Last year our family decided to try our a concept of fiscally fasting. After watching an episode of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates, we were motivated to try out the system for ourselves.
The goal was to spend zero money on Wednesday of each week. In addition, we also selected a week of each month where we were self-sustaining without spending any extraneous cash. For a couple months the program worked great. However, like any other new years resolution, they take a lot of mental dedication to stay motivated.
Our problem actually came in the form of travel (go figure, right). We told ourselves from the beginning that we would get a “vacation” from fiscally fasting during our time away from home. The problem began when we returned and forgot about the fiscal fast challenge. After a couple of weeks of mess-ups, we were doomed. Then came 2.5 weeks in Hawaii, and there was no turning back.
We talk about getting back on the wagon and starting the fiscal fasts again, but I was recently turned onto the 52 week money saving challenge via PT Money. The idea is quite simple. Starting with the first week of the year, put $1 in a jar. The next week, place $2 in the jar. Continue all year, until the final week of the year, where after you place $52 into the container and you now have $1,378 at your disposal.
I like the simplicity of the challenge. I like the low cost to get started. Here we are in week 4 of 2013, and I need to start a jar with $10 ($1+2+3+4). Easy. I have even challenged Mrs. InACents to start her own jar.
Overall, I foresee this challenge lasting a lot longer than the fiscal fasts. Spending zero money takes a bit of a mental challenge, where with the jar challenge, we will be able to fiscally see our results, and be reminded that we need to place X amount of dollars in this week.
I am reminded of a challenge I started for myself years before I even met my wife. You select any denomination of dollar bills. Ideally, you should not select bills that are to high that you never get as change, or $20, which is all you can typically obtain from an ATM. To psychologically win, you need something that automatically triggers your brain to save. I selected $5 bills, and the idea was simple.
Anytime I obtained a $5 bill, I automatically am forced to save it. I also made a rule for myself that if someone asks how I want my change back, I am not allowed to dictate the denominations. So if I hand over a $20 to purchase something, and am due $17 in change, if they give me 2-$5 and 7-$1, I then automatically put the $5 bills in a separate portion of my wallet, and when I get home it goes into our travel jar.
My $5 bill jar eventually paid for my wife’s engagement ring, which I think shows the power of saving (and the best investment I ever made).
So who wants to join me? Think you have what it takes to be almost $1,400 richer at the end of the year?
Save Money, Travel More!
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