Here are 17 Money Saving Challenges to Up Your Money Saving Game + 10 Free Printables

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I am a new convert to being a competitive person; I wasn’t always this way. When I was young, I couldn’t have cared less if you scored more points than, or if you ran a faster mile than me. Mostly because I knew I sucked at sports. However, now that I am older, I am very competitive; with myself! I love to push myself to take on new things or to do them better than before. That is why I love money saving challenges! Seriously, I love them, and I force myself to be creative with finding free things to do, I surprise myself with my determination to succeed. Sometimes being proud of myself is the best thing I could have asked for.

Plus a toddler fruit & veggie challenge!

What are money saving challenges?

Money saving challenges are when you try and either save as much money as possible or to save a predetermined dollar amount. Sounds fairly simple huh. It’s simple to understand because it’s basic math, namely subtraction, and the goal is to subtract as little as possible. YET, the doing of these challenges can be very difficult, which is half the fun right. If it were easy, we’d all be a money saving ninja!

Why do a money saving challenge?

Sometimes the sheer act of doing a challenge is fun, to prove to yourself that you CAN do these things. That’s not to say that you can only do them alone, doing it with your spouse/kids can be just as fun.

Habit reset

Sometimes your spending habits may just need a reset. When you find you’ve been a little too lax in the coffee shop spending, or that your waistline says you need to buy fewer chips at Target. Whatever the habit, this can be a good kickstart to a better you!

Doing a money saving challenge can help you identify what is truly a need, and what is just a want, that you could (and maybe should) do without.

You need to save money for an upcoming expense

Is your family planning on going to Disneyland and you need a bit more cushion in your vacation fund? Money saving challenges can be a great way to add some cash to help you have a fun and worry-free time. It’s hard to relax on vacation if you’re worried about how you will pay for it all. Get the cash before you go so that you can truly relax and eat all the Mickey Bar treats that you want!

Start a new habit

You know you need to start saving money for retirement/college/whatever, yet you’re not sure if your budget can handle the loss of funds. Doing a money saving challenge is a great way to see if you can live on less.

Bring the family closer

Maybe you’d like it if your family did more engaging things together. Say doing a puzzle together with your daughter in your family room instead of going out to a movie and mindlessly munching on outrageously priced popcorn. Now I like me some movies, but sometimes you want a little bit more quality time.

Money saving challenges can also be a great way to teach your children about discipline and patience, working hard towards a goal. Whatever their age, they can benefit from learning about good work ethic. Now that doesn’t mean that your four-year-old doesn’t get her favorite raspberry bar snack because it’s not a “need”. Yet maybe she participates by doing a “eat your veggie” challenge, or a “pick up your socks” challenge (hmmm… maybe my husband should do that one) 🙂 Be creative and give your kiddos a chance to participate in some way.

How to stick to your money saving challenge

Now I’m not going to lie and say that these are all easy like I said above, if everyone could do it then America wouldn’t be in debt by a record-breaking $22,000,000,000.00. Yup, that’s a lot of zeros, that’s $22 Trillion! (source)

Let’s talk about tactics & strategies to help you and your family succeed with a money saving challenge…

  • Make it a competition: see if you can get your office friends on board, or your girlfriends, r even just between you & your husband. Keep it light; keep it friendly, remember to support each other!
  • Know your goal: What are you saving for? What will keep you going when it starts to get rough?
  • Track your progress: If you don’t have to report back to somebody (even if it’s just to yourself), then your progress may become a distant memory. Write it down. Whenever I do challenges, I make it super visual; be it on my fridge or on my bathroom mirror. Read about how I turned my fridge into money caving central in the post below…

RELATED: How to Stay Motivated While Saving Money

  • look ahead: Before you start your challenge make sure that you’re not going to run into any road bumps that could derail you (aka birthday parties, holidays, events that would lead you to spend more, etc.).
  • Know your triggers: If you know that whenever you are bored you go to Target to grocery shop, and get sucked into the Dollar Spot, then it’s time to check yo’self! Don’t go to Target, go to Winco instead where you won’t be tempted to buy nonnecessities
  • Lay out the rules beforehand: Be painfully clear with yourself and your family about what is and is not “allowed” during your challenge
  • Make it easy to succeed: Or in other words make it hard to spend money; take your credit cards out of your wallet, clear your saved passwords from your favorite shopping websites, clear your browsing history so you can’t go back to that shirt you were looking at. Another helpful tip is to unfollow favorite stores on social media, as the less you see, the less you will be tempted.
discipline and dedication quote

17 Money Saving Challenges

1. The No Spend Month

This is by far my favorite type of money saving challenge because it’s so clear, just don’t spend anything. Ha! Some of the challenges listed below are less restrictive, but they have you save random denominations, which you then need to withdraw to set aside.

