My 2016 Budget Challenge: Three Lessons About Saving One Husband Learned in a Year

[Editor's Note: This is another episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 this year. Read the whole series here.]

Oh. My. God. Mr. Spendypants has been pretending not to read my Wise Bread articles all this time. How do I know this? It's only recently that he's become suspiciously competitive with me about my monthly savings. "I'm putting $1,000 a month into savings. How much are you saving?" And, just this morning he demanded, "Why isn't my name Mr. Saveypants?"

He is so busted.

To be fair to my husband, who had no clue what he was signing onto when I told him I was going to publicly out our personal finances to the world for 12 straight months with this series, he's been an excellent student of thrift this year.

Here are some of the big lessons that he's learned.

Stock Up on Basics When They Go on Sale

At the beginning of the year, I bought 33 pounds of Plugra, a fancy French butter, on sale. At $2 per pound it was cheaper than buying the generic store brand. Although Mr. Spendypants has been enjoying a superior butter experience all year long, he's feigned annoyance at how much freezer space is taken up by my Plugra stash. He uses this as an example of my minimalist hypocrisy. After all, how can anyone who complains about clutter as much as I do think bulk purchasing is an acceptable idea?

But recently, Mr. Spendypants had a change of heart. Earlier this month, we were in Whole Paycheck (our nearest purveyor of bulk dry goods) stocking up on pantry basics, when we discovered a huge sale on fair trade soap. Alaffia soap normally sells for $7.99 per bar on Amazon. Whole Foods was selling it that weekend for $1 per five-ounce bar. At that price, it was cheaper than buying soap with a coupon at our local grocery store.

After a ton of haggling, Mr. Spendypants agreed to buy two cases of soap, or 72 bars, for $72. "Soap doesn't spoil. I think we should buy more," I insisted as we waited to check out. No dice. I hauled my hard-won two cases, and only two cases, down to the car.

We were halfway home when Mr. Spendypants turned the car around. "How many cases of soap do you think we can fit in the house?" he asked. We returned to the store and bought another two cases of soap for a total of 144 bars for $144.

Yesterday Mr. Spendypants announced that we use five bars of soap per month. He's been keeping track of our soap usage in his personal calendar. According to his projections, we have 26 more months to find another soap deal.

Woah. Tracking soap usage is some next level thriftiness.

Compound Your Savings

Before I forced this experiment on him, my husband had never tracked his luxury spending. Mr. Spendypants considered whatever sum was left over at the end of every month after putting money into the retirement fund and paying the bills to be play money. His financial thinking went something like this: "Save money on butter? Great! Now I can buy more board games!" It was impossible to convince him that banking all the small savings throughout the month could lead to great wealth, even though I am a living success story of compound savings.

In an effort to help me make my goal of finding an extra $31,000, Mr. Spendypants has been dutifully monitoring his spending and has been shocked by the results. Specifically, he's shocked that he hasn't felt any deprivation, even though he's been socking away an extra $1,000 or so each month instead of toy shopping. He's now on my case about compound saving next year so we can afford to take a trip to Easter Island in 16 months for his 50th birthday. Crap. He's already being such a nag about it, too. What have I done?

Out of Time? Losing Things? Perhaps You Have Too Much Stuff

My husband is one of those people who believe that the house would look less cluttered if he could only find the right storage container. I can't tell you how many hours he's wasted rearranging the Island of Misfit Tools A.K.A. our garage.

In the meantime, he's constantly misplacing his keys, his wallet, his sunglasses, and his cell phone. You know, all those things you actually need for your life to work smoothly. If only he had the right system in place, then he would never forget his lunch, his keys, his wallet, his phone, or his sunglasses on the kitchen counter.

I have the perfect system for never losing the things I need to make my life work. It's called a purse.

But back to the 10 pounds of crap in a five-pound bag situation in our house…

I am not sure which lost key/phone/prescription glasses event precipitated the change of heart in Mr. Spendypants, but he finally bought a "satchel" (purse). More importantly, he's started sorting through his things looking for stuff to sell for money.

In the last month he's moved 10 boxes of potential merchandise out of his office and into the garage. He can't believe how much more productive he's been since he downsized. Hmmm…it's almost like taking care of all that extra stuff was taking up tons of time. It's like ownership is a job in itself.

Progress So Far

Mr. Spendypants made an extra $1,000 DJing a party, but we used $745 of that money to fund our Thanksgiving trip home to visit the Spendypants relatives. So he came out $255 ahead.

In addition to making $715 from writing gigs, I started selling everything that's not nailed down in our house. I managed to sell $55.76 worth of vintage hardware on Etsy, $122.49 worth of Tupperware (I used to be a Tupperware Lady) at a friend's house party, and $20 in books to my local used bookstore. At the end of this pay period I was able to pay down our home equity line of credit by $913.25.

Goal: $31,000

Amount Raised: $26,387.42

Amount Spent: $13,598.66

Amount Left to Go: $18,211.24

Like this artice? Pin it!


My 2016 Budget Challenge: Three Lessons About Saving One Husband Learned in a Year

Average: 3.8 (5 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to