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Tip #22: Analyze your progress in the 30 Day Challenge

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This is Tip #22 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. (See past tips.)

Today’s tip is to step back from the day-to-day tips and analyze how well you’re doing overall in the 30 Day Challenge.

(Note: Don’t forget to scroll down for the pictures of how I’ve been doing in the Challenge.)

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of any goal, so let’s step back and try to evaluate how we’re doing. (I’ll do it, too.)

  • What were your goals when you started the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge?

  • How much have you saved?
  • Have you really tried your hardest? If not, could you double your efforts over the next few days to finish off the 30 Day Challenge?

To make it easy, here’s a full list of tips so far
Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week (175 comments)
Tip #2: Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees (97 comments)
Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today (84 comments)
Tip #4: Involve your friends in your savings challenge (41 comments)
Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill (82 comments)
Tip #6: Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund (92 comments)
Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a week (51 comments)
Tip #8: Implement the A La Carte Method (65 comments)
Tip #9: Only buy new things when replacing something old (39 comments)
Tip #10: Use the free rewards from your credit card, car insurance, and workplace (36 comments)
Tip #11: Never pay full retail price for clothes or eyeglasses again (61 comments)
Tip #12: How I’m saving $2,000+ on eating out in 2009 (51 comments)
Tip #13: How to negotiate your car insurance (47 comments)
Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far (12 comments)
Tip #15: Forget going to a bar — ask people over for dinner (14 comments)
Tip #16: Cancel any large purchase this month (5 comments)
Tip #17: Buy generic for the stuff you don’t care about (50 comments)
Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year (62 comments)
Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour (20 comments)
Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas (21 comments)
Tip #21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt (just launched a few hours ago)

A couple people told me that they haven’t read the comments on these tips. Guys, the comments have some of the best stuff in this Challenge. Read them!

My experience during the 30 Day Challenge
Finally, let me share how I’ve been doing. I figured some pictures would be more fun than me writing more words.

Following the (pack-your-lunch tip), I took a picture of these apples I brought to work as a snack, which (1) forced me to eat healthier, (2) prevented them from going rotten, and (3) most importantly, removed the barrier of not eating them at home.

apples-at-work

Next, I had to buy a coat for a quick trip I took, so I went to TJ Maxx, where I saved $100 on a coat — and saw this hilarious sign.

hilarious-tj-maxx-promotion

All right guys, this next one is my favorite photo. I tried to cook at home, but as I’ve told you before, I’m horrible at making anything. You’ll notice the cornbread here, which tasted disgusting. If you look closely, you might wonder why I’m wearing a skull cap in my own house. That’s because I turned the thermostat down and it was freezing. But if you guys are going through this Challenge, how can I not?

sad-cooking-experience

I want to show you the difference in receipts from the month before this Challenge to a dinner I took in the last few days. Now, the receipt on the left is a special occasion — some friends were in from out of town, so it was pretty expensive. But in the bill on the right, I split an $8 entree, which was more than enough food and resulted in a total bill of about $5. I’ve saved hundreds by cutting down on eating out this month.

Ramit's dinner receipts

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more. My parents were coming over to visit so I asked my mom to bring food. “What do you want me to make?” she asked. I just replied with a simple request: “PLEASE BRING ANYTHING YOU CAN!!!!!!!!”

Mission accomplished:

moms-indian-food

So that’s how I’ve been doing during this Challenge. How about you?

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Last thing to do
1. See other tips in the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge
2. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

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51 Comments

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  1. It was looking awesome until you called your Mom. It seems like mooching. Look into food boxes and community discount food programs. The potato is your friend.
    I paid $8 (half price, original tag was $16) for a secondhand fox-trimmed coat last week; it was similar to $150 coats last year.
    Not taking the challenge, but I’ve been living like this for 3 years. It took me about 8 months before I learned how to manage with so little. Lots of bad habits to break.

  2. Sadly, I’ve saved very little during this challenge because most of these tips are things I already do. HOWEVER, it’s been a great reality check for me to see how much I could be spending. I understand how easy it would be for me to exceed my income each month if I didn’t set limits.

    And I’ve really enjoyed the reading the comments too because so many people have offered good ideas. (And other nay-sayers who echo my thoughts!)

