August Wrap Up

August was very good to us. I had one more power up that I didn’t report as we were out of town – $7.52 left over after paying property tax on the land we own in North Carolina. We ended the month growing the fund over 11.5% by depositing $2,109.50.

The S & P 500 year to date is up 10.4% and we topped that in one month. (The S & P only rose .05% in the month of August by the way.)

I know several of you are playing along now and I’d love to know how you did! Who got the highest percent growth?

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 $1,557.97 $18,075.46 9.43%
August, 2017 $18,075.46 $2,109.50 $20,184.96 11.67%

Since I write that health is wealth and track sick days, I do have a couple of sick days to report. George came down with a sinus infection. He didn’t miss work but there was no question that he was a sick puppy with a lot of congestion, sneezing, coughing and a fever one evening. We couldn’t figure it out as he hasn’t even had a cold in years.

Normally he goes through a 3 pound bag of Costco raw almonds every week. He switched it up and bought a bag of dry roasted almonds. I ate some too and never questioned it as he’s usually so careful about what he buys and eats. I got the bag and read the label – sure enough – they contain “maltodextrin”. I knew that meant some type of sugar so I looked it up online. One site said that usually translates to corn syrup solids. He stopped eating them and he’s back to his usual self.

I have no idea if the new brand of nuts did him in or not. I know our experience alone is anecdotal. But we’re sticking to what we know – eating real food that isn’t processed and tracking our sick days.

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

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What can make this job easier?

I mopped the kitchen floor again today.

I admit I hated this job more than the others. The kitchen has so much going on and we cook three meals a day!

So this was the first time I actually mopped it exactly 7 days later. I schedule Tuesday to do it and honestly I was only actually getting it done about 1 or 2 times a month. Today was so much easier. The floor wasn’t that dirty at all.

I still saw a way to make it easier next time. (I love looking for ways to make it easier each time!) I saw that Tuesdays (the heavy kitchen cleaning day) should be an easy dinner day. I often cook ahead for the freezer or have intentional leftovers – you know the soups that taste better the second day. From now on, Tuesday is also easy dinner day! I have a quart of leftover jambalaya in the fridge ready to go.

Just typing that out looks so obvious. I don’t know why it took me this long to figure it out. Maybe that’s why so many of us enjoy reading the life hack type of threads that are filled with practical tips for every day living.

George had an easy week with respect to fuel as he was out of town for several days. That really cut down the driving and I’m powering up today with $47.90 leftover in the fuel category this week.

Today’s Deposit: $47.90
Level Completed: 170 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $2,101.98
Total Balance: $20,177.44
Our Money Game fund has increased 11.6% so far this month.

$828.40 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Keeping your goals front and center

Thanks to some friends on the Debt Free Fanatics Forum, there has been a recent influx of traffic. If any of you have questions or could use some help, feel free to leave a comment. If you’re playing along, feel free to share your progress, tips, etc. I can’t wait for someone to pass me by and get this game a bit more competitive. I share a monthly summary around the first of each month so you can compare and try to beat my first month, etc. if you enjoy that. I know several of you already know how to work Craigs List and Facebook yard sales, so you have a tremendous advantage. I hope you work it!!

I made it a goal to grow $5 over and over again 5% each time until I hit a million.* I didn’t really have a plan on how to do it. It was a game and it was fun. It’s pretty easy to find a quarter (that’s how much I needed the first time). I figured I’d find a way to actually increase it 5% “at a time” by finding my niche in buying and selling and that perhaps the game would continue. As each month went by, the desire (and the results) kept growing.
* Actually there is a secondary goal to build a system to make money perhaps by having enough capital to flip real estate.

So hit pause here.
// pause
That was over a year ago. I never found a plan. I never lost the goal. I kept finding money here and there and threw it in the “pot” (actually a savings account) every time. How much do you think would accumulate? Would it be percent growth or be pretty much the same each month? I wrote early on that if I didn’t figure out the selling part, it would pretty much level off. There might be a constant growth of say $200 a month. I reasoned I’d have maybe a couple of thousand dollars at the end of 12 months without selling or figuring out something to make the money grow apart from what i was finding and throwing in. //end pause

12 months later – I haven’t figured out the sell or get it to grow on its own part. All I have is the goal. I see that goal every day in writing. I work on the spreadsheets and blog about it almost every day. My master password has the goal embedded in it. So what was the result?

