If saving money or paying off debt is one of your goals this year, then you may want to try a money saving challenge! 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 they are S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific means that you have clearly defined what your goal is, why you’re doing it, and how you’re 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 money saving challenge to help you get motivated to develop better money habits. Here are 10 ideas to inspire you to get started on your road to financial success this year!
- Money saving challenge – How to save $500 in 31 days
- 10 fun hobbies that make money
- 34 legitimate ways to make extra money
1. No Spend Weekend Challenge
Get into the habit of making one weekend each month a “no spend weekend”. This means that you don’t spend money on – you guessed it – anything! We try to do this money saving challenge every month.
Instead of eating out, cook a delicious meal at home using ingredients you already have in your fridge or pantry. If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, these are my go-to cookbooks:
- Oh She Glows – I’ve been making recipes from this cookbook on a weekly basis for the past year. I absolutely love her Chickpea Salad Sandwiches and Sweet Potato Enchiladas.
- Chloe’s Kitchen – Chloe’s Chipotle Salad is my absolute favorite!
- Hot for Food comfort classics – I can’t get enough of the Spicy Peanut Noodles!
Instead of paying money to go to the movie theater, watch a movie at home. Make a bowl a fresh popcorn and enjoy one of your favorite movies or TV shows from the comfort of your own home. I love watching movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime. They have a great selection and it’s much cheaper than paying for cable.
Instead of shopping at the mall, take inventory of the items in your closet and declutter. You’ll be surprised how many nice outfits you already have at home.
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.
2. Increase Your Income Challenge
At the end of the day, there are only so many ways you can slice and dice your monthly budget without wanting to pull your hair out.
Instead, challenge yourself to increase your income. Here on Mint Notion, I love sharing ways to increase your earning power so you can get on track to reaching your financial goals. With inflation rising faster than wages, there has never been a better time to find creative ways to make more money!
For those currently in debt, determine how much extra money is needed each month in order to pay down debt faster. Ideally, you’ll want to set a realistic income goal for yourself and find a way to make extra money. Whether it’s an extra $100 or an extra $1,000 each month, there are lots of different ways to increase your income.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Start a blog
Blogging is my favorite side hustle because the start-up costs are low and it can be a great way to make extra money in your spare time. Blogging even has the potential to turn into a full-time job (like it did for me). You can use my free step-by-step guide here to create your blog.
- Freelance writing
This is a popular way to make money online and it’s great if you enjoy writing. To learn more about earning an income from freelance writing, I recommend checking out this in-depth post: How to become a freelance writer
- Earn Cashback
I like shopping on Rakuten so I can earn cashback on all my purchases. It’s free to join and you’ll get a $25 bonus for new members.
- Online surveys
There are many online survey websites that will pay you to complete surveys, play games, do online searches and more. They are free to sign up for and free to use. Survey websites I recommend include Swagbucks, American Consumer Opinion, Branded Surveys.
- Become an Airbnb host
If you have a cabin, cottage or extra room in your home, consider becoming an Airbnb host to make extra money. Don’t have any extra space? You can choose to become a host for your neighborhood or make money by hosting a unique experience (hiking, cooking classes, and more). You can learn more about Airbnb here.
Need some more ideas? Check out these helpful posts:
- 10 real ways to earn money from home
- 12 ways to make an extra $500 this month
- 10 fun hobbies that make money
3. No New Clothing Challenge
Can you go a whole month without buying any new clothing? How about an entire year without spending money on clothing?
Clothing can take a huge dent out of our monthly budget. Also, many of us buy new clothes for the sake of buying something new. Whether you’ve gotten tired of items you already own or you want to have the latest new fashion trend, there are a number of reasons why we buy new clothing – even if we don’t really need to.
I used to be guilty of this too before I did the “no new clothing challenge”. You can read my experience doing the challenge here.
Challenge yourself to go one month (or longer) without buying any new clothes. Start by devoting at least one day taking inventory of your entire wardrobe. When items are out of sight, they’re out of mind and you’ll be surprised at what you already own.
Then proceed to declutter your wardrobe. Keep items that you love and bring you joy. Sell or donate items that you no longer need. (This is another great way to make extra money).
Stay motivated and give yourself a pat on the back after successfully completing the challenge. You saved a lot money, cleaned up your wardrobe, and helped the environment too!
4. Debt Free Challenge
According to a recent NerdWallet report, American families have an average of $16,000 in credit card debt. While lifestyle creep can play a factor, one of the main reasons why debt has increased so much is because the rise in the cost of living has outpaced income growth in the past 13 years.
Despite household income growing by 28 percent since 2003, it lags the cost of living, which has increased 30 percent during this period. Many Americans are relying on credit cards, which is one of the most expensive ways to borrow when their income simply doesn’t cut it.
So what’s the solution?
Increase your income and cut expenses. Challenge yourself to reduce or eliminate your debt this year. Focus on finding ways to increase your household income and cut unnecessary spending.
