So it seems I have approximately a kajillion experiments/challenges/habits going on right now, so rather than spam you with a dozen new “update” posts this week, I thought we’d condense them all into one sexy one here so you continue to learn and love me :) (You do love me right?? No? Whyyyyyyyyy????)
And keep in mind that’s really the reason for me sharing this with y’all – to inspire you guys to try out some challenges of your own to better get your $$ in order too. Sure it feels good to share my wins here with the world, but that’s not the reason I’m divulging it all. I want you to get motivated and take action, whether you try out any of these or your *own* brewing over there!
(In fact, if you are doing any of your own experiments, please DO tell me. I love hearing about other creative ideas and might even try it out myself!)
Okay, here we go… We’ll start with the most simplest one and go down the list. And FYI you can find all the updates on these over on our main Money Experiments page too.
★ Digit Savings
Last we checked I had saved a cool $199.04 for doing absolutely nothing except being lazy. And the month before that we were at $10.94. Now? $390.74 – BAM! All from hooking up my checking account once with Digit and letting their robots do the rest…
If you’ve never heard of them before, check out my full review here and see if it’s something that might help you out too. Going into my 3rd month here and I’m still their #1 fan!
★ No Spend Month II!
For Lent this year I decided to go back to my roots and take on another shopping ban again as I did in 2008 – which completely changed my financial life. I had learned to quit “bored shopping” after first trying this, and now 7 years later I was curious to see if I could still pull it off and what I’d learn. Well, we’re almost exactly half-way through this revived challenge again (that was fast!!!) and so far I’ve barely even noticed I’m doing it – hah. That’s great and bad at the same time :) Great that it seems I naturally curb myself from unnecessary spending already, but sucky that I’m not really learning anything new! Though I did slip up those couple of times which made me feel kinda naughty, haha…
How are you guys doing with it so far btw? Finding it helpful or already forgot you joined me?? :)
★ Motif Competition Status
We touched on this briefly last week when I moved into 8th place with my blogger friends, but looks liked I dropped back to my usual 10th place spot this time around and now @ $495.54.
(I’m the pirate guy – arghhh!)
Most of you will recall that I joined up just to learn more about dividend investing and I’m not really “in it to win it,” but it has been fun to watch my $500 fluctuate a bit as the weeks go by compared to my 20 blog friends. I don’t know if I’m really learning anything yet, but it is nice to have a non-retirement brokerage account again for once. Though talk to me at the end of the year when it’s time to do taxes and I’ll tell you if I’m still enjoying it ;) You can see my full review of Motif and this competition here.
★ Polling my VIP Readers with Reacht!
We’re now moving into week #3’ish with that mobile app I’m trying out – Reacht – and so far 350 of you have been answering my $$ questions and (I hope?) are having fun :) Or maybe I should just ask you – are you having fun?? Haha… Is it nice and simple as I promised, or is it starting to get annoying? I’ve been trying to send only 1 or 2 questions a week to see how it goes, and so far I’m having a blast at least on my end. So yay!
If you want to join in on the nerd-citement (get it? “Nerd Excitement”??) you can get the Reacht app here and then just search “money” and join my group. The current question of the week is if you updated your Net Worth like a good boy/girl this month, and you can see the results so far here. The app is free, and works on both iPhones and Androids.
UPDATE: Reacht went out of business… :(
★ Challenge Everything Savings Account!
What does 6 months of shaving bills and doing the Craigslist Hustle look like?
$3,442.39 – beautiful :) Up $488.25 this month and still going strong… Even though it now dawns on me that I’ve been severely SLACKING on the cutting-of-bills part since starting this?? I knocked out those 3 main bills after month one but then no others?? Damn… Gonna have to find something else to cut so I can tack it on to the monthly savings going forward! That’s the best feature of this challenge – one-time cuts for FUTURE GAINS. I’m concentrating on the wrong stuff here with CL, haha… that’s “lots of time up front for 1-time gains :)”. Though it’s addicting as hell. I feel so much lighter!!