In order to succeed, you need rules with this one, because there will be times where you have to spend something.

Yes:

  • gas for your car
  • necessary groceries: dairy/produce/meat
  • mortgage/rent
  • utilities
  • insurance

No:

  • date night out
  • coffee shops
  • happy hour or lunches out
  • paid activities
  • uber/lyft
  • beauty stuff

2. Holiday Helper Fund

I do this every year, and it totally works. Starting January week 1, I plan to set aside $20 from each week’s budget to save for the holidays. This way I can save for Christmas dinner, stocking stuffers, and presents. By the end of November, you should have $960 saved. I do withdraw this cash and stick it in an envelope, then when it gets to $500 I go and buy a Visa gift card, so it’s easier to carry around come December. If you buy a Visa or Mastercard gift card, be sure to look at fee’s associated with purchasing and using it, as some charge odd fee’s. The one I get is just a $5.00 fee to purchase and load it.

now some week’s I’m not able to save the $20. One time I didn’t contribute for two months as I went to the chiropractor for a bit, which was over my insurance limit. Oh well, I still did pretty good.

Get the free printable template for this one!

3. Pantry/freezer clean out

This one is good as it kills two birds with one stone; not spending a lot on dinners and cleaning out your pantry. For this, I take an inventory of both freezer and my pantry, and then I take an afternoon and meal plan. Depending on how stuffed each area is, this could last a few weeks or a month of me cooking four dinners a week (when I cook I plan for leftovers). For this, I do allow myself to buy fresh produce and dairy to round out the meals. But the meat I usually have frozen, and enough dry goods (rice, beans, pasta) are in the pantry

4. $1 bill save

This is easy, as you just save all of your $1 bills. This is great if you’re saving for a smaller goal, say $200 or less. Now, you can’t cheat and ask for specific change at the register; this one is all up to chance 🙂

5. $5 bill challenge

This is similar to the $1 challenge above, but it’s a bit of a harder pill to swallow as stashing away $5 is a bit harder. Yet, you get to your goal a lot faster!

6. Spare change

Most of us are already doing this, and it’s an excellent challenge for kiddos to help with, as they can easily see the money adding up in a clear mason jar or a vase. Plus, the sound of clinking change has a certain level of satisfaction in it don’t cha think!

If you want to make this really seem like an important and big deal to your kiddos you should check out some nice, and inexpensive (of course), piggy banks. Here are a few below that caught my eye!

Clear Glass Piggy Bank

This comes in three color choices; gold, blue and pink! I know that glass with metal sounds like a dangerous combo, but this one is made of high grade durable materials, mostly used in high usage restaurants and lab equipment.

Clear Digital Coin Piggy Bank

This one is perfect for kiddos learning to count money. They can sit at the table and count certain coin denomination, add it up, and then insert it into the bank and they can see if they are right! All while you cook dinner or pay your bills!

If you pay with plastic usually then consider trying Acorns.com it’s an app that lets you round up your transaction to the nearest dollar, and it takes the difference between the price and the dollar and invests it. This one is great if you’d like to start saving for retirement! There are $1 a month options, as well as $2 or $3 a month with added features. This is a GREAT tool for beginners or skeptics 🙂

7. Hobby Swap

Now this one doesn’t directly deal with money officially, but you do save money. Think of the hobbies that you currently do? Crafting? Does your husband tinker on motorcycle engines? Figure out how much money you spend a month on these hobbies and then swap this hobby for a free one that you’ve either been meaning to try or get back into. Such as reading books from the library, going hiking or riding bikes. Maybe you have a stockpile of crafting supplies, but you usually buy new stuff? Commit to going through what you have or possibly trading your old stuff for new items.

8. Connect with your neighborhood

Many neighborhoods have a buy nothing group on Facebook, search out, and join yours. Ask for items that you’re looking for, and then be generous in turn. Make it your goal to buy nothing for your hobby for 6 months!

9. The Dollar Store swap

If you haven’t been to a dollar store, then you’re in for some fun! Your goal with this one is to go to a dollar store and find four items that you would typically buy at a Target, let’s say and then commit to only getting items for a dollar. For example, greeting cards at Target can average $4 or $6 a pop, but at the dollar store, they are $.50 each! Or other things like aluminum foil, seasonal decorations, cheap sunglasses for during yard work, coffee mugs, etc. Now be careful when you walk in; you may be tempted to buy a ton because everything is cheap, just DON’T! Walk in with $5 cash and call it a day! Also, please manage your expectations on quality, don’t expect these items to last a long time.

10. Cancel it!

Do you subscribe to Netflix or Hulu? Cancel it and get your screen time fix from the library, there are so many good movies and shows available, all for free! Be ruthless with you other subscriptions too! Aim to cut 25% of them.

