Bring in, sell off, save up
By now, some of you have probably heard about Ramit's challenge over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
On Friday, he announced that people seem less worried about where to invest than about how to save money immediately. And so he created the 30 day challenge to save $1000.
Three days in and he's already received a lot of flak.
Partially, it's from how he went about it. (Have you ever heard someone sneer in an article? If not, check his out.) He promised no "retarded" frugality tips, like buying OJ from concentrate, starting a garden or buying day-old baked goods.
"I’m not trying to save $1 or even $10 per week, because it’s not worth changing your behavior for that kind of money."
[A brief moment to indulge my petty side: Tip #2 (Sunday) is designed, by his own admission, to save $10-20 a month.]
That bit of acerbity out of the way, from what I’ve seen so far, these tips won’t help me. But that shouldn’t surprise me. Or make me bitter. (Though it does, a little.)
I’m used to not being the target audience; hell, that’s why I started this blog.
I’m tired of (comparatively) rich people talking about how they were surrounded by debt, stressed all the time; and after reading one book, they were able to make some “serious” changes and get out of debt quickly.
At least, the bitter part of me gets sick of hearing about how those changes tend to be nixing their mani/pedis, not going out to eat and cutting back to basic cable.
See, I thought that's how most people lived.
But based on Ramit’s first tip – taking your lunch to work three times a week – I’m not representative of the majority. Personally, I don’t even know anyone who eats lunch out three times a week to begin with. I guess Ramit and I run in vastly different social circles.
And, really, who’s to say how I would live if I could bring in a real income? Maybe I’d be more frivolous. Maybe I wouldn’t. I do know that it’s pointless to get angry or offended.
The fact is, most people’s tips won’t help me specifically. Either they’re things Tim and I can’t do (Get a second job? Neither of us can even work a full-time first one!) or they’re things we’re already doing (Turn down the thermostat? As I write this, the windows are open on a cloudy, 54-degree day!).
So we're in a less-than-common situation. I knew that going into the PF blogosphere. People living on disability or unemployment aren’t exactly the biggest audience out there (especially for people selling seminars or books) so we can’t really depend on getting advice that is built specifically for us. At least, not mainstream advice.
You can either get mad and waste the energy you’ve got, or you can tinker with things a bit, until they suit you better. I take a little from column A, a little from Column B.
In the meantime, I have to give Ramit credit. His challenge galvanized me into action.
Whatever you think of the tips, there is a certain appeal in breaking frugality down into bite-sized pieces. Almost any frugal step can seem too hard when you consider it as a lifelong change. You feel years’ worth of deprivation in seconds and instantly want to go and do something tremendously un-frugal.
So, in making it a 30-day challenge, he has made it a reasonable, very-achievable goal.
For my part in this challenge:
I plan on putting my foot down more on nonessentials spending this month. But there really isn’t that much more fat left to trim from the budget. So I am focusing more on bringing in some money.
I re-posted the wedding items on Craigslist. Then, I went around the house and started looking more critically at household items. I took pictures of several things -- a still-shrink-wrapped Buffy Season 1 set, an exercise ball, a Grecian vase from a going-out-of-business Museum Store -- and listed them on CL. I also started looking around on the “wanted” section to see what other possessions people might buy.
One woman is looking for affordable baby clothes, which reminded me that I had a bunch stored at my mom’s. (I dabbled in eBay for awhile.) So that may be $5-10 there.
Another woman is interested in a couple of my wedding items. That could be another few bucks. (I’m actually pretty shocked and the fact that no one seems interested in 90+ glass plates, most of them never used for $40. But such is life!)
I’ve also been getting on Cash Crate and Inbox Dollars every day, figuring I can earn around $50-100 this month from something like that. (If you’re not signed up, go to my “Make Money Online” tab. I have information and links to the programs.)
Later this week, I want to go to some used bookstores and sell a bunch of books that are just gathering dust. (I love to keep books, but I never reread them. It’s the same reason I don’t buy movies.)
I’m also doing research on new-subscriber prices for the various cable/satellite companies. If the deal is good enough, I may just switch. (And if it’s DirecTV or Comcast, CashCrate will give me $80 or $15 comparatively.)
So, will I make $1000 in 30 days? Only if I fall into Scrooge McDuck’s money vault.
But I figure it’s still worth a nod to Ramit, since his challenge did get me revitalized about saving.
What about you?
Don’t worry about keeping up the habit, making it a life-long pattern. Don’t even worry about December’s budget. Just focus on November. How much do you think you could bring in, sell off or save up?