I bet you’ve heard about money-saving challenges--who hasn’t? And I bet you’re itching to try one out and see if you can push yourself to save money. One way to keep your focus when doing this challenge is to have an actual goal. Is it a new car at the end of three months? A family holiday at the end of the year? By coming up with a goal, it’s easier for you to motivate yourself. To get you started, try this one out: a $1500-challenge in 3 months. Think it’s a tough one? Not really if you follow the tips below:
1. Break down your goals into smaller ones
So you’re planning to save $1500 in 3 months. That means in a month you need to save $500. If you break it down further, you have 4.3 weeks in a month. So you have to set aside around $116 in a week to reach the monthly target. Which means you’ll have to save around $16.50 a day. Now how do you exactly pull this off if you’re already a thrifty spender? You’ll have to take a closer look at your expenses.
2. Cut back on your expenses
When you take a good look at your weekly or monthly expenses, you’ll see that some of them aren’t really that important, or that you actually have cheaper options. Here are just some of the things you can cut back on:
- Groceries - you’ve probably heard this tip a million times: choose generic instead of branded goods because it’s 15% cheaper. Plus, studies have shown that there isn’t much difference between branded and generic goods aside from packaging. And remember, you’re only going to do this for three months.
- Utilities - You can’t really cut back on water and electricity if your house is already equipped with water- and energy-saving fixtures. But you can definitely cut back on your mobile, Internet, and cable expenses. The key here is to shop around for a cheaper package that matches your needs. If you haven’t yet, go for a bundle package that already includes mobile, Internet, and cable plans. A broadband plan that’s less than $100 is a better choice, especially if it already includes mobile, cable, and wireless Internet. Another good idea is to just chuck your cable and subscribe to Internet TV/cable.
- Work lunch and coffee - Eating out for lunch every work day is a huge money waster. So to reach your $1500 goal, bring your own lunch at work. And don’t think that you can get away with that store-bought coffee. It may seem like a small expense, but if you add all the money you spent on coffee, it’s probably enough to help you with your weekly goal of $116.00. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up your coffee-drinking habits. Make a jug of coffee at home, and bring it to your work. This way, you’ll have enough coffee to last you through the day without spending more.
3. Have “stay-in months” during the first and third months
If you love to dine out or watch movies at the mall, it’s time to curb down those money-spending habits. As part of the 3-month challenge, designate the first and third months as “stay-in months.” This means that during these months, you’re to stay at home during weekends. Now how do you do this without boring yourself to death? Have a movie marathon, invite friends for a potluck dinner, or hone your baking and cooking skills--the list is practically endless. Because this lifestyle change can be difficult for some, you’ll have that one month in between as a break from your stay-in weekends. After three months, you’ll be surprised at the amount of money you were able to save. You can almost smell that $1500.
4. Do a 13-week challenge
You’ve probably heard of the 52-week challenge. But since you’re working on a three-month time frame, it’s going to be a 13-week challenge. In this challenge, you save $1 on the first week, $2 on the 2nd week, $3 on the third week, and so on. At the end of the challenge, you’ll have $91 saved. If you want to amp up your savings, tweak the challenge by saving every day instead of every week. So on the first day, you save $1, $2 on the second day, $3 on the third day, and so on. After 91 days, you’ll be able to save $4,186.00. That’s definitely more than your $1500 target. Now this challenge takes a LOT of discipline. If you want to start small, stick to saving once a week instead of everyday. Once you’ve made it a habit to regularly save, move up and do the $1-first day, $2-2nd day, and so on version. This challenge is a very useful tool if you’re saving for say, a $1500 standard deposit for a car lease in Brisbane.
5. Set aside $20 a week in a jar or envelope
Start small by setting aside $20 a week and place it inside an envelope, jar, or piggy bank. This amount won’t take a huge chunk from your weekly budget (so it’s more manageable), but it’s significant enough to motivate you to keep on saving. If the envelope/piggy bank/jar isn’t working for you, you can always set up your paycheck account to automatically transfer $20 into your savings account. Just think. If you do this for three months ($20x4 weeks = $80, $80x3 months = $240), you’ll be able to save at least $240. Add this to the money you’ve saved by cutting back on expenses, and your $1500 goal becomes an easier target.
The key to any money-saving challenge is to start small. Keep in mind that you’re bound to slip up, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you fail to set aside money this week. If this does happen, push yourself in the coming weeks to make up for the lost money. It’s also a good idea if you let your loved ones and friends into the challenge. This way, you’ll have someone to keep you on your toes throughout the three, challenging months.
For more tips on how to save money, check out the Alpha Finance blog. If you’re looking for an affordable way to get your own car without applying for a huge loan, call us--we’re more than happy to help you out.