I have read several blog posts detailing different money challenges, but I have yet to see one that goes for more than a month.
I understand the no spend, month-long challenges, but I wanted to mix it up a bit. Some people need challenges and goals to aim for so I have put together a 12-month cutback and save challenge. Detailed below, each month focuses on different spending habits that are more “wants” than “needs.” I will go over the challenge below and the different strategies you can employ to change your spending habits and get your debt under control! You do not need to wait until January to start this challenge either – pick up anywhere within the year and get going! I have also included a downloadable PDF format at the end of this article.
An Overview Of The Spending Challenge
Before we begin, I hate putting ideas in boxes, so if there is any part of this challenge that you could revise to make it more applicable to you – please do it! This is about your success in changing your spending habits and finding extra money to save and put towards debt. With that being said, let’s go over the challenge.
The Months Explained:
After an expensive holiday season, it’s time to seriously cut back on our spending. For the month of January, avoid buying anything new that isn’t a necessity. If you have gift cards from the holidays to use that is fine, but don’t spend any of your own money on new clothes, new games, new anything. Nothing new comes into the house that was bought with your own money!
With the holidays still looming around our waistline, it’s time to shed those extra pounds. Avoid buying any candy or junk food – focus on healthy options rather than bored eating. Your wallet and body will thank you!
In line with our last month’s challenge, let’s kick it up a notch. Can you go an entire month without alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, soda, or other things that will kill you? I challenge you to try. If you need to quit smoking – this is the month to do it! Don’t worry, if you fall off the wagon one day this month, get back on and start the challenge again even if it’s in the middle of the month. You can do it!!
Have you heard that cash is king? Using cash to buy items hurts – paying with plastic is much less painful. This is the reason we are going to use only cash this month. Buy your groceries, your entertainment, your lunches, everything that isn’t on auto bill pay – with cash. You will quickly see how using cash can help keep you on budget.
How much do you spend eating at restaurants during the month? If you don’t know, try making your lunch all month. Not only will you see how much extra money is left over at the end of the month, but you will be eating much healthier providing you don’t buy TV Dinners for lunch..
Here in Arizona, it is HOT! Even though it feels like we live on the surface of the sun, most of us are spoiled when it comes to our air conditioning. I know several families that keep their air at 73 degrees when its 110 outside… For this month, try living with the thermostat one or two degrees higher than usual and sleep with a fan on. Also, don’t forget to set your AC higher during the times you are not at home!
I may lose a few readers with this one. In July, let’s cancel an expensive hobby or habit for this month. Cancel that hair/nail appointment or cancel that early morning tee time. Save the extra money for debt or savings.
Will the Summer ever end?!? Even though it’s hot, let’s avoid spending excessive amounts of money on indoor entertainment. Cut out the movies or another expensive entertainment option this month.
It’s time to talk about cable. If you haven’t cut the cord yet and you’re not under contract, try going without cable this month. If you have already cut the cord and you have both Netflix and Hulu, try giving up one or both this month to see if you can do without. Don’t worry, you can add it back next month if you can’t live without it.
Are you tired of cutting back? Let’s not add any new cutbacks this month but let’s look for a way to generate additional income. Pick up a side hustle, have a garage sale, post stuff on Craig’s list. Let’s make more money this month!
Similar to our Summer AC challenge, let’s experiment with our heater. Try to keep the heater turned off as long as possible, or lower the temperature a few degrees for those of you who live in the Arctic. Bundle up with extra jackets and blankets and save that cash!
The holidays are killer on our checking and savings accounts! Offer a proposition for your family to cut down on spending. Create a gift budget and actually stick to it, or do a White Elephant gift exchange rather than buying every family member a gift.
The goal of this challenge is to introduce you to different spending habits and to show you that you can actually live comfortably without some of the extras you spend your money on. You may even find that you want to continue on with some of your cuts from the previous month into the next month! Whatever you can do, it will help you in the long run!
Avoid spending the extra money you save from your cutbacks. Take that extra money and be intentional with where you spend it. What phase are you on in the Debt Payoff Playbook? This challenge will help you move on to the next phase that much quicker! Challenge yourself to change your spending habits. If some of these months are not applicable to you, insert whatever cutback you can that is more relevant to you.
As promised, here is the attached PDF that you can download and print to hang on your refrigerator.
Download: 12 Month Cut Back And Save Challenge PDF
What do you think? Can you complete this 12-month challenge? What other challenges have you done in the past – comment below, I’d love to hear about them! As always please subscribe below and keep at it – you work too hard to be this broke!