We’re full speed ahead into week 2 of our challenge, and while some of our team members here at Stnce have stayed on track, for the most part, others have been inspired to come up with their ways to budget. And, we like that! We’re all about finding ways to make spending less and saving more realistically fit into your lifestyle. We think you should make any modifications to our challenge structure to suit your personal needs, goals or expected outcomes.
Here’s what our team members had to say:
Marie started meal prepping before the challenge, and it’s helped keep her spending in check. She’s had more time to go for a walk at lunch, instead of wasting it standing in line to buy it. Over the long weekend, she also found ways to save money for her family by enjoying free activities around the city.
“Over the Family Day Weekend, we had a lot of quality moments and realized that we didn’t necessarily have to spend, go away or entirely deprive ourselves either. It was more about spoiling ourselves with a family activity we wouldn’t usually do while being mindful of how we spent. So, we capitalized on memberships and coupons and found free events to do around the city. We went swimming. We went to the museum. We ate out. It worked out well with my daughter because it showed her that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun. But, all the activities meant that I didn’t do a lot of meal prep for the week. So, I’m doing it day by day which makes it more tempting to go and buy something. I haven’t done it yet, but it feels like it’s catching up. My lunch is a bagel and yoghurt, so it’s not exciting. Well, to be honest, it’s my breakfast, but that’s because this day has been crazy.
The rewards of doing the challenge are fantastic. I’ve saved a lot of money. I internalized a lot of good habits. I’m eating cleaner food and spending less. My grocery bill is the same as before. I’ve found that shopping takes less time than figuring out what to order at every meal. Plus, there’s a lot less food and packaging waste.
But, at the same time, I’m bored of granola and yoghurt. Cooking every night is a bit monotonous as well. But this feeling is what the challenge is all about – it’s consciously taking it to the extreme and finding where your weaknesses lie. I am looking forward to Friday when I can treat myself to sushi and use the $20 buffer. All in all, I want to finish the 30-Day No-Spend with a bang and continue the momentum after it’s done because it helps me to be more conscious of my spending.”
The timing was right for Diane*. At the start of the new year, she embarked on a year-long savings challenge, and our 30-Day No-Spend just added fuel to Diane’s commitment to continue going strong. We’re cheering her on! Here’s what she said about keeping the savings going and what she plans to do with those savings at the end of the year.
“At the beginning of every new year, instead of making resolutions, I ask myself what I can do to be more accountable for my money. This year, I googled savings plans and yearly challenges for 2018. My goal is to either use the money I save for a trip to Thailand in November or put a massive lump sum on one of my credit cards. I came across the 52-week money challenge, $5 edition. How it works is, you begin with $5 and move it from your paycheque to a chequing account. Then each week, you increase it by another five dollars. In sum, the amount you save is five multiplied by that week’s number. Because we’re in the seventh week, 35 dollars will come out of my paycheque and I will have saved $140 in total. When I get to the last week of the year, which happens to fall on Christmas, it will be $260 out of my paycheque. It’s a lot but if I sustain it, the rewards will be high and very satisfying. Knowing that I’ll have an extra $6,890 in my bank account on January 1st next year keeps me motivated.
I’ll have more than I need for Thailand, but whatever I don’t use, can be put towards my credit card. When I look at the numbers further into the year, it’s a lot for me to save. Outside of my regular pay, I do put aside money in general, but not for myself, it’s for the mortgage. The first payment I make every payday goes to a joint house fund account for incidentals, groceries, and back-up on a biweekly basis. Then, the money for this challenge comes after that, and I’ve been able to manage so far. When I get to December, it’ll be pretty much half and half, but it’s a good way to assess my budgeting.
If I’m successful until the end of the year, I don’t see why I wouldn’t do it again for 2019.”
Inspired by our challenge, Lee-Tal decided to revisit managing her spending by using a spreadsheet to track all her expenses, and it’s already leading to some shocking discoveries about her spending habits.
“After the team shared what they were doing for Stnce, I took a look at the challenge and found the idea intriguing. Saving money is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never succeeded in seeing it through. I spend with my eyes closed as many millennials do because everything is already pre-hooked to a credit card. It’s the way I live my life. And I do it comfortably with a side of stress.
Last year, I tried saving money by downloading an app for money management and budgeting. But, I became frustrated with it and gave up. Ever since then, I couldn’t come up with a way to manage my funds even though I wanted to get a better understanding of how I was spending my income. After reading about the challenge, I sucked it up and decided to start my spending spreadsheet.
I figured the best way to start would be to look at my necessities – phone, rent, student loan, groceries – what I needed point bank and what I couldn’t go without every month. I put in the numbers and took a step back. Food varies, though, so I put it at the top. Then I built out four different columns: Category, Amount, Item Purchased, and Comments.
I also started to collect my receipts. Because I’m not the type of person to go to my e-mail, look them up, and track them, I’ve found it easier to just punch in the number every time I buy something, like my lunch at work. I’ve been noticing patterns. Last week, I spent 70 dollars on my lunches, which shocked me. What was I spending it on? A croissant, three salads, and a pad thai dish that was not worth it. So, I’ve begun meal prepping. And haven’t looked back.
What I’ve found most helpful is creating a separate chart for transportation, luxury goods, and spending patterns. For instance, I can more easily track my habits with food, especially when it comes to eating out versus in through groceries. I think I’ll be able to fill in the blanks after doing this for a month or more. Right now, the numbers don’t make sense. For example, there was a decline in food expenses from week one to two, but it’s hard to tell why that is.
Two weeks into it, my spending, including the necessities have totalled to just under $2,000. But I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing because I don’t have a baseline for people my age. I’m just trying to figure out what works for me and what’s normal for the stage in life I’m at.”
*Name has been changed by request.