Here’s how these savings came into my pockets last month:
And of course all $$$ is still being banked into our Challenge Everything Savings Account until the year’s up so we can continue motivating ourselves and watching it grow. And then it’ll probably be dumped into a Roth IRA if we can manage to get it up to the $5,500 which is maxing-out status! That would be cool!!
Here’s the breakdown of this new $488.03:
Cell Phones — Our switch from Verizon to Republic Wireless continues to pay dividends, quite literally at over $100 a month :) My wife is still iffy on them as she’s not happy with her Moto G phone, but I’m still a major fan and slowly forgetting what it was like to have an iPhone over 6 months ago… Though in my perfect world I’d love to have it back, just with my RW service.
Cable/Internet/Phone — Only $73.46 savings compared to the usual $80-$90, but we had to go rent a movie or two for Valentine’s Day ;) A savings move I’d make time and time again though! Real lucky to have a woman who appreciates her quality time as much as her money – hah.
Car Insurance — The best 15 minute move of the year – and I didn’t have to switch to Geico! (Bah-dum-ching). One phone call that continually saves us $30+ every month. Highly suggest giving yours a call and asking them “what they can do to help lower the rates.” You’d be amazed how easy it works sometimes…
Wife’s EBates Earnings — This one was awesome because not only was it free money out of the blue, but I didn’t even know she KNEW of Ebates?? My wife just comes up one day and says, “Here you go – $8 for just shopping online which I was going to do anyways.” HAH! I told her it’s a “hot topic” amongst pf bloggers because so many people use them to get these $5-$10 checks here and there, but that I’ve never blogged about it myself come to think of it.
So if Ebates is new to you, let me give you the skinny: it’s pretty much the place to go for cash back on online shopping. One of those “you have to go through their site first” type places and then every time you buy something you get some $$ banked in your account. Not a ton of course so you won’t get rich off it, but enough to add up to some bonus checks here and there. Which I guess my wife did, but only “because it was Xmas” she says… It doesn’t work so well if you hardly buy anything normally :)
(PS: Those links above are her “refer a friend” links, which means if any of you try them out (and spend $25 I wanna say?) you’ll get $5 dropped in your account and she’ll get $5 too, which is kinda cool.)
SOLD: Dragon! — The first item sold last month! My once-beloved dragon that I paid $50 for from World Market 10+ years ago… Off a Visa gift card my old work gave me which I deemed for “splurging,” haha… This tells you how far I’ve come – who needs a random dragon in their house??
SOLD: Old Surround Sound/home theater system — This one was a bit harder to let go of, but at the end of the day I rarely used it anymore and decided I’d rather have the cash in the end. Plus it was over 10 years old and the DVD system didn’t work with Blue-Ray anyways.
SOLD: Vintage Decanter — This was my favorite story of them all!!! I had tried 4 months ago to sell this for $5 to no avail whatsoever, and thought maybe since it had been a few months I could re-list and try again. And boy did that work! Not only did I get a buyer for $10 – double my original ask – but I ended up walking away with $14.00 because the buyer only had $20s on her, haha… And I only had $6.00 in change :)
But the best part was that she rolled up in a sweet convertible Benz, and when I asked her what she was going to do with it (as I always do), she said it was a Valentine’s gift to her husband – a collector of “fine whiskey.” I asked if she was going to fill it up with some nice whiskey to really make it a gift, but she just laughed and told me that was outside her budget. So a Benz driver who shops on Craigslist, only carries around $20s, and then budgets at the same time… Okay?
SOLD: Vintage Lantern — This is another item I swore I’d never get rid of cuz I liked it so much, but after sitting in my basement for a sold 5-6 years it was finally time to let it go. This one I sold at a consignment shop for $30 but had a commission taken off.
Birthday Money — My mother wanted me to pick out something cool for my bday back in December, but since I rarely shop anymore and couldn’t find anything she got tired of waiting and just sent me some cash, haha… and then gave me a hard time when I told her it was going into my savings acct :)
SOLD: Pink Leather Gloves! — These were a gift to my wife yearrrrrs ago that she wore a total of Zero times. They were from the high-end retailer of Thomas Pink and were sold within hours of me posting it up… Probably because I put too low of a pricetag on it, oops. The funny thing though was that when I went to go meet the buyer I was surrounded by 4 other Craigslist sellers too! She was cheating on me and had all of us meet her at the same time and place – hah! So either she’s reaaaaaally addicted to shopping, or she has her own flipping business going on ;)
Cash back rewards (c/c) — For some reason USAA gave me cashback rewards on my last credit card statement? Not sure if that’s a new thing or if I changed some settings somewhere (usually happens all at once at the end of every year), but either way it was a fun thing to see.
