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Monday, 17 April 2017

Saving is boring! Stay on track

Alright guys, I have a confession to make. I am bored of savings. Putting aside $20k for my emergency fund is easily the most dull and meaningless savings goal I've ever had. I love investing, pushing money into accounts that fund my retirement is thrilling. I've had to slow that down to save for my emergency fund and I'm bored.

So I prowled the internet for some tips. While there are plenty on ways to change your saving / spending habits, finding ways to stay motivated was harder.
Let me start by saying that I haven't held more than $10,000 in cash since I discovered that I could invest. At first I thought the money on a high interest account was exciting and at 18 I had something like $30,000 in my account earning 6% (from memory). At the time it was great, but then interest rates dropped and I discovered shares and bonds. The first set of bonds I bought were paying 8.7%. From that moment I was hooked, I kept $5,000 in my account for 'emergencies' and every time I hit $10,000 I pushed half of it into an investment.

That system worked for me for years, until I refinanced my home loans and forgot I had to pay for my renovations on my rental property. I had approximately $15,000 free in those home loans, then I refinanced and had nothing. Then the renovation bills came in for $10,000. Oh, and I was about to go on three weeks unpaid leave. In short it was monumentally stupid.

I scraped through on a combination of credit cards and goodwill (renovations went on a payment plan, Mr. FIRE picked up the slack). I managed not to pay any interest on the credit cards but it was a close deal, in some cases by a day or two. So I understand the value of having an emergency fund with six months worth of expenses, but it's just, so, boring.

Stay accountable

My 2016 savings chart
The green line is total of all accounts,
the black line was my target.
Firstly, it's a pun, so this is clearly the best trick. Get it, account-able? Oh never mind, it's a bad pun... I have filled my life with ways to keep this goal in the fore-front of my mind. I have a giant multi-page google spreadsheet that tracks my spending. I have another one on my home computer that tracks and charts my savings. I have this blog. I have a note pinned on the side of my computer (It also tells me to buy an investment property and renovate my bathroom before the end of the year). I have this blog. Writing about this goal is keeping me interested in it. And it stops me from throwing the whole thing out the window and investing, just, it's a close thing...

I also have charts, I love charts!

Colour me rich

With the surge in popularity of adult colouring books it's not surprising that someone figured out how to link colouring to their savings goals. Amy Jones has even kicked off an online business devoted to colouring in bit by bit to track her progress. She sells really cool progress maps that you can download, print off, stick to a wall and colour in bit by bit as you march towards your goal.

Of course, you'd have to pay for Amy's designs, which is probably not the greatest move if you're swimming in debt, even if they are only $20. You can buy a whole book of kaleidoscope patterns for $2, but then you have to count all the spaces and decide how you're going to represent each savings goal on it. Or you can just start one from scratch on your own.

Grab a sheet of paper, decide what appeals to you, how you're going to colour it as you go and sketch away. You'll be far more invested if you drew the progress map yourself, and you can make it the right size for your needs. Plus if you're savings for a house, you can colour in an actual house, rather than something abstract.

I have to admit though, I absolutely suck at art. As much as this is a super cool idea, i don't think it's for me.

Roll six for rewards

Combining my love of board games and conventional motivational wisdom I have just come up with this idea on the fly. Turns out most motivational information on the internet is abstract and boring. Here's what I've just thrown together for myself to get through the last couple of months.

So, here's how it works. At each goal point ($13,000, $15,000, $17,000 and $19,000) I roll two dice. The dice on the left tells me what reward table I get to use. 1-3 is a boozy reward, 4-5 is a fancy dinner, and six is both! The next dice then tells me what reward I get. So in the picture I've rolled a five (fancy dinner) and a three. So I get to have roast for dinner! As dinners go it's on the more expensive scale, especially compared to our usual meals like Chilli Con Carne, so we don't have it too often, but it is delicious!

To be honest though, I really want nachos for dinner, so I might give myself the right to re-roll each dice once when picking rewards, haha, oops! Since I record my current savings once a week, I should have plenty of chances to get some tasty rewards!

What works for you? How do you stay on track for these long drawn out goals. Savings takes time, are you straying off track?


  1. How did you manage to have $30k at 18? I'm impressed.

    I like your idea of customizing some rewards for yourself, and then the added fun of making it random which one you get! Funny how we can get easily bored with things that take a long time to build, half the the reward of achieving a goal is the mental growth you gain from all the patience along the way haha.

    Mrs DDU

    1. I honestly don't know - magic? I know my grandparents handed out some pretty sizable gifts, but at least $20k of it was just mindless saving. When the First Home Owner Accounts existed I was pushing $115 a week into one, which got the full government match of 17% on the first $6k that you saved. I also found the highest interest account on the market and pushed another $200 a month into that.

      Honestly - quiet boring diligent saving, just kept swimmin'

  2. I remember those 6% savings accounts too, they were exciting at the time :)
    Your reward game is a great idea! Is it working?
    Maybe thinking of all the exciting investing that gets to happen after you get to 20k might help?

    1. I'll be honest, I had to scratch the investing itch. I pulled some of the extra repayments I'd made into my mortgages and invested them in the US share market. Woops!

      I just got paid today and cracked the $13k mark. I should stay above the line even taking into account what's owing on the credit cards (bills, yawn) so I'm keen to get home and roll the dice! C'mon Roast Pork and a glass of Mead!!

  3. Love it! You definitely need something tailored to you in order to keep motivated.
    I'm weird and just like knowing that having that money there means I can quit my job if I want when I'm having a bad day.
    Otherwise the 'thing' I'm going to pay for, holiday, reno's, even shares is exciting enough. Though adding in wine and a roast as a reward sounds like a good idea to me ��

    1. Food is such a huge motivator for me. I'm like a dog that way, just need treats :)


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