Challenge yourself to save more, spend less

This article was originally published on Monday, 04 March 2013 as the Money Matters article in the Guam Pacific Daily News (PDN).  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Question: I am a mother of three young kids. My husband and I work full-time jobs, but we are finding it very hard to make ends meet. We would like to save more of our paycheck but there seems to be very little left after we pay our bills. Do you have some advice to help?

Answer: That is a situation that plagues most households today. Many of us find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck. That is very difficult to do especially if there are little ones who depend on you. Without getting too in-depth into your debt-to-income ratio, I can offer some money saving ideas.

Let’s start with two money saving challenges I found while doing some research.

The first challenge is called the 52 Week Money Challenge.

Each week deposit a dollar amount that corresponds to that week of the challenge. If it’s the first week of the challenge deposit $1 into your savings accounts. The next week deposit $2. By week 52 your last deposit will be $52 and the total in your savings account will be $1,378. And that’s not including the interest it accrues.

If you start this week, the end of the challenge lands just after the holidays during which you may be spending more money. If that’s the case, you can flip the challenge around. Start by depositing $52 in week one, $51 in week two, and so on. On the last week you will be depositing $1 into your account.

The second challenge I found is the 30 Day No Shopping Spree.

This challenges you to purchase only what you need, not what you want. This challenge excludes grocery shopping, gasoline and other essentials. In other words, you get down to the basics. This could mean something as small as not buying chewing gum or coffee on the way to work, not buying lunch, or even skipping a hair appointment for a month.

People who took the challenge reported saving anywhere from $200 to $400 in a month.

This challenge also benefits you by taking a real look into where your money goes daily and where you can cut back.

The money you save from doing one or both of these challenges can be used to pay off debt, save for a vacation, build your emergency fund, or left in your savings account to grow.

Saving does not have to be boring and tedious. Try having fun with it.

Challenge a friend or your spouse to a money saving competition. Get a group of people at work to come up with the most creative ways they save money.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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