It is incredibly hard to save money. On any given day there are things you need, unexpected expenses and an endless supply of wants.
You can try to trick yourself into saving money. You can try treating saving money like a bill you have to pay.
Or you can do what I do. You can challenge yourself to save money.
I like to make a game out of it. And by pushing myself to do a challenge, I find that I not only save money, I always seem to end up learning something about myself. I’m currently in my second Eat from the Pantry Challenge, but I’ve also done a No Soda Challenge and a No Eating Out Challenge, all with varying degrees of success.
I’ve learned that how you structure your personal challenge makes a great difference in the outcome. So here are my steps for pushing myself during a challenge:
Create a realistic goal for your challenge. You cannot being a challenge without having the end in mind. In the case of my Eat from the Pantry Challenge, I hope to save money by using things I already have and to break myself of some bad shopping habits.
Tell others about your challenge and get them on board. If you can convince others to join you, it will make the challenge much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to swap ideas and share experiences and you’ll have support when things get difficult. It’s especially important to have your family on board if you’re looking to trim expenses.
Write down your observations during the challenge. It’s not enough to save money if you don’t learn from your experiences. I find keeping a journal (or sharing my thoughts on a blog) is an excellent way to reflect on what you discover about yourself during a challenge. The lessons you learn can then be applied to other areas of your life and can be a source of inspiration when you feel yourself reverting to bad habits.
Celebrate the conclusion of the challenge. Accomplishing a goal is no small matter. Be sure to celebrate your success. Tell all your friends, reward yourself with a small treat, and bask in your glory. You’ve worked hard, so be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Too often we say, “Yeah, I was able to do this… but….” Just once, let go of what you didn’t get done and focus on what you did.
And then start another challenge.
Your turn: How do you challenge yourself to save money?