The “Challenge” Savings Account Total: Month #1

Yo. What’s good y’all? Get into anything juicy over the weekend? We hit up a fair yesterday where Baby Penny and I both slid down the tallest slide we’ve ever seen in our lives. And I won’t tell you which of us was the most frightened ;)

But let’s get down to business, shall we… Last we checked on our expense shredding mission (aka Challenge Everything) we had cut down our cable bill by $50/mo bringing our automatic savings every month to roughly $190. Which ain’t too shabby for literally putting in a few hours of work.

Here’s what our “Challenge Savings” looks like after month #1:

challenge savings account
That’s an actual snapshot of my USAA account we set up for these challenges, and while it’s delayed by a month while we waited for all the bills to hit, you’ll see we’re off to a killer start. And so far our quality of life is roughly the same too (more on that in a sec).

Here’s what this $203.96 includes, in detail:

challenge savings details 9-14
You’ll see the $190’ish up top which is the difference saved between the three bills cut so far, followed by other monies we’ve also picked up along the way. Quite literally ;) It still amazes me how many people just throw their money on the ground. And we’re not even talking pennies here, folks – I found a dime and a nickel too! Blasphemy!

hidden nickel dirt

[I’ve got eyes like a hawk and not afraid of getting dirty]

And lastly, you’ll see the infamous backpack we sold on Craigslist recently to round up the account. Which kicked off our weekly “listing” habit that I’m now proud to say has two sales under its belt, thank you very much. (I think it’s going to stick!)

I’ll be listing this guy in the next roundup as it hit in October, but if you were around circa Easter, 2012, you may have recalled that hand carved vintage Indian knife I once picked up amongst all my yard sale binging. Which coincidentally also kick-started my new love affair with old coins too.

The knife was cool and made for a great decoration piece in my blogger lair, however it was time for it to move on with the additions of the little humans in our household, so I listed her on up (I think it was a girl? It was pretty!), and a few days later I had a crisp new twenty dollar bill in my hands. A 471% profit margin off my $3.50 investment.


vintage indian knife

And this time they came to meet me 40 mins away, haha… I’m learning over here ;)

The Quality of Life Stuff…

Now that it’s been a couple months since we’ve cut down on some of these services and even swapped products, I thought I’d drop ya a quick update on how we still feel about these changes. Since the main point of this mission outside of saving money is to pretty much get the same stuff in life without sacrificing much at all – if anything. We want our expenses cut as much as possible, but not to the degree of crappifying our lives. (New word – you heard it here first!)

Here’s how we’re doing so far:

  • Cell phones – This is probably the biggest difference we’ve noticed out of the group here, but only because we went from iPhones to Android phones which are completely different and take some getting used to. Now that it’s been a month or two, however, I’m proud to say I’m finally getting the hang of things and slowly forgetting about my iPhone as the days progress. I still prefer it to be totally honest, but not enough to give back my $100 bill I’m now saving each and every month ;) And the service Republic Wireless gives is pretty close to all “normal” carriers as well – with perhaps an extra dropped call or two – so I’m still riding as high as I was when we first tried these hipsters out… There will be no going back anytime soon, I can tell you that.
  • Car insurance – Haven’t noticed a difference in the least here. Though we also haven’t gotten into a car accident in the past 4 months either ;) Frankcaddy is slacking on it’s hustling! Probably because he got complacent after winning Hustler of The Year in April… Happens to the best of us.
  • Cable/phone/internet – A little difference here since having 3,000 less channels now (I’m almost kidding), but nothing enough to open back our wallets and hand over a Grant ($50) again to those money sucking cable companies. If I have to go without MTV or ESPN for now, so be it. As soon as HBO offers its new stand alone service that’s coming soon, the % of dropping cable altogether goes up to a solid 95%! Especially once we upgrade our TV from stone age to modern age here in the future… I really want to see what I’m missing w/ streaming everything directly from the interwebs.

Overall State of Affairs: A+

I really can’t thank my lucky stars enough for finally waking up and DOING SOMETHING about these bills that were so normalized over the years. And, really, decades. We got so lazy and use to maintaining stuff without ever thinking that it took a small epiphany to finally shake us out of it and become mindful again.

This epiphany was found in an article by Mr. Money Mustache when he mentioned cutting expenses “increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month, and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.” I was so caught up in the “earning more” part of the wealth equation that I forgot about the “cutting expenses” side for a while so this was a great reminder. And now here we are today. Obsessed with seeing how far I can take it while still living a magical life :)

My hope is that these articles jiggle something inside of you too. Even if you only end up saving $10/mo from trying one of these exercises,  it’ll still amount to thousands of dollars by the time you get bored of this blog ;) And then you can go right back to being lazy again!

