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$1,000 in 30 days

“Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon, and the gift is yours.” ~ Noela Evans

Whenever you challenge yourself, I suspect there are immeasurable and unexpected consequences (both good and bad) that have the ability to change your life. Those changes are your gift. Thank you, Dragon!

This past summer, I challenged myself to complete Ragbrai – a 471-mile bike ride across Iowa – and, without a clue as to what I was doing, I managed to live through it, love it … and plan to do it again.  

That got me thinking – what other challenge could I attempt that’s bigger? How can I possibly top that?

After much consideration though, I realized it wasn’t about topping it. It wasn’t the 471 miles that made it so challenging. Well, it was … but there was more to it. It was everything I learned along the way, both in training and during the ride, that taught me about who I really am and what I’m capable of. I don’t have to top that experience to continue to grow … I just have to keep challenging myself.

That got me thinking further … usually a pretty dangerous endeavor. I started thinking about habits, and ones I should have. I realized there were quite a few! I’ve heard that a habit is formed in 30 days. So, armed with my list of desired habits, my 30-day theory and my love of writing … this blog was born!

Each month, I will tackle a new 30-day challenge in an attempt to improve my life and the lives of my children. They are thrilled. I’m going to cover it all and share my experiences in this blog, “Taming the Dragon.”

Who am I, and why do you care about my challenges? I’d like to think that I’m just like everyone else, the only difference being an unexplainable desire to share the ridiculous stories of my life with those around me so we can all have a good laugh. I don’t pretend to be perfect – trust me when I say my family will agree with that conclusion. I am a single, working mom. I have two boys, a dog, two guinea pigs and I spend my time juggling most of the same things you do … school, practices and homework. I referee intense rounds of “Who started it?” “He hit me first!” and, “I wish I had a sister instead!”   Add to that an ex-husband, bills, the fact that I live with my mother (of which I am thankful) and that I attempt to get out every now and then, and you know it’s crazy.  

So, where do I start? Money seemed like a good place. Quite frankly, there is probably no one less qualified to offer financial advice than me. In fact, I can’t think of anything I am less qualified to talk about, except maybe dating, which is a whole other story. Regardless, that’s what makes it seem like the perfect first challenge in my habit improvement project.

After scouring the Internet, I ran across a program “guaranteed” to help me save $1,000 in 30 days. It’s not meant to be something that can be done every month necessarily, but can be used to kick-start that emergency fund that we hear so much about and really should have.

Some of the tips offered are pretty reasonable, and if I stick to them I think I can get pretty close. Some I’ve already done … so I may end up trying to squeeze water from a rock … it’s just not there.

How on earth am I going to save $1,000? That my friends, is the question of the month!

Here is my November Challenge: Save $1000 in 30 days.

Wish me luck! And check back for updates on how I’m doing.

To Do List : $1,000 in 30 days – Week 1
• Open a savings account (for all that money I’m going to save)
• Place 10 items up for sale using the classifieds, craigslist, eBay etc.
• STOP eating lunch out  
• Get a second job

Week 2
• Try to use one less tank of gas over the course of the month
• Negotiate lower car insurance
• Make coffee at home
• Turn my credit card points in for gift cards
• Empty and cancel my storage (and find somewhere else to store all that stuff)

• Meredith Schaefer is a mother of two boys, a dog and two guinea pigs who works hard to juggle all aspects of her life. She has decided to take on a monthly challenge in the pursuit of becoming a stronger, smarter, healthier and more well-balanced woman. She will share her experiences in this blog.