Money Game Challenge #1

stirFryBroccoli

Here’s a challenge – take something off your list and put the money you would have spent in your MG fund.

Extra points if it’s a permanent change – switching soda to water for example. I’m going to stop buying Scrubbing Bubbles after reading the effects of spraying chemicals when we clean. I always have baking soda and vinegar and I know from experience they work effectively to clean our shower. That’s another permanent savings. To capture that savings, I’ll check Amazon when we run out. That will tell me what I paid for the last case and give me an idea of how frequently I ordered it. Then I can make a note to pay ourselves instead. You guys know me – you know I’ll follow through.

Another personal challenge is to stop buying lettuce from Costco. It’s shipped in so it can’t be as nutritious as what I grow. I’m learning to sow greens continuously so that we can always harvest what we need. I watched to see what plants made it through the winter (kale & cilantro) and I know from last year that malabar spinach produced during the summer heat. I can also switch to summer veggies like squash, green beans and okra during that time (we have grown it successfully 2 years in a row).

I planted asparagus and it’s coming up well. Maybe soon we can stop buying all vegetables! The photo above is one of the stir fry broccoli plants we put in last week.

If you are new to this, you may be thinking this is a lot of trouble to avoid spending $5 a week on lettuce. I can honestly say (and read through the archives if you want concrete examples to back it up) that $5 a week is a lot of money. More important, I’ve seen my health improve dramatically from increasing the amount of greens I eat. Your grandma said it, your mama said it and you probably even say it to your kids. If you think greens from the store are good for you, wait till you harvest them yourself and eat them just minutes later.

I’ll be reporting Money Game deposits again soon. We only have $940 left to save for the house.

If this post was helpful, give it a like and leave a comment if you have some ideas to share with everyone!

Costco Rotisserie Chickens Part 3

Today our Money Game fund got a boost as we regularly deposit $125 each month when George gets paid. I asked him if he still wanted it to go to the Money Game since we’re focusing on saving up for all the work that has to be done to address problems with our home’s foundation. He felt like it should. It was a decision made when we first came up with the game and something we never stopped doing. It didn’t hurt my feelings!! I’ll update our numbers at the end of this post.

Meanwhile since food continues to be such a big part of our budget, here’s another tip to help you when plans change.

We talk a lot about Costco rotisserie chickens being the backbone of our weekly meal plans here and here. Let’s say you buy one but plans change. Friends call and before you know it, everyone is getting together for chili and a few beers down the street.

Make some broth quickly. If you have time for proper bone broth go for it. Otherwise just simmer the chicken in some water for 15 – 30 minutes and call it done. Shred the meat, moisten with broth cover and freeze. You’ll have instant prepped packs of cooked shredded chicken to use in casseroles or any way you like.

This will keep your meat from going bad just sitting in the fridge. Be sure to label your frozen packs with the contents and the day’s date to prevent “mystery meat” dilemnas in the future.

Our tax refund and a few other things hit taking the house fund to just over $19,035. Less than 1k and I’ll be back to the Money Game!

Today’s Deposit: $125.00
Level Completed: 176 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $154.26
Total Balance: $27,723.13
Our Money Game fund has increased .56% so far this month.

$426.71 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Bialetti Coffee Canister

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Bialetti Coffee Canister

Here’s a real life example of how we choose to handle money. I lived in southern Europe during my 20’s and loved Italy dearly. When I found a Bialetti coffee canister in the clearance bin at Kroger for $5 several Christmases ago, I bought it. It made me think of Italy every morning and of course, that made me smile.

It slipped out of my hands and broke on our counter recently. My first thought was that Amazon would have one and they did – for $17.63. Mindlessly, I started to press the one-click order button but stopped to ask myself how would that would move us forward. (The price has since dropped slightly.)

If the Money Game has taught me anything, it’s that $17.63 is a lot of money.

The point isn’t that I can never spend money – I easily have that much in my personal spending category. The point is I couldn’t see how it would us move forward. I repurposed an empty canning jar and I like how it looks full of coffee beans.

George and I often make it a game to see if something we already have will meet the need. It did and it did it beautifully.

I look forward to the day when the Money Game will buy nice things for us. I picture a new car or a new kitchen though instead of an Italian coffee canister.

Capture Those Savings!

Since this would have been from my personal funds, I transferred $17.63 to the Money Game. I can’t wait to get back to this full time.

Today’s Deposit: $17.63
Level Completed: 176 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $29.26
Total Balance: $27,598.13
Our Money Game fund has increased .11% so far this month.

$551.71 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Hitting Baby Step 7

If you are into Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, you may find that baby step 7 is weird. We’re told it will be nirvana – a magical land of no debt and in many ways, it is.

But the minute you make that last mortgage payment, you aren’t financially independent. That doesn’t happen until you reach the Pinnacle Point – Dave Ramsey’s name for that place where your money earns more than your salary.

Dave Ramsey doesn’t give us a lot of direction for what to do after the mortgage is paid off. He doesn’t give us the specific intense goals that we had in the earlier baby steps. For many of us, that’s a problem.

It’s compounded by things we need to save for once we hit baby step 7. By then, our homes need some maintenance and it seems like car replacement is always around the corner.

This is where the Money Game saved me. It gave me the thrill of hitting specific savings goals again. I also have an end game which gives me a target to hit. Leveling up is fun because I’m always being challenged.

Just like the baby steps, the Money Game has a purpose. Once I hit my end number (and even before if I want or if I feel like the Lord is leading) I can use profits to help someone or to help us with a project around the house. I love the idea of helping to support our finances and helping other people is always fun and worthy too.

Here’s what I think someone should do as soon as they finish baby steps 1-6:

  • Look up your annual property tax and insurance amounts. Your house payment is going away but you’ll need to add both of these to your budget.
  • It’s time for a new budget meeting. Do you have enough budgeted for home maintenance? (The recommended amount is 1 to 3% of your home’s value each year.) What about car replacement?
  • Calculate what you need to hit the Pinnacle Point. Will your 401K get you there fast enough?
  • This is a good time to find a great financial advisor if you haven’t done it yet.

George’s expense check for last month was pretty hefty but most of it had to reimburse airline tickets for a business trip. I got to add the rest into the house fund which brought us up some more. As soon as we have $20k saved up for the house repair, I can go back to adding to the Money Game.

$16,812.63/$20,0000

Payday …

Payday and our own efforts to save like crazy means the house fund now has $16,600. I get to start on the Money Game again as soon as it reaches $20,000 (and as long as the bills for the repairs and professional services stays under 20k).

If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that the Money Game really needs to be focused on making money – not just saving money.

I’m out of town this week but when I get back, I need to get busy.

As part of this, I’m studying to get my real estate license. I could wait to get a couple of hundred thousand dollars to start buying and selling property …. or I could my license right now and sell other people’s property. The process is easier and less expensive than I would have thought.

Since I know the area around our favorite beach so well, I’m working on getting licensed in the state of Florida. Depending on how that goes I may get licensed in my home state too.