Here’s a page I’ve put together that includes all of the articles we’ve done up to this point, as well as the successes others are having too since following along: Challenge Everything! Feel free to send me your own successes as well and I’ll feature you up on it too.

Here’s a snapshot my friend Shannon recently sent me:

financially blonde savings accountShe’s already whipping my ass and we’re only in month #1!  But hey – nothing bad with some friendly competition, right? We need all the motivation we can get…

Keep hustlin’ out there.

[Top photo by Sean Naber. Looks tasty!]

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  1. MMD October 20, 2014 at 5:47 AM

    I love that this savings list even includes the loose change you found on the street. I used to be a ninja when it came to finding coins on the ground. Now when I see one I tip off one of my kids and let them collect the treasure.

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      That’s a good idea – gotta start them out when they’re young! :)

  2. How To Save Money October 20, 2014 at 5:48 AM

    Hi! Nice article. Really inspiring to see how little lifestyle changes have big impact on our lives.

  3. Prudence Debtfree October 20, 2014 at 6:09 AM

    Well done! We cut cable too, and we don’t miss it a bit. We’re also putting things by for a spring garage sale. The fact that you’ve included money you’ve found makes me realize I can still increase my own mindfulness when it comes to $ matters. Every penny really does count. (Even though we got rid of the penny in Canada : (

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Maybe people will stop caring about 5 cent pieces over there then and you’ll make even MORE money scouring the streets? :)

  4. Mrs. Frugalwoods October 20, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    Looking good! I too love that MMM quote. It’s so true! We’re on a mission to permanently reduce our annual expenses, which will make early retirement all the smoother for us. And, I think there’s an element of inertia to savings–once you start cutting, you realize you can cut in so many areas previously thought to be necessities (as you’ve demonstrated). Save on!

  5. Points With a Crew October 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    We started keeping track of the money we found on the ground about 4-5 years ago. So far we’ve found $439!

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      Wow – just from the ground??? That $hit adds up!

  6. Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    Wow! You did better than I thought you would! I need to step up my game and hopefully others will join in with us. We have cut a bunch of costs this year, but I never thought to put them away until your challenge. Let’s hope that we start a mini savings revolution and get others on board. :-)

  7. John C @ Action Economics October 20, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    Love it, $200 a month adds up to some real money very quickly. My challenge this month is our insurance costs, just got the new yearly car insurance bill and they upped us over $300 for the year, time to shop around!

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      Ouch. Great time to shop around indeed.

  8. jestjack October 20, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    Congrats on the Craigslist sale. In this neck of the woods CL sales have been very slow. Put a couple of things on there priced right….NOTHIN’. It’s hit or miss. Had a couple of boxes of comic books once left in a rental unit…nothing spectacular. Tried for months to sell them …had a guy come out an offer me $40 for two huge boxes some in plastic…NO THANK YOU. Waited a month put them back on CL….sold $225…it’s crazy. Cable could be in for some “rough seas” as more and more content options present themselves. We too are waiting for one of our ol’ TV’s to perish so we can replace with a “fancy smansy” new one that has more capability…What are you gonna do with the savings from this adventure/experiment?

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Good for you for holding tight with Craigslist. The best times to sell are when you don’t need the money :) And when you’re not in a rush…

      I’m not sure what we’ll do with our $$ yet, but I’m leaning towards funding a Roth IRA. Would be nice to have that filled “for free” ;) gives me motivation to ramp up these monthly savings too!

  9. Gretchen October 20, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    We’ve also found that we love republic wireless. At the moment I’m having trouble hearing calls when in wifi, but they’re working with me to get it resolved, and at the rock-bottom price of $10 a month, I’m certainly not complaining. What impressed me is the attention to even small amounts of money. It seems like selling a backpack for $12.00 wouldn’t really be that much, but if you sold one $12 item each week for a year, you would have $624.00, and that’s certainly not small!

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      That’s a good way to think of it :) Though two of my items is still not selling, arghh…. gotta re-think the price and/or posting.

  10. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life October 20, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    “We got so lazy and use to maintaining stuff without ever thinking that it took a small epiphany to finally shake us out of it and become mindful again.” Yes.

    The last few months have been a slippery slope for me and food on the go and delivery. I was getting lazy because NYC summers suck, we were having a bug and mouse problem, and I was traveling almost every weekends, so I used those all as excuses not to go to the grocery store and cook. Needless to say, I spent a fortune. Slowly getting back on track now.

  11. Jon @ Money Smart Guides October 20, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    I too am excited about the stand alone HBO service. It will be interesting to see how many others follow along and create their own networks too. Can’t wait to see how much you save for October!

  12. John @ Frugal Rules October 20, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Very nice J$! $200/month is nothing to sneeze at at all. Heck, you’re talking a little shy of 40% of a maxed out a Roth if taken over a year. We’re only a few months away from being able to tell Verizon what they can do with their $150/month plan though my wife will likely get to experience the same iPhone to Android issues. :) I personally can’t wait to see what the HBO service will include and cost. If it’s good, then I believe it’ll be time to say good bye to cable.

