Although most people would probably attest that they’d like to spend less money and practice better personal finance habits, far fewer would be inclined to call that goal “fun.” That’s why many bloggers and others have tried to create money challenges that help the average person save money. One of the biggest sources for these money challenges is LifeHacker who recently took a look at some of the most popular methods. Some of these challenges and tricks include:
- The 52 Week Challenge: Participants save up $1,400 over the course of one year. This is achieved by setting aside an increasing amount of money each week to coincide with the week number ($1 for week one, $2 for week two, etc.).
- The Grocery Receipt Trick: Many grocery stores offer discount cards resulting in receipts that read “you saved $X.XX today.” Shoppers can start turning these “savings” into real savings by setting these amounts aside in an account or even a piggy bank.
- The “Nothing New” Challenge: The goal here is to save money by only purchasing pre-owned goods (aside from grocery store items of course). Those wanting to participate can designate how long they’d like the challenge to extend ahead of time.
- The “Cut Three for Three” Challenge: This might actually be the most helpful of the four challenges (in my humble opinion). The way this challenge works is that participants find three bills they’d like to reduce each month and find a way to do so. This could include canceling an unneeded service or cutting back in a certain area of spending. The challenge continues on for three month, hence the name.
The knock on these monetary games is that they’re short term and don’t necessarily help instill good spending habits. However others argue that these challenges at least get people thinking about personal finance and I tend to agree. Additionally once participants see how much money they’re saving, it’s possible that they’ll continue to follow the principals of the challenge beyond the initial period.
If any of these money challenges sound good to you consider taking it one step further and implementing a secondary goal beyond “save money.” For example, if you don’t already have one, building an emergency fund by using one of the fun methods mentioned above could actually be a great idea. Additionally seeing how much you’re able to curb spending is the first step in creating a budget and getting out of debt.
So do money challenges really work? For some people, yes. However more important than the game itself is the lessons you take away from it. By combining these challenges, tricks, and methods with tried-and-true personal finance goals and habits you’ll be well on your way to truly helping your monetary life.