Some people refuse to save money, and when the rainy days come, they pull out their credit card in a move that more often than not leads them to a downward debt spiral.
And we somewhat understand that attitude. If you don’t setup automated savings with your bank — which we advise everyone to do, BTW — putting money on the side is not as easy as it sounds. You may want a challenge, something that could turn savings into a game. And we are here to help with 5 easy (and fun) money-saving challenges you can try today. Some require extra commitment, and some are doable even for the folks living on a low-income. Here they are…
1. Track Every Expense For a Month
This doesn’t sound that challenging but it really is. You will have to go through every receipt of every purchase you make and put it in a spreadsheet, or — better yet — a mobile app.
There many expense tracking apps available for just about any mobile platform, so even you have a Windows Phone or BlackBerry — let alone the iPhone or an Android-based device — you should be able to find something that works for you. All of these apps are fairly easy to use, and some of them allow you to add categories or tags, so you can get usable reports at the end of the week or month. Again, you will have to commit adding every single expense to the app to reap all the benefits.
And the benefits are fairly easy to understand — for one thing you will get a better picture where your money is going. Without adding every single expense you only have a vague idea, but with a complete list of expenses you can see it clearly where you can make cuts.
We advise this challenge to just about anyone, even those who already consider themselves frugal.
2. The “No Spend” Challenge
Unlike the previous challenge that prompts you to take note of every single expense you make, those accepting this challenge should not spend a single penny on stuff they don’t need. In other words, during the “No Spend” challenge you should only pay for things like food, utilities, rent and internet access. Any sort of luxury such as dining out or shopping for new clothes is prohibited.
That being said, you should limit this challenge to two weeks or one month, at the end of which you will get an idea what are the things you can perfectly live without — these could be many things you consider must-haves today.
Alternatively, you can make a list of expenses you WILL make before taking this challenge and then stick to that list. No exceptions allowed. It’s like a mini budget with a limited time frame.
3. The 52 Weeks Challenge
This is one of the most popular challenges out there. It requires you to put some cash in a jar every day of the week, and increase that amount every consecutive week.
For instance, you can put $1 Monday through Sunday during the first week, then $2 every day during the second week, $3 during the third week, and so on until you reach the 52nd week (when you will be putting $52 every day).
At the end of the year, you will have $1,378, which could go straight to your emergency fund.
4. Mondays to Sundays Challenge
Related to the previous challenge, it too lasts for 52 weeks but is also somewhat different.
Should you accept to play this game, you will have to leave $1 on Mondays, $2 on Tuesdays, $3 on Wednesdays, $4 on Thursdays, $5 on Fridays, $6 on Saturdays and $7 on Sundays. Now you should repeat this throughout the year, and after 52 weeks you’ll save $1,456. Easy as that.
5. The Spare Change Challenge
Finally, this challenge requires you to put all your spare change at the end of every night into a jar and watch it pile up. When you wake up the next day (after accepting this challenge), you won’t have any change in your pocket/wallet, so chances are you will get some as you go through your day. Again, put all the change you’ve got in the same jar. Repeat this until your jar is full, then put all that money into your savings account, and… start again.
If this is not challenging enough for you, perhaps you want to try the “single dollar bill” variant of the challenge, which requires you to put both the coins and single dollar bills in the jar. This way, you will save more and do it faster.
Start saving today!
Now that you have learned about some challenges, you are ready to join the party. Unlike other sorts of entertainment, this one actually comes with real benefits. Even a short-term challenge could help you build money-saving habits, and that’s why you’ve visited our site in the first place, right? Good luck with those savings. 😉