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      That’s what I’m thinking with that Roth! If I can up these amounts as time goes on it’ll fully fund itself! For hardly any work!

  13. Brian @ Debt Discipline October 20, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Nicely done! A good reminder to do this myself. It seems like the un-bundling of cable is starting to happen with the HBO announcement last week. Good for the consumer. Al-crate here we come.

  14. Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 20, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I’ll be calling my cable company again today, and writing my health insurance broker to see what I can do about my increasing health insurance. Hopefully I will have some good news to report. Hey, i have a backpack I can sell too!

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      You can use the backpack to hoard all the cash you’re about to save ;)

  15. Sarah October 20, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Great post!! We recently cut cable and haven’t missed it at all! My girls watch educational YouTube videos on the TV and we rent DVD’s from the library for them. We watch Netflix and my husband actually gets most football games with just an antenna. We did upgrade to iPhones though after having prepaid phones for a while, so I guess it evens out :/

    Thanks for the inspiration!! I’m going to look through our bill later today and see if there’s anything else we can eliminate.

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      Having iPhones are okay – they’re awesome :) But yeah – it’s not really saving if you then turn around and spend that money elsewhere, haha… This is why I doubly like our new savings account – it forces me to save it before temptation creeps in!

  16. Tiffany A. October 20, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Hey, that’s awesome!! Maybe I’ll start one too. I just reduced my car insurance from $77/mo to about $54/mo by filling out a simple request for an online quote… Same coverage! I felt a little bad leaving because the previous insurance had amazing customer service, really top notch… but business is business!

    Question is, what do you do with this money? I assume you don’t just let it sit there for months and years earning paltry interest, right? Do you transfer it out to investments when it hits a certain $$ mark?

    1. J. Money October 20, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Usually yes – I’d throw it into investments like my SEP Ira, but with this experiment – no. I’m keeping it in a plain ol’ savings account until a year’s up and will then move it elsewhere. I’m not too worried about losing a few dollars as the main point is to just see how stuff adds up over time and being able to xfer into savings nice and easily will keep me motivated to do so. Then we’ll have a nice investing party at the end of it ;)

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 12:02 PM


  17. Liz October 20, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    It feels great when you can cut costs without having to make to great of a lifestyle adjustment. We recently decreased our internet and cell phone bills and it feels good to have that extra money at the end of each month! One of our goals now is to find a way to decrease the car insurance cost!

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Something that helped us was adjusting the mileage we used to use w/ the car. If you drive the same amount now as when you signed up for insurance it won’t help you, but if you drive less it might! And it’s something most people forget about. But really I’d just call up and literally tell them you’re looking to reduce the rate and ask how they can help :)

  18. Crystal October 20, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    I got our car insurance cut down from $130 total a month for the two of us (one total covered and one liability only) to $86 about a year ago (both totally covered now since I bought a new car) just by asking for their retention department and being nice to the rep they sent me to.

    We also cut cable about 2 months ago, so our bill went from $130 (rising to $180 the next month) to $40 for just high speed DSL. We use my laptop to plug into our TV and projector to watch our CBS and other shows directly from their websites, Hulu Plus, or wherever I find them online.

    I am now looking into Ting so we can keep our Samsung phones. They supposedly are just as good as Republic Wireless. I’m doing the match on cancelling our Sprint contract early and taking Ting’s 25% coverage of that fee into account. I think our bill would be around $50-$60 a month instead of $150, we’ll end up covering $210-$250 of cancellation fees, and our contract is up in April, so it should be worth the switch now…

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Nice! I’ve heard good things about Ting too :) Wait until tomorrow’s post I do before making your decision though… I may or may not be giving away Republic Wireless phones (with free service) tomorrow….

  19. Lauren @ MarkandLaurenG October 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    We recently did a similar thing with our bills. Instead of getting rid of our iPhones we added two family members to our line (my sister and mother in law) because of adding them we are saving ourselves $75.00 per month. I also called my internet/phone/cable company and got our bill lowered by $40 per month. A few months ago we lowered our car insurance by $100 per month.

    It’s amazing how such little changes add up and you don’t even realize you did it!

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Woah – $100mo savings on car insurance is incredible! That’s impressive.

  20. Barry @ Moneywehave October 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    I dropped my cable years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. That being said I did pick up an Over The Air antenna which gives me HD channels for free at a one time cost of $50 Canadian.

    Man your car insurance is dirt cheap.

  21. EL October 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    That’s great you saved 200 dollars already. Now you are only 1/4 away from getting a modern TV, a good sized streaming tv goes for about 800. Hopefully you can stick to your goals for a long time.

