Grow Your Money
By Gabrielle Olya
- Thirty-six percent of Americans are focused on saving money in the new year.
- Being more conscious of your spending and setting specific savings goals can help you increase your savings.
- Financial experts shared nine different money challenges you can take on to help you meet your savings goals.
Want to save more money in 2019? You’re not alone. Over a third of Americans want to save more next year. If you’re part of the 36 percent of Americans who want to be better about saving in 2019, try one of these expert-approved money challenges — and watch your savings grow.
1. The No-Spend Work Week Challenge
Kristin Larsen, founder of the Believe in a Budget blog, recommends eliminating spending for one work week every month.
“A no-spend work week is just five days, and a great goal to start with,” she said. “The savings can slowly add up, and trying a ‘no-spend week’ once a month can do wonders for a budget.”
To make this money-saving challenge doable, Larsen recommends trying the following:
- Don’t grocery shop for a week, and use up remaining groceries in the fridge, freezer and pantry instead.
- Ditch renting a new movie online, and download a free podcast or audiobook, or borrow books and movies online through your local library.
- Skip happy hour and go on a walk with a friend instead.
2. The Shopping Cart Challenge
“Before checking out when grocery shopping, reassess what is in the cart and remove items that are a want and not a need,” said Anand Talwar, a deposits and consumer strategy executive at Ally Bank.
You can extend this challenge to virtual shopping carts as well. Instead of making impulse purchases while shopping online, leave the item in your cart overnight, then decide whether the item is really worth it the next day.
3. The Money Confessions Challenge
Are you lying to yourself about your spending? You’ll save more if you’re honest with yourself about where your money is going.
“Take note of spending outside the normal budget of food, transportation, housing, utilities, etc., and try to eliminate one or two of those purchases each week,” said Talwar.
4. The Unsubscribe Challenge
Subscription services could be draining your bank account without you realizing it.
“Monthly auto payments for streaming music and video services, online video games and more all add up,” said Talwar. “Take stock and eliminate something not used regularly.”
5. The All-Cash Spending Challenge
It’s easy to overspend when you make most of your purchases on a credit card. If you want to save more, you have to spend less — and you will when you set strict cash limits on your spending.
“Limit yourself to a certain amount of money every week, typically around $50 to $100, and see if you can live off of just that,” said Leanna Johannes, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management. “Mindfulness of your money is a large component to getting financially healthy, and nothing will make you more mindful of your money than cold, hard cash.”
6. The Ultimate Retirement Savings Challenge
If you really want to up your retirement savings in 2019, challenge yourself to max out your IRA contributions, said Luis F. Rosa, CFP, EA, founder and certified financial planner at Build a Better Financial Future, LLC. For 2019, the IRA contribution limit is $6,000 a year, or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older. If you divide that amount into a monthly contribution, that comes out to $500 a month if you’re under 50, and about $583 a month if you’re 50 or older.
“You can set this up to come out of your bank account automatically,” said Rosa.
7. The Save Your Change Challenge
If you want to save for a vacation or emergency fund, make every penny count.
“Put your change in a jar instead of carrying it around,” said Peter J. Creedon, CEO at Crystal Brook Advisors. At the end of the year, deposit your coins into your savings account— you might be surprised to see how much you’ve saved up.
8. The Five Cent Challenge
Saving in small increments can really add up over the course of a year with this 52-week savings plan.
“On the first day save a nickel, and increase that savings by a nickel each day,” said Tony Drake, certified financial planner and CEO and founder of Drake & Associates. “Do this for the whole year. The most you’ll set aside is $18.25 on day 365. After a year, you will have saved [more than $3,000].”
9. The Dollar Bill Challenge
Drake also recommended this 52-week money challenge that entails saving just a few dollars every week.
“Pick a cash bill that you save at the end of each week,” he said. “It could be all the ones or the fives. At the end of each week you remove these bills from your wallet and put them into your savings.”