Sunday, November 23, 2014

The 60-Week Challenge

I recently post to my Instagram a chart for the 52-week challenge. Now if you haven't seen it before, the 52-week challenge is a way to put money away every week, in increments until you reach the end of the year. The goal is to take $1 dollar in week one and put it away. $2 dollars in week two, $3 in week three and so forth. By the chart on the right, you should reach the desired goal of $1,378 at the end of the next calendar year.

In my case, I'm doing a 60-week challenge. Why? I don't want to wait until January to start my savings program. The final amount for the 60-week challenge will be $1,830. Here's a word of warning. Keep in mind that as you progress in the weekly interval, you will be taking out amounts in the $40, and $50 dollar range from your check on a weekly basis. That might be something that is very prohibitive depending on your expenses. Another way to do the 52-week challenge is to do so in reverse. Carrie Rocha in her article Don’t Do the 52-Week Money Challenge (At Least Not Their Way) from the Pocket Your Dollars website dated January 8, 2014 describes how you can do it in reverse by taking out the bigger amounts in the beginning when you are motivated and have the smaller amounts taken out in December when you're main expenditures for Christmas happens.

In the end, do what works for you. I'm starting now because I am not guaranteed a job after Christmas season. I was hired as a seasonal worker and I am trying to stay on permanently. So starting now helps me get a start for when I get hired on a permanent basis (hopefully). I'm doing a smaller one as well, starting with 25¢ and going up from there at 25¢ intervals. They key isn't the amount, its the dedication to stay on the path to savings. Just find what works for you. Here are a few more examples of savings plans.

If you rather do your own plan, print out this chart to keep track:

There's no right or worse way to do this plan. Just find what works for you and ride it out until the end. I'll post on how I'm doing in the near future. Let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No More $20 Dollar Cocktails For Me

I have to admit that I never thought that I would be where I am at the age of 42. Now I never particularly planned specific end goals for the age of 42. But I never thought that I would have been without a job and surviving on unemployment benefits and a dwindling nest-egg when I turned 42.

It really is a humbling situation to be in. Even more so, since working in the bar business offered me the opportunity to make good money, albeit off the illness and addictive habits of many a customer. That in itself formed a type of moral issue for me. But I digress.

Fast forward about a month and a half and I'm employed in the retail sector. Why? Because the bar business well dried up. In almost four months I had three interviews for a person with almost 20 years in the bar business. 3!!!!! When I interviewed for the Olive Garden and I couldn't get a second interview or a call back of any type, I knew at that point it was clear as day that I was done in the bar business. You know what? It was a good thing.

I was downright miserable. I really dreaded going to work to deal with the constant bullshit that came from both within and without. If you've never worked in the service industry, you really wouldn't understand. A five night work week in the bar feels like a seven day or more work week at a day job. Trust me, I've been on both sides of the workforce. Not to mention, you see people at their worse and they treat you like you're shit. As if you're job in dealing with their drunk and belligerent asses isn't a "Real Job." Don't let me get started on the internal issues.

So you may ask "Why do it". Plain and simple" The money is good. Back to working the proverbial 9-5 40-hour work week as a daywalker, I can tell you that on a bad night, I could make almost the entire amount that I would now make in a week. Talk about sobering. But again, it was a good thing that I was knocked back down to square one. I probably would be miserable and working at the bar. It took getting kicked in the balls and going through my savings to realize that it was a blessing in disguise. I might be cash-strapped but I have my peace of mind. The money issues have created another stress but it has allowed me to refocus and re-learn the idea of living a simpler existence. In trying to cut the fat from my expenses, it has allowed me to better manage the little funds I have available. I can no longer live by the idea of "I'll have a kick ass night that will cover the bills and what not." As I mentioned to my sister the other day: No More $20 Dollar Cocktails For Me.

So where do I stand. I'm back at square one after taking my lumps and ready to dish out some punishment and take my next steps. I'm going to try and rebuild my savings and then some. The original amount that I had saved and subsequently went through is irrelevant but I will attempt to use tried and true methods of saving money and share my successes and failures here through periodic posts.

The first recommendation that I have is that if you can, pick up this book: How to Invest $50-$5,000: The Small Investor's Step-By-Step Plan for Low-Risk, High-Value Investing by Nancy Dunnan. Now in its 10th edition, the book is a great resource in educating people on what resources are available out there for investment written in plain English. It won't make you rich with a turn of the page, but it will allow you to learn the foundations of investing and give you ideas on what services might be ideal for you. I'm sure you can find it in the public library if you don't want to buy it. That's how I got a hold of it. Let me know what you think.

Until next time.