Can you believe it? It’s already the last month of year 2017!
For me, December is all about slowing down and taking time to reflect on the year, enjoying the festive season with my loved ones as well as lots of planning for the new year. To make 2018 a more exciting year for you–financially speaking, I’ve come up with 5 money-saving challenges you can take to make your finances in the new year a little healthier and better (who doesn’t want more money?!). Whether you’re looking to start out and save some money but couldn’t bring yourself to do it the traditional ways or you just want to save a little more and give your already-established savings a top-up, I guarantee you if you stick ‘til the end of the challenge, it will set you up for money-saving success. Now, all you need to do is to pick one of these challenges (or more!) and do it for the entire year of 2018.
Challenge #1: RM20 note diet
I call this challenge #RM20NoteDiet simply because you are not allowed to spend RM20 note whenever you catch sight of it. You see RM10 in your wallet? Great, use it. RM50? Awesome, spend it as you wish. What about RM20? Now, put that aside. You see it, you skip it. Do this for the entire year, and you will be amazed at how much you can save.
Instruction: Whenever you see a RM20 note, drop that into your mason jar a.k.a. adult piggybank (or whatever you use to keep the money). What if you get your hands on a RM20 note and your piggybank is not with you? Hold your horses – this does not give you the excuse to spend it. Instead, what you will do is to slip the bill into an envelope or a different compartment in your wallet and drop it into your piggybank when it’s within your reach. Calculate the total amount of money you have in that jar by the end of the challenge and be sure to give yourself a pat on the back later.
Challenge #2: Add RM1 a week
This is a 52-week challenge which you start by squirreling away just RM1 in the first week of the year and gradually increase your savings by adding RM1 a week throughout the year. This #AddRM1AWeekChallenge is definitely beginner-friendly and effective as it started out with just RM1. You’ll be surprised when you see the total amount of money you get to save in the end. RM1,378!
Instruction: In week one of 2018, you’ll deposit RM1 into your savings, RM2 on week two, RM3 on week three, and so on. The first month is considerably effortless when what you need to tuck away is merely RM10. In December, you’ll need to save a total of RM202, which in my opinion, is pretty manageable, too. You can print out the chart here and cross off the weeks each time you complete the task.
Challenge #3: Negotiate prices whenever you shop
This #NegotiateToSaveChallenge is for those who want to brush up their negotiation skill and save more as a result. Most of us are conditioned to just pay what is showing on the price tag, but little do you know, asking for a discount every time you shop is going to save you some serious money. I know negotiating prices can be uncomfortable for many. But, hey–you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to ask for discounts, sometimes. Here’s my story: I was joking with my friend once when we were about to ask for our bill at a mid/high-end restaurant, and I said, “what if I just straight out ask for discount when they present the bill?”. My friend looked at me with half-doubt and half-come-on-don’t-be-silly expression and… I did (with some magic words). Guess what? The restaurant manager said he is happy to give us 20% discount and hope to see us again soon. My friend left the table with her jaw wide opened. #truestory Often times, all you have to do is ask.
Instruction: Whenever you shop (or spend), negotiate the price with the seller. Use sentences like “that’s too much money *shocking face*”, “is that your best price?”, “I really like this, but I think I’m going next door to check out their prices”. Don’t worry if you fail. You will only get better with each experience. Of course, there are exceptions to this challenge–places like supermarket, petrol station, 7-Eleven where the prices are fixed, but feel free to branch out by adding restaurants, boutique shops, hotels and so on into your #NegotiateToSaveChallenge. Record the amount of money you have successfully saved after your bargain session every time and you will be so proud of yourself by the end of this challenge.
Challenge #4: Zero Out
#ZeroOutMoneyChallenge is designed to clear your money in your wallet (or bank account for discretionary spending if any) on the day before your payday and deposit all of the leftover money into your savings. Note: this challenge is not for those who a) do not already saved a fixed amount of money from their income every month, or b) always spend more than they earn; or c) have irregular payday. BTW, if you belong to either one of the first two groups, you should consider tackling your fundamental issue first before you join any of these money challenges.
Instruction: The day before your income hit your bank account, take a look at your wallet and deposit whatever amount of money you have in your wallet into your savings account. For example, if you are left with RM120 after all the spending this month, contribute it to your savings. Pretty straightforward. The premise is, you have already saved 15-30% of your income to begin with. Do this every month and record the amount of money you zero out and squirrel away.
Challenge #5: No-Spend Week
Self-explanatory. You literally don’t spend a single cent for an entire week. This challenge requires some great extent of self-discipline. To make this challenge sustainable and fail-proof, you need to plan ahead. You don’t want to jump the gun and deprive yourself by the end of each challenge nor to find yourself in guilt when you messed up during the challenge. Being able to concretely plan before your #NoSpendWeekChallenge will mitigate your doubt or pressure.
Instruction: Pick a week in each month for this #NoSpendWeekChallenge. Here are some tips to help you before you join the bandwagon: a) avoid picking the week where you have to pay your bills–utilities, rent, credit cards, student loan etc, you don’t want to miss any of these payments. b) consume whatever you have in your pantry and survive a week without buying more. c) if you need to purchase any groceries or necessities which are running extremely low on, do it the day before the challenge starts and make sure you don’t overspend just because “well, I can’t spend for a whole week”. d) cook yourself / prep lunch for work / dine free at parents’. e) learn to say “no” when you are invited to dinner or anything that comes up impromptu. When the challenge week is over, resume to your normal life. By this, I mean no shopping spree or binge shopping whatsoever.
Once you get the ball rolling, don’t forget to check in regularly to see if you are on track and re-evaluate your budget from time to time. Focus on the big picture–your goal for your savings be it for your rainy-day fund, next vacation, new home, retirement etc if you ever feel like giving up.
I’ll be doing the #NoSpendWeekChallenge and #AddRM1AWeekChallenge in 2018 and you can click on the social media icons on my blog to follow my journey. What about you? Which challenges will you take? And why? Don’t forget to include the hashtag #RM20NoteDiet #AddRM1AWeekChallenge #NegotiateToSaveChallenge #ZeroOutMoneyChallenge #NoSpendWeekChallenge when you’re sharing your challenge(s) on your social media.
I wish you the best of luck! 😀