This self-paced challenge is a great way to get your budget “into shape” and to help break bad financial habits! It is intended to bring the focus more on “Needs” and less on “Wants”. All the money that is not spent can be used to “Feed the Pig” (eg. saved).
Before You Start
Download the prep questions and tracker below to help you personalize your goals and motivations.
Determine Your “Why”
What is motivating you to take up this challenge?
Are you saving for your Emergency Fund?
Are you saving for retirement?
Are you saving for a vacation?
Are you trying to boost your debt repayment?
Are you trying to break bad spending habits?
Whatever your “why” keep it at the forefront of your mind by adding to the tracker, so you have something to focus on, especially when things get tough.
Determine Your Budget Lists:
Figure out your needs and your wants. According to Take Charge America our needs are the things we must have to sustain us day to day: food, shelter, clothing, personal care items, and in most cases safe, reliable transportation. Just about everything else can be classified as a want (though might seem like a need) – entertainment, electronics, leisure travel … the list of things we want is potentially endless.
Example of Needs:
- Bills (Internet, phone, cable, vehicle, etc.)
- Debt Payments
Example of Wants:
- Restaurant Meals
- New Clothing/Shoes
- Paid Entertainment
- Daily Coffees/Drinks
- Hobby Gear/Materials
- Salon Services
- Sweets Disguised as Groceries
- Unhealthy Habits (drinking, smoking, vaping etc)
Post-Challenge Want List
If you run into anything that you want during the challenge, write it down on the Want list below . When you’ve completed the challenge review the list and see if it’s still a priority
Determine Your “Cheat Days”
Cheat Days are for when you already have planned activities/events. Set a budget for those days and don’t go over it and don’t over-do those cheat days.
Set a Savings Goals:
Set a reasonable savings goals that fits YOUR household.
No Shopping Sprees:
There will be several essential products and items you will need. Shop your pantry/freezer before going grocery shopping, make a list, then only buy the basics. This will prevent you from taking extra shopping trips and being tempted to buy things you don’t need while you’re at the store. Do not go on a shopping spree before or after the challenge.
If You Slip, Don’t Quit:
Be kind to yourself. Feeling guilty won’t do you any good. If you slip up, acknowledge it, remember your “why” and get back on track.
Now that you’re ready to begin:
Determine when you want to start this 4 week challenge:
Throughout the challenge complete the weekly check-ins. The check-ins are meant to help re-focus you on what is important, and to help you get back on track if you’ve slipped.
Find Free Entertainment
Finding and planning free entertainment will help you succeed during your challenge.
You can always type
“free things to do in ______”
in to a search engine for ideas.
Here are a few ideas for free entertainment:
Camp in your backyard
Go for a hike
Do arts and crafts/paint or draw
Go for a picnic
Go to the library
Play at the park
Go for a jog
Play board/card games
Find Ways to Be Productive
According to Money Crashers, one of the psychological triggers of spending is boredom. Stay productive and use this time to get things done.
Organize your important documents
Purge your closet and done the clothes
Organize/clean the messy room you’ve been avoiding
Once You’ve Completed the Challenge: