One thing I have seen a lot of people planning is a “buy nothing” year. I have to be honest, I’m not sure how this will work. I mean, you need to buy food, right? And you probably have some transportation costs, be it gas for your car or public transportation fees. But it can be a good idea to choose a certain category of spending and challenge yourself to cut back.
In 2016, a friend of mine challenged herself to not buy any new clothes, and succeeded. Not only did she save money, but she also came up with new ways to style the clothing she already owned, so when her challenge ended, she didn’t immediately go out and buy a whole bunch of items. Since then, she has made smarter choices in her shopping and has spent significantly less on clothing than in previous years.
If you want to challenge yourself to spend less (or nothing) on a specific spending category in 2018, first take a look at your spending over the past year. If you don’t have a year’s worth of budgets to look at, take a look at the last few months. When I look at my spending, I realize that I have spent quite a bit on dining out over the past few months. Of course, some of that is due to travel, but I have also splurged on takeout lunches during the work week. Previously, my policy was that I could only have lunch out twice a month. I think one way I am going to challenge myself this year is to try to return to that policy.
Groceries are another food-related category where I know that I go overboard. I’m good about not letting things go to waste, but I certainly am not good about using up what I have before I go and buy something else. This year, I’m going to work to be better at meal planning and branching out into new recipes, learning to combine different ingredients that I may already have.
Here at Counting My Pennies, we have put out a number of great savings challenges this past year that might be worth your while.
52 Week Reverse Savings Challenge – This is a great challenge to start if you received a bit of money at the holiday. You start by putting away $52 the first week, $51 the second week, and so on. By the end of the year, you’ll have nearly $1400.
The Paper Money Savings Challenge – For this challenge, you pick a certain denomination of dollar bill and never spend it. Let’s say every time you get your hands on a $1, you put it in a jar or an envelope and don’t save it. Those dollars add up, and you likely won’t notice them missing from your wallet.
26 Week Savings Plan – Instead of saving every week for 52 weeks, in this plan, you save for 26 weeks, and end up with $351 at the end of the 26 weeks. If you’ve been struggling to save anything, consider using this plan. And if every week sounds too challenging, use this 26 week plan over the full year, putting away money every other week (perhaps with your bi-weekly paycheck?).
These are just a few ways to challenge yourself to save in the new year. How do you plan to save in 2018?