May 30: Taking a look at how people are doing with money challenges

May 30, 2024

One of our fellow line dancers told us recently that she and her husband are about to start a 75-day challenge. For that entire month and a half, they will exercise for 90 minutes a day, follow a strict diet (Weight Watchers for her, “clean eating” for him), will drink a gallon of water every day, won’t drink alcohol, and will read at least 10 pages of non-fiction per day.

Wow. We’ll see how they do, but it got us thinking about money challenges – what sorts of things are people challenging themselves about with their money?

The folks at Reader’s Digest have a few money-related challenges to start the ball rolling.

There’s the “one per cent savings challenge,” the magazine reports.

“For this challenge, no drastic lifestyle changes are needed. You’ll simply contact your workplace and increase your retirement contribution by one per cent. Then, set a schedule. Every two to three months (whatever works for you, just stay consistent), increase it by another one per cent,” Reader’s Digest suggests. 

An intriguing one is the “100 envelope challenge,” the magazine continues.

“Want to save more than $5,000 in three months? TikTok’s viral 100-envelope challenge can help you do just that. Grab a box of colourful money-saving envelopes and label them 1 to 100. Each day, you draw an envelope, and whatever number you draw, you add an equal amount of cash inside. For instance, if you draw No. 27 on day one, then you’ll fill the envelope with $27, seal it and place it in a basket or drawer. After 100 days and 100 envelopes, you’ll have saved a total of $5,050,” the article notes.

We’ll Canadianize another tip from Reader’s Digest, since we haven’t had dollar bills for a while. The idea is that every time you get a Loonie in your change, “take it out of your wallet and put it away in a money pouch.” You can, in time, up this by including toonies and $5 bills, the article suggests.

Forbes magazine has a few more on offer.

“Save one dollar a day. That’s it! Do it for the entire year to kickstart your savings fund in a way that feels manageable,” the magazine suggests.

You can boost the savings amount down the road – if you were to save $20 a week, you’d have $1,040 by the end of the year, Forbes continues.

How about the “Roll the Dice” savings challenge? “Take a six-sided die and roll it each day. Worst case scenario: you tuck away $6 a day for a total of just over $2,000 a year. But this is a situation where your “worst” scenario is great news for your savings account,” Forbes notes.

A third gem from Forbes is the “no-spend challenge.”

“A no-spend challenge can take place during a single day, over a month or even longer. While the challenge is on, you can’t spend any money beyond routine bills and any other regular expenses you’ve already planned for (say, gas for your commute or getting a prescription refill from the pharmacy). At the end of the challenge, take the “extra” money you’ve discovered out of your chequing account and move it to a savings account,” the magazine recommends.

The Inspired Budget blog offers up a few more.

The Holiday Helper Challenge, the blog reports, provides “a way to get ahead of the huge expenses of the holidays. Starting January 1, set aside $20 from each week’s budget and put it into savings.”

“You can use this for holiday gift buying, or use it to save up for a vacation or another major expense. By the end of November, you will save an extra $960 on a bi-weekly budget,” the blog notes.

We’ve talked about saving loonies, toonies and even fivers, but if that’s a bit too tough for you right now, how about the 365-Day Nickel Saving Challenge?

“On the first day, deposit $0.05 into savings. On the second day, deposit $0.10, and on the third day, $0.15,” the blog explains.

“Basically, you add a nickel to the previous day’s savings every single day. Then by the last day, you will deposit $18.40,” the blog notes. “When you look at those numbers, they seem so doable! The best thing is that when you add it all up, the total you will put into savings will be a whopping $3,300!

Finally, one we all know well, there’s the Spare Change challenge.

“Whenever you get loose change, you put it in a jar or piggy bank. When that jar fills up, take it to the bank and put it in your savings account,” the blog suggests. “If you have never tried to save your loose change, it might surprise you how much you can accumulate.”

Mrs Save with SPP used the spare change route as part of her effort to boost her own Saskatchewan Pension Plan savings. Every time the piggy bank was full, we went to the coin counter, turned coins into bills, and then put it in the bank. Online, we had set up SPP as a bill payment, and presto, there’s another few bucks in the retirement kitty.

After all, your future you will greatly appreciate those savings, no matter what challenge you’ve selected to create them.

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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