of things you could sell. Maybe you could get an even nicer phone.

If you figure out how to do this, you’ll get a double reward. You’ll have more money to invest (because you aren’t spending your wages on your luxuries) and you’ll know how to actually make those investments cough up some money for you to use. Get used to living like this and you’ll be financially free a lot sooner than you’d otherwise think.

Today the annual bill came for George’s life insurance. It was slightly under budget and it’s not due for another month. I’m going to pay it August 1 instead of today. It’s only 4 days later but that means I can grab another month’s allocation.

Today’s Deposit: $69
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,550.97
Total Balance: $18,068.46
Our Money Game fund has increased 9.4% so far this month.

$77.18 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Look for a different solution

I’m making a pair of leggings. It’s really fun, they’re cute, they fit right and it costs me $4 a pair. (Ask in the comments if you want a link to the free pattern. Otherwise I’ll spare you.)

Most if it was done on my serger but then I needed to hem them on my sewing machine. Each machine uses a different type of thread. The Peg Legs I’m making are navy and I didn’t have any navy thread for my sewing machine.

I went to my favorite sewing website and started an order. A spool of thread is only a couple of dollars so I figured I needed to buy more things to justify the shipping. We all know where this is going right?

This what George and I always do when we hit something like this. We stop and tell ourselves that we’re reasonably intelligent people who can probably find at least one other solution. One that came to me right away was just to hem by hand using serger thread.

Then I wondered if I could blind hem using my serger. Two clicks and a You Tube later I was watching a video showing me exactly how to do this. I played with samples all morning until I mastered the technique. It’s my favorite hem now and it’s way better than the way I used to do it.

Everything around us – our devices, our road signs, our TVs, what we listen to in our cars tells us we need to spend money to be happier, look better, feel better and be more productive. Sometimes a purchase makes a difference. I’m challenging you to think it through first and see if you have any solutions on hand. You may end up with something better!

I was ready to plunk down at least $30. I promise you’ll be wealthier if you live this way. Cause you know what to do with money you save right?

Right!

Today’s deposit is $137.06 coming under budget on utilities. Powering up cause I didn’t make a stinking order for more sewing supplies!!

Today’s Deposit: $137.06
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,481.97
Total Balance: $17,999.46
Our Money Game fund has increased 9% so far this month.

$146.18 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

The two things that have to happen to sustain the Money Game

I wrote this post about 10 months ago. I didn’t think it was that great but I decided to publish it today. I’d love to know if any of you have ideas on what you could do with some money to make more money. I found one idea and I’ll post it tomorrow. It’s funny cause I kept pushing this post back and feeling like I was failing. Instead, I kept making small deposits over and over again and a year later had over $17,000. Even though my points below were valid, I still ended with a lot more money than I expected just doing what I knew to do.

  1. Bring it in
  2. Make it bring you more

From what I’ve seen so far it happens in phases:

Phase I – Get that first $5  Go mow your mom’s yard if you have to but get that $5.

Phase II – Ask yourself how you can use $5 to get twenty five cents.  If you can’t think of anything, then do what you did to get the first $5.  Roll it in and do it again.

Phase II will work about 100 times for most people.  If I was a teen, I’d babysit at night after the kids are in bed.  That’s as close to passive income as you may get right now. Just sit there, do your homework and get paid. 

Phase III – Learn how to sell. Sell stuff you don’t need any more.  If you don’t have anything, learn how to make homemade cookies.  Find drinks at a low price and sell them at work for less than the vending machines ask.  Keep your ear to the ground.  What do people want?  See if you can find it at a great deal and sell it for a profit. Make a profit.  Bring it in.  Keep it in.  Make more and level up.

It won’t take long for you to get to Level 125 – by then you’ll be halfway through the levels and you’ll have $2500 to work with.  Can you think of something you could buy at a great price with that much money and sell to make $125?  I think we all could come up with something.  Do you have to buy something expensive and sell it for $125 more?  Of course not!  Fast food places sell lots of inexpensive food and they seem to do just fine.

Today is a new week and I’m working on Level 125. I need to figure out how to make at least $106.03 to level up. It’s getting more challenging. I’m going to go about my day knocking out the housework and some yard work that need to get done. My mind will be going a mile a minute thinking about what I can sell. For most things in my life, if I do what I know to do with what I have, more opportunities seem to surface. I’m not stressing about it. It’s a game and it makes the day fun to think about my next move.

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That was the old post. It didn’t happen the way I envisioned but it did happen. With that, I have $1.75 leftover in personal spending that I won’t need since it’s the end of the month. I’d rather see it get fat in the Money Game!

Today’s Deposit: $1.75
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,344.91
Total Balance: $17,862.40
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.1% so far this month.

$283.24 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Cheap Date Night

Paint and Pints @ Whole Foods

PaintAndPints

These pictures are a bit … ahem … amateur but this was our first watercolor class and our second art lesson ever. We’re both math/science nerds so please cut as a little slack. I wish I had thought to snap a picture at the event. There were many smiling faces of people having a good time. We were having so much fun I didn’t even think about it.

We might get a “D” for finished art but we get an “A” for a fun cheap date night. George found our Whole Foods was offering a “Paint and Pint” night for $10 a person. That fee covered a full pint of craft beer along with an art teacher and all the supplies needed to complete a simple first project.

We had a blast! It was well attended and we made a few new friends. Now I’m wondering what else is out there as it’s been a while since we looked.

