If saving money or paying off debt is one of your New Year’s resolutions, then this post is for you. Even if you haven’t set up a savings plan in place, this is a good time to start.
When it comes to creating financial goals for yourself, it’s important to make sure that they are:
- Specific means that you have clearly defined what your goal is, why you’re doing it and how you are going to accomplish it.
- Measureable means that you should have tangible evidence that you’ve completed your goal, such as tracking your expenses or savings.
- Achievable means that your goal should be realistic and you have to believe that you can achieve it.
- Results-oriented means that you should not only focus on the activities necessary to achieve your goal, but to place importance on measurable outcomes. (In other words, you can’t just rely on good intentions to complete your goal).
- Time bound means that you should set a time frame to achieve your goal as this creates a sense of urgency, otherwise your goal is less likely to produce the outcome you wish.
If you’re like me though, you might need a challenge to help get you motivated to develop better money habits.
Here are ten ideas to inspire you to get started on your road to financial success this year!
1. No spending weekend
Make one weekend every month a no spending weekend. This simply means that you don’t spend money on anything.
Instead of eating out, cook your meals at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry or fridge.
If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, these are my go-to cookbooks:
- Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon
- Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
- Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
Instead of spending money on entertainment, find a way to entertain yourself and your family for free.
If you choose to drive somewhere, make sure that you have enough gas in your tank so you don’t have to fill up that weekend.
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2. No new clothing
Can you go a whole year without spending money on clothing? What about one month?
Clothing can be a huge expense for many of us and most often we are just buying new clothing for the sake of buying. (I used to be guilty of this when I was working at my first job after University.)
Devote one day going through your entire wardrobe and really access what you already have. When items are out of sight, they’re out of mind and we tend to forget all the things we own.
Donate or sell items that you no longer need and live with what you have.
If you really need something, make a list and try to buy this item at a second hand clothing store. Or better yet – host a clothing swap with friends.
If you live in an apartment building or condo, consider starting a Facebook group where tenants can post items they are selling or giving away. This is a great way to declutter or find items you need.
Read about my experience of doing the no new clothing challenge for a year.
3. Debt-free challenge
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, 8 out of 10 Americas are living with debt, and 44% of these people have mortgage debt. However, only 33% of millennials have home loans. In fact, they are more likely to have student loan debit (41%), car loans (41%) or credit card debt (39%) than to have a mortgage.
Make this year, the year you pay off some of these debts so you can eventually become debt free (or only have mortgage debt). Focus on paying off your smallest debt first, then move on to tackling the next one on your list.
Talk to you bank about a good debt repayment plan to ensure you’re on the right track.
If you only have mortgage debt, make a plan to pay off your mortgage faster.
Not sure where to get extra money? Try taking up a side job, freelance your skills or sell your unused stuff online. Once you’ve lowered your variable expenses, you can also try negotiating a raise at work or start applying to jobs with a higher salary.
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It’s also important to prevent getting into any new debt this year. Focus on living within your means and not spending money you don’t have.
4. Buy nothing new challenge
That’s right, for one whole month don’t buy anything new. Of course you still have your fixed expenses and a few necessities such as toiletries, groceries, medicines, or gas for your vehicle.
However the goal is to not buy anything new for a whole month or even longer.
Not only will you save money, but you will develop better spending habits too. I did this challenge after I quit my job to go to Business School and I found that material possessions were not the key to living a happy and fulfilling life.
5. The 52-week challenge
This is one of the most well-known and popular challenges because it’s so simple and easy to do!
Save $1 in week 1, $2 in week 2, $3 in week 3, and so on. By continuing this concept for 52 weeks, you will have accumulated a total of $1,378! Not bad for putting aside money each week, right?
You can even mix it up by following this challenge in reverse: save $52 in week 1, $51 in week 2, $50 in week 3, and so on. This allows you to put the biggest amount of money away first so saving becomes easier and easier each week.
