Savings Challenge – January Results

 January ResultsRight then…

This is one of the most exciting articles that I’ve had the opportunity to write since starting Moneystepper, so I hope you enjoy it! Apologies in advance for its length. If you want the quick version, then I recommend that you come back on Friday and listen to the podcast as I’ll try to be a bit briefer there.

Today is the first edition of the Moneystepper Savings Challenge results. We currently have 43 participants, each of whom I have started to get to know and each person has already helped me personally in my motivation to smash my goals in 2015. So, first of all, thanks for that.

Thank You


What did I get up to in January?

The first thing you’ll have to do in this article is read about me. A few paragraphs of self-indulgence. If you don’t care, that is completely understandable. You probably won’t be the only one. However, I created this challenge and am taking the time to run it because it allows me a huge level of accountability in my own finances and achieving my goals.

If you do want to skip ahead, just go to the next sub-title to see how you and your other colleagues did.

So, what did I get up to in January?

Well, I’m currently back in France. After 2 years working as an accountant in Marseille, I’m now spending a few weeks in Montpellier performing some freelance consulting work for a service delivery centre for the same accounting firm.

Originally, I planned to be here for 4 weeks in January, but we decided to prolong my contract until late February which seems to be good for both parties.

From an income perspective, this has been good for Moneystepper, but equally has come with some increased expenditure for a weekend skiing with some old friends from Marseille and general living expenses whilst I am here:

 Ski Trip

In fact, in the interest of transparency, the income/expenses related to my work actually go through Moneysteppper Ltd, my business, and hence these aren’t immediately reflected in my personal finances. Instead, when the business pays me a salary or dividend, this has the impact on my personal income.

And this brings us nicely to my January results:

Net Worth Goal Pro-Rata (Total) = 2.08% (25%)
access 2013 sales Net Worth Result = 2.43%

Savings Rate Goal = 30%
Savings Rate Result =  -97%

That’s right…negative savings rate of 97%.

To understand this, its important to look at my actual figures. In January, my income was £663 (paid from Moneystepper as a salary) and my expenses were £1,304. This means that my savings were a negative £640, leading to the negative savings rate of 97%.

However, in reality, the business income was much higher and this will be balanced out later in the year when I make a dividend payment from the business to myself. Its strange having two accounting entities (myself and my business), but this is how my limited company is structured and therefore my monthly results will inevitably jump around a little.

Therefore, my overall numbers at a glance aren’t that representative of my position. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t telling me anything. What do I take away from them? Well….

  • My expenses for the month of £1,304 were high. My average expenses tend to be around £1,000 a month so I need to understand why this was the case in the month. Well, a lot of the expenditure was towards our upcoming wedding and honeymoon in May 2015, and so this was fairly expected. If I strip that out, I was actually slightly under my average spending for expenses which was pleasing.
  • Despite having to take £640 out of my savings to cover my expenses for the month, my net worth for the month actually increase by around 2.5%, which was a healthy17% ahead of my pro-rata target. This was mainly due to increases in the UK and European stock markets in the month.

I don’t want to dwell too much over the short-term, and I wouldn’t suggest you do either. However, it’s important to check that our attitudes and behaviour is in line with what we would want. And for me, I am confident it is at this stage.

Right, enough about me, what about you?


Moneystepper Savings Challenge January Results Summary

Well, you guys certainly did pretty good as a group in January. We currently have 43 people in the challenge, which can be broken down as follows:

  • Net Worth result ABOVE goal and Savings Rate result ABOVE goal => 14 people
  • Net Worth result ABOVE goal and Savings Rate result BELOW goal => 10 people
  • Net Worth result BELOW goal and Savings Rate result ABOVE goal => 2 people
  • Net Worth result BELOW goal and Savings Rate result BELOW goal => 9 people
  • Not submitted => 8 people

First of all, it’s awesome at this stage that we have the modal group being both results being above the goal. Way to go!!

This is even more impressive than it might appear at first glance, primarily because we also need to consider the compounding vs pro rata effect here.

To measure the net worth goal, I have measured you all against 1/12 of your annual target.

