8 Money Challenges For The New Year!

by J. Money -

money street

Morning!!

Christmas treat you alright this year? :)

Did you do good and NOT think about money at all throughout it?

Either way – time to get back to business and up our game in the New Year!

To help with that, here are some of my favorite Money Challenges to consider as you’re making plans and setting up goals…

Sometimes making a game out of it can keep you more motivated!

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#1) The “No Spend” Challenge

A classic that belongs on all lists, and one of the best ones I’ve ever tried for my own money circa 2008 when I was just getting started myself… It’s not complicated (you just DON’T spend on any “wants”! Eating out, gadgets, coffees, etc), but it sure is hard – especially if you’ve never tried such a thing before.

The most common length of time is to try it for a *month* (like all of January!), but others take it further and go for 3 months or even a year. You know yourself more than anyone so pick the length you think you’d best be able to stick to, and then commit 100% to yourself and go all in! You’ll not only save money the entire period, but it’ll change your mindset too. Which is far more powerful than a one-time savings.

While I saved approximately $200 a decade ago, it was the lasting effects of being *more conscious* with my spending that changed the game for me… Helped me realize quickly how often I blew through my money without thought!

#2) The 52 Weeks Challenge

This one is pretty popular because all it entails is dropping some money in a jar every week and you’ve accomplished it ;) However, the longer you go, the higher the amounts required get! On week one you drop in $1.00, on week two you put in $2.00, and then week after week you continue upping it by one dollar until you make it all the way to week #52 and you’re throwing in $52!

So it gets harder as you go, but by the end of the year you’ll find yourself with a cool $1,378 making it all worth it in the end :) And if you’re one who enjoys getting the challenging parts of a game out of the way first, feel free to *REVERSE* it and start with $52/week and go down from there! It’s your world, baby!

#3) The $1,000 Savings Challenge!

This is one of my favorites on the list because it not only feels great to CHECK OFF boxes as you go, but it’s also much more flexible than the above routes! You basically just pick the dollar amount you can best do for the week, and then stash it away and voila!

A great idea by Jamie from MediumSizedFamily.com, who shares more and gives away the chart (for free) over on her blog post: The 52 Week Money Challenge That Will Easily Save You $1000 This Year

money saving chart

#4) The “Spavings” Challenge

Similar to the “No Spend” challenge in that you refrain from buying “wants” for a set amount of time, with this route every time you *don’t* buy something you xfer that money RIGHT INTO A NEW SAVINGS ACCOUNT so you’re actually saving it ;) And as you go you can send other money there too such as surprise bonuses or refund checks, birthday checks in the mail, found change on the floor, etc.

You can tweak the rules to your liking, but as long as you’re putting this “non-spent” money into a savings account you’ve successfully won the game and then spend hours entertaining yourself on what you can now do with your “free” money that’s piled up ;)

When I did this two years ago I shoveled it all into a Roth IRA and almost had enough to max it out!! All from watching my spending more and throwing in unaccounted for income!

#5) The “Challenge Everything” Challenge!

Where you challenge all your *current bills* and ask yourself if you REALLY still need them anymore, or if you can tweak/unsubscribe from them and still enjoy a nice quality of life!!

Many of us get into this nasty habit of just paying bills month after month without much thought, but over the years as our needs and tastes change it’s very possible you’re paying for something the New You no longer needs or even wants!

So the idea with this Challenge Everything challenge is to go down your bills one by one and ask yourself if it still makes sense for your life, or if you’ve outgrown it and/or can be equally happy with a (cheaper) alternative. Such as with cell phone plans, cable plans, Netflix subscriptions, insurances, etc.

I did this for 12 months over 2014/2015 and came up with an extra $5,484.07 to my name, which sparked some other fun games along the way too. And the most beautiful part is that the savings continue to hit EVERY SINGLE MONTH because the bills you’re tackling are *recurring* ones! So that $100/mo I saved switching my cell phone service 5 years ago has now amounted to a total of $6,000 savings! And that was just one area I tweaked!

Here was the breakdown after that first year of tweaking:

challenge everything savings chart

#6) The Weekly Craigslist Challenge

This one’s pretty straight forward as all you have to do is literally list something on Craigslist (or similar marketplaces) every week and you’re done ;)

In a perfect world you’d SELL everything you put up there too, haha, but it’s really the *habit* of going through your stuff more consciously that you’re going for here. And typically once you’ve decided something needs to go, you’ll find a way to get rid of it whether you get some cash in exchange or not!

#7) The 365 “Less Things” Challenge

no clutterSimilar to above, this one’s all about getting your *mindset* right as well, while at the same time literally getting rid of something from your home EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It was inspired by Colleen from 365LessThings.com years ago, who wanted to help people 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. A pretty hardcore challenge, but sometimes you need a good kick in the ass to get going! :)

And if you ever get stuck on an item, just ask yourself this one question:

Would you go out right NOW and re-buy it all over again?

