12 Month Financial Challenge
Although most people spend a lot of time in the new year setting new goals for themselves, anytime is a great time to evaluate your finances! There are 12 months in a year, so just imagine what you can do if you work toward improving your financial situation a little bit each month. This 12 Month Financial Challenge gives you a way to do just that!
Let’s Get Started
Make a budget for the new year. Make a list of everything you think you might need or want for the year. Divide up the cost and make a list of how much you need to set aside weekly or monthly until you reach those goal amounts.
**Print this 12 Month Financial Challenge to stay on track.**
Start a Savings Challenge. Save your change, your five dollar bills, a set amount every week, or participate in a 100 Day, 15 Week, or 52 Week Challenge. Don’t quit even if you falter a little bit. My new motto is “done is better than perfect.” If you skip a week or can’t save as much as you’d first planned, it’s okay. Better to have something saved up than nothing…even if it’s just some spare change! (Here are some money savings challenge printables to help stay on track.)
Start a Christmas savings account with your bank or an online account. Or pick a place to hide cash and don’t touch it until time to shop for Christmas!
Have a “low spend” month. Most people call this a “no spend” month, but I can’t wrap my head around “no spend” if you’re still paying bills and things. Therefore, I call it “low spend.” (But call it what you want…I won’t fuss!!) Only spend money on bills and essentials this month. Plan meals around food you have in the pantry, fridge, and/or freezer. Make homemade gifts or offer gifts of service if you need to give a gift.
Pick 15 days out of the month to not spend anything. No eating out, no coffee, no craft supplies, no gifts for 15 days! My plan is to not spend any money at all for fifteen days out of the month. So, I will also avoid paying any bills or putting gas in my car on those days. The days don’t have to be consecutive, just as long as there are 15 of them!
Add a new stream of income. A stream of income doesn’t have to be an additional full-time or part-time job. It’s just anything that you can do to add extra income–whether it’s once a year or every week!
There are so many ideas for streams of income out there, but here are a few to get you started:
- Yard sales
- Pet sitting
- Food sales at a Farmer’s Market
- Reselling clothes/household items online
- Freelance work on Fiverr
- Work for a delivery service
- Rent out a space in your home for storage
Do without the drive thru or carryout this month. Zero, zilch, nada. No eating in the car, no eating on the go, no picking it up, and no having it delivered! It’s a great time to learn how to cook at home and a great time to meal prep for work or travel.
Check your progress and set/reset your goals for the end of the year. I have a really bad habit of forgetting what I’m doing while I’m doing it, so this is a must! Plus, you may be able to cross some goals off the list already. Or you may need to reevaluate what you’re doing and change some things around. For an extra challenge, go 5 days this month without spending anything. That’s sometimes harder to do in the summer–especially because of vacations–but I believe in you!
Use only cash for food, gas, groceries, and extras. Make this as much of a “cash only” month as you can. Or, and I know this is revolutionary, write a check instead of using a debit/credit card!
Go thru the house and play a declutter game. Get rid of a set amount of things every day (corresponding with the day of the month…1 on the 1st, 8 on the 8th, 22 on the 22nd, etc.). Toss, sell, or upcycle everything you don’t need. Tip: Sell as much as you can. This is still a financial challenge!
Take a kitchen inventory. Plan meals for the next month around what you have on hand and what is on sale. Learn to use coupons (digital coupons definitely count). The holiday season will be starting soon, so it’s a great time to figure out what food supplies you have on hand and what you will need. Buy any extra you can before popular items become scarce and grocery prices “magically” go up.
Pick 15 days out of the month and don’t spend on anything that is not essential. If ever we need to budget and stick to it, November and December are the months. It’s so easy to overspend! Having 15 days where we don’t spend a dime can really help with that end-of-the-year financial crunch.
Add money to your emergency fund and leave something in checking for the end of the month. I admit freely that I tend to forget there is a whole week between Christmas and January. And that sometimes (depending on when we get paid), there won’t be a paycheck for a week or two when the new month/new year does start! It’s very easy to say “Oh, I’ve got x-amount of dollars in the bank…we can buy more gifts/buy more food/travel somewhere.” It’s when Christmas is over and you realize you forgot to budget for what you need until the next payday, that reality sets in! I know because I’ve done it! Don’t be like me. Always make sure you have enough to get you through!
What To Do Next
Once you’ve finished the challenge and met your financial goals for the year, you may be wondering what to do next. Well, pat yourself on the back first of all! Even trying to improve your financial situation is an accomplishment. And if you met all of your goals…WooHoo!!! I’m super excited for you!
Once you’ve finished celebrating, it’s time to start again. Set some new goals and come up with a 12 Month Financial Challenge that incorporates those goals. Keep going on that path to financial freedom!
In case you need your own 12-Month Financial Challenge, here is a fill-in-the blank version to print out.