However, let’s imagine the example where you have £100,000 net worth and you are aiming to increase it by 60% to £150,000.

We would suggest that the individual needs to increase by £60,000 / 12 = £5,000 each month to be on target. However, £5,000 in month one is 5% of their current net worth (£100,000), but its only 3.2% of their net worth in month twelve when their net worth will be £155,000.

Too many numbers, I know, but effectively it’s expected that everyone will actually be a little bit behind a standard pro-rata in the early months and tend to catch up towards the end of the challenge.

Therefore, 26/35 people who submitted to be ahead in at least one of their goals is pretty cool!

What else?

The average net worth increase in the month of January for people who submitted their results was 3.6%. Given that US markets feel by around 3.5-4% in the month, that’s a mightily impressive number.

Equally, the average savings rate for all participants who submitted their results was 35%. Again, let’s compare that to the suggested “save 10% of your income” advice and it’s clear that you guys are killing it!

Right, enough with the generalisations, let’s get personal…


Moneystepper Savings Challenge January Results Detail

Drumroll please…

Below you will find the results for each group with a very brief comment by myself. If you are not happy with the comments, please send me an email and I can change / delete then…

PS – when you make your submissions, the comments you add really help. Please carry on adding them!!

PPS – I would love it if you could give me your opinion on the question we pose for Greg in Group M…



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Chonce My Debt Epiphany 3.3 0.95 -72% 40 29 -28%
Henny Financial Freedom 30ish 1.7 NS NS 50 NS NS
Heather Anderson 5000 NS NS 1 NS NS

Two non-submissions – Boooooo!!

Choncé – Tough month due to unexpected car repairs led to lower savings rate and net worth. However, having an emergency fund in place ensured that this didn’t ruin the finances and Choncé will come back fighting even stronger in February!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
C The Single Dollar 12.5 10.9 -13% 50 47 -6%
Vanessa 25 11.7 -53% 50 35.9 -28%

C – Poor performance in the markets together with buying plane tickets for a trip in March put C slightly behind her goals. However, in her own words, she’s “looking forward to really kicking it in February :)”. That’s the spirit!

Vanessa – Paid tuition fees for a course that she is taking this year. This led to lower than anticipated net worth and savings rate in the month, but should very much be seen as an investment for the future!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
James M 2.1 NS NS 10 NS NS
Ryan Debt Free Hustle 8.3 7.9 -5% 10 0.7 -93%
Femi 0.8 NS NS 0 NS NS

Two more non-submissions – Oh, the shame…

Ryan – I’ve been in contact with Ryan regarding his savings rate result as I’m not 100% sure it’s correctly measured. However, a nice juicy 8% increase in net worth for the month is pretty awesome going. After his interview on the podcast, I’m pretty confident that Ryan will become debt free by the time this challenge is over!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Nigel W 0.7 1.9 +185% 47 55 +64%
Jeany B 0.7 0.37 -45% 35 32 -9%
Dan T 0.5 0.1 -80% 10 36 +260%
Michael Smith 0.4 1.37 +229% 60 58 -3%

Boom! Four from four submitted…

Nigel W – He is ripping it up! An increase in pension contributions, more aggressive saving and favourable market conditions in the UK have helped him make a very impressive start to the year.

Jeany B – Slightly behind on both goals, but given the observation above regarding the pro-rata measurement, nothing to worry about in the short-term. Bring on Feb!!

Dan T – Short term variation at its best. Great savings rate for the month, but this could not match the drop in the US markets, meaning that the net worth was slightly behind the goal. Nothing to worry about in the short-term.

Michael Smith – And the opposite short-term variation for Michael. A tasty stock market in the UK helped Michael (as it did myself) to a nice net worth boost. Whilst the savings rate is slightly behind target, a savings rate of 58% is certainly nothing to be criticised!!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Cath Dyson 0.8 0.2 -77% 56 57 +2%
Denise 0.4 NS NS 50 NS NS
Shane McGee 1.0 NS NS 40 NS NS
Dan Clift 0.6 2.0 +263% 44 41 -7%
Kylie 0.8 0.0 +0% 60 70 +17%

Two more non-submissions – Quel dommage…!

