Dear 43 Things Users,

10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.

It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.

As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.

- The Robots.

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Katie L. is doing 22 things including…

spend less

7 cheers


Katie L. has written 10 entries about this goal

Spend less - eat down my larder

9 days to go and I’m already over my grocery budget!

I have been accumulating “cupboard food” like canned goods and dried stuff and “freezer food” including several large loaves of bread, frozen fish and packaged meals.

I’m going to try and limit my grocery bill for the rest of the month, severely restricting purchases to fresh produce and dairy alone, and see if I can keep my grocery bill from getting any higher. It’s time to “eat my larder down” anyway, since I don’t want stocks to get too old.

Start going to yard sales

I’m hoping that it will help curb my spending appetite, if I start looking for the things I need at garage and yard sales and some things I might like to have (or give as gifts) at estate sales.

Interest on Debt: A great place to spend less

Since 2000, when I re-entered the workplace after graduate school, I have paid nearly $34,000 in interest. This chart shows what I spent in interest, year by year, since 2000. The last bar is actually an estimate of what I’ll pay this year, through the end of December.

Now I pay about $40/per month in interest, about half of what I am currently taking in as interest on my savings.

My new red lines:

  • My 2% cashback account, used for all routine purchases (e.g. groceries, dry cleaners, pharmacy)
  • My 5% rebate account, used for gasoline
  • Automatic payment for all subscriptions
  • My long-term 3.99% interest and 0% interest loans

I am using discipline on these; all but the last one are paid within 30 days to avoid new interest.

Spend less -still a priority for me

This is one of the hardest things on my list. What this really means is that I have to consciously try to limit my spending. I track my Discretionary spending in Quicken and Excel and work to make each month lower than the one before.

Here what I track as Discretionary:

Entertainment & social dining
Postage unrelated to business (e.g. from online shopping)
Subscriptions including cable
Travel unrelated to business
Elective medical or health care

Plus over-allowance stuff:
Groceries over $250 (which is the amount I COULD live on if I didn’t buy expensive stuff)
Clothing over $100 (includes laundry, shoe repair, etc.)
Personal care over $70
Household over $70 (under that is maintenance)

I am not doing well for August. I decided I needed a new job-hunting outfit. Okay, it looks great. It was much better than the outfit I pieced together from my wardrobe of staples. Having worked in a casual environment for 9 years, I just didn’t have much to work with.

However, total spending for August will drop, a lot, because I paid taxes in June and July, and won’t pay anything again until September.

Less Red

I’ve been balancing out the accounts; moving towards a cash economy (or at least, a 30-day economy). There are now only 4 red lines:

  • My 2% cashback account, used for groceries and drugstore
  • My 5% rebate account, used for gasoline
  • Automatic payment for all subscriptions
  • My long-term 3.99% interest and 0% interest loans

And that’s it. Everything else is in the black.

I hope I can stick to this. My weakness: personal care stuff, like haircuts and color, pedicures, cosmetics; that kinda stuff. I’m jonesing for a good haircut…

Moving back to a cash economy

In order to really implement this in the next 30 days (which I am totally serious about) I am going to move back to paying for things from my debit card rather than from credit cards.

In the past, I’ve used cashback credit cards for routine expenses (mainly groceries and gas), which I will continue to do, for now.

Everything else, however, including stuff I’ve put on cards, but paid for as soon as the statement arrived (no interest on my books!) will now be paid for only when funds are already in the bank to cover them. Thus avoiding the temptation of spending more than I’m taking in.

One step, but a big one. I will avoid having big bills to pay in June. By July, I’ll be down to a minimalist economy.

Scaling back in May

I am facing imminent layoff, so I will be implementing immediate changes to the budget. May will be “no spending” month, and if I can do it in May, I know I can do it in June.

My goal is to be re-employed by July, so I can loosen up the purse-strings then. That’s my reward for the hard work of job-hunting.

Slashed my cable bill

I just got done talking to the cable provider. I purchased a new “package” of channels, dumped the old package and cancelled the HBO. My cable bill will now be 1/3 less than it was.

Comparing to last year's spending

I set up a spreadsheet with all my spending from 2006, divided into 3 categories: “fixed” spending (stuff I can’t do anything about the amount, like rent, taxes, insurance, medical), “variable” spending (like groceries, household expenses, meals, laundry and clothing), where I set up “allowances” for many of the items, and “discretionary” for stuff I can live without (like entertainment, recreation, travel). Anything I spend on “variable” categories that is over the “allowance” also goes into the discretionary category, because it’s just indulging to spend more than I really need to.

Then I figured the average spending for each category and for overall. My initial goal for 2007 will be to reduce my spending in the “discretionary” category by at least $200/month. We’ll see how that goes, and I might even reduce it further.

My number one New Year's resolution for 2007

I am going to track my spending for one full year. I will identify places where I can spend less. Also, I am going to evaluate my phone service, cable service, etc. and try and find cheaper plans. I’m going to resurrect the detailed budgeting process that I used when I wanted to get ahead on paying down my debt. I had gotten very good at spending less; now I’m slipping back and I just want to nip it in the bud.

Katie L. has gotten 7 cheers on this goal.


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