The Dollar Challenge: Invitation

Do you keep track of your expenses? Do you know how you compare with other people around the world? If not, here is your chance. Join the Dollar Challenge and post about where you spend your money. It is easy enough to do and will help you compare your spending to other people who have joined the challenge.


What is the Dollar Challenge?

The Dollar Challenge is a fun way for all of us to compare our spending. Everyone who wants to participate will pick a month from their budget to share with the world. They will share how much they spend in the designated categories (see below for details) and then write a post about it, with a link back to this article.

If you feel uncomfortable about sharing how much you make/spend, there is no need to worry. Everything will be in percentages. This not only protects the privacy of everyone, but keeps it in a format that is easy to compare (since everyone earns a different amount). In other words, everyone is sharing where they spend each penny of every dollar that they earn. Hence the name: The Dollar Challenge.

Once everyone publishes their information (sometime between now and the the deadline below), I will read EVERY post, gather the data and conclude the challenge by writing a summary post to be published on Saturday, December 3, 2011. The summary post will link to everyone who participated for others to read and also make observations on the spending habits as a group.

What are the Guidelines?

In order to keep everyone on the same page and make it a great experience, here are the guidelines:
  1. Keep everything in percentages or cents on the dollar (for example: 3% or $.03). This will make it easy to compare the data.
  2. Make sure your data is reflective of an AVERAGE month (For example, if your 6 month insurance premium comes due in Oct, make sure to average it out per month. Or, if you spend a lot for Christmas in December, just don’t use that month for your budget).
  3. Please use the following big categories (in an effort to keep it comparable)
    1. Housing
    2. Transportation
    3. Food
    4. Insurance
    5. Personal Care
    6. Entertainment
    7. Savings
    8. Other
  4. If you want to go more specific, certainly feel free to do so as long as you include totals for the above categories
  5. Publish your version of the Dollar Challenge on your blog before November 26, 2011. (If you don’t have a blog of your own and would like to participate, contact me and I will publish your post on my website.)
  6. Be sure to link back to this post.
  7. To make sure that I know you participated (and can include your information in the summary post), either leave a comment or email me to let me know the URL of your version of the dollar challenge.
  8. Be as creative as you want!
  9. Be sure to check back for the summary post on December 3, 2011.
  10. See Below for an example, including a sample of how you might want to introduce the Dollar Challenge to your readers.

20’s Finances: Where I Spend My Dollar

I have decided to participate in The Dollar Challenge, where I am sharing the details of where I spend ever cent of my dollar for an average month. I am excited to see how I compare to others compare to my numbers.

Housing: $.45

Forty-five cents of every dollar that I earn goes toward housing. I know this is probably higher than the average person, but I also live in the northeast and earn less than others. My wife and I live in a modest one bedroom apartment and do not feel bad about how much we spend. We certainly don’t have many better options without moving to a different part of the country.

Transportation: $.10

Ten cents of every dollar that I earn goes toward my transportation costs. This includes a train pass for myself and gas for my wife. We keep our costs at a minimum by avoiding any unnecessary driving and only having one car.

Food: $.13

Thirteen cents of every dollar goes towards food, including eating out. My wife do pretty well with our food budget. We only eat out once or twice a month and keep our groceries to a minimum for the rest of the time. We also pack lunches during the work week to save money.

Insurance: $.06

We currently only have car insurance and health insurance. We are taking a risk by not having renters insurance and we may end up getting it soon, but for the time being we don’t have it. I get a minimal health insurance plan through my work and my wife is actually still on her parents (Thank you Obama Health Care plan). This is one of the ways that my wife’s parents still help us out. Who would turn this down, right?

Personal Care: $.02

This is one of our lowest categories because we hardly buy any unnecessary items. The 2 cents that is included here is for prescriptions and other minor clothing purchases.

Entertainment: $.02

Since only two cents of every dollar goes towards entertainment, I know you are thinking that my wife and I must live boring lives. While this may be partially true, we know how to have fun on a budget. We get movies from the public library or use redbox when we really want a treat (can’t beat a $1 splurge). We will occasionally go out to a movie or purchase used books as well.

Savings: $.21

We aren’t yet saving a quarter of our earnings, but we are pretty darn close. We are putting a lot of our savings into our ROTH IRA’s since we already have an emergency fund.

Other: $.01

One penny is buried in the other category. For a while, we were just making ends meet and weren’t able to give. We weren’t able to contribute to local charities as much as we would have liked. We just heard some great news and will be looking to expand this area in the near future.

70 Responses to The Dollar Challenge: Invitation

  1. Cool idea! Should be interesting to see what the average PF blogger budget is. Taxes would also be interesting, but hard to track.

  2. Karen Bryan says:

    I’ve taken the Dollar Challenge and you can see my budget here:

    • Corey says:

      Great, thanks for participating Karen. Looks like completely different numbers. It will be interesting to see how others compare.

  3. […] you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!The 20s Finances site is running the Dollar Challenge where participants list a typical months spending by cents in the dollar under specific categories. […]

  4. Karen Bryan says:

    Corey I think that there will be big differences in the budget breakdown depending on factors such as age, number of family members, income and geographic location.

    • Corey says:

      Karen, I couldn’t agree more. I think this makes it exciting and perhaps already gives me something to write about in my summary post.

  5. […] Finances:  The Dollar Challenge: Invitation  Great idea, check out this […]

  6. […] Finance:  The Dollar Challenge.  Interesting piece. I’ll have to go to my expenses spreadsheet to refresh on totals spent […]

  7. Great idea! I would take up the challenge, but I don’t think it fits well with my blog’s niche. 🙂

  8. Aloysa says:

    I definitely in! My spending this month is out of control, so it would be nice to see how I average. However, beware: because I am a spender, and this month was a disaster for me, I might be a statistical outlier. 🙂 But no matter what – count me in!