Found Penny — Lastly, I found a penny on the ground – woo!
All this to say our experiments are working for the most part :) Some take (way more) effort than others, but they all go towards the bottom line of pumping up our wallets… Plus, they’re kinda fun!
// End Updates
What have you guys been getting into? Find any $$ tricks of your own??
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Re: Ebates- i check to see who is giving a higher percentage back before placing my order. Sometimes it’s Ebates, sometimes Upromise is a better deal. The money I earn back from Upromise goes into my kids’s 529 accounts every 3 months. Getting the occasional check from Ebates is a happy moment!
Yes! Great strategy indeed! Haven’t checked my uPromise account since 2009 haha….
Don’t forget Mr. Rebates and Extrabux. Those two tend to have higher rates than Ebates and often Upromise.
Plus if you refer people to Mr. Rebates, you’ll get an amount equal to 20% of their rebates for the life of the account. Extrabux isn’t too far behind with a $5 bonus plus 5% for the first year of the account.
I get a lot more money from those two than from Ebates.
nice! thx for the tips!
Whoa, those gloves are PINK! Nicely done on all fronts, J! I’m such a huge fan of challenge everything–I think it’s the perfect frugal mentality. Once I start questioning why I’m buying stuff, I find it spills over into every other purchasing area of my life. It’s a full-on money mindset!
Our latest challenge was to teach Frugal Hound how to high five, which I’m pleased to report has (surprisingly) been successful. We’ll count it as free entertainment to make it vaguely personal finance related ;)
I have been teaching our evil cat how to high five too! Usually it is sans claws, but every once in a while…
And I’ve been teaching my 10 mo old baby! Who has also since caught on! :)
Great job J, killing it on so many fronts. We’re been pretty vanilla in out approach. We’ve automated our saving into a second account as our money comes in. Paying ourselves first type of deal.
I sold my old surround system as well. It was tough to part with – so many college party memories with that thing, but It was all boxes up and wasn’t being used. It was so old, it didn’t even have HDMI inputs, so it was basically worthless to an A/V geek who had current technology. I sold it on CL to a guy who was giving it to his daughter for college. Looks like my little system will be putting smiles on college kids faces once again!
digit is absolutely one of my favorites. i have two friends who signed up for it (one though followed my link, ended on your page, researched it, and signed through you, way i see it you owe me $5). they both are in mad love.
ive posted my digit link on facebook and somehow two total strangers signed up too. its just super easy, super fun, and if you havent yet, text the word “sweet” and the word “awesome” separately to them.
ebates rocks. because i do a lot on amazon fba, i buy a ton online. last quarter my ebates check was $450. i also use topcashback. it can get to be a pain to check multiple cash back sites, and i generally use ebates as my default out of simplicity and habit, but truthfully topcashback is almost always higher. i’ve got a link in case you wanna sign up. ;)
Wow thanks for passing on the word with Digit so much – glad to see another super fan :) And yes, I do indeed owe you a beer – hah.
I love all the random stuff you have lying around- that dragon… I think the most interesting thing I have to sell is the artwork I’ve collected from my world travels. I just don’t think I could part with any of it. Love it all.
I love all the stuff you sold! Good think you don’t live near me, otherwise all that Craigslist shopping would eat into my pocket book.
I would snatch it up too if I were my younger me! Getting easier and easier to depart with awesome stuff now that I’ve been doing it for so long :) 6 months already, whew…
Those gloves are… intriguing :) I think the pink could be manageable without the pink trim… :) Spoken from someone who has a pair of purple leather gloves (though they’re a deep purple so not quite in your face).
I’m so fascinated by Digit – Come to Canada already (okay I’ve known about them for about 2 months, it hasn’t been like I’ve been waiting years).
