We’re in the process of saving for a house, which you’ll probably hear about a lot on this blog in the future. I’ve never intentionally set out to create a finance blog of any kind, but I can tell you that since it’s such a huge part of our lives right now, you’re probably going to hear a lot about how we’re saving $100,000.
Saving $100,000 is not impossible: in fact, when I ran a financial calculator, we can feasibly do it within 3 years. That doesn’t even have a high interest rate: I ran it with our standard checking account rate of 0.1%. We’re obviously going to be on the lookout for better short-term investment opportunities, but think it important that we plan with low expectations and be thrilled when things surpass expectations.
When it comes to buying a house and saving money, we know that we have to be smart. We know that we want to:
- minimize time spent in debt (and yes, for us that includes a mortgage)
- pay the smallest amount feasible
With that in mind, we know that we want to have a hefty down payment.
Perhaps it’s a bit arbitrary, but I came up with a $100,000 goal. That would end up being roughly 20% of the current benchmark in our area (and who knows, we may not end up in SoCal forever).
We’ll get smart about how we go about making the choice of a house, and how we handle the payment. We’ll make those choices when we need to.
For now, our goal is to stockpile that cash so that when the day comes that we step into our dream house, we can say YES.
But saving $100,000 is a huge goal that doesn’t happen overnight. So how do we go about that? What kind of things do we budget for in the process?
For the sake of this blog post, please do assume that we’ve budgeted for food and our basic bills. We’re not running around hungry in order to have the things that I am mentioning below. I’m sharing the things below that make life feel just a little bit nicer.
So without further ado, here are 4 things we budgeted for while saving $100,000.
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We Budgeted Our Tithe
Hang in there: I’m going to get religious for a second. Then, I’ll take it back around to be applicable for everyone, no matter what you believe. This blog isn’t meant to be an overtly Christian blog, but since that is my faith, it does impact my worldview. I make no apologies for that, but want to keep it real with ya’ll and acknowledge that this part might not be for everyone. Thanks for reading on.
Man, this one hurt in the beginning. 10% of our take-home income goes to our church. Every payday, I log into our church’s website, and send them 10% of the amount that was deposited into our account.
(and yes – we do tithe based on what hits our account – I know many folks debate gross vs net, but I am pretty sure that God is not sitting in heaven with a calculator figuring out how much we should have/could have given. He’s got bigger things on His mind. Follow your calling, if this is something you want to do.)
This is part of our faith, and is a discipline that we choose to practice. It’s proven to be so valuable to our money mindset and how we approach money and what we do it.
When we view ourselves as a “steward” of money, it’s easier to keep it in perspective. We get so many dollars a month, and can choose to hoard them for ourselves, or give them, and make a difference in the world.
Regardless of your belief system, I firmly believe that budgeting for giving is always a fruitful endeavor. A closed hand is unable to receive: the closer I hold my money and possessions, the less I am able to accept.
We don’t give with the expectation of a karmic payout. It’s just fascinating that we’ve still always had enough, if not an abundance.
In fact, for a time when we first got married, we weren’t tithing. I lived in a state of fiscal panic for a long time: we always “made it” but it felt like we were just squeaking by.
It was not a good feeling.
When we’ve taken control of our money and finances, and gotten ourselves on a consistent budget, and given first, we’ve found that we always have enough – in fact, we’ve had “extra” – that’s enabling us to accelerate our savings.
If you’re looking for a non-religious organization to donate to, then here are a few options:
- Local animal shelter
- Homeless shelter
- Children’s hospital
- Independent artists (especially small ones that haven’t hit their big break and are struggling)
If giving is on your heart, I’d recommend that you find something that you are passionate about. It will truly bring a sense of joy, and even excitement about giving.
Giving creates a mindset of abundance and enough. It completely changed the game for us, and now, I wouldn’t consider stopping.
Thanks for bearing with me…this one was super important to us, and has paved the way for all of our financial decisions.
We Budgeted for Fun
Dave Ramsey says to “live like no one else, so that someday, you can live like no one else.” I say AMEN to that…to an extent.
Since we’re in “long haul mode,” we know that even after we save $100,000, we’re going to be living tight…I mean, we’ll be hustling on our mortgage to pay that bad boy off and be debt free.
That means we’re looking at the long term and what it’s going to take to make it.
Have you ever gone on a diet, and had a food you couldn’t eat on that diet? For me, it’s either Oatmeal Cream Pies or Doritos.
Since I can’t have those foods, when the cravings strike, I cannot think of ANYTHING else at all. I have to have a Dorito.
When I finally cave, I end up eating a whole bag, and am worse off than if I’d said “hey Holly, let’s have a few Doritos and scratch that itch.”
I look at our long-term budgeting process in a similar manner. We’re not going to eat beans and rice exclusively for years in our quest to save money. We’re not going to indulge ourselves constantly either.
We’ll find a happy medium.
Overall, we’ve made pretty decent financial choices. Neither Joe nor I have student debt (THANK GOD). Our current net worth is a positive number that feels good, and steadily increasing every month. Our investment accounts are growing, like the proverbial tortoise in Aesop’s fable.