  9. Looking forward to this challenge. I wonder if we spend more on food than others, I bet we do.

    • Corey says:

      Glad to have you join the challenge David. It will be interesting to compare the numbers. I am getting really excited and prepping the cool charts already. 🙂

  10. Suba says:

    Nice challenge. I will post the link here when I write it up. It will be great to see the numbers compare.

  11. I’m going to be very interested in seeing what other bloggers do. I like this challenge.

  12. Great idea for a challenge Corey. I think it will be very interesting to read what everyone writes.

  13. Hi Corey, I am planning on participating in the dollar challenge. I have been putting my numbers together and wonder if you want the income (of course as percentage it’s 100% which is the number to divide each expense category by), but I was wondering do you want us to use before tax income or after tax?

  14. […] you taken the Dollar Challenge?  In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a challenge designed to help you analyze your […]

  15. Okay, my results are posted 🙂 Can’t wait to see the comparison. My results might be a little out of the norm though…

  16. Now THAT’s something scary for Halloween! Thinking about it.

  17. […] now, 20′s Finance is doing something called “The Dollar Challenge” that examines how different people divide up each dollar that they earn.  Since I am […]

  18. Matt says:

    The one thing that stood out to me in your example post was that you don’t have renters insurance!! Wow – that stuff is SO cheap, you’ve got to get it. Your auto insurer probably offers it, which will then make you eligible too for a multi-policy discount.

    Love the Dollar Challenge idea by the way and will be submitting my post soon.

  19. I posted my results along with a complete rundown / analysis of my overall monthly budget. You can find it here:

    I’m excited to see all the other posts! I think this is really a neat way to be able to compare how we divide up and spend our money.

  20. PKamp3 says:


    Thanks to your encouragement on the forum, I’m in:

    Am I a Hypocrite? PKamp3’s Spending in 2011

    Thanks for the prompt!

  21. This is an awesome idea! I am keeping track of my money for the month of November, so I will be sure to have a post up by Nov 26 on how much I spend. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a good idea of where my money goes right now.

  22. Shannon says:

    This is an awsome idea 🙂 Here’s my summary
    Look forward to seeing the December post!

  23. […] have decided to participate in 20′s Finances, The Dollar Challenge, where I am sharing the details of where I spend every cent of my dollar for an average month. I am […]

  24. David says:

    Summary is posted. This was a really good exercise.

  25. Crystal says:

    This is a fun idea, here’s my link (goes up 11/7):

  26. […] » Where I spend my dollar? As I am brand  new to the blogosphere, I figure participating in 20′s Finances: The Dollar Challenge is a great way to get my feet wet.  Going through this exercise, I had a good microscopic look at […]

  27. […] Finances is running a Dollar Challenge right now to nudge all of us to take a closer look at where our money goes every month.  In order […]

  28. […] visiting!On October 24 I entered (again) the world of personal finance blogs and jumped right into The Dollar Challenge that was created by 20s Finance. Since I am a big spender and not a big saver, I decided it would be […]

  29. […] details about exactly what they spend money on. When the gauntlet was thrown down by Corey at 20′s Finance, I knew I just had to play along. You can read the rules and details on 20′s Finance – or […]

    • Corey says:

      GREAT! Thanks for taking the challenge! There have been a lot of people participating! I can’t believe it and it makes me more excited to write the summary post.

  30. I’m just curious — is this after tax dollars? Cause tax is definitely a huge portion of the budget, including income taxes, property taxes, welcome tax, sales tax, etc… . 😉

  31. […] personal finance blog, 20′s Finances has initiated The Dollar Challenge, encouraging us all to take a good look at just where our money goes each month. The idea is to see […]

  32. What an interesting experiment – can’t wait to see what you discover. Here’s my contribution to the challenge:

  33. Hi Corey, this is a great idea. Here is my entry
    I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Thanks for putting all this together.

  34. […] s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The 20′s Finance blog is currently doing a Dollar Challenge, which I have decided to participate.  Below is a breakout of how I am spending my money per every […]

  35. This is one of the best idea I ran into so far. I am participating and I can’t wait to read the result on December 3. Here is my dollar challenge link on my blog :

  36. […] to publically show where we spend all of our money as a percentage of their income in his “The Dollar Challenge“. I typically hate these kinds of posts that show how much personal finance bloggers’ net […]

  37. Hank says:


    After much reluctance, I’ve completed the Dollar Challenge. It took a lot to lay it all out there though. I’m glad you didn’t want actual dollar amounts next to the categories. It was a little “baring of the soul” so to speak to just put it all in percentages. Thanks for the eye opener though.

    • Corey says:

      Thanks for taking the Challenge Hank. I am glad you joined. I certainly understand the hesitancy. I felt almost the same way. It is difficult, but can be some nice motivation.

  38. […] 20′s Finances wants to know where bloggers spend their money. For this post, I have assumed that my net income after taxes and not including bonuses is equal to $1.00. I then put all of my expenses on that. For things like housing, I am only considering my share of the expenses. […]

  39. […] Hypocrite? PKamp3′s Spending in 2011” was featured at Money Q&A in their entry into the Dollar Challenge!  The participation across sites has been great!  Also read ”Money Fail: Lenders of Last […]

  40. I took The Dollar Challenge – better late than never, right?? Thanks for playing with the data!

    We “spent” more than we made in the month I chose, according to how the numbers worked out, but that’s not necessarily reflective of reality… Well, you can tell me if what I did makes sense! Did anyone else have this problem because you use targeted short-term savings accounts?

  41. […] The Dollar Challenge: Invitation […]

  42. […] decided to participate in 20′s Finances’ The Dollar Challenge, which is an interesting study that asks what do people spend their money on as a percentage of […]