  3. We’ve saved (or ‘found’) $4,189. On a $60,000 annual salary, that’s pretty significant.
    1) car insurance
    Because of the ’30 day challenge’, I called my insurance company about some hail damage that I received last spring. I ended up with a $2,900 check for that damage. Then, I called around to check on insurance rates and ended up saving $460 by switching companies. The original company refunded me $430 b/c of timing
    differences.
    2) utilities
    Last winter we started adjusting our thermostats down in the winter. This year, we’ve continued to do so. Due to the ‘challenge’, we stepped up our efforts (putting electric blanket on our bed and additional blankets on the kids’ beds). I called the power/gas companies and they are adjusting our budget billing plan. The savings totals $180 over 1 year.
    3) company perks
    Decided to live it up by taking advantage of some pro football tickets we were offered this past weekend. Saved $125.
    4) restaurant.com
    Found an awesome new restaurant and got drinks, appetizer, and two awesome entrees for $21. Took advantage of the tip and stocked up on more coupons from them. Estimated savings this month and next: $94. The only downside to this tip, is that we were reminded how much we enjoy eating at nice restaurants (a practice we had largely given up to save money)!!

    Overall, not too bad! Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Ramit,

    This challenge came at a great time for me. My fiance just moved in with me, and he is looking for work right now, so things have gotten very tight even though otherwise I wouldn’t have to worry so much about money. I love my future husband but he has about six figures in student loans and just dropped out of school to move here, so needless to say it’s a very stressful and difficult time.

    Many of these tips I had already done or was in the process of doing. But seeing everyone else who is participating makes me feel like I’m not alone in this situation. It’s also been very useful to read about everyone else’s experience for hints and tricks.

    Thanks!

    (PS: I’m not sure how much I’m cutting back but I’ve saved at least $2000 per year with all the tips combined)

    Becoming The Marshmallow

  5. Yeah, I agree with the first post.

    Anyone can save money by mooching off of other people. It’s not really in the spirit of this challenge and kinda killed it for me.

  6. Awesome series. I’ll definitely forward this to any of the people I know that need help saving money.

  7. You gotta love a mom who bring over all that food. I’m vegan, and my mom interprets vegetarian as “eats salads all day” so I don’t think I can ask her to bring me food. =)

  8. Doing pretty well with savings so far.
    Packed lunch every day ($100 savings)
    Kept pretty close to my per diem for meals while traveling ($50 savings)
    Shopped at discount grocery store ($50)
    Canceled land line telephone ($45 per month – $540 year)
    Decided to scale back on Christmas ($200)
    Filed some old expense reports ($400)
    Redeemed some CC cash back ($250)

    So far I’m plus $1045 for the month. Pretty happy!

  9. These tips are awesome. My 2 cents:

    1.- Switched my cell phone bill to a pre-paid plan a year ago. Total cell phone ‘bill’ now is $25/month. Oh, and I don’t talk on the cell phone. I just text message and call my girlfriend and family from my VOIP line. Phone calls on my cell phone are for emergencies only, or only very short chats. At first, my GF had a HUGE issue with this, but eventually she got used to the idea.

    2.- Cancelled my DirecTV account. With TIVO I was paying $60+ per month….to record shows from open-air networks (FOX, etc.). Now, I watch these same shows on hulu.com. Savings per month: $60.

    3.- Changed my Internet contract. Since I’m not downloading videos, or games, and basically use the Internet for email and reading the news and blogs, I downgraded to a “slower” DSL connection (which is still very good speed). From ~$40/month, I now pay ~$20/month.

    4.- Thanks for the tip on perks from my insurance company. Found movie tickets for $6.50, i.o the $9 I usually paid. BUT, we also rent movies with my GF, so i.o $13 movie tickets, I spend $4 for a BlockBuster DVD.

    5.- Speaking of insurance, I checked my coverages, and found out I was paying for stuff like “Mechanical Breakdown Insurance” (??!!??!!) on my 2-year old German car. After re-doing my insurance, now I’m saving $20/month ($120 savings on a 6-month policy).

    6.- I live in Florida, so turning the thermostat off, esp. during these winter months, is something I always do. But still, I’ve had to fight the temptation to turn the heater on, esp. when it’s so freezing-cold I feel like dying (i.e., when it drops to 55). But hey, no pain, no gain, right?

    7.- With my GF, i.o eating out every weekend (~$50/weekend once you add up all the receipts) we buy food on the grocery market, and go out to eat one time, and call this our “special” night out. Turns out, it’s even better than we thought, since being only one night, it makes it unique and believe or not, romantic. And we save money by cooking home. In case there are leftovers, we pack them for lunch at work.

    8.- The total savings are now going to a hedge fund account…thanks 4 the tips!

  10. Check out http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/4/Sweet-Corn-Bread This recipe is delicious!

    You can always take the half way route on eating out… eat out, but bring fruits and veggies with you. Say the meal you split wasn’t enough for you. If you had an apple, orange, carrot, bell pepper slices, or whatever your favorite fruit or veggie is around to top it off it would be cheaper and healthier!

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