One of the unanticipated results of attending FinCon ’13 with Eva was bringing home some new reading materials. There was a book table in the vendors area that specifically featured books authored by FinCon attendees. I took a quick look but didn’t plan to make any purchases because it cost approximately half a million dollars just to get the two of us to St. Louis in the first place. But then I spotted an amazing deal. One of the books was marked ‘FREE’. Now that was a book that I could afford so I took one. The book was “The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese” by Brian O’Connor.
Thinking ahead led me to pack the book into my carry on bag for our return trip – which was really good because when the turbulence started, and continued for 90% of the flight, I was able to distract myself from my impending death with the sad reality that I have not saved anything for retirement. Let me back up a little. After being divorced I had a huge chunk of credit card debt to pay off once the divorce was final. It took some time and hard work but I did it. Last year I intended to start saving for my retirement (better late than never). But life happened to me. I haven’t saved much at all and I have known for a while that I really needed to get serious. But there have been unexpected expenses and opportunities and, and, and…. So. No retirement savings to speak of at this point. And that’s where The $1,000 Challenge came in.
Brian’s book is fun. And by fun I mean that it made me laugh as I cried on the inside over the balance in my retirement fund. Apparently being an award winning writer still means something. He is a great writer and has an amazing ability to make deep budget cuts hilarious. Especially when he reminds you that you are not yet eating raccoon. I also appreciated his transparency and humor regarding a few decisions made that affected his family adversely. Hey – he is a real person who does well and works hard but sometimes makes mistakes. The goal of the project (which turned into this book) was to drastically cut the family’s budget and save $1,000 every single month from recurring expenses. The categories that Brian chose were the top 10 expenses in his household:
After reading the details on how he methodically cut into each one of these expenses (in 10 weeks!) I have been inspired to participate in this little challenge myself. I don’t really think that I can cut $1,000 from my already meager budget but I know that I can cut something. I’ve decided to set my goal at $500. To be honest I’m not even sure that I can cut that much – but I won’t know until I give it a shot. I have also committed to saving whatever I do cut into starting a serious retirement fund. Finally.
I am gearing up by taking a very close look into my top 10 expense categories and seeing where I can save some money. Over the last weeks of 2013 my plan is to get my spending under control so that I can save money each month. I will report in several times to update you on how it goes.
Of course it’s always more fun to do something like this with friends along for the ride. And by that I mean that misery loves company. Any of you up for the challenge? Just think of how awesome it would be to start with a freshly trimmed down budget for the new year! Email me if you want to join in the fun – firstname.lastname@example.org. It’ll be fun. I promise!
Oh. I have a little confession to make. We ended up with FOUR of the books somehow. I’m not kidding. Between Eva and myself we walked away from FinCon with four books. Somehow I don’t think thats what Brian had in mind when he offered free copies to conference attendees. Ahem. Anyway. Since we have extras I would love to offer a copy to the first three people who leave a comment here and commit to joining me in The $1,000 Challenge!
You can find out more about the $1,000 Challenge by visiting Brian’s Funny Money Blog. He is even starting to add in some of the recipes from the book and includes his latest columns from The Detroit News.