We’re focused…but recognize that we’re in it for the long haul. Our date nights are cheap, but we have them. We budget to go to a movie occasionally. We love sushi, and go out for it maybe every other month or so.
If we can’t have a little fun along the way, we’re going to look back and be sad about missed opportunities that we had to enjoy life.
See, as a kid, I remember that we didn’t have a lot of money. Our vacations were to places that were FREE. I hadn’t been to Disney until I was in my 30s.
The reality was, I didn’t MISS expensive things. But I appreciate – and remember vividly the fun things that we did, because my parents budgeted for them.
I remember stopping at a picnic area along the Blue Ridge Parkway and eating sandwiches (that of course, we had made ahead of time and packed!). We still laugh at that, remembering that we had gnats swarming our face. I remember fireflies at twilight in the graveyard at Gettysburg. I remember random trips to Long John Silver’s to eat fried fish.
We have those fun memories because my parents budgeted to create them. We weren’t rich by any stretch. But my parents were intentional, and that’s always stood out to me.
You can always make more money. There will always be ways to make more money. You cannot recapture lost time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
We plan and live for the future, but in that process, we are working to make sure that we don’t miss the joy of today.
We Budgeted for Hobbies & Small Luxuries
I play the harp. I’ve always joked that I only indulge in expensive hobbies (as a reference point, the harp that I would like to own eventually costs $14,900.
Instead of financing (the goal is to pay cash for one eventually!), I am currently renting one. It’s not the exact model I want. It’s not what I would pick, if it was completely up to me.
But the one that I am renting is GORGEOUS and totally worth it.
My hobby helps keep me sane and focused.
Joe has collected Nintendo Super Mario Smash Brothers Amiibo for years, and has a goal to get all of them.
I don’t get it – when I play video games, my character is the one that is inevitably in the corner of the screen, walking into a wall. I’m terrible at them.
But it’s an outlet for Joe, and it’s a fun hobby for him, so we budget for Amiibo releases.
He probably doesn’t get my FabFitFun box, but that’s also ok. It is one of my favorite goofy luxuries, so I kept that subscription.
Keeping those hobbies and small luxuries has helped us to stay sane and focused throughout the process, and find joy along the journey. Could we accumulate money faster without them? Sure! Would life be quite as fun? I mean….we’d find ways.
We Budgeted for Quality Items
You can buy a quality item one time and use it for years, or you can replace a cheaply made item every month.
A simple example of that is my shoes.
I love ballet flat style shoes, and since I live in Southern California, they are practical to wear year round. I found great ones at Walmart for only $6 a pair. Since they were made of fabric, I could throw them in the wash, and it would be great.
Then I discovered that because of the way that they were made, and the width of my foot, I was wearing out the sides within a month. I’m talking, wear a hole in them and have part of my foot hanging out, not the kind of hole that you suck it up and deal with.
So I started researching shoes that I would be able to wear over and over, and that would last.
I discovered Tieks, and loved them. But I was still running into a similar issue, where I would either scuff or wear through the leather…again, I’d find myself with holes in my shoes. Granted, it took almost 2 years, and it was almost everyday use, but at $165 for a pair of shoes, I wanted them to last a bit longer.
Going with my rate of usage, Tieks cost me $6.87 a month ($165 divided by 24 months – and that doesn’t include California sales tax) versus the $5.99 Walmart flats.
When I finally tossed my pair, they were WORN OUT. Holes in multiple places, soles falling off…I am all about repairing and restoring, but there was legit no hope for them.
Back to the drawing board.
That is when I discovered Rothy’s. I’d found – and been wearing Tieks – but found that even then, I’d scuff the leather. Instead of replacing my black flats monthly, I’d be replacing my black flats every other year.
That’s not a bad rate…but it didn’t fit within my cost analysis.
Rothy’s are made from recycled plastic, and can be thrown in the washer over and over.
I found that Rothy’s flats are $125 each, and you can use their give $20, get $20 affiliate program to save even more $$. $105 for a pair of shoes that would last me 2 years or more is worth it!
BTW – use my personal Rothy’s code to get $20 off your first purchase.
Even without the $20 off, $125 divided by 24 months equals $5.20 per month – definitely worth it! With $20 off, the price per month becomes even lower: $4.37.
Reportedly, they’ll last longer than that. But I like to try to make “investment” items last more than 2 years, so I use that as my baseline.
If you’re going to find yourself buying an item multiple times, then it’s a good idea to sit down and do a cost analysis. It’s not automatically better to buy the more expensive, higher quality items (see my Tieks numbers above). But be intentionally in pricing out items, and figuring out if they are actually worth it to buy the higher quality item.
Sometimes it’s smarter, and sometimes it’s not. You have to be willing to look at the big picture. Sometimes we like to tell ourselves that we’re buying a high quality item one time, but it’s not actually worth it. There are MANY cheap things that will get the job done and last just as long as the expensive items.
Are you working on a big savings goal? What are some of the things that you are budgeting for along the way to help make the journey feel more sustainable?