If yes, it’s a keeper! If no, it’s a tosser ;)

#8) The $2.00 Bill Challenge

two dollar bills

Lastly, and this one is pretty random, if you want a FUN challenge to try, make it this $2.00 one ;)

When I realized years ago that $2.00 bills were much harder to spend than “normal” bills, I made a rule that every time I passed a bank I had to go in and “buy” however many $2.00 bills the teller had on hand. Sometimes I’d walk away with 3 or 4 bills, and others more than 20 (!), but time after time my stash would grow, and before I knew it I had just over $600 saved :)

I ultimately stopped and ended up using the bills as tips and Tooth Fairy spoils, but it definitely did the trick and also got me out into the community more. Highly recommend!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 IM-PCP December 27, 2019 at 7:50 am

This is an awesome list! I love having all of the challenges listed together. I tried #5 a few years ago, it definitely saved me some money. #8 looks like fun, but I never get to a bank during open hours.

Happy New Year!

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2 J. Money December 27, 2019 at 9:48 am

Happy New Year!

Did you do #5 when we were in the thick of it here on the blog, or just did it on your own? I bet you’re still saving money each and every month if you tackled the recurring bills! :)

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3 IM-PCP December 27, 2019 at 5:34 pm

As I recall, I did #5 while it was current on the blog. I would love to say that I’ve saved lots of money, but the bills seem to be a lot higher 4-5 years later. Maybe I need to redo that challenge too :-)

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4 J. Money December 30, 2019 at 6:57 am

I should probably join you in that :)

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5 Pat December 27, 2019 at 8:37 am

These are great! I used to have a neighbor that was known for giving $2 bills in birthday cards, tipping, etc.. When our kids were small they thought it was great getting one in their birthday card. So fun! Hope you’re enjoying your holiday time :)

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6 J. Money December 27, 2019 at 9:49 am

Haha yup! And $2.00 bills always seems worth MORE than $2.00 too, making it extra sweet :)

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7 Tina December 27, 2019 at 9:17 am

I try to live by the challenge everything rule. My actual bills are pretty minimal these days, but eating out, drinking out, drinking in, everything, gets tracked on my spreadsheet by a value system (how much value does each purchase bring me?). The one thing that I struggle with even though logically I know I should accept it is the money I spend on staying healthy. I know I could lift weights at home and go running outside – I even have what I need to do it. But years have proven, I just don’t stay with it consistently. So, I pay to play indoor soccer (which I love), I just signed up for a 6 months yoga program (which I’m loving AND noticing so much physical and mental gain from in the first 6 weeks), and I pay for a monthly massage (one that gets in and works the muscles, not a feel good rub down which has kept me away from my chiropractor who is much more expensive). I cringe at my monthly spend in this area, but I also know all these things keep me feeling good AND keeps my medical category quite low year over year. Long story to say that the challenge can be remembering that sometimes there is benefit gained from spending.

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8 J. Money December 27, 2019 at 9:53 am

Amen to that!! And plus most of those costs can go under “entertainment” too so the costs are shared among budgeting items :) We used to LOVE playing soccer as adults and then kids came and too hard to get babysitters every weekend! Would go back in a heartbeat though as was so much fun AND healthy… even if i kept spraining ankles and such as an old man now :) Love that you track everything by value system btw!! Such good insight you get!

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9 Kate December 27, 2019 at 11:16 am

I’ve done the £1000 game over the past few years (but I didn’t know you were ALLOWED to not tick boxes in order!) to great delight. But think I’ll switch things up this year and do the 52 week game. One less piece of paper in my drawer!
I’m currently on a year end de-clutter mission and vow to question all my purchases in 2020 with, “Is it beautiful or useful?”

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10 J. Money December 27, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Haha love that… Excellent question to ask.

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11 FinanceFTW December 27, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Love these challenges! Sometimes I feel kind of deprived when trying to save money, but these make it seem super fun. I’m definitely going to do #1, #5-#7 this year. Excited to get started soon.

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12 J. Money December 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm

That’s do-able! When you’re not shopping 24/7 you can be decluttering all your stuff ;)

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13 Leila December 30, 2019 at 1:35 pm

I’m doing a whole No Spend Year for 2020 and I feel pretty excited about it!
It’s nice to realize that I really don’t NEED anything else in my life.
I have certain exceptions but basically no clothes, shoes, home décor, excess beauty products, electronics, etc.
:)

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14 J. Money December 31, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Love it!!!

I’m so cheering you on over here!!!

Will you email me at the end of the year and let me know what you’ve learned?! (Or blog about it for everyone to be inspired by, please? :))

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15 Leila January 2, 2020 at 7:37 am

Absolutely! I started a whole YouTube channel dedicated to finances and I’ll be sharing on my blog too.

I’ll definitely come back here though!

Thank you :)

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16 J. Money January 2, 2020 at 7:42 am

You’re the best.

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17 Kelly January 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for posting. I’m so excited to use the Money Saving Chart. I modified it to meet my own needs. I’ve been telling and showing everyone

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18 J. Money January 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Excellent!

I hope you can cross it all off! :)

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