It grew from $5 to over $17,500 in 12 months. This is the 13th month and I’m now over $20,000.

It has to increase by 5% 80 more times before it turns into a million dollars. Mentally I push for 5% each month. Will it get easier as I have more cash to work with? I have no idea. I had no idea $5 could grow to be so much to begin with. Now I’m just along for the ride.

But – in a nutshell – that’s the power of a written goal. I wonder where it will take you?

I’m running around getting ready to leave, pop back in and then leave again. We’re done buying groceries so I’m going to go ahead and zero out the food two days ahead of schedule. That gives us a nice little power up today.

Pantry
(photo by me looking at our pantry this morning)

Today’s Deposit: $37.75
Level Completed: 170 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $2,054.08
Total Balance: $20,129.54
Our Money Game fund has increased 11.4% so far this month.

$876.30 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

First goals

$1,000 in the bank as an emergency savings fund.
Another $5 as your Money Game seed money. Grow it 5% each month while you get your emergency fund together.

The first EF is for survival. If you don’t have this and you aren’t dependent on your parents, you are in crisis mode. This is Dave Ramsey 101 people. It’s your first financial goal and it should just about consume you until you get it done.

The second $5 goal is for inspiration. It’s to show you what will happen if you keep growing that money 5% at a time and especially if you learn how to make it grow on its own.

If you have debt, consider knocking out your debt as your next goal. Keep growing your $5 5% a month in the meantime. It may seem silly to add twenty six cents to a piggy bank when you are a grown adult trying to get all your debts paid in full but do it anyway. Keep that bank where you can see it so that your mind will keep working on the question “what can I do with $5 to make twenty five more cents?” If the answer comes to you (the answer will be different for everyone), then do it!!!

Saturdays George and I love to go to the market together. We ran by Costco and he gave me $5 to pick up a few hotdogs as he went through the checkout. (Are we the only ones who request no bun and no drink?) The change is going to the Money Game so I have a small $1.79 power up to deposit today.

(For those of you wondering how I actually do this – I put the $1.79 in my wallet. I’ll actually use this for groceries. Then I transfer 1.79 from our grocery category to the Money Game category in YNAB. I also transfer $1.79 from checking to savings.

We live one mile away from Kroger and frequently pop in for fresh produce that we don’t grow – avocados are a good example. I’ll use that cash on one of those runs.)

Today’s Deposit: $1.79
Level Completed: 170 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $2,016.33
Total Balance: $20,091.79
Our Money Game fund has increased 11.2% so far this month.

$914.05 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Level 170: Growing

Lettuce
(photo taken by me today in our garden)

Do you realize if you begin every day with the intention of growing – not just spending – your money that it will actually happen? It doesn’t matter that you don’t know how. You do what you know to do with the little that you have and you trust that you’ll learn more. You will learn more because it’s on your radar.

This isn’t about cutting back. It’s a lot more like growing a garden. You plant some seeds, hope for some squash and then there’s more squash than you know what to do with. But you do save some seeds for next spring. You don’t have to cut back what you eat and even how much you share (and you’ll share a lot of squash).

We never cut our budget. We increased several categories along the way. I just kept my eye on the ball and took more care where it made sense. For example, it became a game to see if I could use half as much laundry detergent and get the same results. It worked! That’s just one example of a lot of things I did to coax more money out of any area that frankly wasn’t fun.

Today I have a bunch of power ups to report. They all added up to push us to the next level and I’m super excited! They also pushed us over $20,000!

First the laundry fairy left $1.10 and the grocery and fuel category together had nearly $20 left this week. The utility bill came today. I wasn’t expecting much as this is a peak usage month for us in the deep south. We put in a new heat pump upstairs a few months ago and now I’m seeing the pay off from that. We were under budget $129.33. (We’re usually a few dollars over budget in August.) It’s not just the heat pump. I don’t think we’ve hit 100 degree days and by now, we usually have. So I’m thanking Mother Nature and energy efficient heat pumps for the big assist.

Today’s Deposit: $146.80
Level Completed: 170 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $2,014.54
Total Balance: $20,090.00
Our Money Game fund has increased 11.2% so far this month.