Cath Dyson – Similar to Dan T from Group D I assume. Good savings rate in the month, but net worth hit by market conditions in the US.

Dan Clift – Smasher. Almost a third of the way to achieving his annual net worth goal. Savings rate was behind target, but there’s plenty of time to pick that up.

Kylie – Only started the challenge in very late Feb, so no net worth change. However, an above target, and a mightily impressive 70% savings rate for the month. Nice work!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Vawt  Early Retirement Ahead 2.5 1.9 -24% 65 63 -3%
Mr. Captain Cash Mr. Captain Cash 2.9 9.2 +215% 80 92 +15%
Mrs. Maroon  Mixing Maroons 2.1 2.3 +12% 55 62 +13%
Tim Wharteley 0.8 NS NS 92 NS NS

Well played Mrs. Maroon. Those who listened to the Chad Vawter podcast episode will know that this group was renamed from Group F to Group Freedom and I chuckle everytime I see it.

Vawt – As explained on the podcast, some unexpected medical bills put Chad a little behind his goals, but an upcoming tax rebate should help with the net worth.

Mr Captain Cash – Yep, you read it right. 92% savings rate. Its possible people. MCC made a great start to the challenge in both his net worth and savings rate. Just look what impact being on the podcast can have on your results!! 😉

Mrs. Maroon – Consistently solid. 12% ahead of net worth goal and 13% ahead of savings rate. Variance? What variance? 🙂

Tim Wharteley – Tim only joined the challenge in early February so we are not expecting his submissions until the end of Feb. Welcome to the community Tim!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Amanda 6.3 NS NS 60 NS NS
Ginger 4.2 NS NS 40 NS NS

Two non-submissions out of two. Group G – you get the January wooden spoon!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Richard  Extreme Compounding  0.8 10.41 +1149% 10 14 +40%
Pete Matthew  Meaningful Money 1.3 6.6 +428% 15 15 +0%
Matt Sommer  Humble Broker 3.3 9.5 +185% 10 0 -100%
Elle Martinez   Couple Money 2.1 2.5 +20% 15 8 -47%

Another four from four submissions. Not only that, but all of your exceeded your net worth target. Good work Group H!!

Richard – Annual goal already completed!! However, Richard did note in his comments that January was a strange month due to extra side income, 3 paychecks, house price valuation increase, etc etc. I think we may be re-evaluating Richard’s goals upwards later in the year if he carries on like this!

Pete Matthew – A dividend payment from his business helped this to be a great one-off month. Similar situation to myself in this regard, but January was his one-off great month. Now for the challenge of keeping that ball rolling…

Matt Sommer – Savings rate flat lined due to prepaid trip for March, but increase in house price valuation moved Matt nicely along the road to achieving his net worth goal.

Elle Martinez – aka New Mummy Martinez!!! 😉 Congratulations to Elle and her family on the arrival of her second daughter in January. Having a net worth increase above your goal in the month of a new arrival is remarkable work. Talk about being committed to the challenge, hey?!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Tom 1.7 2.4 +44% 37 36 -3%
Graham Clark Moneystepper 2.1 2.4 +17% 30 -97 -423%
Thomas 1.7 3.5 +109% 33 55 +67%

Tom – Great start to the challenge from Tom, behind on track with his savings rate and a good way ahead of his net worth goal.

Graham – see above. Sorry guys for bringing our January averages down! One fairly embarrassing point for the month is that your Moneystepper Savings Challenge host was the ONLY person in January to have a negative savings rate (i.e. spent more than they earned). Leading by example and all that… 🙁

Thomas – Putting his Group I namesake Tom and myself to shame. Well ahead of target for both goals. Great month Thomas, well played sir, or as they say here in France (chapeau l’artist – hats off to the artist). He achieved such great results in the month through some side income. I’m not sure what the French is for “solid hustle my man”…!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Anna Jackson 0.8 2.3 +176% 25 44 +76%
Lynx Location FI 2.9 1.4 -51% 60 0 -423%
Emily Simple Cheap Mom 0.8 0.9 +6% 50 57 +14%

Anna Jackson – Another absolutely rocking performance. Much higher than anticipated in the goals, so we’ll maybe look to be stretching those goals after Q1 if she can keep up the good performance. No rest for the wicked, right?