Yes, please! Come to Canada, Digit!
Soon friends, soon! (I hope!)
Also hoping we get up there soon. The biggest roadblock right now is figuring out all the regulations. It took us around 6 months to do this in the US.
CEO @ Digit
Cool stuff! It’s great how random your stuff are and how random the customers are as well!
I’m going to try two or three experiments. Both are eBay. I’m on the fence about doing two of them: having a sale (you can just add flat discounts to items) and pushing some to auctions. The other one that I’m definitely going to do is start using some HTML templates. I found a free service (at least to start) that I’m going to try out for a bit. If it helps, then all the power to it. Doesn’t hurt to try these things though!
And Thomas Pink is a really high end brand.
Her’es some men’s ones that were ~$200 (135 british pounds) new, and sold for ~$100 including shipping. But craigslist is a smaller market than eBay! http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thomas-Pink-mens-Black-Leather-gloves-bnwt-/161531251899?pt=UK_Gloves&hash=item259c034cbb&nma=true&si=Gd7P1viwYDqqcyIMtPNohajgYp0%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
Yeah, if I were more patient I would have put them on eBay, oh well… $40 is still better than hot pink gloves collecting dust :)
Let me know how the html templates go!
Nice work on all fronts J! That challenge everything account is looking awfully good, even if you feel you’ve slacked lately. We got some cash back rewards on our USAA cards as well, it wasn’t a ton but I’ll take free money any day. :) Nothing new for us other than hustling. :)
Congrats on the progress thus far! Two questions though: 1) How did you part with the dragon?? and 2) Who in their right mind purchases used hot pink leather gloves?? :)
Dragon — that was the biggest surprise to my wife. She thought she was ‘stuck’ with it forever! haha… turns out when i say “challenge everything” though I mean it :)
Pink Gloves — sexy escort?
I’m in the midst of the “sell one item a day for ten days” challenge. It’s day 3, and I’ve done 3 listings!
There you go! 30% there! (though hopefully they *sell* too :))
I love this J! You’re getting me off my ass and into action.
I just signed up for digit a few days ago–waiting to see how that turns out. We cut our cable bill and alarm system, saving us $171 per month! I redirected it towards braces for my 13-year-old though. I also saved $254 by cancelling one of my my gym memberships and trainer. (We have a Y membership for the family and I had a membership at a gym that was on my way to work. I worked out with a trainer a couple of times a week there. I’m scared it will stall my weight loss, but I know warmer weather is coming and it won’t be as hard to workout.) I just checked my FatWallet account and cashed out $119.39 from Christmas shopping. Thanks for the reminder, I forget that money’s in there!
We are getting our taxes done on Saturday. I’m hopeful for some kind of refund since I changed my withholding last year to married but withhold at the higher single rate. And I have been tidying and have accumulated a pile of things to ebay! So, as of now, I’m $225 ahead, from bills I’ve adjusted, even with the addition of braces! WooHoo! Thanks J!
Music to my ears, friend :- you’re doing beautifully :) speaking of which, do you know we’ve known each other for over 4 years now? that was fast! hope to see you again – maybe at FINCON?
LOL, I love how you included the penny and your bday money! You rock at this money stuff, my friend. :-)
Nice work J, it must have been hard to get rid of that dragon…I can see why you bought it in the first place, it looks awesome. I dig these kinds of updates and like to see what happens when you actually take those savings and throw it into an account to seriously track it.
Keep up the solid work and keep us all posted, this kind of stuff is how you move the needle.
As for USAA – I think they give dividends back to random accounts as I got $28 back on one of my insurance accounts. So that is a win?
I got an extra $50 bucks just by agreeing to have part of my tax refund paid out via an Amazon gift card! I filed through TurboTax, and if you’re owed a refund, they’ll add 5$ for every 100$ you put on an Amazon gift card. Since I’m having a baby in about a week, I figured I’d definitely be be buying lots of diapers thru Amazon Mom, so why not throw $1000 of my refund on a card and get a free 50 bucks (which basically covered the TurboTax filing fee)!
Well that’s cool! But only because you’ll DEF be using that $$ towards diapers, haha… which will last you 3 weeks ;) If you told me it was going for a shopping spree I’d have had a heart attack!
