Saving money is hard.
Saving money is boring.
Saving money can be fun!
I’ve just discovered money savings challenges 😄
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No Spend Challenge
Let’s go back to the beginning …
When I first found FIRE, I really struggled with the idea of frugality.
To me, frugality was about deprivation, scarcity and restriction.
It was not very me. I was about excess, abundance and being able to spend freely on whatever I want to spend on.
I’ll give you an example.
When I walk into a chocolate store, I will walk away with nearly one of everything from the display cabinet because I want to taste everything. My friend will agonise and select maybe three to try. (No judgement here – I love my friend but I never want to be limited to 3 out of lots of delicious options)
And so one of the first challenges I did was the Frugalwoods’ Uber Frugal Month challenge.
As the name suggests, it was a month long challenge.
The key word here is challenge.
Because in the same month, I also had a short trip to Sydney planned. Plus I had scheduled my crumbling fence to be replaced and new plants were being purchased.
So I was on tenterhooks for that whole month, trying hard not to spend any more money. I was anxious and guilty as the bills for the new fence and plants rolled in. And trying to justify meals out with friends in Sydney.
The good thing about the challenge was that I discovered I could make coffee at home at a fraction of the price at a cafe. And 3 years later, I still enjoy my coffee from my stove top moka pot.
Doing the challenge opened my eyes to how I spent money. I learnt how to question what I was buying; if I needed it or if I just wanted it. I still can’t call myself frugal but I have reined in my general spending habits.
But I have never participated in another money savings challenge.
Roll the Dice Challenge
And something lit up within me.
At the time, I was writing about how automating my money flow takes away my lack of self control and discipline because it made saving and investing so easy and convenient.
It brought one thing to my attention. I have one sinking fund that is not automated ie I don’t have any savings automatically going into this account.
This is my Antarctica fund, as separate to my Travel fund.
I had set up the Antarctica fund at the end of 2020 as a way of making my dream of visiting Antarctica more real. It is one of my goals for this decade (2 years down, 8 to go). Plus I’d asked to tag along with Frogdancer Jones on her trip.
Visiting Antarctica is expensive! And my travel fund has to pay for other more immediate travel especially to London to visit family.
Initially, I automated savings into this account. But it conflicted with other priorities, namely home maintenance and I stopped the automation.
So the only savings going into this account now was earnings from Octopus Group surveys plus cash back from purchases using Cashrewards.
When I saw @gofrombroke’s instagram post about a Roll the Dice challenge, I decided to try it.
Every morning, I roll the dice digitally and whatever number came up, I transferred the dollar amount into my Antarctica account.
Amazingly, it was fun and I only forgot a couple of mornings. I then made it up by rolling twice the next day and transferred both amounts.
So far after 28 days, I have transferred $194!
I had a bit of cash flow problem on the second week and had to wait for my pay to hit the bank account before I could transfer that day’s savings.
But overall, I haven’t suffered or felt deprived in any way.
While $194 is not an earth shattering amount, it is much more than what I thought I’d be able to transfer monthly.
So what should I do now? Automate that amount monthly?
More Money Savings Challenges
Because I quite enjoyed this savings challenge, I’ve decided to do more!
I will do a savings challenge each month and all proceeds will go to the Antarctica fund.
Hopefully, this keeps the Antarctica fund front and centre in my brain and will motivate me to save more.
But I will automate the savings whenever I can.
Knowing me – if it’s not an easy system, I will get tired of it and forget to do it.
So this is what I’m going to do for the next few months.
December Savings Challenge
Traditionally December is a high spend month for me, with hosting Christmas lunch and gifts and entertaining family back from overseas. Think lots of eating out, entrance fees … a festive and social time catching up with everyone. It will be money well spent and I don’t begrudge it.
This is when I am most grateful for automation – I know my usual savings and investing goals are taken care of.
There are lots of $2 per day or save every $5 note suggestions on the internet. I hardly use cash these days so am ruling out the $5 note idea.
I think I can do better than $2 per day so will try a $3 per day savings challenge.
I will automate these amounts to be deposited weekly on Sundays.
January Savings Challenge
January is usually our hottest month in Melbourne, with highs in the 40s (Celsius).
So … my money savings challenge is tied to the highest temperature!
A popular challenge on the internet is to save the dollar amount of the highest temperature on Wednesdays. Others suggest averaging the week’s highest temperatures and saving the average. Do I look at actual temperatures or the forecasted highs?
Sigh, already overthinking!
So I’ll keep it simple and just check the highest forecast for Wednesdays and transfer that amount. I won’t be able to automate this.
February Savings Challenge
February is the shortest month so I’ll do the Save the Day challenge. But in reverse.
The usual way is to save $1 on day 1, $2 on day 2 and so on.
But I think it’ll be easier to start on the bigger number first and then it gets progressively easier.
The first week will be tough – $28 + $27 + $26 + $25 + $24 + $23 + $22 = $175 !!
But the final week will be easy peasy 🙂
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard or boring.
Add a little bit of fun by doing some money savings challenges.
You’d be surprised as to how much more you can save!
There are no spend challenges – I like them for challenging your spending habits. You quickly work out what you spend your money on. Self awareness is the first step in reining in a spending habit.
Or you can sign up to round up purchases – there are phone apps or your bank may offer this service – save the round up bits to another account. For example, coffee costs $3.60 – save 40 cents (rounded up to $4) I don’t like these as much because it depends on me spending and I’m trying not to spend!
I’ve chosen my money savings challenges based on them saving real dollars into my account.
And automating them as much as possible will take away my lack of self control and discipline – who knows how I’ll feel in February but if I’ve locked in the automations, it will just happen automatically.
I’m off now to lie on the couch and set up these automations. And set up reminders for the 4 Wednesdays in January to check the forecast high that day.
I’m feeling chuffed that my Antarctica fund is getting some TLC, making the possibility of visiting a lot more possible ❄️🐧