Challenge Savings (& Podcast) Update: $4,990.84

I swear we’ve just did one of these like last month? And the month before that, and before that, that, that, that, that ,that ,that , and that?

Damn time flies.

And don’t worry, if these are getting played out there’s only one month left in the mission ;) But if you’re new here, THERE’S ONLY ONE MONTH LEFT IN THE MISSION – OMG!! Hurry up and get on it and start banking that $$$ like you were a part of the Wu! (Cash Rules Everything Around Me – C.R.E.A.M.! – get the money, dolla dolla bill, y’all)

Here’s our total savings so far:

challenge savings usaa julyThat’s 11 months in a row of cutting expenses, selling stuff on Craigslist, and banking any *extra* money we get throughout the year (gifts, refunds, pennies found on the ground, etc).

It’s all a part of our Challenge Everything Mission, and needless to say it’s working :) Even when you have crappier months than normal like we did for July (we only banked $250 compared to the $500+ levels we were at earlier in the year. Though free money is all free money!)

Still, as you can see it all comes down to harnessing the magic that is *time*. You set up the system once (hopefully) and then let the savings/investments grow and compound on top of each other. Which is much easier to see when you specifically throw it all into one – new – account and watch it all happen. (Like I did w/ USAA)

If you’re having trouble saving with your current way, I highly suggest trying it out.

Here’s how July played out:

challenge savings july 2015

Cell Phones (+$112.58) — Nothing new going on here. $100+ savings from making the 1 switch from AT&T last year to Republic Wireless. The best move I’ve made in this challenge! And I hardly remember what it was like to own an iPhone anymore…

BTW, the winner of our Republic prize package last week was Hannah Roehrick! Congrats!

Cable/Internet/Phone (+$48.14) — For the first time all year our bill went back UP, ughh… We’re still saving $50 from where it used to be, but still – it never ends w/ these guys. I’m forcing myself to make an executive decision over the weekend whether we need/want cable once and for all. I think the Mrs. will be on board for a test, but we’ll see… I’ll be calling around competitors in the meantime as well – I’m done w/ this nonsense. (And being lazy too! I should have taken care of this last month!)

Car Insurance (+$30.59) — Been saving $30 every month after a 15 min call to USAA!

Found doodled bills in my safe! ($51.00) — When taking on the “one drawer” challenge last month (though I swapped it for the “one safe” challenge) I found some old dollar (and $10, $20) bills I had kept that were either doodled on or autographed by some celebs. Like Ben stiller, Jay & Silent Bob, and even the PF bad ass Ramit Sethi (from I kept a couple of them, and cashed in the rest – figuring if I didn’t even remember I had them, I probably wouldn’t miss ’em much. And plus they’d do me a lot better good in the stock market than collecting dust!

doodled bills fun

Found a ton of coins! (+$0.21) — We found 6 pennies, 1 nickel, and 1 dime this month. I swear I’m up like $100 since taking so many walks this Summer, haha… People are cray.

SOLD: Digital frame (+$10.00) — Digital frames are one of those things that sound great in theory, but for some reason never work as nice in reality. So after trying to download some pics onto this Xmas gift from last year – and utterly failing – I just decided to sell it on CL instead. I started at $30, then dropped it to $20, and then – six weeks later – got an offer for $10 – hah. Good on ’em.

digital picture frame

You can find everything I’ve sold so far (and for how much) here: Craigslist Tracker

And that was it for July! I know it’s already almost the end of August here and I’m late, but hopefully this helps inspire some of y’all to look for other ways to cut back / earn more too. I thought I had no room to save when starting this challenge – just ‘cuz I was so used to so many of my bills! – but surprise surprise, I could have done better! For YEARS too. It’s actually pretty sickening when you think about that, so just try not to and focus on the future ;)

Two other sexy things before I leave you here:

#1. The podcast is back on track!

After 6 months of thinking and learning and just delaying like a mother, my secret co-host and I decided to just hop on the mic and start recording…. We got so overwhelmed with the strategy of it all and trying to do everything the “right” way that we just had to say “F it” and do the best we can. And now we’ve got our first two episodes on lock – woo!

