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Saving money every month is by no means easy – everything in the house seems to breakdown whenever there’s any spare cash, or the car suddenly falls apart! But money-saving challenges can be a fun and effective way to boost your savings to make those difficult times a little easy to cope with.
Rather than seeing it as going without, get competitive with yourself and focus on what you’ll do with the savings. Having clear goals for what you want to save and what you’ll use the money for will certainly keep you more motivated. And, you can get the kids involved too!
Here are the 12 best money saving challenges to try today:
The 52-Week Challenge:
This is a classic money-saving challenge where you save a specific amount of money each week, starting with £1 in the first week and adding an extra pound each week. By the end of 52 weeks, you will have saved a whopping £1,378!
The No-Spend Challenge:
This challenge is one of my favourite ways to boost our savings. So, what is the ‘no spend’ challenge? In order to have a little more to spend on having fun, or to put some money away, each month we cut back in one area without drastically changing our lifestyle.
The best thing to do is to have a different ‘no spend’ theme each month, that way it doesn’t get too tedious, nor do you really have time to miss anything too much! It’ll help you to identify and cut out unnecessary expenses from your budget, become a more mindful consumer, and encourage some creativity! It’s the perfect way to re-assess your finances and priorities.
What could I cut out for my ‘no spend’ challenge?
We like to regularly do a month without spending anything at the weekends, and I actually enjoy the challenge of finding free things to do. It encourages us visit to new places and think outside the box, as well as getting us outdoors. Honestly, this one is much easier in the summer months – when it’s easy to spend weekends hiking, cycling or playing at the beach.
Eating out / takeaways / the pub:
Cooking from scratch and socialising at home is great money-saver too – according to Nimblefins.co.uk the average household spends around £135 each month on takeaways and restaurants, which amounts to more than £1600 every year. So, this one could really help your bank balance!
Invite your friends over for a pizza instead of eating out, or ask everyone to bring a plate of food – when the weather warms up perhaps you could share bottle of bubbly in the garden instead of visiting the local pub. I find it makes me more inventive in the kitchen too; I try to recreate some new interesting meals and fake-aways at home so that we don’t feel like we’re missing out!
I’m not really into clothes, but I have lots of friends who buy new bits regularly. If clothes are your weakness, you could start by opting for a ‘no spend’ on new items – reducing your expenditure by shopping second-hand instead. And, where possible, try to shop from your wardrobe or borrow from friends for special occasions or things you won’t wear often.
Work lunches / coffee:
It’s so easy to spend significant amounts of money on food without even realising it, and with nothing to show for it. A £5 spend each weekday on something trivial like a meal deal or a coffee equates to £100 each month – or £1200 a year! This is a simple ‘no spend’ challenge that could save you enough over the course of the year to fund a holiday!
If you find yourself regularly shopping for toys for the kids, try to focus this only on birthdays and Christmas – limiting this kind of spending the rest of the time is a great place to start. Again, like with clothing, if you need to wean the kids off a regular stream of treats start by shopping second-hand and gradually phase it out.
The house & garden:
Homeware was probably my biggest weakness before I shifted my habits – though I still love browsing even when I’m not buying! These sorts of purchases are usually really unnecessary and bring us such temporary joy, so if you’re a home wear shopaholic a ‘no spend’ challenge for the house is a great way to change old habits.
To get my home wear fix I look for freebies on social media selling sites, things I can upcycle or repurpose, or try to DIY things I need for the house or garden from things like free pallets. Now, I like the challenge of being thrifty!
This is a tough one if you live rurally, and perhaps don’t have everything you need to hand locally or need to commute. But, it could be fun if you’re up for the challenge, and if you live in a city where everything can be accessed on foot or by riding a bike then you’ve got a good shot at it!
A trip to the salon can be vastly expensive – and often treatments involve regular maintenance too. With this as your ‘no spend’ challenge, see what you can take on at home yourself instead. Think at home waxing strips, painting your own nails, DIY tanning and extending the time between haircuts to really see some significant savings.
