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3 Awesome Challenges to Try This Year

by J. Money on Monday, January 23, 2012

do it post-it noteOne of things I love about Januarys, is that the goals and missions all over the place blow up and motivate people.  I think that’s awesome (and really the only cool thing about January – it’s so bland!). The problem, of course, is that usually this passion and excitement dies out after a few weeks. But those rock stars that stay on top it, and continue pushing forward, are very handsomely rewarded!

I don’t know which side of the fence you’re currently on, but I’m gonna assume you’re one of the rock stars ;)  And since only awesome people read this blog, I thought I’d list a few of the different challenges going around the blogosphere this month in case any of ‘em seem enticing to you too. Maybe it’s time to take on a new one?

The $3k Blog Challenge

One of my friends, Edward, is shooting for a goal of $3,000 earned through blogging this year, and is encouraging others to join him on this mission in hopes a community will keep everyone on track.  And as a prize for the one who reaches it first, he’s dangling a $50 Visa card in front of the racers (no word on whether you can *include* this in your $3k total or not ;)).  There are some rules you have to stick with – like not having a huge blog where this is easily achieved – but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward.  If you blog, and you like money, why not try making some from it? (More info here)

The No-Spend Challenge

This one I like a LOT because I have done this myself, over Lent one year, and it literally changed my spending patterns. I went from spending HUNDREDS of dollars a month on random things I didn’t really need much, to SAVING hundreds of dollars over time. I can’t remember the exact numbers off hand, but I wanna say I’ve saved a good $400/mo ever since.  I’m not joking – it was by far one of the best things I could have ever done, and it wasn’t easy :)

Here’s Kristina’s plan. I’m sure she’d love some others joining her!

“I decided to try a 6 month ban on my personal spending of all non essential items. I am going to learn to live on less and not spend any money on clothes, bath and beauty products, perfume, music, DVDs, movies, or Wii Games.  Essential items for the household and daily living necessities such as groceries are definitely ok, but for the next 6 months I am going to live without any luxuries…I am hoping that my 6 month personal spending ban lowers my weekly spending to $150 per week. “

If it helps, read my “4 stages you’ll encounter during a no-spend challenge” post first.  It may be hard in the beginning, but it’s definitely worth it in the end!

The 2012 Personal Finance Challenge

Now this one’s a whopper.  Created by Aaron of Three Thrifty Guys, his mission is to complete 10 specific goals in the new year – with a checklist to print off and everything.  He def. gets points for creativity :)  Some of these you may have already completed, but I *highly* advise checking it out to at least see the different kinds of areas this helps with.  Personal finance is way more than just savings and debt, and sometimes we forget about the more boring (in my opinion) portions.  Like insurance.

Here are a handful of the more specific goals in case you’re not too lazy to click over ;)  How many have you already done?  How many are you already working on?

  1. Create a $1k Emergency Fund
  2. Read a Book on Personal Finance
  3. Cut Your Debt by 5% or More
  4. Start a File For Your 2012 Taxes
  5. Complete a DIY (Do-it-yourself) Project

If you’re looking for a good kick in the pants, consider this it and sign up to his challenge.  You can’t lose anything! (And I think he’s giving away a prize at the end too. Though you shouldn’t be motivated by that, you gotta really WANT THIS to make it happen!)

I feel like I saw more challenges being passed around too, but I think these are good for now. 
At some point it just all becomes overwhelming :)  And plus – I’m sure you guys are already working on some pretty good goals, yeah?  Have any you’d like to share with us today?  Maybe we’ll join you in them!

Regardless though, keep pushing yourself to achieve greatness.  It’s not always easy getting started, or making it to the end for that matter, but at the end of the day it all goes to improve your lifestyle.  And as much happiness as you can squeeze out of all these goals, the better :)

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(Photo by Amy Loves Yah)


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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Edward Antrobus January 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

Thanks for the mention!

The no-spend challenge isn’t really in the cards for me right now. I AM going to see John Carter when it opens. And probably the Lorax; it was my favorite Dr. Suess book. But I don’t spend that much on non-essentials anyway. Can’t remember the last time I bought a DVD, I just rent them through Netflix. Same with itunes vs Pandora.

Now, that third challenge, I am in! That is, of course, if he won’t count the mortgage I’m getting in a few months. The mortgage alone will triple my debt. But not counting it, my goal is to pay off my last remaining credit card which is 14% of my current debt.

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2 Stephanie January 23, 2012 at 10:22 am

I don’t really see the no-spend challenge as happening for me. We’re pretty good in our house about not over-spending on random crap. My husband and I each get up to $100/month for personal spending and we spend maybe $150-200 on mutual entertainment stuff (dinner, movies, etc.), so that’s usually less than $100/week in discretionary spending. I’d say we’ve got that under control.

We already have a healthy emergency fund, and the only stuff I need to file for taxes throughout the year is for my business, which has a file already… I think we’re on track to cut our debt by at least 5%, especially since I want to start paying extra on student loans this year. Except that I might buy a car, which MIGHT require a loan, but I want to keep the loan in the $6-8k (or less!) range. Which I think I can do if we can save enough for a $5-7k downpayment and trade in my old car.

Oh, and a DIY project is already on the agenda. I want to remodel our laundry room – new ceiling, new floors, new paint, install shelving and a new utility sink. (We might call in the pros for the floors though. I don’t think I have the patience for that!)

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3 Nate St. Pierre January 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

Just headed over to Aaron’s site – I love the idea of the checklist for the year. It’s not one huge year-long thing to do, but rather a bunch of different things, some smaller, some bigger. Checking them off one-by-one as they’re completed will help.

And I just got term life last week! So that’s one done. ;)
And I need to start keeping track of 2012 tax stuff with a good system, so I’ll get on it.

Thanks for the nudge…

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4 Brett January 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

Great ideas! My goal is to become debt free, get a bigger emergency fund, and finally lose some weight. I really like the blogging challenging. Looks like I need to update mine ASAP.

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5 Juan January 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

Starting the process really is the important part. Like they say, a journey of 1000 miles starts with one step.

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6 Megan Cassidy January 23, 2012 at 10:51 am

Fitarella is doing a 12-in-12 challenge, where you pick a new, positive habit each month and do it every single day that month. It’s a fun and different approach to resolutions and gives the flexibility to try new things, or just do more of something that means a lot to you.

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7 Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents January 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

Just entered the $3K challenge!

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8 cashflowmantra January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

Well, there are a number of bloggers who are going for $30,000, and I am a part of that Challenge. These are individuals who have already been blogging so that there is a baseline level of revenue but it will still be a big stretch for me.

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9 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving January 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

Checking out everybody’s goals is always fun. :-) I’m not going for any of the challenges this year, because I made a ton of goals for this year. I did a big post on my financial, blogging and personal goals for the year and I’m planning to kill it.

There’s beefing up my emergency fund, increasing our 401k contributions, paying off the last of the evil credit card, reading at least 36 books, increasing my pagerank and more. I also post monthly goals too, so I’ve got a full plate this year. :-)

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10 LB January 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Blogging challenge-so far haven’t come up with anything I would like to talk about on a daily basis/don’t know enough about a subject to make it interesting/informative enough to try.

No Spend Challenge- easy… I started school and it is hard for me to spend money if I am busy all the time.

Personal Finance Challenge-
Pretty much already tackled most of the below :) I guess I need to find new challenges.

1) need to fix
2)Term life insurance..I am young enough/no kids I can stick with my employer policy for now
3)Easy to cut wasteful spending. I rarely eat out, brew my own coffee and am busy with school. But for the fun of the challenge I will watch my spending.
4)Read a book on personal finance- Does the biography of Steve Jobs count? I am totally into it right now.
5)no debt. period.
6)yeah no.
7) Accidentally fell into a side gig at my job. So cool :)
8)I already keep my taxes and everything I need together
9)Started going through the house and have stuff I am selling on ebay already
10)Done. unless I start something new. I mean I still need to paint, but going to wait until Spring when I can open the windows :)

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11 Jennifer Lissette January 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

My goal for this year is to pay off 20% of my remaining mortgage principal. We stupidly took a 10-1 interest only ARM and started paying on the principal last year when I set the goal to pay down 10%. So far this year, we’ve sent in a payment that was roughly 1% of the remaining principal, so I guess I’m 5% of the way to my goal.

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12 Angella January 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for the links. I plan to do a no-spend month and the personal finance challenge! As much as I’d love to make $3000 blogging, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. Maybe next year. Things like these, little goals, are what keep me motivated!

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13 Brent Pittman January 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for heads up. I’m taking the 3K challenge…baby steps right?

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14 One Frugal Girl January 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I’m definitely going to sign up for the $3k Blog Challenge. My goal is actually to aim for $7,000 since that would cover the first six months of our family’s health insurance, but I suppose I should start with a smaller goal. My employer used to pay a large chunk of my insurance expenses, but now that I’m unemployed and staying home with my son I need to find some way to cover the bills!

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15 SimpleIslandLiving January 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

My new year’s resolution was to not be an a**hole. Unfortunately I remember that resolution when my boss cut my pay in half and now I am unemployed. Goes to show, keep those resolutions handy!
Realistically, a no-spend month is necessary now. We’ve got a whole bunch of personal finance challenges ahead of us! I’d like to rebuild our e fund after we run through it (due to current situation), would like to find health insurance that won’t cost us $1200 per month, and would like to find a great job that I like.

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16 Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge January 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I’d really love to pay off ALL private student loan debt — currently a bit over $14,000. I know that’s really not very likely (but I’m sure as hell going to try), so this year’s goal is to eliminate one specific loan that has a variable interest rate that just creeped up from 9.25% to 9.375%. I really don’t want to find out what would happen to my finances if the interest rate kept increasing!

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17 Megan H January 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I think the challenge Krystal is attempting is unique! I don’t think I would have trouble doing this because I’m such a saver, but I think my husband could only do it for about a month haha. We’re doing a lot better at figuring out having some “fun money” every month. After our move it’ll be a lot easier to figure out the amounts. We’re thinking 100 per month.

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18 brooklyn money January 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I want to save $25K by the end of Q2 (including stock market gains and 401K contributions)

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19 AverageJoe January 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Awesome pic, dude. I don’t have a big hairy goal yet, but I love the “no spending plan” idea. I’m going to implement that one in my own life.

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20 J. Money January 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm

So yeah – I accidentally called Kristina, “Krystal,” up there – oops. KRISTINA is the one doing the “no spend” challenge ;) Sorry! Y’all got the point though.

@Edward Antrobus – Good for you – that’s still a nice challenge! Give it a shot :)
@Stephanie – Fun! Maybe it’ll make doing laundry more bearable? ;) We might try and do our own floors in one of our rooms first to see how it goes, but something tells me I wont’ have the patience either for it, haha… gotta give it a shot though!
@Nate St. Pierre – GOOD! I liked that they were steps you could (literally) check off too – the whole PDF turned me on to be honest with you ;)
@Brett – Glad you found some of these ideas helpful :)
@Juan – Amen on that, brotha.
@Megan Cassidy – Oooh that’s kinda cool. I like that :) I’d probably start with less cursing… which always makes me want to curse MORE since I can’t do it, haha…
@Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents – Awesome! Good luck!
@cashflowmantra – Damn, that’s great! $30k is nothing to sneeze at. I hope you reach it! It’s an entry-level salary right there :)
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Haha, yeah you do! Good for you on batting away the others and keeping your focus – that’s the mark of a very smart person ;)
@LB – I hear that. I’m always trying to start a new blog on something cuz I have all these ideas and brain waves, but never know how to streamline it (besides this blog – which is def. hard to maintain at times – talking about money every day takes a lot outta you! haha…). Let me know how Jobs’ bio goes too – it’s on my “maybe” list to check out.
@Jennifer Lissette – You can do it!! That 10-1 isn’t stupid if you can knock a lot of it out in time before it resets ;) I don’t know much about those, but I think you can do it? Or refi once it gets closer? (Easier said than done, I know).
@Angella – Good :) Little goals = Larger results later. Glad you found some you can try out!
@Brent Pittman – You know it brother. If you can make $3k blogging, you can then make $6k and $12k etc etc. It’s figuring out *how* that’s the hardest ;)
@One Frugal Girl – Oh wow, that is a LOT – jeez… I’m sorry to hear that :( I def. hope you hit $7k too then! I have faith in you! :)
@SimpleIslandLiving – I am in LOVE with your blog!! I literally clicked over there to find out how you got unemployed, and been reading for the last 40 mins! (Well, also cuz I’m a slow reader, but still – very captivating and interesting!). I’m gonna link back to you later on my site – hang in there!! :)
@Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge – Yikes, scary! 9% is no joke either, boy… I hope you can knock off a big chunk of it! No shame in doing it in 2 years rather than 1 either, once it’s gone it’s gone, baby! ;)
@Megan H – I hope the move goes well! That’s exciting :) One of my favorite things to do growing up (we moved 17+ times due to dad being in the military – was so fun!)
@brooklyn money – NICE! That’s no joke yo, I hope you hit it!
@AverageJoe – I liked it too :) Nice and simple point w/ the heart being the only thing in color. Good luck on your no spend challenge!

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21 Jen January 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I went to the credit union Saturday morning to set up my goal for the year: automatic transfer of $200 out of my direct deposited paycheck into savings. I don’t know if I can live without $400/month in my checking/spending account, but I’m going to try my darnedest!

If I can make it work, I’ll have just over $5,000 in savings on Dec 31, 2012. How sweet is that! Vacation for 2013, saved for!!

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22 J. Money January 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

NICE!! I like that very much so :) $5k for a vacay is pretty freakin’ big though, where would you be going – Antarctica? Haha…

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23 Nancy January 25, 2012 at 12:20 am

We are focusing on financial goals this year. We are about a week away from our 1k emergency fund , our big hairy goal is paying off the rest of our debt this year and building our house saving fund. Our DIY project will be our house though we’ll technically start building next year. We are going to start building cabinets and some furniture this year.

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24 Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge January 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

J. Money — I ended up taking out a loan from Lending Club to pay off a big chunk of it. My original plan was to take out a loan to cover ALL of it, and I would have locked in the rate at around 7%. Unfortunately, after “reviewing my credit” they knocked down the loan amount to $8,000. But, at least now I can knock out the one loan that’s 9.375%, and I’m fairly sure I can knock out the rest of it within a year.

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25 J. Money January 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

@Nancy – Fun!! I wish I could have you here to help with ours, we suck at cabinet stuff… will probably have to hire someone one day to do it :( Congrats on the almost $1k E Fund – that’s important! :)
@Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge – Now that’s an interesting idea! I’d never even think about that. You’re smart. Not that I ever doubted you ;)

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26 Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge January 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

Thanks, J. Money! Getting rid of my student loans are a bit of an obsession rather than a goal.. If there’s something that I can do to knock the interest rate down or to pay them off faster, I will. I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do with my time once all my debt is paid off! I guess then it’ll be time to go looking for some more debt (a.k.a.) a mortgage! Or maybe I’ll just obsess over saving and investing, probably smarter. =P

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27 J. Money January 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Haha, I think you’ll be obsessing for the rest of your life then as there’s *always* something financial you could be working on ;) At least it would be a lot more fun than debt though!

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28 Kelsey @ Zero to One Million Challenge January 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Yes, I think you’re right!

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