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Sometimes budgets can be a little boring, and you can find yourself in a rut with your savings. When that happens it’s easy to fall off the savings bandwagon, have a big spending spree and start to undo all the hard work you’ve done. And while spending spree’s can be fun (don’t even get me started on my online spending binge…) you’ll most likely regret it in the end. But with a little strategy, you can set a few challenges that can help you save money.
We set these challenges for ourselves to keep things entertaining. Some are just for a week, others last a little longer. And we have a reward at the end of them. For example, when I successfully completed Challenge #1 on this list, (which probably saved me around $500 – $600 conservatively) I allowed myself to go and buy a few more expensive pieces I had my eye on. It probably cost me $250, so I was still way ahead in savings.
The key is to be sure you pick a challenge you can stick with and give yourself a reward at the end to keep your motivation high.
Challenge #1 – Buy No New Clothes For 3 Months
This is probably one of the harder challenges for me, but I was surprised at how motivated I was to stick to it once I started. Having a reward at the end definitely helped and I know I saved a ton of money because of it.
The key with this challenge is to choose your timing wisely. If you’re about to go on a big holiday somewhere, then you’re probably not going to stick with it. As would be the case if you started this challenge just before a seasonal change. I started it right at the start of the year, on January 1st and ran right through until almost the end of April (because I was so determined to keep going). The only reason I didn’t keep going was because of the change in weather and because I was pregnant and my clothes weren’t quite fitting anymore.
Also, be sure to avoid shopping centres if you can, unsubscribe from emails that might entice you and take the opportunity to go through your wardrobe and see what you can revamp in there!
Challenge #2 – Don’t Grocery Shop For a Week
Groceries are by far one of our biggest expenses and one that can easily get out of hand. A quick trip to the grocery store here and there can easily add up to hundreds of extra dollars being spent.
The challenge is, for one week, don’t go to the grocery store. There isn’t much you can’t get by without for one week. During this time, shop your cupboard. Work out what you have in there and meal plan from that. You’d be surprised at what you’ll come up with.
We do this little challenge when we feel our cupboard is being overrun and we have too much ‘stuff’ and need to use it up.
Challenge #3 – Have a Week of $10 Meals
This is actually one of my favourite challenges because it saves a TON of money and because I get to be a little creative and often come up with new recipe concoctions.
The idea of this challenge is to create meals for each night of the week that cost less than $10. We are a family of 3 and my husband eats A LOT so this is a big challenge for us. It often involves a lot of salad or veggies as we don’t eat pasta and very, very rarely eat rice.
We will also try to have one or two of these meals that are made as a double batch and eaten over two nights. Things like roasts are perfect for this as we can get a larger roast and cook a ton of veggies easily for under $20 that will do us for two nights. Plus… yum!
Challenge #4 – Keep Every Receipt For Money You Spend For A Month
This challenge is more of an awareness challenge so you start to learn where your money is being spent and how much of it you are spending. Most people I speak to who do this challenge are surprised by how much they spend. They honestly didn’t comprehend where their money was going but when it’s in front of them, in receipt form, it’s a lot easier to see.
It’s all the little things that add up too. Spending a few dollars here and there may not seem like much but your $5 coffee every day adds up to $150 over a month.
Once you know where your money is being spent, you can start to work out ways to cut back or redirect your spending in more effective ways.
Challenge #5 – Have a ‘No Spend’ Week Every Month
This is like Challenge #2, but next level. Because instead of just not spending money on groceries for the week, the challenge is to not spend money on anything! It sounds really tough, and it is, but it can also be quite fun.
You’d be surprised at how many activities and things you can do for free or you can find around the house. Walking to the park (instead of driving) and having a picnic (from what you have in the cupboard) and spending the afternoon running around playing with kids can be so much fun.
Of course your bills still need to be paid, but the idea of this challenge is to see what you can go without for just one week and use the money you would have spent to go towards additional savings.
Just once a month or even once every two months can mean an extra few hundred dollars in your savings account.
What do you do to challenge yourself to save extra money?