Exercise is a trivial one – yes it’s extremely important that we keep ourselves fit and healthy, but does it have to cost money? This ‘no spend’ challenge could be easily achieved with free online classes, running or cycling, yoga in the lounge or by purchasing your own gym equipment for the house – which would save money in the long run.
Books: If you’re an avid reader, books are great for a ‘no spend’ challenge too. We get through them really quickly in our house, so it’s not worth the expense of purchasing books when we’ll only read them once. So, we ‘treat ourselves’ by visiting the library every few weeks – you can reserve / order in from other libraries anything you fancy, so you can fuel your reading habit without the big bill.
The Daily Expense Challenge:
Identify a daily expense, like buying your lunch or a coffee on the way to work, and challenge yourself to cut it out for a specific period, such as a month. Every time you go without, transfer the money you would have spent into your savings account. A saving of a fiver a day totals to an amazing £1825 in a year! So, really think about those little spends and whether they’re worth it – I know I’d rather make a packed lunch and have a holiday instead!
The Round-Up Challenge:
If you use digital banking, many banks offer round-up features. Every time you make a purchase with your debit card, the transaction is rounded up to the nearest pound, and the change is transferred to your savings account. This can be a great way to save, as you’ll likely not notice a few pennies here and there but it’ll soon add up.
The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge:
I am such a minimalist, and I think learning to see less as more can have a great impact on our well-being and our finances – so I love this minimalism challenge! Each day for 30 days, declutter and sell, donate, or repurpose one item from your home. Any money you make from selling items can go directly into your savings. If you don’t use it, lose it! To help you to get started, check out my article: My simple guide: 30 days to a clean and decluttered home.
The £5 Note Challenge:
Whenever you receive a £5 note as change, put it in a designated savings jar. Over time, this can add up significantly. If £5 seems too much you could do what my Nan does, and save your coins instead – it’s amazing how quickly small amounts add up.
The One-Month Spending Freeze Challenge:
The spending freeze challenge is like the no spend challenge, only you commit to not spending any money on anything other than the essentials. It’s about using up what you have in your pantry, avoiding dining out, and going without luxuries for a whole month. This one takes more discipline but it’s a great way of saving money quickly if you need a chunk of cash fast.
The £1-a-Day Challenge:
If you don’t have a lot to spare, start small and challenge yourself to save £1 every day. It’s a manageable daily goal that can add up to £365 over a year which is a brilliant amount of spare cash to put towards a family break or a treat!
The No New Clothes Challenge:
This takes Oxfam’s second-hand September to a new level, and I think it’s one of those challenges that can easily be taken on long-term once you realise it’s fun to be thrifty! Commit to not buying any new clothes for a set period, like six months or a year. Instead, explore second-hand shops and websites, or focus on making the most of your existing wardrobe.
The Energy-Saving Challenge:
This one is a little tricky at the moment, but luckily the energy prices are wiggling their way back down a bit. The energy challenge focuses on finding ways to reduce your energy consumption, such as turning off lights when you leave a room, unplugging appliances, and using energy-efficient bulbs. Track your energy savings and transfer the money you save on your energy bill into savings.
The Pantry Challenge:
This is another of my favourites – I do a lot of cooking from scratch, so I like an excuse to be creative in the kitchen. Plan your meals, avoid eating out, and reduce food waste by using up what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer. You can still buy the extra bits and bobs you need, but first shop from your kitchen and try to be as strict as possible so that you’re only buying the essentials.
The Freebie Challenge:
Whenever you need something, before spending out, see if you can get what you need for free. The internet actually makes this surprisingly easy – with apps like Olio for food and other things, social media selling sites and Preloved websites. It’s amazing what people will give away. And, don’t forget to make use of swap sites too, or borrow what you need (from friends / the library / Olio’s borrowing section) if you won’t need it for long. You could even trade your skills!
Remember that the key to success with money-saving challenges is consistency and discipline. Set clear goals and regularly track your progress. Make sure you switch it up too – mix and match the challenges so each one is never too long or too tricky to complete! If you’re trying to overhaul your finances, you might find this article handy too: How to create a family budget and understand your finances.