I guess craigslist is starting to work and provide an actual resellers market. Good job getting rid of the surround system, as it is probably outdated. What will you do for tunes now? That’s some serious savings you have accumulated. Keep it up.
I just listen to the TV the boring way – with built-in speakers :)
Part of me thinks Digit should go onto your challenge everything sheet. Digit is challenging your notion to just leave money sitting around unused. True, it is sitting in Digit’s hands now, but saved nonetheless.
You’re probably right actually… I mean, I’ll prob end up mashing both the pots of $$ together anyways into investments so it’s going into the same place?
I’ll think on that one… good idea :)
I’m sooo loving the balance of your Challenge Everything account! I’ve put $2,241 in my Shopping Ban account since July 2014 (but spent $750 of that on a new bed). I wanted to get $2,000 in there by July 6th, but this post makes me think I can push myself to save more. Dare I up it to $2,500!? Think I can save $1,000 in 4 months? :)
Child’s play :)
J, I love the Reacht app. I feel like I’m constantly checking it to see if you have put any new polls on it. Keep ’em coming friend, I like seeing how my choices compare to the masses.
Cool! So glad to hear that – thx Logan! :)
Hahaha, of course you have a dragon! Sometimes I feel like you should have a “most interesting blogger in the world” meme along the lines of the most interesting man in the world commercials. You just need pics of you holding the dragon and looking bad a$$ and the meme would be KaChing = $40.
Damn – I should have taken a picture together with it before I sold it!!!! :)
I’m going for a two-fer with my gym membership at the Y. If I go 12 times per month (which I really need to do), then I get $20 back from my health plan. Looks like I’ll want to add that one to the Challenge Everything account.
In addition, I can toss in my USAA insurance dividend check. I think in reality I have it set up to offset the premiums, which are paid monthly. Need to look into the cash back rewards on my USAA Visa, and see if there’s some there as well. That’s another great thing about USAA, the bundling of your products, and then the discounts they apply. Big money savings!
Have some CL stuff that I need to put out there. And, cash in some money from doing online surveys. Last in-person one I did was $150, for 2 hours of my time! And it related to cats!!
Love this Challenge Everything project, as it gets me thinking about the nooks & crannies where money is just getting dusty.
“where money is just getting dusty” – omg that needs to be my new tagline… and CATS!
Have at it, and you’re welcome!
… and CATS! She’s starting to shed her winter coat, and needs some serious combing!
Those pink gloves are awesome – I’m glad you could sell them to someone who (hopefully) will wear them! We need to get on the selling our stuff bandwagon. So far I can think of some football cleats, a leather backpack, some clothes, and shoes that I might be able to sell online. I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff in storage that we could get rid of too!
You’ve convinced me! I signed up for Digit today.
Woo! Let me know how it goes as time goes on!
I love Digit so far! Thank you for introducing me to this service :)
I’m so glad to hear it!!
I can’t believe you sold those awesome pink gloves. They look awesome. But if they haven’t been used by your wife at all you’re better off selling it and use that money for something else.
I like the idea of Digit but having it remove cash to a separate account doesn’t feel like it would really change my habits. I just watch the checking account and once a month or so move some over to the savings. I think I’d rather have it all in one place.
Having it all in one place is def. cool – I do miss that part of it myself. But after I broke up my 15+ accounts w/ USAA to throw some over to Vanguard, I’ve been slowly getting used to having scattered accounts – but only if it’s in the greater good for me :)
I really like the idea of selling your old / non-used / useless / dust-collecting stuff.
I recently saw on Amazon that they let you sell their books to them.
Has anyone done this? Is it worth it?
Otherwise, I’ll probably just find someplace to donate them.
Yes. I have sold lots of textbooks and some other books and have always been pleased. You won’t make a fortune but it will put a little money in your pocketbook.
Well that’s cool! Our friend Lil Vee uses bookscouter.com and seems to have a lot of luck there – maybe try them out too?
