Resolutions and goal setting are hallmarks of a new beginning. A new career, investment, season, and often a new year are launched with intention and purpose to achieve. What new financial goals and habits are you challenging yourself to this year? In what ways are you ensuring your success? These five tips are designed to challenge you financially and help you find ways to make your fiscal year fun and interesting.
Track Every Dollar You Spend Challenge
Do you ever seem to have more day than pay? Do you know where your money is going? Take this opportunity to challenge yourself to track every dollar that you spend for a month. Thirty days should be long enough for you to track your spending, break some old, reckless habits, and possibly create some new, healthier ones. .
Chances are, being aware of your spending will make you realize you need to focus on saving more and spending less.
No Spend Challenges: Daily, Weekly, or Monthly
Just the thought of not spending a single cent over the course of a week might sound difficult or even frightening to you. There are, however, many people who have successfully completed these types of challenges for a day, week, month, or more! The key is being mentally and financially prepared.
First, understand that “no spend” doesn’t literally mean that you won’t spend any money. It realistically refers to not spending any discretionary income. Naturally, you will still pay your bills and buy groceries and essentials. Non-essential indulgences like eating out and shopping for wants must be eliminated.
There’s no shame in taking baby steps here, either. Start slow by trying to focus on having 10 no-spend days throughout a month, and work your way up until you feel comfortable going an entire week without spending on discretionary items.
Get Family and Friends Involved
At the outset of any new goal or endeavor, accountability is key! If you decide to commit to challenging yourself, solicit support and involvement of some of your friends and family to mix it up and make it a game… see who can save the most This is a great option for those that could use an accountability partner, or for those who have a competitive streak. Or maybe you know your loved ones could stand to save a bit more. Challenge them to compete with you!
Challenge Your Costly Habits
Do you have guilty pleasures or bad habits like defaulting to the fast food drive-thru when you feel hungry, tired, and just plain lazy? Tossing whatever you want at the grocery store into your cart, without checking prices? Do you spend a little too much on alcohol?
Decide to challenge these habits by replacing them with new ones. Try planning out your meals in advance, looking at circulars for sales, or cooking in bulk. These will help you save on groceries and eating out. As for alcohol, try only drinking what you have currently, or only when you’re at home. Clubs, bars, and restaurants are always more expensive.
When you’ve finally got those new savings habits firmly in place, don’t forget to make them stick. Automate your savings with direct deposit or auto transfer at the bank. It’s a great method for sticking with your goals to save more.
There’s a challenge here for everyone, so choose one that appeals to you and dive right in. Try to find a group so you can hold each other accountable, or at least tell your family about your efforts. Support is key.
The Classic 52 Week Savings Challenge
This challenge is fairly simple. If you haven’t heard of this challenge before, you save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week, all the way up until you hit $52 in the last week.
This will give you a total of $1,378 at the end of 52 weeks from being disciplined enough to save small amounts of money each week.
There are plenty of apps for timed savings challenges to help you keep track of your deposits. These include a few where you can save any amount at any point (for example saving $52 in the first week).
Don’t be discouraged that you didn’t start this challenge at the beginning of the year as we’re only a few weeks into 2016, you still have plenty of time to catch up just by saving about $10.