Today’s deposit is our regular $125 deposit that we make at the end of each month. It’s a planned budget item we decided on early in on the Money Game.

Today’s Deposit: $125.00
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,343.16
Total Balance: $17,860.65
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.1% so far this month.

$284.99 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Easily distracted bill paying

If I had the checkbook, I didn’t have a stamp. Or a pen.

Now that I pay online, I still forget to actually hit submit.

But if you want the Money Game to grow, you have, have, have to get your finances organized. If you’ve been reading here regularly, you know that means having software to make your checkbook function like electronic envelopes.

It also means paying your bills when they come due. No bank is going to pay you enough interest worth getting hit with a late fee. So aim for paying it the day it hits your inbox (or mailbox for some of them).

Use YNAB to set enough aside each pay period so that you can just pay it when the bill comes.

If you still pay some bills by snail mail, keep stamps in your checkbook and don’t move them for anything. Always keep an extra set of stamps. As soon as you start on the new set, add “buy stamps” to list of things to do.

This probably sounds like overkill but I also keep a pen in my checkbook.

Keeping this part of your life under control will save you some serious money and improve your credit rating. There’s also something freeing about paying a bill the day it comes to you. You don’t walk around with that weight and constant mental nagging of knowing there’s something you are supposed to do.

George asked me to stick part of any extra fuel money in vacation. We came way under again this week. $4.06 went into the vacation category and $40 is going in our Money Game.

Today’s Deposit: $40.00
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,218.16
Total Balance: $17,735.65
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.4% so far this month.

$409.99 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

What I really want

Don’t waste your time tracking every single penny you spend to see where money is leaking out.

Instead find something else you want more. Then make it a game to pile up money in that bucket – your Money Game fund, that new toy you really want, the down payment for your first house, etc.

It’s more productive to just go after what you want instead of yelling at everyone for wasting money. If you have a vision and can share it, I think the battle is at least 90% won.

Dave Ramsey says discipline is just remembering what you really want. I think if you keep your dreams front and center, you don’t even need discipline.

I really want an alternate way of supporting myself. I still need and want our 401K but I don’t want to worry about the stock market’s performance in retirement. I have a vision for what we can do for ourselves as well by perhaps buying and selling property. That’s going to take capital. It’s what I really want.

That’s why the $2.44 left in the phone category after paying the bill is going to our Money Game today.

Today’s Deposit: $2.44
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,178.16
Total Balance: $17,695.65
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.1% so far this month.

$449.99 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

A July power up and the best omelet I ever had

George and I love to cook together. Making and even growing great food and eating meals together is something that has made life rich and full. It’s actually put more money in our account as we rarely eat out now.

We had a crazy day last week with no time to cook. We did have some leftover unsauced pulled pork BBQ in the fridge that he got at Whole Foods. Sometimes he has to travel to Chattanooga for work related events. Last week was one of those times so he swung by for lunch.

That night, he sliced an onion and tossed it in a skiller with the pork and a little extra virgin olive oil. After the onions were cooked, all of that came out and he made two omelets using the cooked pork/onion mixture as the filling.

The smokey flavor of the pork came through and the onions were perfect with it. It was the best omelet I’ve ever eaten and I’m still thinking about it days later.

Today’s power up is $4.14 leftover after paying for our internet/cable service. I know I say this over and over but these power ups are the back bone of our MG account’s growth. Without these, we wouldn’t even have the big deposits. Before we figured out how to gameify this, the big windfalls went to make up the shortfalls we constantly made. Because everything was getting made up eventually, we thought we were good money managers.

Stay on top of it. It’s a lot easier to say no to small things than to face saying no to a something like a rent or mortgage payment. Keep bossing your money around with as much gusto as you boss your character around in your favorite game.
Today’s Deposit: $4.14
Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,175.72
Total Balance: $17,693.21
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.1% so far this month.

$452.43 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Retirement count down clock

I don’t care for these articles.
Clark Howard – Retirement count down clock

To me, they all say the same thing. Stop going to Starbucks and save $4 or $5 a day.

What chaps me is I don’t see a specific plan of what to do with that money. We had an extended family member who was great at finding sales. She had so much stuff! Her home was so crammed full of stuff she bought that I think she liked to shop so she oould be in a place that looked nice. She died in poverty with no assets but significant credit card debt. She had to depend on her kids to care for her in her old age. They didn’t mind; they loved her. But is that how you want to spend your retirement?

If you’re a regular reader here, you know of a plan! And I did actually make a thermos of coffee, drive several hours out of town, come home and pay an extra $5 off our mortgage. Our home has been paid off for a while now. If I did it today, I’d put it in the Money Game.

One thing I did that I found helpful was calculate how many paychecks we had until retirement. That put the fear of God into me! Let’s say you are 45 and you’d like to retire at the age of 60. To keep the math easy, let’s say you are paid monthly. That means you have 15 years left which is 180 paychecks. Doing that helped me see that income from wages wasn’t going to be endless. It helped me see stopping a 401K contribution wasn’t an option. It also made me want to do more.

Our fuel costs have been insanely low since I sold my car. We have $29.70 left over for today’s power up. We’re slowly starting to feel the inconvenience. I need to start crunching numbers to see if renting one once a month makes more sense than buying one.

Level Completed: 167 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,171.58
Total Balance: $17,689.07
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.1% so far this month.

$456.57 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game