Lynx – A “non-arrival” of a paycheck and rough US markets has got Lynx off to a shaky start (her words, not mine), but hopefully February should even things out.

Emily – Another fine example of consistency. These kind of results are my favourite. Well designed goals and over-performance against them is a fine recipe for success. Keep up the good work Emily!


Wow – there are quite a few groups aren’t there? I may find this tough to stay original by the end. Anyway, moving on…



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Mariane 2.5 5.9 +135% 40 48 +20%
Connie 2.9 1.0 -66% 40 5 -88%
Weenie Quietly Saving 1.7 2.0 +20% 50 49 -2%
Nicola 1.3 1.5 +18% 48 44 -8%

Its been ages since a non-submission hasn’t it? And you can count on Group K to not let me down…

Mariane – Good month with 3 paychecks and favourable stock market and currency fluctuations. That said, you don’t just get a 48% savings rate from currency fluctuations, so I think you are selling yourself a little short there Mariane. Good job!

Connie – A tough January for Connie after parting ways with a couple of freelance clients. However, as Connie recognised in her comments, these things happen as a freelancer, and being able to post a positive net worth increase and savings rate (even if they are behind your goals) is a pretty good achievement in the tough months. Chin up!

Weenie – A self-imposed and self-entitled “no social life” in January helped Weenie mend a lot of the damage done from the holidays and favourable market conditions led to the net worth gain. It’s nice (although sometimes hard) to find that balance between having a social life and smashing your goals so I hope you can find that in February and beyond Weenie.

Nicola – Nicola submitted the comment of “its ok”. I would say that beating your net worth goal by 18% in the month and achieving a savings rate of 44% is pretty good. Time to crack open some new superlatives Nic!! 🙂



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Philippa Malia 1.3 1.5 +20% 40 70 +75%
Chris Smith 1.7 1.3 -25% 40 32 -20%
Mr. Zombie  Finance Zombie 3.3 3.9 +16% 55 56 +2%
Anjali 3.3 NS NS 18 NS NS

Philippa Malia – my poor suffering fiancée. Forced into competing in the Moneystepper Savings Challenge and having to hear me ramble on about it all day every day! Despite that, she has managed an above target net worth increase and savings rate. I knew there was a reason I was marrying her! 😉

Chris Smith – Slightly behind target, but with the excellent excuse of having a little one on the way next month.

Mr Zombie – Solid. Paid some one-off professional fees in January, but still managed to exceed both his goals. Good job!

Anjali – a newcomer to the challenge and hence no results so far. However, she’s keen and raring to go to match all of your great work in January!



Name Website Net Worth Goal (Pro Rata) Net Worth January Result Net Worth YTD Comparison Savings Rate Goal Savings Rate January Result Savings Rate YTD Comparison
Joseph Hogue 0.6 1.5 +157% 15 10 -33%
Greg 0.0 1.7 +0% 16 -5 -131%
Jeanie Haupt 1.3 3.6 +184% 20 56 +180%

Joseph Hogue – A bit above in one goal, a bit below in the other. Short-term variance playing its part again for Joseph. I always prefer to be ahead in the net worth goal though as we generally have less opportunity to make that up in the later months. Good start Joe.

Greg – Results may be resubmitted due to a discussion on how to value a loan in the challenge. In fact, you can answer this in the comments for me guys. How would you account for a loan made to a family member in the short-term that you fully expect to be repaid? Personally, I would keep it in assets (change from cash to “family loan”) on a new line and it would have no impact on my savings rate for the month. What do you guys think?

Jeanie Haupt – Has Jeanie has help from her genie? Booooo. Hissssss. Sorry about that. However, it would appear so after she has rocked January to pieces. Again, keep on the good work and hopefully we can stretch those goals even further as the year progresses.


