Now that a brand new year has started, this is the time where many people typically decide to improve their personal finances as part of their New Year’s resolutions. One popular savings challenge that has been attempted for many years is the classic 52 week money challenge:
Week 1: Save $1
Week 2: Save $2
Week 10: Save $10
Week 30: Save $30
Week 52: Save $52
By the end of the year, you would have saved an extra $1,378.
While I think this is a great way to get started on your savings, I’m not the biggest fan of this particular challenge because why settle for $1.3k when you can save far more?
How about joining me on a 12-month transformation instead to transform your finances? I promise to keep it easy for you to follow. (The relevant links are tagged for your additional reading.)
Put your holiday bonus to good use! Use one-third of the money to reward yourself, another one-third to pay off your debt, and put the rest in your savings. If you didn’t get a bonus in December, don’t fret, because with Chinese New Year just around the corner, you’ll soon be getting that holiday bonus to perk you up!
If you haven’t tried this Coffee Challenge, why not make February the month to start? You’ll find that you won’t be missing that Starbucks as much as you thought you would.
This is the month where IRAS will come knocking on your door (well, not quite literally) for tax payments. If you’re lucky to get some form of subsidies and tax grants, then remember to put those straight into your savings, or to pay off some more debt. Don’t forget to track how much you’ve paid this year, so you can try to reduce your tax liabilities for next year later on.
Now that you’ve successfully completed the Coffee Challenge, how about going on a cafe fast? Each time your friends propose going to a cafe for a meal, suggest the local hawker or coffeeshop instead. I love Singaporean food, don’t you?
Otherwise known as the Spend & Save challenge, the idea here is to save $1 for every $1 you spend. Your biggest expenditure this month will probably be on your June holiday travel, so be sure to challenge yourself to put that same amount back into your savings (and grow it for a future holiday!)
With half a year left to go, how much debt do you have left to repay? Perhaps take this month to evaluate your debt and consider if refinancing will make more sense and give you more savings in return.
I studied previously in the U.S. after taking a student loan for it. If you’re in a similar situation, or you’re thinking of going for further studies in the U.S. and will have a student loan to service, there are companies like Earnest who help evaluate and lower your rates, including customized payment plans that can fit into your profile.
With the Coffee and Cafe Challenge successfully completed, try staying away from all alcohol-related activities (happy hour drinks / clubbing) this month! With the high taxes in Singapore, alcohol isn’t cheap and you’ll find that your savings will be significantly boosted once this is out of the equation. You’ll also be rewarded with a flatter tummy by the end of the month!
After our May challenge, I trust that you’ve garnered a better appreciation for local food and takeaways? This month, try to see if you can spend even lesser on takeouts (maybe try bringing your own meals). Take the money saved to repay even more of your debts.
With the year coming to an end, there’ll be lots of festivities coming up, and you’ll probably also want to take a break to reward yourself for working so hard the entire year! The last quarter of the year is also the period where people typically spend the most money, so start creating your holiday budget plan to make sure you don’t spend more than you intend to.
See if you can go without shopping for an entire month! This only refers to items that you would buy for your personal use – makeup, clothes, shoes, bags, etc. You already have plenty of these anyway, and there might be better sales next month if you need to stock up!
Instead of blowing your budget on Christmas gifts for your loved ones, how about making handmade presents instead? They’re not just cheaper, but also infinitely more thoughtful. Here are more tips for reining in your Christmas budget!
Shoutout to the folks at Earnest.com who helped me to design this lovely print-out, go ahead and hang it up on your door to keep yourself accountable!
Good luck saving, and be sure to update me on how you’re faring!