If you’re looking for a way to boost your savings or debt repayment goals, try a money challenge. Money or saving challenges are a great way to temporarily switch things up and jumpstart your savings.
A money challenge can be anything from a no-spend challenge to finding extra money decluttering, to saving all your 5 dollar bills.
Any of these budget, savings and money challenges can be done for a day, week, month, or – if you’re brave – can be carried on throughout the year. The goal is to find new (and fun!) ways to cut your expenses, and put that money towards savings or debt. Remember, even if it doesn’t seem to add up to be a huge savings, every penny counts!
Budget Based Money Challenges
For a week, only “shop” out of your pantry. It helps to use up what you’ve already purchased, and can help with grocery savings when the budget is tight. This is a great one to repeat every 3-4 months to rotate your stock.
Generic Brand Challenge
Spend one month only purchasing generic brands. You’ll learn which ones are just like the name brand versions, and you’ll save money!
During this week, only buy items that are: on sale, discounted, on clearance, or you have coupons for. Or, are a combination of any of the above! It will make you work hard to find discounts, and you’ll be more likely to question if your purchases is a want or need.
Bank Fee Challenge
Are you still paying bank fees? Challenge yourself to switch all of your accounts to new accounts without fees in the next month. Or, try calling your current bank to discuss how to get your fees waived.
Discount Grocery Challenge
A lot of people are weird about discounted grocery stores. Challenge yourself to only shop at one, such as Aldi’s, for a month. Whether you switch permanently or not, a month is a great way to save money and give it a fair shot.
Switching Services Challenge
Call one utility or home service account a month throughout the year to see what discounts you might be missing. Call everyone from your cell phone provider to your daycare. If they can’t help you with finding additional discounts, research other companies and make the switch!
Product DIY Challenge
Every month, find an item that’s costing too much, such as dog food, laundry soap, or dryer sheets. Research DIY recipes on Pinterest to try making your own.
Follow a couponing website and challenge yourself to learn how to coupon at one store this month. Start with your favorite store and learn how the policies and coupons work. Once you’ve got it down, move on to the next store you frequent.
Ask for a Discount Challenge
This one might be extreme, and takes some guts – but the reward is worth it. Every time you shop this week, just ask for a discount. You’ll get turned down 75% of the time, but the rest – you’ll earn savings you didn’t expect!
Put One Thing Back Challenge
Everytime you go shopping, stop before getting to the register and put one item back. You’ll be challenged to really think about what you need, and realize how much you might add-on to your original shopping list.
Free Family Activity Weekend
Challenge your family members to plan an entire weekend of family fun that’s 100% free. Make it a competition to see how can plan the best weekend and take votes at the end!
Rebate App Challenge
For one month, make sure to check ALL your rebate apps after every purchase. This will get you into the habit of checking, and you’ll save money. Rebate apps include: iBotta, Checkout 51, Receipt Hog, Saving Star, and Mobi, to name a few.
Cash Only Challenge
For one month (or all year!), make all purchases with cash. You’ll find that you’re much more likely to hold onto your money when you’re not swiping plastic. Bonus tip: use a cash envelope system to make sure you don’t overspend in any category.
Cash Only Vacation Challenge
Estimate how much money you’ll need for vacation, including gas, food, and fun. Before leaving for vacation, pull that much out in cash from your account. Vow to bring your cards just in case, but to not use them. Challenge yourself to stay within that cash budget.
Travel Hack Challenge
For your next vacation, learn how to travel hack through articles on Pinterest. Don’t purchase flights, hotels, car rentals, or activities until you’ve figured out how to get them at a discount.
Cut Booze/Soda/Bottled Water/Junk Food Challenge
Whatever your vice is, cut it for a month. Watch the savings add up!
Meatless Mondays Challenge
If your family loves to eat lots of meat, challenge yourself to a month of Meatless Mondays.
Cancel Streaming Services Challenge
This challenge is great for the summer, since chances are you’re busy outside anyway. Streaming services like Netflix will allow you to pause your service and reinstate it later.
Every month, review a subscription service you have and figure out how to reduce the cost or cancel it altogether.
No Online Shopping Challenge
For a month, cut out all online shopping. For some of us, a super easy challenge – but for others, this will be really tough!
Choose one month to cut your hobby expenses and make no new purchases in this budget category.
Bring Your Lunch Challenge
Challenge yourself to bring your lunch for a week, or month, to work. Make sure to budget a little extra time to prepare it, but then step back and watch the savings pile up!
No Eating Out Challenge
Agree with your family that no matter how hectic and tiring the week is, that all meals must be packed from home. No eating out, and no sneaking when no one’s looking!
Savings Based Money Challenges
No Spend Challenge
Choose a week (or even month!) where you cannot make any purchases outside of groceries or bills. Create a list of things you want, and at the end of the month, review the list to see if you still want them. Want tips on how to set up a no spend challenge? Read more about 10 simple rules for a no spend challenge!
10% Savings Challenge
Once all of your debt is paid off, set a yearly goal to put 10% of all income earned into savings or investments.
Every time you receive a $5 bill from a purchase, keep it in a box. At the end of the month/year, see how much you’ve saved up!
Put all your spare change into a jar, and cash it out for something fun once a year!
Save all your dimes in a two liter bottle. Once it’s full, you should have around $700!
Dollar Savings Challenge
This weekly challenge starts with saving $1 for week 1, $2 for week 2, and so on. By week 52, when you’re saving $52, you’ll have saved $1378!
Financial App Challenge
Try a new financial app like Acorns or Digit for a month (or more). Acorns is a micro-investing app that invest your spare change from bank transactions. See how much your account builds, and if you even notice the transfers.
Earnings Based Money Challenges
One Room Challenge
Every month, choose one room to dig through and reorganize. Divide everything into 4 piles: keep, toss, donate, and sell. List everything for sale on Craiglist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace that month. Make sure to get any receipts for donations so you can use them as a tax write-off!
Side Hustle Challenge
See how quickly you can make an extra $500 with a new side hustle. Or, give yourself one month to find a new side hustle to bring in extra income.
Sell One Item a Week Challenge
Every week, challenge yourself to get one item sold from your home – whether it’s through Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay or a garage sale.
Other Money Challenges
Financial Education Challenge
Challenge yourself to read one blog post, article or book a day about finances. This helps to keep your goal at the top of your mind, and, you’ll be learning how to best use your money to your advantage. Also check out podcasts as well if you do a lot of driving or don’t have as much time to read.
Babysitting Exchange Challenge
See how long you can go without paying for babysitting. Wait – I’m not suggesting you just don’t pay the local teenager (dude, that’s mean!). Work with a friend, neighbor, family member or other trusted adult to exchange babysitting services. Or, trade something they need (like the lawn mowed) for babysitting.
Gift Card Challenge
Put all gift cards that you earn or receive throughout the year aside and use them for buying Christmas gifts.
See how long you can go into the next season before turning on the A/C or heat. (Of course – please be careful and don’t risk your health or your pipes bursting!)
Have you tried a savings or budgeting challenge before? How’d it work out? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!