I have always been a competitive person. What I have found over the years is that being competitive grants me certain advantages. For example, people who are competitive typically persevere until they reach their desired goals and don’t give up easily.
Yet being competitive also has its disadvantages. Always doing, being, having, studying, and/or attempting everything one can do to be successful is stressful. However, as an adult, I have found that I can channel that competitive spirit into challenges with myself that help me achieve my goals, especially financial ones.
The good thing about a personal challenge is that it’s just you against you. The parameters of the challenge can be tailored specifically to your needs and schedule. When you set it up as a challenge instead of a goal, you are more likely to follow through. For example, instead of saying “I want to save more and spend less,” design a specific challenge that will help you accomplish that goal. Remember that a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Below are some examples of challenges that can help you become more financially secure.
#1—“Utility U-Haul” Challenge
Many people assume they have no control over the cost of their utilities, but that is not true. There are many things you can do to reduce what you pay for your phone, TV, heating and cooling, etc. Commit yourself to review one utility per month. For example, take one full month to review your cell phone plan. What are you currently paying? Are there other companies that will give you an identical plan for less? If you can switch to a different provider and save $50/month, that’s an extra $600/year you can direct into a savings account.
#2—“Monthly Purge for One Year” Challenge
Do you have nice items you no longer use or wear? Commit to selling one per month. Our local newspaper will let you place an ad for one day for an item valued at $40 or less for free. Craig’s List is always available for free. eBay charges a small fee, but draws a wider audience. Whether it be jewelry, books, furniture, exercise equipment, or toys; whittling down your possessions frees up your space and fattens up your bank account.
#3—“Track Your Food Spending for One Month” Challenge
This entails writing down the cost of every single food or beverage (both for at home use and eating out) you purchase for one whole month. At the end of the month, ascertain how much you are spending on food, especially for food you eat away from home. Be prepared to be horrified. Because food isn’t a monthly bill like a car payment or house payment, we tend not to be aware of how much we actually spend on food. You may be inspired to cook more from scratch, eat less junk food, and/or drink more water to help you lower food costs. The win/win in this challenge in addition to financial gains may be better health outcomes for you and your family.