(The lesson here, of course, is that NO ONE is immune to overanalyzing and getting stuck. And sometimes it’s better to not know anything and jump right in before your head gets filled with too much advice! It’s how this blog got started here those 7+ years ago, and also why it kinda sucked back then too, haha… But you know what? You have to suck before you can get better :))

We’ll see how good or not they turn out, but we poured our hearts into it and had fun while doing so. I think that’s the best you can ask from newbies – especially those who don’t even listen to podcasts! (And we actually got in a heated debate on the 2nd one too – it should make for an interesting show)

I’ll let y’all know the second it’s live… Gonna be about money, entrepreneurship, and just striving towards a better life. Drop me a note if you want me to email you once it’s up too.

#2. The financial blogger awards are back!

6th plutus awardsIf you love this blog, or my other project – Rockstar Finance – will you take a second to vote for me? As well as your other favorite bloggers too? There’s a bunch of categories for them, and I know they’d appreciate just being nominated because it takes a lot more work to run these blogs than it seems :) The winners get cool looking trophies at our conference every year too helping solidify our nerdness even more. You can vote here.

Thanks guys, happy weekend!

And remember: Cash Rules Everything Around (You) – C.R.E.A.Y! – Get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.

PS: What the hell happened to the stock market this week? I hope you were scooping up those deals when they were on sale!! That’s as close to a “secret trick” as you’ll find for growing your wealth, whew.

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  1. Chris Muller August 28, 2015 at 5:19 AM

    Yo! Great to see that savings grow. Even if it’s just a few hundred bucks it’s still growth. I’ll be voting for you in a few Plutus categories my man… and I can’t wait for that podcast to drop!

    Hey quick random note… Being that you’re still on the Benny Frank schedule, try a program called f.lux – it coordinates your screen with the sunrise and sunset and it’s way easier on your eyes. I’ve found it crazy helpful this early in the am! Have a good weekend dude.

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:25 AM

      Rock on – I sure will. Today marks week #4 baby – an entire month of Benny Franklin, woo!

      And appreciate the votes, means a lot :) (I may have voted for you in a couple of categories too!)

    2. Paula Pant / Afford Anything August 28, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      I totally second that recommendation for f.lux — it’s amazing. Super, super helpful when you’re working late and waking up early. It’s firmly on my “I don’t know how I lived without it” list.

      1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        okay you two – just downloaded on my desktop AND laptop now… let’s see this magic in action :)

  2. Emma | Money Can Buy Me Happiness August 28, 2015 at 6:13 AM

    Cut the cable – you can do it! Although I’m currently staying with my parents who have never had cable and I am realising how crappy free TV is. From 9am-2pm it’s just infomercials – gag! So thankful for Netflix! And books. And the time you get back when you don’t watch shitty TV.

    I’m totally opening a Challenge Everything account now that we are back home. And with a storage unit full of stuff I’m sure it’ll be in the black in no time. Heading over to vote for you on the Plutus awards now.

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      Yes! Open up that bad boy! And then watch it grow grow grow because it never goes down if you never pull from it! ;)

      I think we are going to cut it out temporarily and then re-asses wherever we move to. I don’t know how the hell I’ll be able to watch my Redskins, but I guess if I care enough I’ll find a way, eh?

      1. Chadnudj August 28, 2015 at 10:42 AM

        The Redskins will be on CBS/FOX/NBC in the DC area for the most part, right? Buy an antenna — HD antennas are relatively cheap, and once you pay, you NEVER pay again (no monthly fee).

        1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 11:10 AM

          I literally tried that one already – no dice :( I don’t live downtown DC anymore and apparently stations are too far away from where I’m at (either that, or I’m a dummy and didn’t install right). I tried out 3 Mohus and ended up just giving them away on this blog last year… Appreciate the advice though!

    2. Chadnudj August 28, 2015 at 10:40 AM

      I agree, JMoney — cut the cable.

