Thursday, April 1, 2010

The $500 Challenge - Where Are We Going To Find This Money?

Are you joining me in the $500 Challenge in April? In the month of April, I am going to find $500…or more, but hopefully not less, to put towards our summer vacation. Your $500 could go towards anything, like your debt, your emergency savings, or any other goal that you might have.

But to achieve the challenge, we need to have a plan. Here is my plan. Get started on yours and let’s find the $500 together.

My plan for the $500 Challenge:

1. Yard sale. I live in the northeast and well, it snowed A LOT this winter, so I took the opportunity of being stuck at home to clean out closets, drawers and shelves. My pile of stuff to unload is huge and I am really anxious to get it out of the house. I am helping a neighbor coordinate the annual neighborhood sale that is usually very busy. Last year I made $300, but we had some big items. This year I have a lot of little, annoying items that just equate to clutter and these things just need to go away. I am not counting on making the same amount, but it is my heavy hitter and I am relying on it to still be a big portion of the $500. Now I just have to pray for no rain on sale day.

2. I have never bought or sold anything online, through Ebay or Craigslist, but I am going to give it a shot. This will take some research, since I have no idea what I’m doing.

3. Spare change. Does this sound corny? We keep a change jar in the kitchen for spare change. It is amazing where I find spare change through out the house. There is always a pile in the laundry room, under cushions, in coat pockets, in shelves, on the floor of our van. I will cash it all in at the end of the month.

Right now this is what I have come up with for me. I will be on the look out through out the month for other ideas to reach my $500. It will take me a few weeks to pull together the yard sale and separate what I want to try to sell online. Basically, my plan to achieve my goal is to sell my stuff, but I have been brainstorming some other ideas to throw out there.

1. Sell Gold. I sold some unused pieces last year and made $150. Of course it depends on the weight of your jewelry and if it is 10kt, 14kt, 18kt or 24kt.

2. Apparently there is $33 billion in unclaimed assets sitting in the states’ treasuries. These assets include old checking and savings accounts, payroll checks, utility deposits and tax refunds. This is worth some investigating. The article directs you to, a database of governmental unclaimed property records. It is worth a try, but unfortunately, it came up empty for me.

3. Take a main category within your budget, such as groceries or dining out or clothing, or whatever category that you feel is out of control and work on reducing that number through out the month. With a little planning and concentration, how low can you reduce your grocery bill? $25, $50, $100??? I didn't include this in my plan, because I want to really focus on bringing in additional cash flow, but I'm going to take a look at the budget to see where I can also reduce some spending.

What ideas do you have? Please share in the comments.

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  1. I'm not shooting for the $500.00 goal, but I am trying to save $200.00 this month. Good luck!

  2. Here are some we have done:

    ~Reduce your cell plan- we discovered getting rid of texting would save us $30 a month

    ~Don't eat out for a month- maybe $50 or more savings

    ~Put a freeze on your Credit Card- no impulse buys- $50 plus

    ~Put off a haircut for a couple extra weeks- save $5-10

    ~ If you are not graying, color you hair back to original color and stop coloring hair. $175 a year plus savings

    ~reduce or totally turn off cable- $20-50 a month savings

    ~don't use you land line? Reduce to the minimum or get rid of. $20-50 a month savings

    ~Make a meal plan that revolved around the stores sales. $50 or more a month savings

    all these equal 300$ a month savings or more- $3600 a year

  3. @Frugal, Freebies and Deals - Great ideas. I need to look into how much we pay for texting on my phone. I don't text, so I don't need to be paying for it.

  4. We have sold lots on Craig's. I find it very easy plus they don't take a piece of the action. Ebay seemed more complicated but I could be wrong.
    I used to sell my extra books on Amazon but now the big guys have really squeezed out the little ones so I take them to my local bookstore for trade or sell.
    I've done the found money thing and collected over $300 over the years. Check the treasury of each state you ever lived in under their uncollected monies and the states where most of the big insurance companies are located.(There is a list somewhere I think CT, PA, and such) I, also, collected money that was due to my mom as her heir this way.
    I hope to reach $500 since we are moving and could really use the money and the chance to downsize.

