Work/Life Balance

How 23 TFD Readers Saved An Emergency Fund, Paid Off Thousands, Read 50 Books, & More In 2019

By | Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I have personally always loved New Year’s Resolutions. Making a big life change based around a specific calendar date is, of course, arbitrary, but I find comfort in organizing my life that way. That doesn’t mean that I’ve only ever reached big goals or adopted better habits by making promises to myself during the month of January, but January already offers the idea of a clean-ish slate — and a lot of time on your hands after the holidays.

This year, I saved several thousand dollars to cover wedding-related costs, taken more than 150 exercise classes, and read 25 books — more than twice what I read last year! But the way I accomplished all of this is rather boring. I simply started using a paper planner and tracking my progress for everything. It’s very old-school and not at all “life-hack”-y — but it works.

Since we’re heading into a new year (tomorrow!), I wanted to see the boring-but-effective ways others reached their goals in 2019. I reached out to the greater TFD community on Twitter to hear how they reached their financial and savings goals in the past year. Hopefully, one of them resonates with you and helps set the tone for your 2020. Or, if you’re not big on resolutions, you can refer back to this list when you do need motivation to work towards a goal. Enjoy!

1. “Setting up multiple bank accounts at SEPARATE banks; Various direct deposits to said banks; Chase now has a ‘savings rule’ function, and setting that up greatly helped. I.e. ‘For every cash deposit over X into checking, $$ goes to every savings account’ etc.” – Taryn

2. “Spreadsheets. So many spreadsheets. I have a spreadsheet for my savings goals, my baking goals, my fitness goals, you name it. I also use Goodreads obsessively to track everything I read. I hit my 50-book goal for this year in August!” – Maggie

3. “Multiple bank accounts!

  • general checking (everyday expenses)
  • separate checking (personal bills and automatic payments)
  • joint account with SO (rent and utilities)
  • savings 1 (emergency and long term goals)
  • savings 2 (short term things like weddings)

Also paying myself first. Before any $ from my paychecks can be spent $X goes into separate savings/checking accounts, and 80% of each work bonus goes into paying down debts like credit cards and my car.” – Sydney

4. “I had to create a vision board for a class that I thought was SO dumb at the time, but actually forced me to think about big long term plans!” – Hailey

5. “Making a list of goals each month, keeping a physical diary with notes of any deadlines, and creating a vision board to keep referring back to (which was not so boring, actually, but very effective).” – Beth

6. “Becoming a YNAB zealot & having weekly budget meetings with my partner!” – Haley

7. “Post-it notes on my closet door (the door has 3 vertical panels). Start each month with 3 small goals written on post-its and put in the middle panel of the door. Once each was achieved, I moved it from the middle panel to the top. Mostly micro-goals leading towards something bigger. I liked that it was so visual and keeping smaller goals made it way easier to actually chip away at larger projects.” – Katie

8. “1. Multiple bank accounts
2. Side hustling!!!
3. Paying myself first
4. Telling my SO my money goals to help hold myself accountable.” – Briana

9. “Adding a percent to retirement at New Years; starting a new job/promotion with automating savings.” – Maire

10. “Putting half of my allowance to an investment account on the 1st of every month. That way, I only spend what I have. I reached my savings goal this year in November.” – Aiem

11. “Bought a coffee machine, which seems silly but when my partner and I moved we suddenly had enough counter space to keep one, and now I save $14/week on coffee.” – Tarisa

12. “1. Tracking spending in a detailed spreadsheet & analyzing it.
2. Saving all $5 notes & coins. Saved $1800 in 10 months.
3. Setting regular challenges throughout the year e.g. no clothes shopping/no buying packaged junk food.
4. Watching lots of YouTube videos.” – Nina

13. “Having a budget and tracking my spending, so the money doesn’t disappear. Helped me reach my goal of a fully-funded emergency fund this year.” – Carina

14. “A spreadsheet and Goodreads for my reading goals (I’m at 122 and my goal was 100 books this year). I moved one biweekly paycheck into savings each month, upped my monthly auto-draft payment, and made one-time bulk payments toward my student loans (paid off ~$11k in 6 months!).” – Katie

15. “1. Budget tracking by hand, every weekend after I get paid.
2. Bear focus timer app for getting shit done.
3. LOTS of Yo-Yo Ma on loop.” – Drea

16. “One goal last January was to save my change (mainly loonies and toonies) for an entire year to use towards a vacation. I’ve saved $2,100 CAD so far with a few weeks to go. Saving my change was boring! But an effective way for me to have a nice vacation this February without using credit.” – Jay

17. “I tell Siri to remind me of things all the time. I became more productive and also more relaxed by having the reminder in my phone instead of ‘holding’ the thought in my head.” – CelePé

18. “To-do lists! I keep putting off simple, yet important, tasks and this helped me remember what I needed to do that I haven’t for months. AKA: rollover my 401k from my old job, find a new dentist close to my new apartment, transfer my records to my new doctor…” – Sam

19. “Mine is very lame but when I was working on my school thesis I would keep a foil of my favorite flavored tea in front of my desk as a reward and I’ll only take the tea after I completed a certain amount of work…most times I forget to take the tea.” – Edwin

20. “Focusing on monthly goals instead of yearly goals!” – SM

21. “SLACK. BOT. For all of the work things that require ‘monitoring’ or ‘keeping an eye out’ i.e. when my boss tasks me to remember something so she doesn’t have to. I’m my boss’s Alexa. And speaking of Alexa, she saves my life.” – Lexy

22. “In my notes app where I track my monthly budget/expenses I literally wrote ‘no more fucking clothes.’ Lol it’s honestly helped.” – Khali

23. “Marking down workouts as any other activity. looked at my agenda beginning of the week, wrote ‘gym’ in three empty spots and voila! I got into the habit.” – Beverly


Here’s to a joyful and productive 2020, everyone!

Image via Unsplash

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