Saying “no” is often the hardest thing you have to say as a parent, but it’s an important word to have in your vocabulary. It might help your household budget when your children are asking for the latest toys or another treat.
Unfortunately, kids won’t understand prioritizing important costs or trimming down non-essentials — they only know that they’re losing out on something they previously had or they want to have in the future.
One way to turn those frowns upside down is to announce that you’re attempting a money-saving challenge. By putting a different spin on the budgeting plans, your kids won’t feel hard-done-by. Instead of forfeiting their favourite things, they’re playing a brand-new game.
The No-Spend Challenge
The challenge sounds more extreme than it is. It doesn’t mean that you don’t make cash loan payments, buy groceries, or deal with your electricity bills. It targets those non-essential bills that eat up so much of your budget. After setting a strict budget for your essentials, you’ll refuse to open your wallet for anything else unless it is an emergency.
The duration of the no-spend challenge is up to you — some people prefer to do it for a week or month at a time, while others have pushed the limits to an entire year. It might be easier to start with a shorter goal and then extend the deadline as you go along.
The point is to discourage irresponsible and impulsive purchasing, which can throw your budget off course. Verily Magazine shares that one of the many benefits of the no-spend challenge is that it gives you greater clarity about your spending, so you can see bad habits like daily lattes or weekend shopping sprees that normally slip past your attention.
The 52 Week Savings Challenge
Another idea is the 52 weeks savings challenge which builds up the savings you set aside with each week, slowly raising the stakes as the year goes on. Beginning the first week with $1.00, you up it to $2.00 in the second week, $3.00 in the third and so on. By the time you hit the first days of 2020, you will have an extra $1,378 in the bank.
One of the downsides of the 52 weeks challenge is that the highest savings demands are often in December, which is one of the most financially-trying times of the year. Setting aside an extra $202.00 in the midst of the winter holidays seems unlikely. As an alternative, you can try the reverse 52 weeks challenge where you start the journey with the most expensive deposits and work your way down to $1.00.
The Spare Change Challenge
The spare change challenge is a money-saving game that your kids will love to participate in — it’s not much different than keeping a piggy bank. They will be proud to contribute their spare change from finishing chores or fishing under couch cushions.
Whenever you make a purchase with cash, take your leftover coins and put it into a jar. If you usually use your bank cards to shop, you can still find a way to collect the leftover “change” from the transaction. Mobile apps like Acorns round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and put the remaining cents into a personal account.
A New Year’s Resolution
If you still want to make saving money part of your 2019 plan but these tests aren’t interesting to you, you could try to incorporate money-saving into another type of challenge. Commit to a new year’s resolution that automatically adds to your budget like losing weight or quitting smoking.
While your kids can’t follow the resolutions, they can still feel included. Encourage them to cook healthy meals with you, mark your accomplishments on the calendar, and join your low-intensity work-outs. The new family activity could be making homemade meals from scratch or racing around the block on your bikes.
How Will These Challenges Help?
You can use the accumulated savings to bulk up your household finances. When all essentials are taken care of, put the extra cash into an emergency fund to get out of tight spots. A spare $400 could come in handy when you’re trying to deal with an unanticipated bill.
Four hundred dollars is hard to come by today — four in ten Americans wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected bill or repair that costs more than $400. If you’re one of them, an online lender like MoneyKey may help. Through their website or mobile app, you can apply for a loan and get the money you need in a hurry. The process will be much faster than your traditional bank, especially for people that have had credit trouble in the past.
Making changes to the household budget doesn’t have to be painful. When you present the task with a creative spin, your kids will be excited for the family to start saving money. As long as you don’t describe the adjustment as a burden, it won’t feel like one.
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