      I’m a big college football fan, but even for me it worked. Do you have parents with cable that would give you their online password? My in-laws gave me there password, and now I can watch anything Xfinity puts on-demand online, plus the WatchESPN and Big Ten Network apps for sports. Hulu is about $8 a month and gives you pretty much everything on NBC, ABC, and FOX the day after they air; Netflix has tons of stuff; and I have Amazon Prime anyways. Oh, and an antenna will cost you maybe $50 at the most, but then you get HD ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX live (which helps on NFL Sundays).

      It’s very possible to cut cable and still watch a LOT of TV/sports on TV… just spend less time watching garbage “just because it’s on,” and more time watching what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

      1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 11:12 AM

        I already do that ;) I only watch 1 hour a night – if that, and we’re now on Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s really just the football and then some reality stations for the wife – hah.

  3. Thias @It Pays Dividends August 28, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    Do you just look at the ground non-stop when you are out and about looking for loose change? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen any just laying around somewhere but you seem to find a bunch on a monthly basis! Nice job on going 11 months strong on the savings challenge!

    Excited to hear the podcast is back on track. Once it goes live, it will definitely move into my playlist. Have a good weekend J$!

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:33 AM

      Glad to hear!

      And no – I actually hardly ever look at the ground! I don’t know if it’s a weird sense or if they shine or something that gets my attention, but surely I’m not complaining :) Just this morning I found a penny lodged halfway in DIRT – on a path I never go on – and still able to see it? If only I can find a way to morph that into dollar bills now ;)

  4. Talaat August 28, 2015 at 7:09 AM

    Definitely looking forward to the podcast J! What’s the name of the show going to be? We definitely want to know when it’s up and running.

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      All a secret for now – but will shout as soon as it’s out there! :)

  5. Elle August 28, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    Can’t wait to hear the podcast :) Will you be doing a live show or recording at FINCON?

    Making a podcast takes work, but it is soooo much fun.

    Whoo-hoo on that money saved!

    If you’re on the fence about cable, you might want to check out SlingTV. You might be able to get your shows, but for around $20/month. We cut our cable a few years ago when they trying to charge us $30/month for broadcast and a few other channels that didn’t come in well. (Stayed longer than I should cause I love Burn Notice & Suits!)

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:41 AM

      Yeah – we’re looking into them! Though I think so far Hulu Plus has the shows we watch, but not done searching yet :)

      Didn’t plan on podcasting at Fincon, but that’s actually not a bad idea! Will talk it over w/ my partner in crime :) thanks for the support!

  6. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies August 28, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    What awesome results from your challenge. Very motivating! The doodled bills were a great laugh. I’m also majorly impressed that you found a buyer for a digital frame. I guess I need to be more patient with CL!

  7. Catina Marie August 28, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    I freaking LOVE Wu-Tang and am fairly certain you and I would be BFF’s if you lived near me.
    Although my son’s shoe game is the best around, back to school killed me…..gotta get back on my savings plan. We’ve decided to host “No Spend September” and “Oh No You Didn’t October” at the office to control our spending…haha! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Catina Marie August 28, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      Oh! And can’t wait for the podcast!

      1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:44 AM

        “Oh No You Didn’t October” – hah! Love!

        You should totally plant a bug in your son’s ear about starting up a blog/business about shoes since he seems to be an expert in it. Then he can raise his own $$$ to support his addict! (And become an entrepreneur at the same time – BAM)

        1. Catina Marie August 29, 2015 at 10:55 AM

          Great idea but he is way ahead of us! He just dropped $350 (after saving $400) on some fancy snake (he already had 3) and plans to breed them and make millions.
          Now I don’t really care for snakes….especially because his big female keeps getting out and camping in my room BUT, they don’t make noise or smell so we are good. Plus, I want to support his entrepreneurial little spirit so…..I will report back!

          1. Catina Marie August 29, 2015 at 10:58 AM

            OH MY LAWD! I can see a “Side Hustle #2995: I’m A Snake Breeder” coming your way. LOL

            1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:06 PM

              YES!!! You prime him for that – he shall be our youngest hustler featured yet ;) But boy do I hate snakes, blech.

