Journey To $100k: April Update
Month 4 is in the rear view mirror and the finish line is closer than it appears. The shocking reality is, not only am I on track with my impossible goal to save $100,000 dollars in 2019, but I am also ahead of schedule.
If you want to follow the $100k savings journey from the beginning you can start with:
Before you start throwing roses at my feet and adorning me with blue ribbons (my imagination is getting carried away), let me say that I think the second half of the year will be much more difficult than the first half for a couple of reasons.
- First reason – Once both of our 403(b)’s are maxed out (in the next few months), the saving will become less automatic. Making any savings “less automatic” is a recipe for underachieving. Currently, if we get a bonus or work an extra shift, the 403(b)’s will capture a chunk of this money because contributions are set up as a percentage of our income and not as a fixed dollar amount.
- Tax drag – When the money comes out of our paycheck and flows into our 403(b), taxes are not withheld. This is called a pre-tax contribution. This is a big tax saving for our family every tax season, as it reduces our taxable income. Sure, we will have to pay taxes when we use the money in retirement but not before decades of tax-deferred growth. To get to my point, after my 403(b) is maxed out, I will be investing with after-tax money. For every dollar I earn, I will only have roughly .75 cents to invest.
- holidays, birthdays and summer oh my! Summer is coming and it is expensive. We are always on the move during the sunny season and that costs money. Also, I don’t work extra overtime shifts during the warm, dry months of summer. It is just too hard to be at work when the rest of my family is up hiking in the mountains or at the beach. My children both have birthdays near the end of the year. Lastly, Christmas always seems to entice us to spend more than other months.
The challenge is, once our tax-deferred accounts start filling up, we need to fight the urge to inflate our lifestyle, even if that inflation is unintentional.
The rubber meets the road when the money starts ending up in your checking account and not your 401(k). We are starting to reach that point.
Recap of 2019 Goal
Mission 2019: Our family will save $100,000
Yes, for 2019 I have set a goal I’m not sure I can achieve. A stretch goal that pushes me to the edge of what is possible.
Why chose a goal I am not sure I can accomplish? One word answer, 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 = $18,000
- 2019 Savings = $100,0000
$100,000 saved in 2019 is: $8,333 per month, $3,846 per paycheck, or $274 per day
Here Are The April Numbers
Across almost all categories, April was another exceptional month of savings. In March, $10,015, became the number to beat. In April we set a new savings record. $11,893.
I can’t say for sure that this is the most our family has ever saved in a month because quite honestly, prior to 2018, we never kept track. However, due to raises and the aggressive cutting of expenses over the past couple of years, I feel quite confident in declaring this a new family record.
May will most likely fall short of our outsized April savings. This due in part to credit card float from a Boston vacation, to watch my wife run the 2019 Boston Marathon. I have talked about this before but I loathe making a purchase and having to pay for it a month or two later. It is a perpetual problem our family deals with.
*Keep in mind this savings number includes the principal portion of our mortgage payment.
Anecdotally, I have found, the simple act of tracking my savings both rewarding and self-motivating. Success begets success, similar to the snowball method of debt repayment.
For example, instead of hanging up my hat and calling it quits because April was such a great month, I am inspired to dig deeper and save more. This is the superpower I have found by tracking my savings this year.
In April, our family traveled to Boston to watch my wife run her 4th Boston Marathon. While the most expensive portions of the trip (airfare and hotel) were paid for on a credit card, we cash flowed food.
Dining out 2-3 meals per day for 6 days adds up quickly. Fortunately, there was a Trader Joe’s nearby and I was able to stock up on healthy snacks. With snacks in the hotel room, we cut out at least one dining out meal per day.
In May I plan to break out monthly expenses into its own blog post. Confession time, I am terrible at budgeting and have never really kept track of monthly expenses. Knowing this is a weakness of mine, I plan to attack it head-on.
I have built a nifty income and expense tracker spreadsheet that auto tallies my monthly expenses and income. I plan to use this spreadsheet over the next couple of months and fine-tune the details. If all goes well, I plan to release my income and expense tool for download on thesmartfi.com.
I like to create offsets to help pay for expenses, especially nonessential expenses like vacations*. By offsets, I mean bartering with yourself. For example, if you spent $200 on a new pair of shoes, you could trade that expense by not eating out for a month. Thus breaking even-$200 of nonessential expense for $200 of dining out.
*While some might argue that vacations are essential, (and I can agree with that), they are quite low on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
In May, I have tried to create offsets to help pay for our Boston vacation. Our current May initiatives are:
These are 3 money-saving tactics we commonly use to attack our monthly expenses. I have written a blog post about 2 of them. You can click the links above to read about each topic.
By any metric, April was a great month of saving and propelled us down the path towards saving $100,000 in 2019. As of the end of April, we are currently 39% completed with the goal. I hope to continue this pace into the summer.
Come back at the end of this month to see if we were able to stick with our 3 money-saving initiatives. Thank you for reading.