How to save 30 percent of your income

Most interesting title yet!

I started these pieces early in the year, but never finished them to my liking.  With nine weeks of daily posting looming ahead of me, I’m dusting them off.  These posts regarding how we save money at casa In Progress will be under a new category, “Money, Honey”.

Of all my various accomplishments in 2011, I am most proud of the fact that we saved a shit ton of money.  All thanks to my spreadsheet, my research, and my bill-paying.

Tom helped by being gone a lot and eating food some else paid for.

That 30 percent was pure hard cash in the bank too.  It was after my automatic withdrawal to my Roth IRA, after Tom’s direct deposits into his 401K, and after our vacationing and AC/Car emergencying.  (Thing I’m most proud of in 2012?  Making up the word emergencying.  Cause let’s face it, in the middle of an emergency it sure fucking feels like a verb.)

So, for once I’d like to actually brag about myself and share how we did it.  I have the rest of the year to write about how I can’t cook beans, get a job, or handle my liquor!

A few caveats first:  we are extremely frugal people to start.  Besides our mortgage, we have no outstanding debt.  So a few ways we saved money included the use of rewards programs through credit cards.  I understand this can’t/won’t work for everyone.  Some have credit card debt and don’t use cards while paying them down.  Some struggle with credit card debt and would not or could not pay the bill in full every month.  But we accumulated over $800 cash with our rewards throughout the year and then used it to cover Christmas.  If you’ve ever felt trying to maximize your credit card rewards is a waste of time, I think you’re wrong and should give it a try.

Caveat deux: We wanted cold hard cash.  In terms of what makes the most financial sense, putting all our savings every month towards the mortgage would have “paid” more.  Even though we have a ridiculously low interest rate, it still is higher than any savings/CD interest rate we found.  While I talk about saving money and putting it away to physically use, you can apply most of my tips towards having more money to put towards debt.  The exception being any tip where I suggest using credit cards and your goal is to get out of credit card debt.  See caveat the first.

Caveat C:  I’m a hippy liberal eco-freak.  This can be incredibly annoying but also amazingly helpful to saving money.  Turning off Tom’s home computer he kept running “in case he needed something from it on the road” saved us $20/month.  And I’ll point out he never needed anything he couldn’t get from our PogoPlug.  I believe my exact words were, “If you don’t think it will make a difference, let me try it for a month.  Then you can say you were right!”  Heh.  Why did he even spend a micro-second thinking I was wrong?  As an extra in-your-face-Tom, that was also the month we set up an aquarium and had the added electricity of the pump and lights.  Booyah.

(Yes, we purchased an aquarium from Craigslist the same year we were saving money.  The fish were to entertain the cats.  We went to the vet less last year, so it was a good investment.)

So, caveat C is that being green, conserving resources, and not being people huge on “things” benefited our savings power greatly.  Caveat C.2 is my quote, “Try it for a month”.  If you read a tip here and have considered it in the past but felt it was too radical and would change your lifestyle too much, just try it for a month.  That’s how we decided to give up cable two years ago.  $1,200 saved from that alone to date.  Booyah.

(I promise less Booyah in further posts.)

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