11. 1% challenge

This challenge is something that you know you should have done a long time ago! Here’s your chance. Go into your workplace and either up your 401(k) contribution by 1% or start contributing (many places have a minimum level at 3%). Then in two months go back and up it again by 1%

If you want to save money but not in a retirement account, then figure out 1% of your gross pay, and then automatically transfer that into a special account, or withdraw it and stick it in a savings envelope in a safe place. Do this either once a month or better yet once a week!

12. $1+ a day

Sorry, this one isn’t a flat one dollar a day, that’s a bit too easy (maybe good for a tween), but with this one you start on the 1st of the month with $1, then on the 2nd you up it by $1 to saving $2 that day, and then on the third you save $3. So by the end of four days, you have saved $10. And by the end of a month (30 days) you will have saved $500! Hot damn!

Get the free printable template for this one by signing up below!

13. $1- a day

For those of you where there always seems to be too much month and too little $ then take the above challenge and reverse it. Start with $30 a day, then go to $29, then $28 and so on. So it gets easier as the month goes on

Get the free printable template for this one by signing up below!

14. The luck of the draw!

This is a great family fridge activity. You print your sheet off, and each week you pick one of the dollar amounts listed, and you strive to save just that amount. Maybe your kids get to choose which amount, and you as the parents then are in charge of the doing. When you’re at the store then when the little ones want xyz toy, you can remind them that they picked the $28 goal for that week and you want them to get the gold star.

To get kiddos in on this maybe turn this print out into a connect four competition between them and their sibling, so one child is one color to circle the weekly goal with and the other kiddo is another. The first kid to get five circles in a row can go out for ice cream, or stay up until midnight and watch a movie. Whatever you think will be motivational for them. 🙂 (I’d be motivated by being able to go to bed 2 hours earlier, but that’s just me!)

Get the free printable template for this one by signing up below!

15. The biggie

Let’s say that you have a pretty lofty financial goal, maybe an almost fully funded emergency fund, or enough for a killer vacation, or money for a new back patio remodel. Whatever you want money for this challenge is for the committed as it’s longer, a 52-week challenge and it’s for a lot more money.

Choose whether you want to…
save $5,000
or
save $10,000

As you have probably guessed, this one isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to be committed, I mean in it to win it style of attitude!

Get the free printable template for these two by signing up below!

16. The bi-weekly year to $1K

This is an excellent option for those with a smaller paycheck as it’s spread out over a whole year, but you’ll have $1,000 when you’re done, a decent chunk-o-change if I do say so myself!

Get the free printable template for this one by signing up below!

17. The habit change

You’re a great person! No really, you are 🙂 Yet maybe you have a small habit that you want to give up? Now’s your chance to put some oomph behind you!

Let’s say you always go to Starbucks in the am and get coffee. People always “say” make your coffee at home, you know this. yet, you still love you some salted caramel mocha, grande please! That’s $4.95 a pop (+ tax). The thought of trading this in is tough, but you know you “should” because it would be better for your waistline. Yup that $4.95 wallet drainer also has 53 grams of sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar in 11 Oreo cookies. Ugh.

Okay so if you saved $4.95 every workday, that’s $25 a week, or $104 a month. Taking out 2 weeks for vacation & sick time, that’s $1,250 a year. Let’s say you buy supplies for at home brewing, hen lets round it out to say you’ve netted an even $1K.

Hint: If you invested that $1K every year, and do so for 20 years and get a 7% interest rate (very broad average here) you’d have about $47,000!

Do you have something you’ve wanted for a long time that costs about $1K? I bet you do! now for this challenge, you can use anything that you want to give up, cigarettes, Netflix binging (aka cancel subscription), Target Dollar spot items, etc. Just get an idea on the cost and then let your calculator do the rest!

Get your free printable template for this one by signing up below!

Bonus – a toddler fruit & veggie challenge

We all know that little ones want to participate in what we are doing. So here is a fun way for them to be a part of it!

It’s set up a weekly challenge (a month is a looooong time for a little one), yet there are four weeks you can do. Each day is a different fruit or veg, so lots of variety.

Don’t get stuck on just trying things raw or as a stand-alone. It can be baked, sauteed, juiced, or smooshed! It can be just that item or mixed into something else! This type of thing is what Pinterest was made for!

At the end of the day

Money saving challenges can be a great way to not only save money but to challenge yourself and push your preconceived limits. They can be fun, yet they can also bring some stress at times. Remember that this isn’t life or death, and to always offer grace (especially to yourself) if you fall off the money wagon. But you know what? You’ve got this, and I can see the gleam in your eye, you are going to crush it Mama!

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