Closing Ceremonies for “Save $100 This Week” Challenge

Many people clicked “like” on the simplistic yet powerful challenge called Save $100 this Week.

Did YOU do the challenge? I did, and now I’ve got more than $100 extra compared to what I would otherwise have.

You DO know you have to actually do this stuff if you want to become wealthy, don’t you? As much as I love you reading every day, you won’t get much richer with only that level of commitment.

To finish up reporting the MMM family results, we had $91 saved in the first five days, then:
Tuesday: Bike Miles: 6, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $0. Challenge savings: $10 for skipped car trips.
Wednesday: Bike Miles 4, Car Miles: 40 (ouch! wife drove to another town for a lady party, I drove my construction van around town to do a bit of actual paid work). Spending: $38 on groceries.
Week Total: Bike Miles: 45, Car Miles: 40, Spending: $187,
Challenge Savings: $101

Not Bad! If I were to keep this challenge going permanently, I’d end up about $76,800 richer after ten years. I probably will keep some of the changes I learned this week , because as with every challenge, you actually learn unexpected things as you go through it.

Now what do we do with the $100 we saved?  If you have any debt, make a point of paying an extra $100 towards your highest interest balance, and do it quickly, before you get around to spending the hundred on something else!

For me, being recently mortgage-free, I can ‘stash it back into the handy Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX) where it will grow and pay dividends for the rest of my life. By the time I die at age 104, these 100 little employees will have contributed about $10,000 of income to me, even after adjusting for inflation, in the form of growth and dividends.

Sweet? Yeah, sweeter than just burning through another $100 tank of gas!

The NEXT challenge, coming tomorrow morning, will take it up a level. Actually about eighty nine levels, if you consider the levels to be measured in linear steps, because the prize for this challenge is nine thousand dollars!

Tune in tomorrow baby.


  • herbert salisbury May 6, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Yo MMM!

    I had a pretty good week, lots of $0 days, no beers at lunch, most meals cooked at home. Cycling to work. $2 fish tacos. I must have saved over $300, as I could have eaten several $30 meals a day, but didn’t. The math for calculating savings is a little subjective…

    A few competitive friends have initiated another challenge, and I have decided to participate:

    Who can live on $200 a week?

    The rules are simple, to keep it easy for the participants: each Sunday make sure we have exactly $200 in our wallets.* Pay cash for everything. See how much you have left at the end of the week. Groceries, transportation, restaurants, movies, concerts, booze, drugs, videogames, clothes, hardware, dates, whatever. Bills are out of the equation.

    It’s an elimination challenge, best cheapskate wins.

    They did make room for an occasional “luxury exemption” for things like vacations, which I hope does not get abused.

    For the hardcore frugalists, $200 should be a breeze. For my decadent urban friends, this will be a true test of wills. I’ll keep you posted.


    *I realize that paying cash is inefficient compared to using a dividend card, but the spirit of the challenge demands keeping the accounting simple. These are an honest bunch, and cheating is unlikely.

    • MMM May 6, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Congratulations H. S.!

      You are right that savings are a bit subjective, but still pretty easy to figure out if you actually CATCH yourself craving a big splurge and then hold back because it’s challenge week. This Catching motion is what Mr. Money Mustache wants to burn into people’s subconscious minds. Because until you’re retired, it should ALWAYS be a Challenge Week to a certain extent.

      Also, your own $200 challenge sounds like a GREAT one for city folks like yourself. As an upcoming article will explore, much of our modern spending is caused by peer and family pressure ($20,000 weddings, happy hour at a bar instead of someone’s house, etc.). If your friends are actually in on the game, it’s a Mustachian Party for all!. $200 would feel like crazy spending for me, since I eat $50 of groceries and that’s about it, unless it happens to be one of the years when I buy a new pair of pants. But you gotta start somewhere :-)

  • Happy clam May 25, 2011, 9:16 am

    We’re budgeting $600 a month for 2 people for everything that is not rent or savings. With that we can shop for organic groceries and go out for dinner once a month and buy some drinks too.
    Sure, you can spend less on food, but it’s a matter of priorities.
    The challenge for us is everyday when we get home tired after work, to actually cook a quick meal instead of ordering takeout. But then, takeout is not an option because I hate everything about it (crappy taste, greasy, salty, full of empty calories). So i cook. and the stach grows.