Et…..voilà. Well done everyone who has submitted their goals. Remember: consistently tracking and analysing your results is a big part of this challenge and therefore just by submitting your goals and monthly results you are progressing!


The February Challenge

What’s this?

A challenge within a challenge. Why, indeed…

You didn’t think I was going to let you get away with just tracking these two goals all year did you?

Each month, I’ll offer a “monthly challenge” for the whole group. When you submit your results at the end of the month, let me know how you got on against this challenge.

The monthly challenge for February is this:

“Earn some form of side income from a different source than you have in the previous 3 months”.

This can be anything and can be for any amount. I just want you all to try a new way of creating income. For some ideas, see the “earn money” section of the Moneystepper website, or perhaps you could give some others ideas in the comments below. I realise you only have 16 days left to achieve this income, so…you betta get hustlin’!!

In February’s results, we can let look at some ways people have “hustled” and that might drum up some ideas for ourselves.


What do you guys think?

I’ve had some feedback already from people in personal emails saying that they are finding the challenge useful and its helping them push towards achieving their goals and financial freedom. I love to hear this. Why? Because it’s the same for me. You are all helping push me on to better things. Thanks.

A quick apology that I’m two days late with the post, but I moved apartment at the weekend and have struggled to find an internet connection since, and a sprained ankle playing football on Tuesday night didn’t help. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should listen to your doctor when they tell you to consider not playing football because your tendons in your ankles are too weak. Aaaahhh, what do they know? One game won’t hurt…


It did.


I hope everyone is enjoying themselves and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a good February everyone and be sure to listen to (and of course review – one day I’ll stop asking) the podcast which should be released tomorrow (Friday).

Keep on climbing!!


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18 thoughts on “Savings Challenge – January Results

  1. Thanks for the interesting updates, in particular all the comments. I’m not sure I’m up for your February challenge but I’ll see what I can do. The way this month is going already, I might be struggling on my savings rate again!
    weenie recently posted…Premium BondsMy Profile

    • Wouldn’t a bit of side income help in that case? I’m not talking about starting a new business – but maybe just try something you’ve never done before. Swagbucks? Online surveys? Tutoring? Even cutting a neighbour’s grass or washing their car?! Even £1 or $1 income from a different source will be enough to succeed in the challenge…

  2. Graham,

    Nice touch on the comments, and glad to see Group F was renamed to Group Freedom.

    I agree with Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom that it really increases the value of the challenge. Keep the comments coming.

    I will accept your “challenge within a challenge.” For myself it will be interesting to find a way to make an extra side income. I’ll think of something though.
    Mr. Captain Cash recently posted…Vehicle Insurance To High? Increase Your Deductible!My Profile

    • Great stuff Robbie. I’m a bit jealous of Group Freedom! Maybe I’ll put in a mid-season transfer request!! 😉

      It was fun doing the comments and made me think about everyone’s situation more so, whilst it takes a little time, its certainly something I intend on doing every month.

      Can’t wait to see what people think up for the extra income challenge.

      Also, do you agree with Emily regarding Greg’s family loan situation?

  3. Challenge accepted, though by accident. My wife had a garage sale that I was giving her a hard time about because I didn’t think there was enough “stuff” to make it worth her time. She proved me wrong and cleared almost $600!

    I actually have a secret shopper gig tomorrow, too. I will not make much, but the point was to do something new. I signed up a while back, but have never actually taken an assignment yet.
    Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead recently posted…Financial Acumen Can Be LearnedMy Profile

  4. Hi Graham, sorry if this question has already been answered, I’ve listened to most the podcast episodes over the last two days and downloaded your spreadsheet and filled it in for me and the missus for January and I’m working on getting the family to all do it as well. I think its an amazing idea and thinking about finance with the understanding of a Net worth is completely new to me even though i thought i was quite money savvy…. and to the question… is it to late to join in this years challenge ?

    • Definitely not Shaun! Head over to the submissions page, submit your goals for the year and start submitting your results from the end of February. Never too late to get involved!!

      Thanks for your kind words!!

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