$915.84 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

ADD meets the Instant Pot

If you are the family cook and if you are ADD, sleep deprieved or just want to eat a really good meal, you need an Instant Pot. (This is not an affiliate link by the way.)

I need it to keep from burning the house down. Seriously. If you set it to pressure cook, walk out of the house and forget to come home, it will pressure cook the time you set, switch to keep warm and eventually (after many hours) just turn itself off.

The image above is their top of the line model. If you don’t care about it being connected to wifi and if you don’t have a need for making yogurt or proofing bread, get the bottom of the line (the 6 in 1) model. It’s a great pressure cooker that can also work as a slow cooker and a steamer. It’s offered on Amazon today at its regular price of $79. I’m seeing them at our Kroger now too.

If you get one, check out Hip Pressure Cooking for a free course that will teach you how to use it safely one recipe at a time. Consider joining Instant Pot’s Facebook group too for lots of recipes and support from fellow pot heads (heh).

Before the Instant Pot, I turned on the stove, walked out of the house heading to meet with friends and came home 3 hours later. The counter top behind the cooktop was dark brown (it was supposed to be white) and George stayed up for hours until the wall behind it cooled to room temperature. It’s a miracle the house didn’t catch on fire.

He also had a gas cooktop installed with knobs that light up when the gas is on. That helps me do a better job of paying attention. One other helper is Alexa (Amazon Echo). I don’t cook over the gas cooktop unless I first set a timer using Alexa. It’s one more backup to help me remember in case I get distracted.

Our annual home insurance premium came today and we were over budget by $142. It’s a nice power up as we inch closer to the $20k mark.

Today’s Deposit: $142.00
Level Completed: 169 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,867.74
Total Balance: $19,943.20
Our Money Game fund has increased 10.3% so far this month.

$ 62.37 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Garden thoughts

greenBeans
(photo by me today in our garden)

If you’ve ever had a garden, you probably know that you end up with more produce than you can use. So you eat some, you freeze or can some and you give some away. There’s so much it’s hard to imagine not sharing it.

This sounds like money management to me – give, save and spend.

But what if we built a money garden? What if we built something that could cough up 5% each time. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have something in place that could produce funds – enough to save, spend and share?

While I’m asking questions, why is it you can take a sack of green beans to a friend and it’s graciously received but you can’t just hand your friend a twenty dollar bill?

Ephesians 4:28b … let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

I always took that to mean that part of my ability to earn a living was so I could help someone else.

And maybe you’re saying something like “Oh yea let’s just all go out and buy a golden goose.” That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. This is on the side. It’s over and above our 401k retirement planning. So let’s say with the money we have right now, we learn to recognize good value in used cars. We buy paying cash, clean them up and sell for a 5% profit after expenses? We don’t “need” this money for day to day living expenses, retirement, etc. It’s a game for crying out loud! So we aren’t desperate to sell. Because we learned value, we made our money when we bought the vehicle and now it’s for sale for fair market value.

We can take the profit and roll it all into the Money Game, or we can spend some or give some away. As the fund grows, the “produce” increases. That’s one example of how this could be fleshed out.

Do you see it? Am I communicating the vision?

Today’s power up is our regular monthly deposit of $125. I’m trying to back this up a little each month. The sooner it goes in, the more interest it earns.

Today’s Deposit: $125.00
Level Completed: 169 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,725.74
Total Balance: $19,801.20
Our Money Game fund has increased 9.6% so far this month.

$ 204.37 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

The present challenge

I wrote this months ago when our Money Game balance was “just” $2,000 (it seemed like so much back then):

The present challenge is to figure out how to use what I have (and that includes the $2,000+ cash balance in the Money Game) to come up with $106.03. If I can do this without just skimming where we came came in under budget, I move from being a “saver” to a “money maker”.

I remember thinking this isn’t sustainable unless I figure out how to start earning – not just saving.

I kept that goal in mind – increasing our fund by 5% – and it kept growing. While I thought just keeping my eye on the ball wasn’t sustainable, it has been.

I’ve come to believe that having your goal front and center is enough. It’s the rudder that pulls everything else in line. It guides you there. The motor has been our consistent lifestyle of giving, spending wisely and saving.

