Real Money Talk: Finishing Our Basement

basementplans This past spring (I think it was April), we decided to get serious about saving/earning money to fund a big project: finishing our basement. I say big, because when it's all said and done, it will nearly double our living square footage (the benefits of owning a Midwest ranch).

We didn't necessarily cut a bunch of expenses or get big raises or bonuses, but rather we simply started focusing our budgeting efforts toward a goal. The goal for the total project, furnishings and all, is $10,000. Last time we blogged about this project, a commenter asked why we set such an arbitrary number.

It's a great question that I don't have a great answer for. It's a nice round number that sounds both attainable and realistic to stick to. The hardest part about the project of this size is not knowing how much everything costs.

I know, I know, we should price it all out and then set a budget. The truth is, we're approaching the project in chunks (office first, then playroom, etc.), and will be doing most of the work ourselves. We have a great head-start on the funding of the project, and we can always save up more as we go if needed (hopefully not).

Oh, yeah, this is a real money talk, so we want to be as real as possible. Not from a posture of bragging, but from a posture of openness so you can see how something like this might be possible for you and your financial goals. (Read our debt-free story to see more of how we paid off our debt and got to where we are now, or pick up a copy of my book.)

We got busy trying to make extra cash!

  • Ebates rewards: $97.84
  • Bank account interest: $268.54
  • Selling clothing and camera lenses on eBay: $182.40
  • Selling Kelsey's old bike: $20
  • Babble ebook payments (more to come on this later!): $300
  • Hauling tile for Kelsey's dad: $410
  • Cash gift: $500
  • Blog sponsorships: $230.44
  • Amazon Associates: $66.74
  • rewardStyle earnings: $107.66
  • Diamond class action settlement check: $133.44 (a nice little surprise check that came in the mail)
  • The Family Playbook sales: $111.19
  • It's Your Money book royalties: $185.40
  • You Need a Budget referrals: $258
  • Freelance editing (Kelsey): $78

TOTAL: $2,907.65

I am honestly amazed that by putting our heads down and hustling, we were able to earn this much in just a few months. We sold stuff, we took on extra opportunities and we got lucky. We also have to withhold taxes on all the money we've earned, so the actual number of dollars that have been made vs. what we get to move to the Finish Basement category on our budget is quite a bit lower.

However, we've also been able to squeeze out a lot of extra money from our budget. Specifically from extra paychecks. We each get paid 26 times a year, which means we get four extra paychecks a year. The last two that have come up, we've put those entire paychecks toward our basement goal.

As a result, we're currently sitting on a total amount saved of $4,512.22. We're nearly halfway there! The feeling is amazing to know that we can start working on the project (this weekend!) and not have to stress about the money or having to pay it off later. Of course, we'll shop for the best deals along the way, too.

We'll be sure to keep updating as the project progresses. My dad is coming down this weekend to help me get started framing the walls...