  • Happy clam May 25, 2011, 9:17 am

    … and yes, that includes utilities too..

    • MMM May 25, 2011, 8:48 pm

      Very impressive! I still have a few frugality tricks to learn myself, it seems. Are these US figures or another country?

      • Happy clam May 26, 2011, 8:11 am

        We live in the US, in a very, very expensive area at the East coast.
        It took me a while to figure out the system (where can I get the best groceries for my money), and we don’t eat a lot of meat which saves $$ big time.
        Frugality is vital for living here, as I am neither willing to compromise our savings rate nor sleep in the car.
        Luckily we’re moving soon, so I expect to be able to save a lot more then.

  • Laura October 2, 2012, 7:20 am

    Question: how do you reconcile your earth-loving tendencies (which I share) with investment in the Vanguard Fund, which includes hard-core polluters such as Chevron and Exxon, hard-core animal testers like Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble, and general corporate ne’er-do-wells like Walmart (think “dead peasants” insurance, for a start) and McDonald’s (where to begin?). I’m not saying we have to be perfect, just that I’m struggling with that one.

  • SUSIEM April 4, 2015, 6:07 pm

    i don’t know if you would recommend this strategy but it is working for us. Our house was not appreciating in value, so we took out a line of credit and invested the money into a diversified mix of mutual funds. The interest rate is low and we have no other debt, so we are using this as a forced savings vehicle. This will allow us to retire at an earlier age than if we just added the money to the mutual funds as we saved it. The interest is also tax deductible. We have a 10-15 yr time horizon so we are not worried about market fluctuations. It’s called leveraged investing and disciplined people can use it to their advantage.

  • Ryan May 10, 2015, 8:11 pm

    Dear MMM,

    Well, I’m way late to the party, but I discovered your site yesterday and have been reading (& sharing with my sweetie) quite a bit this weekend. We’ve decided to take on the Save $100 This Week challenge and started today by convincing our friends to come out to our shared garden to finish planting instead of meeting at the bar.

    Thanks so much for spreading the good cheer, wisdom, and wise-cracks. It’s humbling (but not demoralizing) to realize I only have a few wisps of money mustache hair sprouting right now, but with perseverance it will come! I’m 33 and used to think that either a) I’d never have much money or b) I’d never have much control of it even if I did have some. Now I’m realizing (remembering, really) the power of living deliberately. Thank you!

  • G-Dub June 22, 2016, 2:09 pm

    Why VFINX and not VTSAX? SAX has a lower expense ratio. In general the range of choices at Vanguard are a bit complex – how about a mini tutorial on Vanguard for a future article? I think I have it pretty much figured out but I’d like to see your reasoning. I also recently added VTMGX to mix things up a bit.

  • Val September 10, 2016, 6:03 pm

    I am new to the MMM blog, but I am quickly devouring your posts as it has made me remember that I 1) dislike being a member of the Rat Race, and, 2) dislike having any kind of debt as it makes you feel leashed and muzzled to #1.

    At the end of April, I decided to give up Netflix (played on my laptop from 2006 – still chugging along!) in order to pursue more enriching activities like hiking after work or getting back into being the avid reader I know I am.

    After reading a few of your posts about car costs, I also walked my ass down to the bike shop and repaired the flat I’ve been using as an excuse to not ride into work. I moved to Boulder for the sole purpose of not commuting by car into work. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 11, 2016, 10:25 am

      Nice work, Val!

      Your story about biking vs driving in Boulder (over the issue of a flat tire, no less – I have to fix a couple of those in my household every week!) was particularly harrowing. Just because driving in Boulder is Hell on Earth, while biking in that town is an absolute dream. Exactly the way the town planners intended it to be – they let the roads sit at maximum capacity instead of bulldozing properties to expand them, and instead they just keep improving the walking/bike paths.

      It’s the best urban planning I’ve ever seen in the US, and I think the results show in the health and wealth of the residents, and how much people are willing to pay to live there.


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