It’s amazing how many times everything comes back to money. When someone tells me they want to try moving overseas or wish they travelled more and I ask them, “What’s the holdup?” the answer is always money. With you folks in mind, I decided to round up some of the hippest money saving challenges to get you building up the backup funds you’ll need to start moving.
I quite like the idea that saving money can be trendy! Making the most of what you have and using that to chase your dreams. And we’re all about reaching your slow travel or life abroad dreams here at Celt & Kiwi. The unfortunate truth is that the fastest way to get there is by spending less and saving more. The hard part is making that entertaining…
#1 | 30-Day No-Spend Challenge
This challenge has been doing rounds on the internet for a long time and people are still talking about it like it’s fresh news. Finance writer Michelle McGagh went viral in early 2017 after releasing her book The No Spend Year which details how she and her husband stopped all excess spending for a year! On the less side of extreme, I’ve really enjoyed Kate’s (of This Will Change Your Life) blogged journey (also viral). It’s a little more everyman than the forgoing hair salons and letting your husband loose with the clippers shown by other ‘non-spenders’. I recommend you start with Kate if you’re going to give this trend a go.
So what is the 30-Day No-Spend Challenge?
I hear you ask. What it says on the tin, my friend. You stop spending for the spand of a calendar month. You see, the point is not to move your splurge spends to the shoulder months but a training exercise in
You see, the point is not to move your splurge spends to the shoulder months but a training exercise in curbing impulse spending and creating (or killing) some habits (like making your lunch or not buying coffee…). In the same way you might do a monthly exercise challenge, this challenge is an exercise in self-discipline. Otherwise, it just will not work. There is no point doing a 30-day no-spend if you end up going on a binge the next month or stockpile the month before. You’ll be no further towards your savings goals and will have had a really strapped, possibly unfun, month for no reason.
The rules of the challenge are fairly straight-forward:
STEP 1: You may spend on your living essentials: groceries, bills, utilities and rent. Anything you’ve already committed to (say birthdays and weddings) is also ok so long as you create a budget and stick to it.
STEP 2: From there you eliminate the bulk of your incidental expenses: saying no to eating out or social events that cost you money, no to the buying of clothes, the watching of movies at the cinema or the unessential petrol top-ups and public transport trips etc. etc.
Hopefully, at the end of the month, you will have saved a good bit of dosh after shying away from those purchases that are not necessary for you to live. Maybe you’ll also miraculously understand what you want versus what you really need in life.
Sarcasm aside, I’m actually quite keen to try it. Only a Celt & Kiwi appropriate version. Cutting our spending on travel, for example, just wouldn’t work for us. It’s all well and good to live in London and go 30 days without transport, but when you live in walking distance of Mount Stewart you’re going to need a set of wheels at some point. I walk to work most of the time but I don’t expect my colleagues to ferry me to the nearest IKEA (which is in Bangor). And I’m definitely not taking 3 buses to get there. That’d be a waste of time. And time is an asset, dear friends. Let’s revisit this in either August or September when I’m mentally prepared to not drink coffee. A state of zen hitherto unobserved by my colleagues, I’m sure!
What I do enjoy about this trend is the spawn of free activities and free things to do with friends lists that have popped up all over Pinterest. Perhaps we’ll do curry and movie night at my place next, huh friends? Because I now make a mean vegan tikka. If I do say so, myself.
#2 | The Envelope Method
Although the concept has been around for donkey’s, the Envelope Method of managing your spending money is enjoying a new vogue complete with special wallets that can be purchased for the purpose (kind of counter intuitive, me thinks).
The idea is that you have envelopes for your major spending categories e.g. Groceries, Petrol/Diesel, etc. Each paycheck you withdraw the physical cash and store it in the relevant envelope. That envelope represents the total cash you have to spend in those areas – when it’s gone, it’s gone. The flip side is if there are any leftovers at the end of the pay period you can save it or treat yourself.
I don’t use this system personally, but it might help you if you are always diving for your debit card. So don’t come to my house; there are no piles of cash floating around (I wish!). However, you don’t have to withdraw physical cash to make this method work. You can still budget a specific amount for each category and keep lists detailing what you have spent.
#3 | The Fiver Challenge
Tiernan and I have found some real joy in the Fiver Challenge. We dabbled with it while on holiday in New Zealand. What kind of lunatics try to save while on holiday? These guys. The concept behind the Fiver Challenge is very simple: whenever you receive a fiver in your local currency, in our case $5 notes, it gets tucked away in a special place. It works well if you are dealing in cash a lot (which we did while on holiday) or you work in an industry where you might be tipped.
Almost from Day One of our trip, we started putting our fivers aside. When we got to the end we had a nice meal paid for by the pile of fives we’d saved. How often do you get to the end of a trip and find the spending money pot a little more, well, empty than you’d anticipated? By using this method of saving there was a nice little surprise was waiting for us when we got back to Auckland after very little effort on our part.
Once back in Ireland we thought we would try it again – this time, for a whole year March to February. At the end of the year, we will see how much we have. I’ll let you know how we do.
Since starting the challenge we have come across a couple of people who have done it before. One said it was hard to spend on big ticket items because you look a little like you’ve robbed a place. We laughed a lot that day.
#4 | The $1000 Project
The $1000 Project was one of the first savings or “money manifestation” (like it’s a magic trick – I laugh) challenges I came across on YouTube. Canna Campbell, the Aussie who conceived the idea, works in the financial sector and is the founder of SugarMumma.tv. Her YouTube videos hugely fascinating! But they’re also easy to understand and quite challenging, in a “get it together” kind of way.
Canna’s manifesto is all about building financial independence and passive income. The $1000 Project encourages you to make savings or find money in your life by, say, having a cheap week on your grocery spend or selling your old clothes on eBay. Normal stuff. Any money you make or save is put aside – preferably into a special bank account. Once $1000 is reached it is then invested into shares. Canna’s goal is to make enough in dividends to purchase a designer handbag every year. At the time of posting, Canna has made 44 parcels of $1000 – that’s a $44,000 investment! And she’s pretty honest in her blogs and videos about how she did it, too.
Even if you’re not planning to buy a designer handbag, or even invest in the sharemarket, I like the idea of keeping track of all your little savings and putting them into a pot for something special. This project can definitely be manipulated to suit your own financial goals. It’s good’un.
Have you tried any of these savings trends?
Last Updated: 11 May 2017 – Remember, just as we’re not immigration advisors, we aren’t financial advisors either. We’re coaches and mentors. Our posts are designed to tell you about our personal experiences and highlight things we find interesting or useful. It’s pretty general stuff here. If you’re in debt or in need of financial advice definitely get in contact with a financial advisor who can help!