Whatever way you decide to approach this challenge, make sure that you’re consistent and stick to it each week. You also don’t want to touch any of the money that you’ve set aside until the challenge is completed.
Otherwise, what’s the point of the 52-week challenge?
Related: 24 ways being lazy costs you money
6. Track your expenses for the next month
One of the keys to living debt free and building wealth is to know exactly where your money is being spent (or saved).
Whether you’re running a business or your own household, knowing where your money is going is an essential ingredient for success.
It may sound a bit odd since you’re paying attention to outgoing money, but when you begin to track each and every single expense, you’ll become more mindful of your spending.
You’ll start to think twice before buying that new dress or going out for lunch every day.
By tracking your expenses, you’ll gain a better understanding of how your money is being spent and where you can cut back in order to save.
7. Put your spare change / dollars in a jar
This is also an easy challenge to do: simply put your spare change or dollars each night in a jar and watch it get full.
On some days you might have a lot of change to add to the jar, while other days you may have nothing at all — but each time you contribute, you’ll feel good.
By the end of the year, you’ll have a jar piled up with savings that didn’t take too much effort on your part to accomplish!
Related: 15 frugal habits to live by
8. Set up a new savings account and automate it
Trying to save for your next vacation, wedding, or home? Consider setting up a new savings account and automate it so a portion of your pay cheque goes into it each time you get paid.
Aim for 10% (or more) if you can, but of course, any amount works well depending on your goal.
This is the easiest challenge on the list since all it takes is a couple of steps to get it started, then you can stick back and watch your savings automatically grow each month.
- Step #1 is to create the new savings account
- step #2 is to decide how much money will be automatically transferred each month
If you feel you’ll be too tempted to dip into your savings account, set it up at another bank instead of at your current one. This will help you resist the temptation to pull from it and the longer you leave it be, the more it will grow!
9. No eating out challenge
If you find yourself eating out for lunch often or grabbing take-out on the way home for dinner, this challenge is for you.
Even if you only eat out on the weekends, you too can benefit from this challenge.
For one month, choose to not eat out. The key being successful at this challenge is to plan, plan, plan. Prepare your lunches for work in advance to avoid eating out.
If you want to start making more homemade meals, but don’t like the idea of meal planning, I recommend using the $5 Meal Plan. This is a weekly meal plan service that can make your meal planning super simple.
For just $5 per month, you will receive a delicious meal plan, where every meal will cost about $2 per person (or less). It’s a great way to save time and money, plus they offer specialty plans, including gluten-free and vegetarian meals. Click here to try it free for 14 days.
You can also prepare your dinners for the week on the weekend, so you’ll have something easily to heat up when you get home at night.
If your friends want to go out for dinner or lunch on the weekend, tell them about this challenge and invite them over to your place for a potluck or dinner. Your good disciple might even inspire them to try this challenge too!
10. Reduce your monthly bills
Sometimes there’s wiggle room to reduce the costs of your fixed expenses. It can be as simple as a phone call away to slash your monthly bills.
My sister used to pay $40 per month for her mobile phone, but found that she wasn’t using all the features that she was paying for, such as free Canada wide calling.
Instead she called her mobile provider to discuss her options, and now she is paying only $15 a month for her phone. Of course this may not be the best option for everyone, but there is no sense in paying for something you’re not using.
My family also did this with our cable bill. We found that we were watching less TV and it was silly to pay for all those channels that we weren’t even using. Now we have a different cable package to suit our needs that is much more affordable.
Spend an afternoon looking over your monthly bills and see where you can afford to cut back. Put on extra layers instead of turning up the heat, take shorter showers, don’t let the water run when you’re washing dishes, etc. You’d be surprised how a little effort on your part can lead to big savings.
It may not seem like much right now, but every little bit counts.10 money challenges to try right nowClick To Tweet
Over to you — what are some money challenges you’ve done?
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