There are a lot of savings challenges out there, and I have written about a number of them. But a lot of these are fairly long term challenges. Let’s look at a short term money challenge, a 60 day money challenge
No, I’m not telling you to put away a dollar a day for 60 days. That would require a lot of extra cash, and if you have that kind of money, you probably don’t need a short term challenge. Instead, I’m going to talk about some ways to go extremely frugal for 60 days and save money.
1. Stop Eating Out
You may not think you eat out very often, but can you actually say that every single thing you’ve eaten over the past two months has been something you made at home? No coffee, no lunch out, no quick snack grabbed from a convenience store? I certainly can’t say that. Maybe you go out to lunch once a week. 60 days is just over 8 weeks, so that’s 8 lunches out. Let’s say you’re spending $10 a lunch. That’s $80 you could easily keep in your pocket! My office has a coffee room where coffee is 50 cents a cup. Pretty cheap. But if you skip that cup of coffee and bring some from home, you’re saving over $20 in that 60 days. Yes, you have to buy coffee to make at home, but I’m betting you already have some in the cabinet.
2. Clean Out the Pantry and Freezer
I like a good sale. So I stock up on food items that I regularly use, things that won’t go bad quickly. But I’m not always good about using them at any rapid pace. So for 60 days, I can try to eat from my pantry and freezer as much as possible. I’ll still have to hit the grocery store for perishables, but I can probably save quite a bit of money by eating from what I already have. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably stocked up a bit too much on certain items, so getting them cleaned out of the pantry is a good task.
3. Drive Less
I love my car. In fact, I’m writing this from the service station while I get my oil changed and tires rotated. But every time I drive my car, I’m using gas, and even though I get some pretty sweet mileage, it’s still an expense. While I’m not suggesting that you stop driving your car for an entire month, see how you can cut back on your drives. Try to group trips together. Consider carpooling. Maybe you can walk or ride your bike on some of your errands. I live close enough to work that I could technically bike, and yet I have yet to do it. While I’m probably not going to try it within the next 60 days of writing this (mainly because I would prefer to be bike commuting in daylight, so I need to wait til the days are longer), it’s certainly something I should consider.
4. Adjust your thermostat
I have a programmable thermostat that keeps my house at reasonable temperatures. This winter, I decided to see if I could be comfortable by dropping the temperature just one degree while I was home. Not surprisingly, I barely noticed the difference. I’m planning to do the same in the summer, just in the opposite direction. Can I be comfortable in my house with things just slightly warmer? So to save a bit of money in the short term, drop your thermostat a few degrees.
5. Cancel Monthly Subscriptions
Right now, subscription boxes are all the rage. It’s amazing what you can subscribe to – beauty products, books, clothing, craft supplies, home decor, the list goes on and on. Some of these boxes are on the more expensive side, others might just be $10 a month. And I think those cheaper boxes are where you can find the most savings in your budget. After all, when you subscribe, you think “Oh, it’s only $10. It’s totally worth it.” And it definitely might be. But when you’re trying to save, putting a hold on those subscriptions is a way to keep money in your bank account. Maybe you also have a Netflix account that you could cancel for the next two months. You might just find you don’t need it after all.
At the end of the 60 days, you should have saved quite a bit of money, but more importantly, you may have discovered that some expenses you thought were necessary weren’t so needed after all. You might realize that you like biking to work, that you don’t need all those subscription boxes, and that you really don’t mind the change in the thermostat. You might decide that instead of eating out for lunch every week, you’re going to treat yourself every other week. It’s the little things that add up.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
Money Beagle says
I’ve seen the whole subscription box thing pop up in conversation but so far it’s stayed clear of our house. Good idea to keep it that way, too!