When I parked last week, I noticed a crown and a penny on the ground near some teenagers. I asked the children if they had lost it and a girl explained when she climbed into the car that the prey was not hers.
“Do not you want it?”
“No,” she said airily, “it’s only 11 cents.”
They were gone before she could hear me say that big money is a long struggle.
If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the trek begins to $ 1,000 or even lifetime wealth with a single penny or dollars.
I would complain that children do not know the value of a dollar these days, but the truth is that we are all a little confused about the value of a dollar right now. Inflation, which has been at its peak for 40 years and sharply changed prices at the pump and in the supermarket, will do just that.
Complaining about how costs increase does not help; to make our savings and expenses go further.
Last week, I described five of my favorite challenges to saving and spending to make basic financial tasks more fun, more like a game. This week I offer five more options.
Each of these efforts can help restore balance and order and a sense of progress in your financial life. Adapt these challenges, make them your own, turn them into a game, involve family members, track them as best you can, but know that there are no downsides to failing at them, because the more you know about your financial habits and emotions, you will feel better.
Step up saving challenge: There are many ways to do this, but I prefer variants that do not feel like a burden and that quickly raise some money, whether you are starting an emergency fund, replacing a holiday account or bringing money to pay for a penny.
For the short, fast version, set aside a dollar for each date of the month. You save one dollar the first of the month, two dollars on the second, 15 on the 15thth and so on.
If you succeed, you end the month with $ 465 saved, even though you never set aside more than $ 30 at a time.
This exercise helps with budgeting, as it’s easy to save the first five days of the month – when the sales are only $ 15 – but the struggle can be real when the numbers get bigger and you have to come up with $ 140 in the last five days .
A longer version of this challenge takes a year, starting at $ 1 per week and adding one dollar each week. You only save $ 10 in the first four weeks, but you save over $ 200 in the last four weeks and your total for a full year is about $ 1,375.
Free entertainment challenge: Expenditure on entertainment is a pleasure and an indulgence for many people, it is clearly on the “want” side of the account, although it is often treated as a “need”. This is also where many splurge.
This is not a specialized “challenge without spending”. This starts with answering “What can I do that is free for me?”
It does not just mean going to the public library, it means finding out if the library has free tickets to take you to the regional zoo or aquarium or the historic site or museum. It does not refer to just taking a hike or a bike ride: You can have a game night, have friends for brunch or host a supper.
Use gift cards, earn loyalty points and get big savings with coupon offers. These things have real value, but Americans have billions of dollars in gift cards and bonus rewards that they have not redeemed. You get the most out of these credits by redeeming them; consider them “free entertainment” for this challenge.
A free / low-cost weekend of entertainment every two weeks can help you waste the things you most want the rest of the time.
The $ 5 note challenge: There are many variations of this, but it’s about saving every $ 5 you get. I’ve been doing this since 2020 and have been saving about $ 1,325 since then.
Whether it’s “fun money” or the beginning of a savings goal, this adds up pretty quickly, especially if you force yourself to pay cash on small dollar transactions.
Personally, I save everything under $ 10 banknotes, so I put away the fives, singles and coins; the smaller money has amounted to an additional $ 1,075 since the beginning of 2020.
Spring cleaning challenge: There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to go through your home and come up with an item every day for a month that you no longer want or need that you can try to sell. If you find many extra things along the way – and if you get rid of things that have no resale value – it’s good, but the idea is to keep it simple and manageable.
Surveys have shown that the average homeowner has somewhere north of $ 3,000 in items they do not use but that they can sell with ease. For those who question whether the juice is worth squeezing, this is the challenge where you will find out.
Value it per pound challenge: This is a twist on spring cleaning, but it’s a good one for organizing your home for the long haul.
One day, if you leave your current home and take your belongings to your next location, a moving company will come in to increase the cost of helping you make the transfer. Once they get through the big, tricky objects – moving the piano or the big sofa – they will eventually charge you a pound.
In this challenge, look at the things in your life – even the most organized people have the mess – and think about whether you would pay to move it; If it’s not worth 50 cents to a dollar per pound to move it, maybe it can go now.
If there is value in selling that stuff now, do it. If the value comes from simply eliminating the clutter, it is also a win.