Here’s what she said on ’em:
I gave up my Amazon Prime membership. The reason: it made it too darn easy to jump on line and order things spontaneously. Knowing that shipping was FREE!!!! The problem is that with all the things I bought that I should have stopped and thought through a little better it ended up costing me money–lots of money over the course of several years. Now, I have a list of things to buy that are budgeted for when we go into the “bigger city” and that will be fun and guilt free purchases.
You broke free – congrats!!! They sure do suck you in with that one, agree!
No spend month was too dire for me to commit to this month, but I did switch to a cash budget for the month! Big success so far – I’ve spent about 1/3 what I normally would have this many days into the month. Also – I picked up $34 from a side hustle yesterday! #hartzogswag I refinished a bookcase recently and sold it on craigslist. Got the bookcase for free in college, spent about $6 on the materials, and got back about 2 square feet of floor space in my apartment. Success and major returns.
Look at you go! Enjoyed reading that :)
I LOVE Ebates. I installed the Ebates extension on Google Chrome, so a big banner pops up when I go to a site that offers cash back – thereby cutting the need to remember to start at their site.
I got about $30 cash back in November/December alone thanks to Christmas shopping and just got $12 cash back on a single Groupon (for moving services I’ll be using in a few weeks)!
I highly recommend Ebates (or similar sites) to anyone who does a lot of online shopping!
Well that’s a good idea w/ the extension! Can be REAL lazy!
I’m loving Digit! Especially the pic they texted me once I hit $100!!!
I know exactly what you’re talking about, haha…
Make it rain, brotha!
I’m loving the Challenge Everything updates. It’s amazing how quickly all those little savings add up (especially the recurring ones). And way to go on finding that penny! ;)
That dragon cracks me up! Can’t believe you sold it. It could’ve been a family heirloom! :P
Major props on the Challenge Everything update. It’s amazing you’re bringing in the money that quickly. I’ve had a great experience with Digit so far as well and even moved some money out of Digit (and that no interest rate) into my “Travel Savings Fund.” Nice to see that little bump.
Glad to hear it, friend :)
Now with house of cards back on I’ve been back to doing surveys online while watching an episode or two at nights. It’s nice to be able to do double duty on any given weeknight.
This post was a good reminder to sell my old TV sitting in the basement. I’m thinking I can get $50 easy for that and free up some space.
I can’t talk enough about how much money I saved by shopping car insurance. Car insurance companies all have different ways they charge rates that can vary even between different areas of the state. It’s definitely worth it to check your rates every so often. I saved $120/month by switching to a new company. That’s $1,440 every year for the rest of my life in J. Money-speak!
EASIEST WAY TO SAVE MONEY!!!!
J, I always love your advice. It’s like everything seems perfect and feasible. One example is the Digit. I have heard about it before. Hearing this some advantages of using it from you makes it like legit. The amount you saved this last month is really impressive. Thanks J.
Apparently someone did need a random dragon because you sold that thing! Who bought it? For how much? Why?
Very impressed with your proactive selling of items that are sitting around the house We have some gems around here – including a barely used trampoline. We just have a hard time getting to it. Spring is around the corner though, so now is the time.
I sold it for $40 – which is incredible since I bought it for $50 like a decade ago!
The person bought it go to along with their “Asian theme” they had in their house :)
We’ve been doing great with our spending freeze, which started in January. Each month gets better and better — last month, NO takeout, coffee, or random splurge was bought!
Splendid!!! Gets easier over time, right?
Wow! You do have a lot of challenges going on at the same time. I think I’d lose track if I tried to do that many all at once, haha. Great job!
Have you considered trying to re-finance recently? With your Challenge Everything mantra – your largest monthly expense should be on the docket!
I just refinanced down to 3.875% – saves me $150/month!
Ugh, yes – agreed!!
Unfortunately we’d need to bring like $80k to the table to do so which is a hardy road block :( We had already refinanced back during one of the Harps a few years back which limits us to doing anything similar again. But can’t complain too much since we went from 6.875% INTEREST ONLY to 5.5% 30 year fixed. So we save a couple hundred a month off that, but yeah – would love to get it down a lot more! Or better yet – offload the house entirely!!! Haha….
Glad you were able to rock it though – You’ll have to drink a beer in my honor ;)