The gap between income and expense growth is real. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding it hard to stay afloat. Instead get creative, focus on increasing your income, and make temporary cuts to your monthly expenses.
Not sure how to increase your income? Check out these helpful posts:
- 70+ ways to make extra money
- 15 side hustles to make extra money in your spare time
- How to start a blog and make money
I also recommend downloading my Get Out Of Debt checklist to you get on track to reducing or eliminating debt.
5. 30-Day Money Challenge
This is one of my favorite money challenges to do when you want to build your savings account.
The 30-Day Money Challenge will allow you to save nearly $500 in just one month. It works like this: each day you will save a specified amount of money and each day this amount of money will increase.
For example, on Day 1, you will save $1; Day 2, you will save $2, Day 3, you will save $3, and so on.
One of the best ways I found to save money is to make it fun by doing a challenge. That’s why I created a free printable for you to download below so you can follow the 30-Day Money Challenge.
30-Day Money Challenge
Save $465 with this fun money challenge. Get your free printable worksheet now!
For more tips to help you successfully complete the challenge, check out this post: Money Challenge: How to Save $500 in 30 Days
6. Reduce Your Monthly Expenses Challenge
Here on Mint Notion, I love sharing simple ways to reduce one’s monthly bills and expenses. While it can take a little more effort to find ways to reduce your fixed expenses, there is usually some wiggle room in your budget to lower these costs. This is a smart money saving challenge.
I recommend spending an afternoon taking a good look at your current monthly bills and expenses. This includes your monthly fixed costs (rent, utility bills, car payments) and variable costs (groceries, clothing, entertainment). Determine which expenses you can afford to reduce (or eliminate) in order to help you reach your financial goals.
Understanding where your money is going is the first step to understanding how you can adjust your expenses. It may not seem like much now, but every little bit counts.
For example, instead of paying for a monthly gym membership, I started buying workout DVDs instead. Now I’m a big fan of exercising to workout videos. It’s like being in a fitness class and having your own personal trainer at the same time. Here are a few inexpensive workout DVDs I recommend buying:
Also, there are SO many great options today to replace cable TV. I highly recommend signing up for Amazon Prime. With Amazon Prime, you get instant access to watch thousands of movies and TV shows. You can also borrow Kindle books, get unlimited FREE two-day shipping, and get special savings exclusively for Prime members. Click here to try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.
7. Track Your Expenses for the Next Month Challenge
One of the keys to living debt-free and building wealth is to know exactly where your money is being spent, saved, and invested. Whether you’re running a business or your own household, knowing where your money is going is an essential ingredient for success.
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. This is a great money saving challenge.
You can grab your own copy of my 2020 Budget Binder Printables package here to help you track your spending. These printables will help you organize your finances so you can reach your goals.
8. Save Your Money and Invest It Challenge
Saving money is important, but the whole idea of cutting back is to save money for something better. This is the delay of gratification.
As Grant Cardone says, “Save to invest”, don’t save to save”.
It can be a little daunting to invest your money if you’re not sure where to start, which is why I suggest reading a book (or two) about investing for beginners or talking to a financial planner about your long-term goals.
One of my favorite finance books, The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias, recommends this advice for investing:
“If you save at least 10% of each paycheck and earn a 7% annual return, it will take just over 30 years to grow your nest egg to equal 10 years of income.”
Saving 10% of each paycheck might be easy for some people, but earning a 7% annual return is not so cut and dry. This can be done in a number of ways such as investing in mutual funds, index funds or the stock market.
9. No Eating Out Challenge
Reducing your fixed expenses, such as rent and transportation costs can be tough. If you’re looking for more wiggle room in your budget, an easy place to start is at home in the kitchen. People who cook at home are more likely to make healthier food choices and eat less calories. Your waistline and wallet will thank you.
Take a look at your budget last month and determine how much you spent on eating out. Now challenge yourself to save that money this month by cooking dinner at home. Put that money you would have spent into your savings account or towards debt repayment.
There is no need to stress yourself out by trying to make everything from scratch. That’s a surefire way to go back to eating out every night. Make it simple and make enough food so you can bring leftovers to work the next day.
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.
10. 52-Week Challenge
This is one of the most well-known money saving challenge because it’s so simple and easy to do!
Save $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three, and so on. By continuing this idea 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 one, $51 in week two, $50 in week three, 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.
Bonus Challenge: $5 Dollar Challenge
This is the easiest money saving challenge on this list! Every time you come into possession with a $5 bill, such as the change from a purchase, save it and put it into a jar.
It sounds almost childish to put money in a jar, but it works. To make it more fun, write your goal on the jar, such as “Vacation Fund” or “Rainy Day Fund”. Write down any financial goal you wish, it’s really up to you!
Seeing money grow in the jar is a good motivator to stick to your financial goal. By creating a personal heuristic, it makes it easy to save every $5 bill without really trying. If you spend a $5 bill, you’ll feel like you betrayed your own set of internal rules.
Saving a $5 bill every day makes me $1,825 richer each year!