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The Rise of the Smart FI Monthly Challenge!

in Blog, Goals, Savings, Spending

Update and Miscellaneous Thangs

Howdy, my frugal peeps! How goes it? I hope everything is well. If you haven’t noticed (and if you haven’t listened to any of the new podcasts), I’ve been a busy guy lately. I personally redesigned the front page, ensured that my design is (mostly) responsive, and I’ve added a couple of advertisements through Google Adsense to help keep the lights on around here! It’s been an interesting process so far, and I hope create some videos in the future to detail how I’m doing all of these things myself, as I plan on creating at least one niche website in the near future. I want to discuss monetization of  websites and other things in the future as well. Lots of big plans, as always 🙂 As I stated before, I’m also planning on getting a logo designed for the website, as well as paying for video recording software so I can get some decent quality videos going up and around here!

I’ve been learning a lot, but I feel like That Learning Gal and I haven’t been sticking to our spending goals as closely as we are desiring. So, in light of that, I’ve come up with a brilliant strategy to help us maintain the level of spending we’re desiring, and that brilliant idea is the Smart FI Monthly Challenge! I will also be adding expense reports – our budget/spending – to the site. I think this is another step in the right direction of showing you all how I am attempting to reach my financial independence, how our budget is broken down, and where our money is going. I mean, a budget is a huge help to anyone in general, but is an essential tool for reaching Financial Independence.

Finally, I got a 3% raise at work! This is a great step in the right direction, even if it is a minor one. After six months on the job, I’ve been given the maximum raise possible, and lots of praise from my superiors. It is a great feeling knowing you’re doing great work, but even better knowing people appreciate that work. I’ll have another review in January, and hopefully I can jack up the income more. I’m now sitting at a salary of 63.8k, and that raise will increase my bonuses, my profit sharing, and my 401k contributions. Again, all great steps in the right direction, and I plan on just going up from here!

A New Challenge Arises

I believe an apt analogy for a budget is the human body. You are just going about your business everyday. You work, you eat, you drink, you sleep, etc. Then one day, you look in the mirror, and all of a sudden, you realize you are overweight by about 50 pounds. You’re drinking too much, eating bad food, drinking soda, and the list goes on. You decide it is time to get in shape, so you start working out, maintaining a healthy weight, you drink less, and you feel better than you have in years. It is a miraculous transformation!

This is a lot like the way a budget works, but instead of being overweight, having unhealthy eating habits, and more, you fill out a budget, and you realize that you are paying $500/month on that new car, you are paying $2000/year for a boat you use 6 times a year, you’re drinking wine or beer with dinner 3 nights a week, costing you $6/night, $42/week, $1000/year. Ooooor, if you use the continuously compounding interest formula, and you invested that in the stock market over 10 years, you’d have gained $2015, or more, for every $1k of spending instead of spending that $1k ever year.

Basically, a budget is a great way to cut the fat out of your lifestyle and make your financial life lean and mean. If you haven’t done it yet, do it! Right now! I command thee under my divine authority as That Learning Guy. This is the most basic place to start. If you haven’t yet, check out my current guide on budgeting (It will be expanding over time. No worries!).

Now, back to the main idea of this post, the idea behind the monthly challenge is more-or-less going to be a way to encourage us to save more money each month, if you hadn’t guessed that already. There are other tangential benefits to this as well though, and they can range from being physically healthier to spending more time with friends and family. The catch here though, is that I want all of you to join us in this! I’ll be adding a section to the front page of the site with the challenge of the month. Then, in my expense report, I will confirm if we met our goal for the month. Maybe someday in the future I’ll come up with some sort of reward system based on difficulty of the challenge. Who knows? That’s why the future is awesome. Maybe adding a six month challenge, such as paying an extra portion towards some kind of debt, lowering the phone bill, or cutting out an unnecessary service, could be added to the plan as well. I think things like that could have an even greater impact on financial health!

Climb that mountain, dawg!

Climb that mountain, dawg!

So, the very first Smart FI Monthly Challenge will begin next month, in April. And that challenge? Not eating any fast food for the month. We typically don’t eat very much fast food anyways, budgeting about $40 a month, and typically hit it (That Learning Gal likes to buy Jimmy Johns once a week for lunch), but a penny saved is a penny earned, am I right? I’m all about cutting out the unnecessary fat. If you check the expense reports going forward, you’ll be able to see if we accomplish these goals. We’d love to have you along for the ride, if you’ll join us. Then when the next expense report comes out we can talk about it, and how we avoided all of those expensive, unnecessary, and unhealthy calories!

As I’ve said before, I believe goals are an enormous component of reaching your Financial Freedom. Without them, we wouldn’t really be trying to reach Financial Independence in the first place. So, reach out for that monthly challenge, let’s save some money, and let’s git ‘er done, guys and gals!

-That Learning Guy

P.S. A Happy Easter to All and to All a Good Weekend.




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