  8. Brian @ Debt Discipline August 28, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    Did you say podcast? Very nice. Looking forward to it. I enjoy listening to them and always looking for new ones. Good luck.

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      I shall hit you once it’s live then, sir. You can tell me how it compares to the others you listen to since I don’t have the slightest clue :)

  9. John C @ Action Economics August 28, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    You’re on a roll with finding coins, when I go on walks I tend to only find trash, maybe I need to pay better attention and I might find something. A couple years ago while working a job in Louisiana I found a $100 on the ground in downtown New Orleans, I couldn’t believe it.

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:46 AM


      That would make up for like 10 years of penny picking up, haha…. Though I did find a $20 two weeks ago! Perfect way to end the Challenge since this month – August – is the finale :)

  10. Lisa O August 28, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    I love that you look for money on walks, that you pick it up and it is on your balance sheet as a deposit. Last week while I was grabbing my morning coffee on treat day, I found 3 quarters sitting on a pole near my car! It was a great feeling to know that 1/2 my coffee expense was covered :)

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:48 AM


      Gotta check the dates on all of them too and see if they date on 1964 or under. If so, along with dimes and half dollars, they could be worth a lot more than face value as they have silver in them! I just found a 1946 dime in my pocket change which = $1.05 w/ silver rates right now :)

  11. John @ Frugal Rules August 28, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    I feel you on the cable J$! We got our DirecTV bill this week and the bill was $45 higher. After having a near heart attack I found out they *mistakingly* auto-renewed the NFL Sunday Ticket they gave us last year for free. This after swearing up and down last year that it wouldn’t auto-renew. Suffice it to say I chatted in and got them to refund it. I think that’s the last straw for us with them.

    As for the market – it’s time to go shopping. Just maxed out our Solo’s for the year with Vanguard, so it’s time to get some deals. :)

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:51 AM

      Yeah, son! Love to hear that!

      We actually looked into DirectTV too cuz our rental has a dish on the roof, but sadly you need to sign a 2 year contract which we just can’t do. We have no idea if we’ll be here for 2 months or 20 years (wife applying to jobs all over) so that nixed them off the bat.

  12. Melissa August 28, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Whoa, that’s tremendous J$! My biggest savings success was spending 10 minutes to reevaluate my cellphone plan. I ended up saving $24 a month AND increased our data – awesome, right?? Yay for the CREAM plan! :)

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      dolla dolla bills, y’all!

  13. Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia August 28, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Wow, I have never seen anyone keep a log of all the coins they have found. That is some pretty impressive diligence. No one can doubt your dedication to the savings challenge!

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      It’s a good thing it’s so fun to do! ;)

  14. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure August 28, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    Do we start saying Craey-Craey now? Will that be a thing? I’m excited for the podcast! Good job taking the leap! And happy Friday!

    1. J. Money August 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      Thanks Mags!

      that’s my new name for you btw… it’s so cray cray

  15. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip August 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    It adds up quick over time, doesn’t it? Good luck on the cable. I’m always surprised by how many opportunities there are for additional savings. Even when we look at it and think there’s nothing to change or cut, we find something else the next month.

  16. Martin August 28, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Stop teasing us with the podcast and just release it already!

    1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:07 PM

      haha… still need to lock in the URL and name and some other stuff, but we’re getting there! At least have something recorded now! kinda helps w/ podcasting ;)

  17. Jason B August 28, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    Can’t wait to check out the podcast.

    1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:08 PM

      Thx man!

  18. Hannah August 28, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    Do you have a close for your show yet? If not, will you please record a Mic Dropping with a voiceover proclaiming that you are dropping the mic? I think this is underdone on podcasts.

    1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:09 PM

      Haha… done and done.

  19. Kayla @ Femme Frugality August 28, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    Awesome to see your savings grow like that just from moving money into savings that you got knocked off your monthly bills. I pick up change whenever I see it too.

