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:

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Utilities
  • Bills (Internet, phone, cable, vehicle, etc.)
  • Groceries
  • Insurance
  • Medicine
  • Gas
  • Debt Payments

Example of Wants:

  • Restaurant Meals
  • Take-out/delivery
  • New Clothing/Shoes
  • Paid Entertainment
  • Daily Coffees/Drinks
  • Gifts
  • 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 birdwatching

  • Go swimming

  • 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.

For example:

  • 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:

Consider completing the Post-Challenge Questions;

These are meant for you to look back and reflect on how you did on the challenge.

Final Thoughts

It maybe helpful to think of this challenge as a game, the end prize being a stocked emergency fund, more money put into retirement or having enough money for that vacation you’ve been planning. Regarless of your goals saving money and budgeting should be fun and not overly complicated.

Consider Taking this Survey

There are no rules on when, how often or for how long you can do this challenge. If this challenge helped you with your money habits or if you have any suggestions to improve the program, please let us know. We value your feedback! 

This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice