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5 Mostly Doable Challenges To Try This Year :)

by J. Money on Tuesday, January 15, 2013

no clutter

Whelp, it’s that time of year again! When everyone declares grand gestures of all types and takes on some seriously challenging challenges :) But that’s what I love about the new year and all the buzz that comes about it – people using their time and energy for GOOD! Even if the motivation dies over the next few months, haha… but that would never happen to YOU, right? ;)

So just like last year’s shout out to the personal finance challenges going around, I thought we’d keep the trend going and list out those I’ve come across THIS year so far… If you’ve joined (or started) any of your own out there, let us know about them so maybe they’ll inspire us too!

The 52-Week Savings Challenge

This one comes from my friend Shawanda who posted it up on Facebook a few days ago saying, “I’m not sure where it originated, but it seems like an easy way to save $1,378 in a year.  The first week you make sure to save $1.  The second week, you save $2. The third week, you save $3 and on and on until you get to the end of the year… For those who struggle with saving, this idea could work.”

The “No More Frivolous Spending!” Challenge

Started by my friend, and fellow blogger, Suzanne Cramer who vows to start tracking her money again and cut out all non-necessary spending! Anything outside of basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. Which already sounds pretty hardcore to me, haha… But if you need to get yourself back on track and buckle down again, then maybe you need to start your own too? A whole bunch of non-frivolous’ers taking back control of their money again – that’s what you call sexy :)

The $3k Blogging Challenge

My boy Edward continues his mission again of trying to earn $3,000 from his blog this year. And this time around he’ll be upping the grand prize to $175 to one lucky blogger who joins him in trying to accomplish this! He’s only allowing online income sources to be counted (online advertising, affiliate links, paid blogging gigs, online sales, etc) so if you’re up for the challenge, fill out the form on his page and join the community… Or better yet, start a blog anyways and see if you enjoy it! :)

The 365 “Less Things” Challenge

This one is a personal fave of mine as it goes PERFECTLY with my own New Year’s resolution this year of keeping things simple and focused. And even more so, decluttered! The blogger behind this (Colleen) started an entire site around it with the goal of getting rid of unutilised items in her house to declutter every wardrobe, bench, shelf, under bed, pantry and garage space by giving away, throwing away or selling one item every day for twelve whole months. I freakin’ love it. And I plan on following suit and see how long I can last too :)

The 100 “Reverse Things”Challenge

If the above goal seemed a little too easy for you – which just may be the case if you’re already pretty neat and tidy over there – then feast your eyes on THIS more extreme idea: Dumping 100 things in one month! (The original challenge was to get rid of 100 things by the end of the year starting late last October, but seeing how that has since passed, I’ve edited it to apply here more currently). The blogger, Courtney Carver, dubbed this a “reverse” challenge because the REAL “100 things” challenge is getting all your possessions down to only 100 things in total (that links to the book on it, btw, which I just picked up myself!). Since that goal is pretty much unfathomable to 99.9% of us though, this is a nice middle ground where we can still keep our normal lifestyles ;)

Think you could do any of these? Or more importantly, WANT to do any of these? Haha… if so, let us know! Maybe we can take one or two of these together and help keep each other motivated :) Currently I plan on doing the 365 challenge and/or the 100 Reverse one since we’ll need to be cleaning up anyways if we want to move anytime in the near future… So this is a great way for us to start on it!

Let us know if you’ve heard of any other cool ones out there!

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PS: A nice way to get started with the decluttering-type goals is to find a few boxes and label them “donate”, “sell” and “trash”. Then as you go around your house, just throw the unwanted things in the appropriate box and you’re on your way! Nice and easy!

[Photo by Sean MacEntee]


{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 15, 2013 at 6:43 am

I made a list of doable financial and personal goals for 2013 and have already strayed from the path to get me to my goals. I am restarting again today. That is the great thing about goals – many steps to get there and if you stop and take a break or get lost you can get back on the path at any time. I need to run on the path for a little while to get caught up but I will get there.

I want to help Edward reach his blogging income goal and I will visit his page and my goal is to get both my sons reading my blog and perhaps learning from my many mistakes.

Glad I am still allowed to comment on Budgets Are $exy after commentin that I am anti-tattoo last week.

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2 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

HAH! Always, friend! We need different perspectives on this site :)

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3 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey January 15, 2013 at 6:51 am

I also saw the 52-Week Money Challenge on Facebook. A friend posted it and dared us to do so. I found it easy to do so I joined the challenge. I also challenged my husband and children to do the same, which they willingly accepted. My husband even doubled the amount. He is now on Week 48 because he does wait for the end of the week to put his savings. Furthermore, he reversed the process and started at Week 52.

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4 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hahahhaa…. I love your husband ;) Wants to hurry up and get to the challenging parts right away and be done with it!

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5 Lance @ Money Life and More January 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

None of these really strike a chord with me. I save plenty already so no need to save even more. I already try my best to limit frivolous spending in a responsible way. I guess I could try to get rid of things, but I’d rather get rid of them because I no longer need them, not just for a challenge.

I did take part in the unofficial and unannounced save half of your raise for retirement challenge though :) It even made my take home pay go down :(

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6 Andrea @ take a smart step January 15, 2013 at 7:18 am

I love a good challenge! I am doing a sort of combo of a couple of theses. I told myself no purchases beyond necessities until I get a few rooms organized. We recently moved so not much to give away, but it does all need to be properly placed before I buy more! :). Hopefully I will save money and be organized!

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7 Mercedes January 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

I’ve set a few “challenges” for myself in this new year to save money which are in the same vein as some of these. I’ve decided to save every $1 bill that comes into my hands. I don’t use cash all that often, but when I do have it, I’ll go through it like water! So I figure if I stick to this I’ll save myself some cash and not make some silly purchases just because I have the dough. I am also decluttering and have challenged myself to get rid of (toss, donate, sell) at least 365 things this year. (honestly, I do not have that much clutter compared to most, but I know there is plenty I can still get rid of)

Also, any raise I may receive is going directly to my 401k. I’m good with where my paycheck is at right now, so I may as well save what I can if it isn’t going to hurt me. :-)

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8 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

There you go!! BIG fan of that 401k/raise route – It’s one of the best ways to stop yourself from lifestyle inflation :) Love the $1 bill route too!! I wonder if you’ll find ways to get more $5s or $10s in order to avoid it?? Haha…

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9 Philip January 15, 2013 at 8:52 am

The 52-Week Savings Challenge – Ok J, this one is too easy, I challenge you to start with week 1 and $1 then week 2 double to $2 then week three double to $4 etc… see how long you can keep up that one… heck, i’ll be nice and say you can start at 1 penny for the first week!

The 365 “Less Things” Challenge – I think this all depends on what you consider to be “things”. I just got rid of a bunch of old computer cables and cords and adapters this weekend, probably added up to 10-150+ “things” if I can count them separately.

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10 Colleen January 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

Hi Phillip, Colleen here from 365 Less Things. Sometimes “things” were collections of things like the pile of computer cords you spoke of here. I think we have had a few cable roundups over the last three years. Some things that were small or collected up in one effort got lumped together and called a thing. I think if I counted every little thing it would possibly added up to thousands. At the end of each year that I have been doing this (three years now) I have put a photo collage or slide show the decluttered items on my blog. It sure does look impressive when they are all lumped together.

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11 AverageJoe January 15, 2013 at 8:59 am

Those are incredibly cool ideas. I love the throw things away challenge. Reducing clutter is a fantastic challenge for me. I’m not a hoarder or anything, but man, would I love to have a more Zen lifestyle.

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12 Greg@ClubThrifty January 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

I love all of these challenges. Our goal for the year is to make enough money blogging so that one of us can quit our job! Wish us luck!!!

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13 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

ooooh good one!!! I hope you guys reach that too – you’ll love it! :)

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14 Alexis January 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

I have been seriously considering getting rid of stuff around the house, but I can’t possibly do a challenge called “365 Less Things.” I’m an editor, and reading “less” misused that way is like chewing aluminum foil. (It should say “fewer,” which is used for countable nouns; less is only used for non-count nouns, like time or space.)

I may do it on my own, focusing mainly on thinning the herds of books I own (I’m up to around 1300 volumes, not including my husband’s work books or the hundreds of kids’ books we have).

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15 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

haha sorry, that’s the name they chose! :) and CRAZY you have so many books – wow. I thought I had a lot at like 300…

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16 Mom January 15, 2013 at 9:39 am

I’m working on the 365 things challenge, with a slight modification: I have to get rid of 365 things this year – whether I do it one per day, or a whole bunch at once is irrelevant. So far, I’m at 6 out of 365 things gone.

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17 Emmy January 15, 2013 at 9:48 am

I’m actually attempting the 52 week savings challenge. So far so good! Although… you know… I’m only up to the third week. So it’s pretty easy so far! I also am thinking about giving up shopping for Lent again. We’ll see.

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18 Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

I am on the 52-week savings challenge along with the No frivolous spending challenge. I think they are both great and I hope to finish them. Thanks for putting all of the great challenges in one place J. Money!

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19 Leah January 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

I’d love to achieve the $3K in site income!

I’m also moving this year, which will almost surely lead to getting rid of at least 100 things. But then probably necessitate buying 100 more things. Amazing how that happens.

For me personally, I was really sad that I couldn’t max out my Roth IRA for 2012, so I made a resolution to do monthly deposits and max it out for 2013. That’ll be an awesome goal to achieve!

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20 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

YES! Go for it!! Maxing out your Roth is one of the best things you can do every year :) It sucks you slipped last one, but no more looking back and now we rock it in the future. YOU CAN DO IT!!

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21 Trinnie January 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

I’m doing the 52 week savings challenge and also the 365 things challenge…with as much crap as we have, that should be easy. The 52 week savings challenge was also easy to get started…because I started it’s own savings account, and USAA requires a $25 min deposit, that took care of the first 6 weeks of deposits :)…now to remember to do the others, and I’ve set up reminders on Outlook and my phone.

(since I discussed a USAA product, I have to divulge I’m an employee of USAA)

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22 Skint inthe City January 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

Love the 52 week challenge – starting today and putting in for the days I’ve missed! And, like most folks, my other resolution is to clear the clutter. I’m mad keen on doing so with my wardrobe and generally manage to keep that in shape through a regular wardrobe audit, http://skintinthecity.com/wardrobe-audit/ but as for the rest of the house, oh my! Still I worked my way through a storage box at the weekend and discovered lots I thought I’d lost, like a big map of Britain, that I was about to replace. So, some money saved there by not dropping £15 on a new one! Mostly though it was stuff I didn’t need that gone to charity or the bin!

Also, similar to Mercedes, I’m saving £2 coins. They’re not that common really, but whenever I get one they’re going in a jar. I reckon I’ll have a couple of hundred pounds saved this way by the end of the year.

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23 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I like it that y’all have £2 coins, though I’m sure it makes you spend more in general yeah? Not that you know the difference of *not* having them, haha…

Digging that wardrobe audit post too! I might have to pass that bad boy around, thanks ;)

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24 Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget January 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

If ” The $3k Blogging Challenge” was actually “The $30 Blogging Challenge,” then I think we’d be game. ;)

We’ve actually talked about doing a monthly version of the 52-week Savings Challenge where every month we choose a particular budget category (say electricity or eating out) and focus on trimming the fat.

Wish us luck.

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25 Financial Black Sheep January 15, 2013 at 11:08 am

I am doing a little bit of everything. Right now I am focusing on paying off debt by April 2013. I recently messed it up with a family emergency and will be writing about it on Friday. I hope to pick up some part-time jobs to fix it and build my savings back up. I don’t care where I work as long as I pick up something that doesn’t mess up school and is worth all the time and effort.

As for the cleaning out, I had already planned that when I get a school break coming up shortly. I plan on cleaning out and selling what I don’t need. Who knows I might just clean out extra and move :D

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26 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

GREAT GOAL!!! I hope you reach it my friend!

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27 Heather H January 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

This year, with a few other people, I’m working through the book Organize Now. It’s broken into 50+ chapters and we’re working through a chapter a week, with the the goal of organizing and decluttering throughout the year.

Although there’s no formal challenge involved, it has committed us to getting rid of stuff and figuring out what’s important. Plus, there’s the added bonus of tax deductions for the things I get rid of while decluttering. :)

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28 Chris January 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

I like the 100 things in total challenge. I’m going to do a variation that involves paring down my possessions so that they will all fit in my truck. I’m planning on moving this year somewhere. So I figure I should prepare to do that and save on as much gas as possible.

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29 Sean @ One Smart Dollar January 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

I need to pass the The 365 “Less Things” Challenge along to my in-laws. Might help them clear out their house a little bit.

I want to go through the items that I don;t use and sell them. If I don’t need them anymore I might as well get paid for them.

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30 Angella January 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

I’m doing the 52-week savings challenge, and the 365 ‘less things’ challenge! I’m going to use the 52-week savings as an end of the year reward, maybe a vacation or something. The 365 less things will help me declutter my house AND life. Less clutter = happier me. Something about clutter in my home just stresses me out. Might as well get rid of it, and maybe make some cash doing so. Already have a donate pile too.

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31 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm

oooh there you go! a nice end-of-year treat for behaving yourself – I like it! :)

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32 Akiyo @ KitchenPenguin January 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

This post has great timing because I was attempting to hold back the tide of clutter at home last night and I decided that I was not going to buy any books (except the ones I need for school) in 2013. Our guest room doubles as the library and we’re still trying to find ways to fit more shelves in there…I don’t need more books. I have the public library, I have my library, I have my friends’ libraries, and I have Paperback Swap…I don’t need more books. If I keep saying it then I’ll believe it eventually…I don’t need more books. Additionally, I think the bins that haven’t been opened since I moved into my house five years ago need the 365 Less Things challenge.

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33 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

haha…. books are the only thing that I find an “exception” with cuz it makes a room just so dang cozy!! though having too many could very well be a problem too :)

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34 Edward Antrobus January 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thanks again J. Do papers count for the “100 Things” challenge? If so, done. Getting ready to move, my wife and I filled a trash bag with stuff we tossed from our desks.

@Jane Savers Thanks. I took a look at your blog and I think you’ve got a great voice.
@Leah I think you have a great start with that free mini-program you are offering on your blog. If you could develop a larger, paid version, that is a terrific way of making money online.
@Johnny Haha. We all have to start somewhere. Last year was the very first year that my online income actually exceeded my online expenses.

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35 Valerie January 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I understand the initial draw to the 52-week savings challenge, but think about the last few weeks of the year! Most of us have trouble budgeting for holiday spending as it is, I can’t imagine putting away $250 between Thanksgiving and New Year’s!

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36 John S @ Frugal Rules January 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Many of these are really good challenges, especially the savings challenge. It’s simple, easy to follow and could reap a nice little savings for those that are having problems saving.

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37 Cat January 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I am doing the 52 week challenge! I love challenges! I am doing it on Thursdays, and I made a calendar reminder for every Thursday with the dollar amount to be deposited! (last Thursday I did my $2)

@Valerie – I totally relate and am a bit worried about the end of the year but I figured I’d start the challenge anyway, worst case scenario I save up 1/4 or 1/2 of the total amount.

I also like the $3k blog challenge, but I have to say, after a couple years or playing around with blog niches, I have managed to only make… $.95 on my adsense revenue. Granted my ad is placed on my home page, and the blog itself has no ads (I didn’t want to hassle people with ads until I got a following-which seems like it will never happen because I can’t write about a consistent topic)

I generally started blogging about horse riding, and then it moved into regular adventures, and now its more focused on my thoughts, fitness, finances, adventures.

Good luck to all of you on your challenges this year, and I hope to actually complete the 52 week one!

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38 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Haha, don’t worry – you’re not alone win the money-making efforts online :) 95% of people don’t make a dime! And those who do make it a priority to figure it out and treat the blog more as a “business”… but really it’s all about what’s important to YOU and you can tweak and change as time goes on :)

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39 Heather Stephens January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

My friend and I here at work were just talking about this today. I’m currently set a personal challenge to myself to blog my way through the Simple Abundance book. I’ve gone so long geared on work stuff ignoring my own goals and while this is a challenge, it’s so rewarding personally to do it. I’m also continuing our challenge to continue to pay off debt from last year and doing great!

I am really intrigued by the 365 Less Things challenge! We’ve just cleared the toys out of the family room and I’m hooked on how uncluttered it feels and ready to tackle more rooms. (If Legos count individually, I’m sure I’ve more than met that 365 goal!) One thing a day should be easy to keep up without feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for the fun post!

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40 Cassie January 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily is doing her Low/No Spending and Decluttering challenge again for the month of January. During the month we all work towards the big financial goal each of us has set (getting my LOC down to $2000) as well as a big decluttering goal (organizing my basement). Throughout the month she issues mini weekly challenges as well, such as cleaning out your junk drawer or finding a way to bring in some extra income that week. I did this challenge last year as well, and it gave me a huge boost in both departments.

I think if I had to pick from the challenges on your list though, it would be the 365 challenge. It might actually be a challenge now that I’ve been decluttering this month ;)

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41 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Oh nice, I haven’t heard of My 1/2 Dozen Daily before but I’ll go and check it out, thanks :)

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42 Brent Pittman January 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I’ve been living out of a suitcase for a month with our recent move, so when we unpack there is a lot of clutter I could do without.
Try that for a challenge…pack up 5-10 boxes of stuff and see if you can live without them…if you can do it for a few months, just take the boxes to Goodwill or open them up at your next yard sale. Presto!

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43 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I’d love to but my wife would kill me! ;) Half the reason I’m interested in trying to live in an RV for a while too… I need to post about that soon, actually.

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44 Brian January 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I’m game for the 52 week savings challenge. I’ll probably end up dumping that money into my son’s 529 plan at the end of the year.

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45 Punky Coletta January 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I am going to try the 52 weeks savings challenge. At least I know the first few weeks wont be so bad!

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46 Pauline January 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I love the last two and will definitely give my house a good declutter this year. Starting with the inbox so far, 4,000 mails down 1,000 to go for project inbox zero!

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47 Budget & the Beach January 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I also had a friend post about the 52 week challenge on fb and I’m trying it myself. Can’t hurt and I’ll keep it up as long as possible.

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48 Catherine January 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I’ve seen the 52 week challenge float around…I think it’s super fun. I like the idea of the above comment of reversing the 52 week amounts.

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49 Cassi January 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm

These are really cool ideas! I think I might try one this year. (It is better to start late than not start at all!)

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50 JoeTaxpayer January 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

Can I get rid of a box of baseball cards, and call it quits for the year? (There’s at least 1000 in there).
Seriously, I’m not counting, but I’m working on the declutter process. Sad to find that the internet has made it so easy to sell books that for most books you’d have in the basement, it’s barely worth the time to ship them. So I’m deciding between trash and library.

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51 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I’ll let it count ONLY if you give those cards to me ;)

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52 Montina Portis January 16, 2013 at 11:54 am

I’m doing #1! My husband and I began the 52 Week Financial Challenge July 2010 on You Tube and we are so grateful to God for how it continues to grow and grow and grow years later! When I say grow…it has grown to THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of people doing it on FB, Instagram, Twitter and all over the web. If you have a dream…DO IT!

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53 J. Money January 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Oh wow! Were you guys the ones who originally came up with it?? At least this most recent version I’ve been seeing everywhere lately too? Either way, WAY TO GO!! You’ve been inspiring tons of people, I love it :) And thanks for dropping by here too.

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54 Tony@YouOnlyDoThisOnce January 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm

These are all absolutely great challenges; all extremely doable. I have a feeling the 52 week challenge is going to be a fan favorite. Keep writing the great post!

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55 Michelle January 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I absolutely love doing challenges. Right now I’m doing a No Spend Challenge and the Vegan Challenge. Guess which one is harder!

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56 J. Money January 17, 2013 at 7:38 am

VEGAN!!

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57 David B January 17, 2013 at 10:08 am

I actually inadvertently started the getting rid of clutter challenge but I even up the ante by trying to make money on the things that were at least useful even if they’ve signed their purpose for me, I had a few old phone and electronics so I posted them on eBay made a few hundred bucks on them and now I caught the bug and have been going through everything on the house that I no longer need it use and plan to post the better condition items on eBay my wife thought I was crazy at first (she’s s but of a hoarder) but now that she’s seen the extra income shes jumped on board we also started the 52 week challenge via Facebook and are doing it separately at the end of the year we will pool it together to have double the savings

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58 Colleen January 18, 2013 at 1:38 am

Hi David, Colleen here from 365 Less Things. I have made several thousand dollars on the things I have sold on eBay, to friends and to other member of a local Facebook group I am involved in.

The biggest financial gain form my challenge was from of stemming to tide of stuff coming in. Basically I quit shopping. I only buy things if in absolutely need them.

Freecycle.org is a great way to get rid of things that for some reason aren’t suitable to sell or donate. Just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean no one would want it. People love to tinker with stuff and it is always best to try to find a taker rather than send things to landfill.

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