My Personal Finance Journey

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2004 Savings Scorecard

Contributed by mm | January 3, 2005 10:37 PM PST

If you follow PFBlog since 2003, you know a common denominator between my 2003 goals and 2004 goals is how much I saved. When it comes to savings, I am not talking about $3 I kept by skipping a lunch. To be more exact, eligibile savings should pass four tests before it can make its way to my saving scorecard.

These four tests are:

1. It must be a result of my proactive and conscious actions. For example, automatic discount from stores and insurers does not count.

2. It must be saved from the previous year's base.

3. It must not rely on other people's efforts. In other words, my nominal income from the per-per-click ads at PFBlog does not count.

4. The amount of savings should be clearly quantifiable.

Savings can show up in two forms: "cost avoidance" represents my efforts to reduce my cost structure from daily spend, and "additional income" represents proactive work to get additional income through certain deals. For the latter, I only count the extra money that already shows up in my bank accounts.

As you might recall, in 2003, I saved $752 from various sources. Today I am happy to report in 2004, my eligible savings add up to $1,545, 93% over my original 2004 goal and 55% over my stretch goal:

# Saving Initiative    2004 Realized Savings 
Cost Avoidance
1 Switch to Virgin Mobile    $           71
2 NWA Free Magazine    $           50
3 Vonage Low Price Plan    $          (45)
4 Downgrade Cable TV    $         198
5 Stop USAToday Subscription    $         117
  Subtotal  $        391
Additional Income
6 CitiBank Credit Protector    $           85
7 BankOne Credit Protection Signup    $           20
8 MBNA AAA Credit Card Signup    $           30
9 Discover 0% APR Offer    $           45
10 VirtualBank/ING Direct Additional Interest    $           25
11 E*Trade Promotion    $         315
12 Credit Card Rebate    $         634
    Last Year's Baseline  $        (170)  
    Dividend Platinum Select Card  $         264  
    MBNA WorldPoints  $         200  
    MBNA Fidelity Rewards  $           90  
    MBNA Cashback  $         225  
    Sharebuilder  $           25  
  Subtotal  $      1,154
Total      $      1,545
  % of 2004 Goal = $800   193.1%
  % of 2004 Stretch Goal = $1,000   154.5%

As you can clearly see from the summary table, the 2004 results include $391 from cost avoidance as I am slashing my expenses on cell phone, magazines, cable plan and newspaper. A little misfortune: my trial to cut further my phone expense backfired.

The other part of the savings is $1,154 additional income from various promotions and deals. The year of 2004 saw many aggressive promotions, like the $175 bonus for E*Trade checking account, 10%-off MBNA Cashback card, 5%/1% cashback from my favorite Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card, and Citi's generous offer of $150 rebate checks and $15 enrollment bonus for its Credit Protector program. In addition, I was able to double up some offers by using my wife's identity.

How much time does it take for me to get the $1,500-plus savings in 2004? I would say it is less than 20 hours (my time to report those deals at PFBlog not included). The $75/hour payoff is certainly juicy, isn't it?

This Post Has Received 1 Comment. Share Your Opinions Too.


Debbie Commented on September 5, 2005

Interesting. You could also distinguish between one-time savings, like when you get a bonus for something, and continuing savings, like when you downgrade a service. It's not perfect because sometimes changing you plans to get a bonus means you get offers for other bonuses, and sometimes your continuing savings change over time. Still, you should get extra credit for some kinds of savings.


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