June 30th marked the end of the fiscal second quarter and the halfway point of our family’s journey to save $100,000 in 2019. What once seemed like an impossible stretch goal is now looking more and more achievable.
Journey To $100k: 6 Month Update
If you missed any of the past updates, you can catch up here.
In high school, I played many sports, from golf to soccer, but basketball was always my favorite. Standing tall, at a mere 5 feet 10 inches, put me at a clear disadvantage to my less height-challenged peers and could possibly account for why I spent more time watching basketball from the bench than playing. However, that did not stop me from giving 100%. Whether arriving early before school, to practice free throws or staying late, I was constantly trying to get better.
I learned so many life lessons from playing basketball for those four short years in high school. But no lesson was more paramount than this one, focus on the fundamentals.
My coach, with his shiny bald head and gruff voice, would constantly remind us, state championships were won by focusing on the fundamentals. Defense, offense, passing, and shooting, those are the keys to winning.
With his voice somewhere between yelling and shouting, he would stress, doing the small things well, won championships.
So what the hell does high school basketball have to do with saving $100,000 dollars?
Well, I will tell you. I set a stretch goal and now more than ever, I realize focusing on the fundamentals is the key to achieving my audacious goal to save $100,000 in 2019.
I have focused on 4 key fundamentals to get me through the first half of 2019.
Saving 50% of income is something of a given in the financial independence (FI) community. Likewise, I have always strived to hit the 50% savings rate, but damn, it is hard.
For the first six months of this year, we averaged a 46.6% gross savings rate. The month of April was the only month to break the 50% savings barrier with a 53.9% savings rate.
I have settled on calculating my savings rate using gross income. While this is not the most accurate method, it is the easiest. I simply divide total savings by gross income. Calculating my savings rate in this way makes reaching a 50% savings rate more challenging because I am not excluding taxes. If I went through the trouble of excluding all payroll taxes, I would have easily averaged a 50% savings rate for the past six months.
No one is perfect and this is one area where I really struggle. Tracking expenses is a tedious process akin to budgeting. However, for our journey to $100k, keeping expenses down and fighting lifestyle inflation is really important.
In May I built a nifty spreadsheet tracker that keeps track of every purchase. I broke my entire month of spending into 13 categories. What I found was both amazing and shocking. We spent more than I thought, in categories, I wouldn’t have guessed. Hint, groceries and eating out were our Achilles heel. From that spreadsheet, my wife and I came up with a plan to cut spending in a couple of areas (groceries, coffee shops) that were not bringing in equal value to their cost.
I had plans to write an article about the tracker but didn’t get around to it. I might in the future and include a link to my expense tracker if there is interest.
I knew, way back in January, it was going to take some extra income in 2019 to get to $100k of savings. I have written several times in these Jto$100k update posts about the nature of my work as a pediatric emergency room nurse being seasonal (cold/flu season). During the busy months, January through May, I work like a crazy person.
Related: Why I Don’t Have A Side Hustle
When summer arrives, the extra shifts dry up and I relax a bit and enjoy summer.
The real challenge is to segregate the income from the extra shifts and give that money a purpose. Left unchecked, “extra money” filters into spending, on shiny things that our brains think we want.
This concept is similar to extra income. Saving your raises over time is a less aggressive path to FI. I like to say, “It is hard to live on less income but easy to live on the same income as you are used to.” By saving your raises you can slowly increase your savings rate to get into the double-digit zone.
Here is how it works I make it work for me. Say I get a $1/hour raise and I work 80 hours in a two week pay period. That would be $80 additional dollars of income but that is not what you actually get on your paycheck. I figure I receive after all payroll deductions, about 60% of that raise will end up being deposited into my checking on payday.
60% X $80= $48
The next step is super important. Find a purpose for your money. Open a ROTH IRA or a high yield savings account (the one I use currently use has a 2% interest rate). Set up an AUTOMATIC deposit from your checking into your new account on each payday.
Congratulations! You have just banked a raise. Over the last 4 years, I have gone from $0 per payday to almost $400 per payday in found savings just from using this method.
Between my wife and I, we have 3 raises slotted in 2019. One of my raises is an hourly wage increase and the other raise is from my boss adjusting my schedule and adding 4 more hours per pay period. These additional four hours were not wanted, but I made lemonade out of lemons and considered it a forced raise.
Just this year alone this method will account for nearly $6,000 of our Journey to $100k savings.
Recap of 2019 Goal
Mission 2019: Our family will save $100,000
Yes, for 2019,
I set a goal I’m not sure I can achieve I set a goal I am achieving. A stretch goal that pushes me to the edge of what is possible.
Why chose a goal I am not sure I can accomplish? The one-word answer is motivation. The whole purpose of goal setting is to lean into discomfort. By setting an audacious, uncomfortable goal, I am reminded to spend less, earn more and save the difference.
The 2019 Blueprint
Here is my blueprint for $100,000 savings in 2019.
- Two 401k’s = $38,000
- Two IRA’s = $12,000
- HSA = $7,000
- Mortgage principal = $25,000
- Taxable brokerage account (VTSAX) = $18,000
- 2019 Savings = $100,0000
$100,000 saved in 2019 is: $8,333 per month, $3,846 per paycheck, or $274 per day
Woohoo! We have crossed the halfway point and we are ahead of schedule. With 6 months down and 6 months to go, we are 60.67% of the way to our $100,000 goal. As you can see in the chart below, most of our savings in the first 6 months have been concentrated in our retirement accounts. As these accounts (403b and IRA) reach their IRS limits, that money will snowball into taxable savings and mortgage principal payments.
Every year I purposely fill up our tax-advantaged accounts first. The growth and dividends in these accounts grow tax-free and that is beautiful.
In June we saved $9,290 across all savings vehicles(Roth IRA’s, 403b’s, mortgage principal and taxable brokerage accounts). This number was down from the past several months due to a decrease in income from extra shifts. I knew this would be coming so I intentionally saved more during those lucrative winter months.
Saving more in the winter allows our family to spend more money in the summer on car camping vacations and other various activities.
Summer is expensive for our family. Even grocery shopping costs more because when school is out, our children tend to go with us to the store and everyone knows how that works. mom, Dad, mom, mom, mom, can we buy……You get the idea. But we value being able to spend more money on camps and other child treats (like ice cream shops) during our glorious Pacific North West summers.
I’ll be honest. I love, love, love this savings tracker I made (pictured above). Despite being a hand made creation I whipped up, it helps me stay motivated in ways I never would have imagined.
Coloring in these squares has become the most exciting part of every payday. When I contemplate picking up an extra shift at work, I think, how many blocks will I be able to fill in.
Without motivation, there is no action.
I am excited to share my Savings Tower as a digital download with everyone. It is a FREE digital version of my Savings Tower that I have used for the past 6 months. To get your copy, simply sign up to my email list and I will email you a PDF printable file to start your own savings journey.
I created this savings tower in a way that makes it flexible for you to find motivation for your savings goal. The hash marks on the left side of the tower can be used to list your goal. Color in each box as you progress towards your savings goal. To get this printable PDF sign up in the email box below.
That is all for the June update. What was your stretch goal for 2019? Are you making progress on your goals? Thanks for reading.