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Hah! No way I’m paying $800 for a new tv…. $300 maybe, but not $800 :)

  22. Kim O. October 20, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Thanks for continuing to update us! I know it keeps me motivated. I didn’t list anything on Craigslist last weekend ot of pure laziness. :( On the other hand, I have been trying all of my business suits at a rate of seven a day. It’ll take e a week and a half to try them on. Who needs that many suits, right? lol. I did, or at least I felt I did in my old position that had tremendous scrutiny. In my new venture I will only need them occasionally, if at all so I figured I’d consign them. I try on seven a day and do a “I love it,” or I don’t love it.” There is no maybe pile. I am keeping those that I love and hope to cosign those that I don’t, So far there are about 35 suits going to consignment. I have to say it was cathartic as well as I am still bitter about how I left my old position. Moving on, but I can still taste it now anad again. Happy Monday J$!

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      oh wow, haha… that’s a lot of suits indeed :) good idea though breaking it up like that – it’s way too much to do in one sitting (standing?).

  23. Emily @ SImple Cheap Mom October 20, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    It’s funny how you forget you’re paying for something if it just comes out of your bank every month. I find that these are usually the easiest places to cut back.

    Great job with the new savings account!

  24. Amy @ Live Smart Be Frugal October 20, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    I recently switched to Republic Wireless and now I actually get excited to pay the bill! OK, not really, but I get excited about how much I’m saving now that I’m not with Vz anymore. It’s a fantastic feeling!

  25. Crissie October 20, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    I looked at some bills – cable & cell – realized I was paying fees that I didn’t have to. I bought my own cable modem and am now saving $8/month and then removed the insurance on my cell phone (hemmed & hawed on this one until I realized that I’ve never lost or broken a phone in 10+ years) saving $7+/month. Small changes but they add up!

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      I tried to go the buying of modem route but our cable company doesn’t allow it, ugh… oh well, they’ll be gone at some point anyways.

  26. Lynn October 20, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    I’m not ready to give up my iPhone yet but I did downgrade cable last week with a monthly savings of $130. We had the 5 million channels and only watched a handful. I’m committed to a year with only the basic 10 or so channels and if I miss something (Project Runway or Top Chef) to much I’ll reconsider.

  27. debs October 20, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    We’re saving $82/mth on cable. I’ve also saved $120 by delaying a hair cut and colour for a few months. This means I will spend only $120 for the remainder of the year instead of $240.

  28. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions October 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Nice work! We are mustacians and slashed expenses last year, then had a summer challenge to do it again, so we’re on basic cable and switched to republic wireless a few months ago, but I haven’t tackled the car insurance premiums in a while. A friend just saved $400/year on his insurance by leveraging another carrier’s quote against his current premium, AND his coverage increased. So, he didn’t even have to switch carriers. I think car insurance is next on our list!

    I’ve also started selling on eBay, which has a bit of a steep learning curve, but I finally feel like I know what I’m doing now! I’ve sold about $100 of clothes so far.

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      That’s pretty good! I haven’t sold on eBay in years… but I think you have a better chance of earning more $$ on stuff vs Craiglist cuz the market is so much bigger.

  29. Lynn October 21, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Forgot to mention that I also cut our lawn service. Now this will be a change in lifestyle since someone will have to mow the lawn but since the grass has stopped growing we shouldn’t have a huge change in work until the spring. Another savings of $100 a month.

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      That’s a good one! :)

  30. Even Steven October 21, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    I love that you included the change you picked up as part of the savings account, mine ends up going in the big green piggy bank on my dresser, I wonder how much is from the sidewalk?

  31. Kalen Bruce October 21, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Ever since you started the challenge everything series, I have been doing that in my own life and I love the results! It’s really great for stuff that we would have never thought to challenge. Love the blogging lair btw!

  32. Kim October 22, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    I don’t do Craig’s list but have listed at least one thing on Ebay for the last 3 weeks, and I did save that $10 bill from the laundry!

  33. Jennifer October 22, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    Getting rid of our cable service was the best decision we’ve ever made. It’s been 18 months now and we couldn’t be happier. We stream Netflix and Hulu Plus for a fraction of what our cable bill was. And we’re not getting exposed and wasting time with endless commercials. HuluPlus does have 1 or two minutes of ads per show but I mute them using my remote.

  34. Kayla @ Red Debted Stepchild October 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    I need to look more into this new HBO thing… Maybe it can help me save some more $$ each month too. (especially since my dish TV contract is almost up!)

  35. Lynn October 23, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    This post has really motivated me. I’m back posting for the third time. Decided to clean out some old purses that haven’t been used in a few years. Found about $17 in change. Averaged a little over $4 a purse.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      There you go! You’re on fire now :)

  36. Chris November 5, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    netflix only for me. Can’t beat $8/mo for more TV than I could ever possibly watch.