If you’re looking for a money saving challenge for Lent (or just to challenge yourself) look no further! Here are 5 ideas to push yourself to be a little more frugal and pad your wallet:
Challenge #1 – Save $250 over 6 Weeks
This challenge should be pretty familiar to many. It’s a simple savings challenge to put away a little bit of money each and every day. Many days, the amounts are very small and wouldn’t be missed. After several days, the meaningless amounts become a considerable amount. At the end of 6 weeks you will have $250 while not saving more than $10 in a single day. Here’s how each day looks:
All of the amounts are even numbers, so if $250 doesn’t work for you, just cut each number in half and still save $125 at the end of the 6 weeks. If you are looking to challenge yourself a bit more, double the amounts and save a cool $500 after 6 weeks!
Once you hit your 6 week goal, take that money and throw it into your Emergency Savings! (Check out the 3 Bucket Emergency Savings system to figure out where you should stash your cash!)
Challenge #2 – Only Buy Store Brand Groceries
This is a challenge that is very near and dear to my heart (as I have previously mentioned, my job deals with retail store brands). Over the last several years, companies have spent a lot of money to get their store brand quality to par with major national brands. At the same time, they are ~30% less than those big name brands.
From Dave Ramsey’s website, he estimates that just switching your dinner to store brand (or generic brand) can save $1,000 in a year.
The average family of 4 spends ~$900 on their monthly groceries (source). Average store brand sales already account for 17% of groceries (source). That leaves $747 monthly grocery dollars spent on name brands each month.
A pricing study found that shoppers can save an average of 35% on their grocery bills by switching to store brand (source). But switching exclusively to store brands is not easy to do (our family is probably around 85% store brand). But, if you just doubled the amount of store brand items you purchased each month (from 17% to 34% of your groceries) you would save about $80 over 6 weeks. If you went 100% store brand, you may find yourself pocketing an extra $390 over 6 weeks.
Challenge #3 – Start Your Own “Monster” Vacation Fund
I’ve talked a lot about our Monster Vacation Fund. I created it after I decided to quit drinking Monster Energy drinks. Instead of spending $25 each week on the drinks, I saved it. In our monthly net worth updates (most recent one: here) the brokerage account that we mention is our MVF.
Find a daily or weekly expense that you can live without, and take the money you would spend and put it towards your emergency savings or some other savings goal. Maybe you will have the Latte Savings Fund, a McDonald’s Savings Fund, or a Happy Hour Savings Fund.
At the end of the 6 weeks, you may just find that you enjoy the extra money you have stashed away more than you miss that daily/weekly ‘thing.’ Using the rule of 752, a $50 weekly expense would be worth $37,600 (after 10 years) if you invested that money in an S&P 500 fund instead!
Challenge #4 – Turn Your Thermostat Down 2 Degrees (Fahrenheit)
The Department of Energy estimates that you can save 1% on your electricity bill for each degree adjustment per 8 hours. So if you lower your setting by 2 degrees, you’ll save 6% on your monthly bill. For a winter bill of $225 (our most recent electricity bill) that’s a modest savings of $13.50. If the changes that the DoE recommends are made throughout the year, you can save >$83 every year (even more depending on your average electricity bill). Another positive of not letting your air conditioner run as much, is that it should last longer! Win Win! (It also conserves energy… Win Win Win!)
Challenge #5 – Play the Pantry Game
Have you heard about the pantry game? It’s a game where you hold off going grocery shopping for as many days as you can, eating the things you have in your pantry before shopping. We do this a lot in our house. There are a lot of creative recipes we invent to use up the plethora of food that we have at our disposal. We end up eating some interesting meals, but we often find that we can put off going to the grocery store for several days and live off of the dry pasta and canned goods we have stocked up on (by accident).
We especially love this game because it clears out the clutter in our pantry, so it’s easier to clean, and just looks nicer.
If you decide to play the pantry game, you may be surprised just how much food you actually have, and have a better appreciation about your food needs and wants. Even outside of Lent, it’s a game you can play just a few times a year. If you can hold off buying groceries for 4 days 4 times per year, you’ll save yourself 2 weekly grocery trips in a year. Since the average family of 4 spends $900 per month on groceries, that’s $450 more money you’ll have in your pocket at the end of the year.
Lent is a great time to find some motivation to challenge yourself, so many people are giving something up it makes it easier to join in, no matter your beliefs. Every year for Lent, I see and hear about people giving up something, and I wonder if those people are taking advantage of the money they are (likely) not spending and saving it.
For the next 6 weeks, we are going to do the $250 6 week saving challenge. We’ll be putting the money towards our Monster Vacation Fund, into Vanguard’s Total Stock Index ETF (VTI).
With 4,132 days left until we hit our $1,000,000 retirement account goal, we could repeat the 6 week challenge 98 times in a row! If we actually did that, and invested the money into VTI, by July 1, 2030 we would have an extra $38,200 in our vacation fund!
Are you interested in tracking your Net Worth?
Tracking my net worth was one of the first and best decisions I made to start getting serious about saving for my future. Back in April 2017 I created a Personal Capital account to make it easier to keep track of my accounts. Instead of hopping from website to website to add up my different accounts, I just needed to visit Personal Capital to see them all in one place.
It is a great tool that connects your different bank and investment accounts all in one place. Once you add your accounts, they will update automatically. It is easy to see how your spending (and saving!) affects your total financial picture. The program is incredibly easy to use and very straightforward.
It takes just a few minutes to sign up and enter your account information. After that, you’re off and running to having a clearer understanding of where your finances are.