Monday, June 9, 2008

Break even challenge 2008

Just like last summer, I decided that one of my goals for this summer was to break even. Essentially, what this means is that I intend to make at least as much money as I spend, even without my full time job.

Last summer, I didn't make it. I got behind, and even though I broke even by the seek for most of the second half of the summer, I could never catch back up. Somehow, through magic, the money all worked, and we made it through the summer just fine on what we had in the checking account.

This summer is a little different. This year, I consciously saved money every month in my ING account, so that my savings are equal to my share of the expenses for two months. In short, I don't need to make any money this summer, so it's almost entirely a game. Also, because my car is paid off this month (Yay!) my break even number is a little lower this year at only $35 a day or $245 a week.

Other than that, the rules they remain the same:

1. Anything I spend over my budgeted amounts for groceries, eating out, or personal spending gets added to my break even number for the week.
2. Anything I earn or any money I save gets subtracted from my break even number.
3. Money I earn from my part time job is counted the day I earn it. Money I earn online or from other ventures is counted the day it pays out (because the lag time is usually so long, and sometimes the returns are questionable). Savings interest is counted at the end of each month, as are spending on household bills and gasoline.
4. Gift cards count as neither earning nor spending.
5. Money spent earning rebates, mystery shopping, etc, must be counted as spending, and fit in the actual budget. When the reimbursement comes, that counts as earning.

The biggest lesson I learned last year was that I have to work. I had some idea in my head that I would be able to make it primarily from online earnings (GPT offers and some article submissions), and so spent the first couple weeks lounging, and getting further and further behind, confident that when things came through, I'd be okay. This year, I'm working right from the start, and if more money comes in later, all for the better, but it's easier to keep up than to catch up.

Week 1:

Break even number $245

Over budget groceries +$35 (We have company this week)
Over budget eating out +$12
Unplanned entertainment+$42 (We went to a museum)

Part time earnings -$290
Revolution Money exchange check -$42.50
Deal Barbie Payout -$45

Which puts me $43.50 ahead so far. Don't know if that rate is sustainable, but I feel pretty good about it right now.