  20. Cheryl August 28, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    I constantly pick up coins off the ground when I am out walking – I keep it in a special bank on my dresser – so far this year the tally is $13.46! I plan on applying it to either mortgage principle or savings at the end of the year, and then start over again :)
    As for cable – I called last week to get my bill lowered, and when I told the rep my next call to them was to cancel as I could watch everything online or via chromcast/hulu/netflix – suddenly she found” a “promotion” in my area lowering my bill by almost $30 per month!

    1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:10 PM

      I love that you know *exactly* how much is in that special bank too – that is awesome :)

  21. Michael Estabrooks August 28, 2015 at 5:45 PM

    J Money I highly recommend you completely cut the cable. I would still keep the internet, for certain reasons, but cut the cable man!

    My fiancee and I had our bill jump from $100 a month to $150 after the 1st year. We immediately called up last year in February and tried to renegotiate with them to get a lower price. They said no so we walked away and thought we would miss it. Long story short its been 18 months and we are happier than two peas in a pod.

    We have discovered we are more productive, we interact even more together, we read more books, we save money, and the best part is we don’t feel any less connected with the world. We actually feel more positive about the world and society because we removed shows that made us compare our lives, feel like we weren’t doing enough, or that created a significant sense of negativity around us.


    1. J. Money August 29, 2015 at 3:13 PM

      Love to hear that, man :) I don’t watch much TV to begin with, but when I do it’s such a nice treat since all other free time goes to hustling or hanging with kids. Fortunately we recently got Netflix though (and realized we could stream Amazon Prime too – that was neat!) so as long as I have *something* fun to watch I think I’d be okay. The wife will miss some of her shows, but I think it’s high time we test it out once and for all.

  22. Chris @ Flipping a Dollar August 30, 2015 at 7:49 AM

    Awesome news about the podcast. As I’m sure you know, it’s a lot easier to improve something once you’re actually doing it. I find that I just need to get my thoughts started on a blog post (even if it’s just an outline). If I just think about it, I’ll forget things and I won’t be able to get it to flow well at all!

  23. Syed August 30, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Very impressive on the savings. It’s fun to see how much you ca cut back. You never know unless you try! The most bang for the buck I got was re assessing my car insurance. Saved a cool $120/month from that. My new job also gives me 25% off of my old cell phone bill. The savings are all around us you just have to look.

    1. J. Money August 31, 2015 at 2:53 PM


  24. Debtman August 30, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    After reading through your blog for the last few hours, I have finally decided to start my own “side hustle”. I doubt it will bring in income as it’s just my own personal story with debt, but thanks to you, I’ve started something!

    1. J. Money August 31, 2015 at 2:55 PM

      Hey man, that’s all you can do. Give something a shot (and hopefully something you’re passionate about) and see if you can turn it into a $$ maker :) From the sound of your blog name I’d say it looks promising! That’s a clever idea!

  25. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank August 31, 2015 at 4:05 AM

    I would probably keep those bills with signature of celebs. Maybe the amount of it would be higher in the future. That can be a start of a collection J. Money. By the way, I am so excited about the podcast!

  26. Fervent Finance August 31, 2015 at 3:52 PM

    Can’t wait to listen to the podcast!

    1. J. Money September 2, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      Awesome! Thanks so much for telling me :)

  27. Steve Miller September 1, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Found penny. Found dime. I was laughing my a** off.

    1. J. Money September 2, 2015 at 11:32 AM

      *tips hat*

  28. Shannon @ Financially Blonde September 1, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    SO psyched that you just jumped in on the podcasting thing, that’s what I did and I am SO glad that I did it. My podcast not only helped my blog grow, but it has helped my other businesses grow too. Can’t wait to hear your show!

    1. J. Money September 2, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      Thanks Shannon! Great to hear how much of an effect its had across your projects too. Hoping for the same and lucky for us it’s all around the subject of $$$$ :)

  29. Jennifer September 6, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    I would love to know when the podcast drops!

    1. J. Money September 7, 2015 at 12:39 PM

      Cool! Will email you once it’s out there – so glad to hear it! :)