Right now I know exactly how much we need to level up. I look at that number every day and I write it every time I post. It’s not overwhelming. I don’t stress about it or even strive with it. I just look at the number and pay attention so I’ll notice any extra that comes our way. That’s the part that’s a game to me. It gets me to approach each day with a sense of adventure.

We started funding a new category for our monthly supplies that we get from Amazon’s subscription program. Any time I run out of something, I check Amazon to see if that option is available. Since we’ve built up to over 5 items a month, we get a bigger discount (it’s usually 15%). Things I commonly order are decaf Earl Gray tea, shampoo, Raw Fit protein drink (way less expensive on Amazon than Whole Foods), makeup remover wipes, etc. That category has $5.16 leftover this month so it’s going to the Money Game as a power up.

Today’s Deposit: $5.16
Level Completed: 169 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,600.74
Total Balance: $19,676.20
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.9% so far this month.

$ 329.37 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Pillow talk

What follows is just a real life example of how the Money Game grew to over $17,500 our first year. Maybe you’ll find something that will help your money grow too.

I told George I almost bought a book the other day. I checked YNAB and my spending money was zero’d out. Part of me reasoned the book was only 94 cents plus shipping and I really “need” it (it’s a highly rated book on how to service your serger – a type of sewing machine). Payday is just a week away and it’s “okay”. That’s when I put the brakes on. The book will be still be there when he gets paid and I’ll order it then.

He agreed adding we had died by a thousand cuts until we started living like this. Now that we reversed it, it added up to some stunning balances that were made by any windfall that came our way. George whispered “$17,500 worth” and I nodded as I fell asleep.

It’s not the $5 I would have spent for the book plus shipping. Of course it’s not. It’s the way it gets away from you and it adds up. YNAB is the tool that helps you control it. I really do need that book. It will save me solid time and money. It doesn’t mean I can’t have it. I can go to the library and get it today. Or I can wait until payday and buy it then. I can try to find it on GoogleBooks and get started. There are always options.

Another way this compounds your money is you better respect the things you have. It’s my choice so I’ll have more and that makes it fun. For example, last week I realized if I cut back how much coffee I drink during the day, I won’t have to reorder it every month. I’m supposed to cut back anyway but seeing that changed it from a “have to” to a “want to”. I know where money we save goes and it’s going for what we really want.

I can’t wait until I can start writing about what we really want!

Today’s power up came from my sweet husband who has really gotten into this whole Money Game lately. Inching towards $20,000 has gotten his attention and it’s fun to be playing with him. He’s a foodie and a passionate cook. He’s also been really careful with grocery money and we have $40.34 left over this week.

Today’s Deposit: $40.34
Level Completed: 169 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,595.98
Total Balance: $19,671.04
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.8% so far this month.

$ 334.53 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

ADD meets housework games

People with ADD have a really hard time focusing on tasks that seem dull, boring and even pointless. I know it’s not pointless to clean the house but it just gets messed up again so it seems that way.

But we don’t have problems playing games. George knows I’m up for a game anytime. Is there a point to a game? Of course there’s a point – I want to win!

So games it is. My morning always starts with the game called “Race the coffee pot”. I don’t even have to think about it or check an app to remember. It’s fun and I play it every day. The object of the game is to empty the dishwasher before the coffee is finished. I almost always win and I love that little high five I give myself.

Another way I trick out the morning is to get up with George. I noticed that he always makes the bed. I’m just not that disciplined but I’d feel guilty. I realized if I got out of bed with him that we’d just automatically make the bed together. It doesn’t take 60 seconds (I timed it).

We’re Paleo and in our home, that usually means eggs and veggies for breakfast. I make breakfast on work days and George gets fancy making a nice brunch on weekends. Recently I started racing him to get the kitchen cleaned before he backs out of the driveway.

These games make all the difference. Daily chores aren’t boring and they get knocked out quickly.

I’m behind on posting a ton of power ups. The laundry fairy made sure I saw a $5 bill floating out of dryer (is it mean that I just take this cash? NO – it goes into our Money Game fund) and $4.14 was left over after I paid the cable/internet bill.

I also buckled down and did the quarterly taxes for the first time on my social security income. I overestimated the withholding and have an extra $350 because of it.

Today’s Deposit: $359.14
Level Completed: 169 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1511.78
Total Balance: $19,587.24
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.4% so far this month.

$ 418.33 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game