For those of us that aren’t naturally inclined to save money or manage our finances, cultivating these important financial habits can be such a chore.
But who says we have to put up with tedium and frustration just to get our budgets in order?
Here are some ways to challenge yourself to save more money, especially if that’s one of your goals this year.
Here’s a money challenge you’ll have fun completing. First you’ll need a money Bingo sheet like this one; you can print a copy from the Internet or make your own.
The Money Bingo sheet contains 52 buttons – one for each week of the year – and each button contains a random dollar amount, ranging from $0 to $60.
To play this challenge, once a week, pick a button; that’s the amount you need to save that week. If you succeed, cross out the button, and pick another next week.
If you complete all 52 buttons, you’d have saved $1,000 in 1 year. Want to save more? Simply increase the individual amounts in the buttons.
This money challenge is designed to help you save money without feeling the deprivation. Out of all your non-essential spending, pick one item to give up for the month.
It can be anything, from your $5 bubble teas to your $10 fancy lattes, to your $30 brunches. Or perhaps your bi-weekly online shopping sprees.
At the end of the month, calculate how much you saved just by giving up that one item. (Don’t cheat by overspending on other indulgences!)
Keep it up until you feel deprived (or when 11.11 sales come round; we’re not savages) then switch to another item to give up.
In following this challenge, you’ll be racking up some savings, while retaining the ability to enjoy what you like.
In the long run, you’ll find that you really can do without some of your former indulgences, allowing you to increase your savings even more.
Each quarter, set yourself a sales target to achieve. How do you achieve a sales target? By selling of course.
Odds are, you have items of clothing, gadgets, accessories that you no longer use, and which are now just cluttering up your living space.
First, calculate how much your gym/fitness membership is costing you per visit. So let’s say if you spend $160 a month on your gym, and you go twice a week, then each visit costs you $20.
Now, every time you miss your scheduled gym session, pay that $20 into an envelope or savings jar.
If your jar is practically empty at the end of the year, congratulations on your fighting fit physique.
On the other hand, if you wind up with a little more money than you’d prefer, perhaps you might want to choose a different exercise programme?
In any case, this challenge will reward you with either improved health or extra cash, making you a winner either way. This challenge will also work with any healthy habit you’re trying to build.
Just be sure to choose the right sum of money as the forfeit – not too little that you won’t mind paying it, nor too much that will make you give up the challenge.
This money challenge can help you get started on building your emergency fund, defined as a sum of back-up money large enough to cover 3 to 6 months of your living expenses.
Now, this may seem like a large sum, but remember, we’re talking about the amount you spend each month, which is (hopefully) a good bit less than your paycheck.
You goal is to save 10% of your monthly paycheck, 10 times a year. Succeed, and you’d have saved up 1 whole month of your salary, a nice sum with which to seed your emergency fund.
Keep at it, or increase the percentage saved each month, and you’ll hit your savings goal in no time.
Remember, you only need to do this 10 times, which means you have 2 free months out of the entire year.
Use the free months to meet other expenses (such as seasonal gifting), or even to reward yourself for your efforts.
If you have significant unsecured debt, prioritising this challenge will probably have the greatest positive impact on your financial status.
Your mission is to beat those interest rates down – as low as you can get them. High interest charges make it difficult for you to get out of debt, and the longer it drags on, the more money you waste.
Hence, make it a point to get your rates as low as possible across all interest-bearing debt (such as credit cards).
To succeed, you’ll need to learn about how personal loans, balance transfers and debt consolidation plans work – these are the most common debt management tools offered by the banks here.
Complete this challenge and the burden of your debt should become that much lighter.
This next one is an oldie but goodie. Whenever you come across a $5 note, save it. No ands, ifs or buts.
At the end of the year, you’ll be amazed at how much savings you can rack up this way.
This challenge works on two fronts – the randomness of not knowing when you’ll come into a $5 note; and by removing small change from your pocket, which would otherwise be used up.
A variant of this challenge has to do with the foreign currency leftover at the end of your trips.
Instead of spending it all at the airport on overpriced food and bad souvenirs, keep it.
At the end of the year, gather up all your leftover currency and change them back into Singapore dollars.
This money challenge will help those who are constantly shocked by their credit card bills.
Estimate your weekly expenses, and withdraw that exact amount from the ATM in cash. For the next 7 days, make every payment in cash only.
Cash leftover at the end of the week goes into an empty jar or envelope. Repeat this process for the next 3 to 8 weeks, and check how much is in your jar at the end.
Paying in cash is psychologically more painful than cashless methods of payments, which is the basis for success in this challenge.
If you found the challenge easy, you’ve used the psychological pain of paying in cash to stop you from overspending.
If you find yourself struggling to last the week, you probably have expenses you’ve not taken into account – expenses which you’ve probably been covering with cashless payments.
In that case, it’s time to work out a more down-to-earth, realistic budget.