  5. I dont want to come up with any money but I HAVE TO COME UP WITH $492 TO MOVE by the end of the month! Great Ideas!

  6. This is my annual goal, actually! $6,000 this year, or $500 a month, for an emergency fund. It's a quarter of our income and a quarter of our annual expenses, hence the name The Saved Quarter. :) I've been doing pretty well, although I slid a bit in March.

    The thing that's been working best for me is mystery shopping, followed closely by cutting expenses - calling to negotiate every bill, finding entertainment for free, and just not spending. You can check out my blog's Goals and Progress page to see where the money has come from so far.

  7. Junebug - I'm glad to hear the craigslist is easy, b/c I have never sold anything online, and for some reason I'm nervous to try it.

    The Saved Quarter - That is a mighty big goal of $6000 for the year, but so important to have the emergency fund. Good luck and I look forward to reading about your progress.

  8. Use Amazon to sell books, dvds, etc.

    It's easy to use and the amount of buyers is amazing.

    I sold a bunch of textbooks on Amazon so I can vouch for it!

    Good luck this month!

    Austin @ Foreigner's Finances

  9. By the way, here's the post about how I sold the books:

    Hope it helps!

  10. Okay, I'm in. I have been thinking about this since you originally posted the challenge. I don't know if I will get us to $500 in reduced spending, but why not try? Here's what I am doing so far:

    1. loose change is being saved in a jar (we save it anyway in a large jug, but I want to separate out this month's so I can see what we are putting aside).

    2. Cutting down on grocery spending. I have done this once and reduced our weekly grocery budget by $50. But, this month is necessitating further reductions. I want to see how little I can spend in a week.

    3. Canceling our Netflix membership. This is $15 a month and we haven't used it much lately.

    4. No unnecessary purchases on the credit card.

    So, far that is all I have in mind. Thanks for hosting this challenge!

  11. We are having a neighborhood garage sale at the end of this month - hoping for $200 or so there.

    Cancelled my gym membership: $26.55 a month

    Doing more surveys for money/gift cards

    Rolling my RRs from Wags more often

    Eating out less - $75

    Thanks for making me re-think some expenses.

  12. I've been thinking about this since you posted too, like Ms B, and I'm all in. I'm going to post on my blog about how I plan to do it! Good luck to everyone :)

  13. Emily and Lindsay - Welcome to the challenge!!

  14. A lot of money-saving tips really do work, but they take time or money or both up front to see long term savings. Even a new grocery shopping plan will take a few weeks to settle in.

    In the long run, we did notice savings on tricks such as buying second-hand or used items when practical, keeping our cars running long past their paid-off dates, making sure the cell / landline plans really fit our calling needs.

  15. Barn Budget DIsasterApril 23, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    Well, I'm a new manager at a horse boarding facility where we currently have 12 paying customers and more expenses than income. Although the $500 challenge needs to be about $1000, I'm trying to cut as much as I can.
    We have a dumpster bill of $100 per month for weekly pickup of a 15 yard dumpster. I called them and got them to pick up every 2 weeks and reduce the charge to $50 per month instead of $100.
    Next, I called AT&T where we have 3 phone lines, two of which have phone and high speed internet. I reduced 1 bill from $189.00 to $64.00. And the other bill from about $100 to $24. This was an awesome reduction and basically I called and said "I've been checking into other companies and have been finding a lot better deals for the same items I have. What can you do to fix this?" I ended up getting discount on EVERYTHING and keeping exactly what I had before.
    If you have any other ideas for us, let me know! I'd love to brainstorm with someone. (not sure if this comment goes directly to email... I'm new to the group)

  16. Barn Budget Disaster - You got a good start of reducing your expenses by calling the util. companies. That is a lesson we can all learn from. Good luck and welcome to the challege. We would love to hear some more of your ideas. Read through the comments and links from the other $500 Challenge posts and hopefully that will give you some other ideas.

    Thanks for all of the comments.


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