Budget Challenge: Spend less than $1k

My husband and I desperately want to buy a house.

Each month, we are spending $1300 in rent. While that’s considered a steal in our area (Aspen is nearby, and we suffer the consequences of living in the same valley as an elite resort town), we’d rather be putting that money directly into something that’s ours, instead of into our landlords’ pockets (despite how lovely they are).

Additionally, I want a dog. Honestly, I want a dog more than I want a house. However, with where we live and Colorado’s current rental landscape, you can’t have one without the other. Most rentals do not allow pets (including ours), and for very logical reasons, especially from a financial perspective.

So, to meet our house goal, we are saving our money. We are automatically transferring money from our checking account into our savings account each month, which then accrues interest. We transfer about 15 percent of our earnings, which seems like a reasonable chunk.

Additionally, we decided to embark on a challenge of sorts.

My husband, the finance nerd and frugal fanantic, suggested that we add more to our savings account than usual this month, taking our checking account down to an even number. This way, it would be very easy to track how much money we spend. He mostly wanted to see if we could go this month without spending more than a thousand dollars.

I agreed. The challenge is on!


My husband and I posing at a Glenwood Springs Airbnb in 2016, wishing we were homeowners.


This $1000 does not include our rent, utilities (energy, internet), and loans (which include a car payment and two separate student loan bills each month). If it did, we’d lose before crossing the starting line. Rent alone is over the limit and we pay over $900 towards our loans a month.

The limit does, however, include other necessities, like food costs—including groceries and eating out, plus gas.

Other expenses come up too; we are also traveling quite a bit this month and will have to spend money on a wedding gift, lodging, and whatever social engagements pop up during a celebratory weekend.

Mind you, we are frugal people. Our most frivolous expenses tend to be the monthly Starbucks chai or a Purple Carrot subscription every once in a long while.

Can we do it?

I say yes. I’ll keep you updated.





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16 thoughts on “Budget Challenge: Spend less than $1k

  1. I really think you can do it! Sometimes life happens and gets in the way but it’s definitely doable!
    My partner and I bought a home and land package.
    While we waiting for the land title to be release, so the builders can start building our house but the land title is like a year or a little over a year wait. We have to save $2,200 a month until the end of the year. It’s so hard! But definitely doable!
    Good luck with everything! 💕

  2. You know what, once you set a goal, you most definitely can do it. This is so worth it. You got this 😀
    Also, good luck for this. Stay positive! 🙂

  3. You can do it! While my husband is an excel freak & will literally enter every penny he spends into an excel sheet each day, I’m more of an overall scheme kinda girl. We set ourself a strict budget when we got engaged and stuck with it for a long time to be able to save up for house, wedding, honeymoon, travel, etc. This enabled us to pay for our wedding & our honeymoon with cash and since then we’ve paid off our student loans (millennial goals right there)! The easiest way for me to stick to our budget was by using the Mint app which tracked my spending/budget for me. It was awesome. It would send me warnings when I got close to my monthly budgets or if I went over. Good luck on your goals & hopefully you can become homeowners (and pet owners) before you know it!

  4. Sounds like a good challenge! It definitely would make you more aware of the ‘technically not needed, but desperately wanted!’ spendings this month. Let us go how it works out!
    Can you volunteer at your local animal shelter to get some dog love in?
    Or sign up as a dogwalker (I know there are websites for that) and get dog love AND extra money towards your goal?

    Karen from http://www.OurCarpeDiem.com who should get better about her own savings and budgeting goals 🙂

  5. You got this! There are a few things that helped me, first is realizing what was going out. I’m sure you have already done this. As other commenters have said using a budgeting app like mint. I personally like YNAB. I did a blogpost on it. (http://awesomedadgear.com/ynab) if you want to check it out. They include a free 34 day trial period. No credit card required. They can link to your bank account. The paid version is about $6 a month or so. About a cup of starbucks. Worth trading in your cup-of-joe to get to your goal.

    I like that you can run reports on yourself and really see where you are spending over the months and tighten your belt. Oh, I spent $75 on pizza last month…. Yeah, that could really get us closer to our goals if I didn’t do that.

    The other thing I did is changed my savings accounts around for big purchases. I kept our primary savings there for emergencies so it was liquid and fast cash. But moved other money over to betterment.com so I could back it with ETFs so it could have a better chance that it would actually grow at a reasonable pace… There is a chance it could tank also but the reward is worth the risk.

    We are saving up for a shed, our golden retrievers surgery (which is tomorrow now) and a whole lot of other things and I started just dumping any thing extra into these accounts to help them start growing and they are still fairly liquid. I can get access to the money within 3-5 days or less.

    You got this, and you will definitely make the right decision given the right tools. You just make sure you arm yourself with what works for you and your family. Good luck, my friend!

    1. Thank you so much for these tips! Very thorough. We haven’t attempted this challenge in quite a while but I think it’s time to resurrect it. Thanks for reading and leaving this amazing feedback!

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