While perhaps drastic — it will get the job done.
You may have read my recent article that explains my sudden need to save $70,000 in 6 months.
Long story short — I’ve temporarily put myself in a much more vulnerable financial situation than I’d ever like to be in.
But opportunity knocked, and I felt the risk was worth the reward.
This leaves me in somewhat of an “emergency mode” for the next 6 months — which, although intentional in this instance, is still never a comfortable place to be.
Most of us have been there at some point, to some degree.
But $70,000 in 6 months? Jeez, Talia. How the heck can you pull this off?
First of all, my extremely low level of fixed expenses is the one and only true reason this is even possible.
My husband and I have a $1,700/month mortgage payment, and that’s it.
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No car loans. No student loans. No other debt of any kind.
This leaves us with the overwhelming majority of our budget allocated between variable and discretionary expenses.
Usually, we’d have this lion’s share of our income split between —
Household necessities (utilities, groceries, internet, etc.)
Fun (eating out, going to bars, etc.)
Personal needs (manicures, haircuts, etc.)
Cash savings (for upcoming trips or other large expenditures)
Because most of these categories are entirely flexible, it is fairly straightforward to flip the script and activate “cash hoarding mode.”
Here are the biggest changes we’ve made to our budget/habits that will allow us to hit our $70,000 in 6-months savings goal:
Food was formerly our silent budget killer. Not anymore!
Food is a significant budget line item for most families — for many, it’s the largest expense after housing.
We’re no exception.
If I’m being honest, some months we‘ve spent more than our housing payment on food (if you include groceries and eating out).
But now, it’s quite different. We’re slashing our grocery AND eating-out budgets to a small fraction of what they formerly were.
For groceries, a few ground rules have helped us out a lot —
Take an inventory before going food shopping, and use what we have before we buy new
Focus on needs (healthy meals) and limit wants (do we really need that $6 pint of Ben & Jerry’s?)
Forego or swap out all “truly bougie” items for a cheaper alternative
Meanwhile, eating out is pretty self-explanatory. We’re doing it very seldom these days.
In totality, we’re spending 1/3 to 1/2 of what we would have typically spent on food in the past.
Fun isn’t out of the question, but it has to be intentional
We’re not living under a rock for the next 6 months, but we have to pick and choose to spend our “fun” money wisely.
This means no half-hearted trips to a restaurant we think is meh. No dragging my husband out to an apple orchard so we can pick grossly overpriced apples.
If we’re eating out, we’re going somewhere we know we love.
If we’re drinking, we’re not going out to rack up $200 bar tabs. We’re hanging at home and drinking for 1/4 the cost.
The BULK of our outings in the next few months will cost $0 — hikes, town events, etc.
There is certainly a more limited number of “fun” things we can do during this time than previously. But at least by being intentional, we can stretch our dollars to get the maximum enjoyment out of them.
Personal “needs” are fine; personal “wants” will have to wait
Yesterday, my husband seriously asked me if “it would be okay” if he got a haircut next week.
I laughed. Obviously, the answer was yes.
But clearly, I’ve done well at scaring the shit out of him with this new budget framework.
It’s not the basic needs that are at risk — it’s the luxuries that we’re removing from our budget for now.
That means no new clothes, gadgets, etc. For me, no manicures or expensive skincare treatments.
And that’s alright. Because we’re working towards a greater goal, and ultimately — it’s only temporary.
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Honorable mentions that add up
The above 3 categories are the “big hitters” that are saving us tons of money.
But, many of the small things add up, too. This includes:
Canceling under-utilized monthly subscriptions
Optimizing the use of heating/cooling and electricity
Using “found” cash around the house to pay for incidentals (it’s like free money — kind of)
Although the next 6 months will be a challenge, it’s exciting to see that the financial groundwork we’ve laid for years is coming through for us in a big way now.
CONTRIBUTED BY Talia Diaz
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