Whether you’re wanting to save money for a down payment for a house, fix your car or for your dream vacation one of the hardest parts is getting started. Changing your spending habits can be difficult and can make it hard to set your plans in motion.
Even with the best intentions saving money to help you realize your dreams is easier said than done. So why not try a new way, make a game of your money savings goal and try setting short-term challenges to make it easier to start, rather than just having the long range goal to hit.
Many people start small, giving themselves a month to try to change their habits and kick-start their plans to save with 30-day savings challenges. There are some great short-term money saving ventures like this out there that can help you reassess your money management and get to grips with putting cash aside in a short period of time, kick-starting your plans and goals.
Below are just a few of the best 30-day money saving challenges around and these can help you create a savings plan that works.
The 30-day savings rule
For many people, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to saving money is having that money burn a hole in your pocket. If you’re saving, it’s all too easy to have your head turned by an impulse buy – that special something you just have to have – whether it’s a shiny pair of sneakers or a new video game.
The premise of the 30-day savings, or 30-day rule, is to try fighting that impulse. This challenge is all about assessing what you want to buy before you spend. Essentially, when you see something you want, the challenge is to not buy it. Instead, you assess if you immediately need it. If the answer is no, then you should take 30 days to think about it.
When you see something you want, the 30-day savings rule says you should write down what it was, where you saw it and the price on a piece of paper. You then stick this to your fridge and commit to taking 30 days to think about the purchase. If, after a month, you still feel the purchase is necessary, then it probably is. If not, then you’ve got that money to put into your savings straight away.
Perfect for those who have less of a target to save up for, and just want to make a change to their own approach to money, the everyday savings challenge is great for newcomers, or those who have struggled to save in the past. It focuses on taking small steps and changing little things that can make a big difference down the line.
There are two premises to making everyday savings. These are:
1. Cut out daily spending
If you’re trying and failing to save, you probably wonder just where all your money goes. The truth is, most of us only look at things like bills, groceries, rent and other big ticket spends when looking at our monthly purchases. And while a lot of these aren’t avoidable, there are plenty of little purchases you probably don’t notice, and that can quickly add up over the month.
This 30-day savings challenge tasks you with trying to be more aware of where you can make savings on everyday spends. So, if you love heading to Starbucks on the way to work, or enjoy a takeout for dinner each night, try making a coffee at home or cooking rather than eating out. You’ll be surprised how quickly they add up.
2. Cut your bills and subscriptions
Not all bills can be dropped. If you’ve got rent, electricity and other big-ticket bills, chances are the expenditure is pretty set in stone. But what about some of your other regular bills. Do you really need them all?
For one 30-day period, challenge yourself to track everything that goes out of your account and ask whether they’re all necessary? Do you use your Netflix account as much as you thought you would? Could you adjust your monthly cell phone bill?
By assessing every bill, you give yourself a better chance of cutting spending you don’t need so you can put more into your savings.
The envelope challenge is a fun way to put money aside with a little bit of uncertainty thrown into the mix. So how does it work? It’s all about putting a little bit away every single day.
Start with envelopes, one for every day of your savings challenge, and write an amount of money on each one, from $1 to $30. Each day, you select an envelope at random and put that amount into it. At the end of the challenge, you should have a total of $465 in savings, and all by just putting a little bit away each day.
Meal planning challenge
The meal planning challenge is a great 30-day savings challenge that is centered around planning your meals effectively. It’s all about reducing what you spend on eating out and ordering in food, rather than taking the time to prepare your own foods and plan ahead. If you can bulk shop for groceries, for example, you’ll have a much better chance of spending less on food.
Some examples include making a big batch of pasta at the start of the week and freezing some for use in subsequent weeks, or planning ahead so you know what you’ll have for dinner each day to reduce the temptation to order takeout. At the end of the month, you should find you’ve spent a lot less on food than you normally do.