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There’s no doubt that we live in expensive times today. Our standard of living has shot up, only to fuel our needs and wants further, which technological advances like easy online shopping are only happy to facilitate. With everything from banking to shopping becoming so easy to access with a simple click, it also proves risky for those who find it challenging to save money. Of course, we all want nice things to indulge in and raise our status in society, but we also need to practise frugality to ensure that we don’t look at our bank statement one day and collapse in fear! As parents, you’ll have endless expenses to think of – not just of your own, but of your child, your parents, and anyone else depending on you. So, of course, it’s imperative that you improve your saving habits starting now if you haven’t yet begun!
Why Should I Try a Challenge With My Partner to Save Money?
Saving money can be as simple pulling back on a couple of rupees that you’d otherwise have spent without a thought, or investing or saving large amounts with great returns in the future. It could also mean resorting to simple hacks that will indirectly help you save money. But whatever you do, it’s important that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to financial health, especially if your spending patterns are polar opposites of each others’. After all, you’re partners for life in all matters, and that involves financial matters as well, right? Apart from helping you save a significant amount, taking up a money-saving challenge with your partner is going to help strengthen your bond immensely. Open and honest communication, continuous support from your partner, a new-found respect for each other’s aims and goals in life will all surface when you’re trying to save money together.
Now, the real question is, can you survive these challenges to avail of the monetary (and other) benefits they’ll offer?
4 Money-saving Challenges All Couples Should Try
The real challenge you’re going to face as individuals and as a couple is to find the patience and determination to stick to these challenges and habits. If you break at some point, don’t beat yourself up over it. Start afresh! The best part of the whole exercise is that you’re doing it with your partner, and that’s all the support you’ll need to keep going once you begin!
1. The ‘Cash Only’ Challenge
Remember what we said earlier about technology and modern aids helping make spending money the easiest thing to do nowadays? Credit cards are an absolute boon to people in need, no doubt, but they can be a bit of a bane if you’re trying to cut back on expenses, only to have this piece of plastic tempt and torment you! What this challenge calls for, therefore, is to go completely card-less and depend on cash alone for all your needs. Now, one-offs such as big purchases (and we mean really big; a pair of shoes or a new salwar doesn’t count!) that can’t be covered by cash can be exempted, of course. But for purchasing things like groceries, apparel, movie tickets and so on, you’ll have to stick to cash.
The idea behind this challenge is that depending on cash alone can make you prioritise what you really need and what you can let go for a while. When you don’t have a card to fall back on to make purchases, you’ll keep aside the desire to buy a new watch or outfit or anything that gets in the way of making absolutely necessary purchases, right? This way, you’ll also be able to track your expenses much more easily and figure out where your money is really going.
2. The ‘Cash and Debit Card Only’ Challenge
This really is just a spin-off of the ‘cash only’ challenge, but something that is slightly more forgiving and practical. Sometimes, there may just not be an ATM around when you have a dire need for cash. At that point, you can pull out your debit card to settle your bill; you have what you want but you also know that there is a limit you’ll need to keep for your spending. Right at the beginning of the challenge, lock away your credit cards so that you don’t get tempted to replace the card that is allowed to be used in the challenge!
3. The ‘Bare Necessities’ Challenge
As the name suggests, in this challenge, spending needs to be limited to the bare necessities that you cannot live without – and that’s it. Your kids’ needs will, of course, be included in this set, but what the challenge essentially entails is cutting back on ‘luxuries’ such as shopping sprees, beauty parlour sessions, expensive entertainment, dining out – the works. Now, this can change from family to family – what counts as a luxury for someone may be a complete necessity for another. So, at the beginning of the week, define what your priorities are in great detail, right down to the vegetables you’ll need to cook dinner! Chalk out the expenses that you foresee based on the list of priorities and then stick to it. Try and forgo an item if you’ve missed out on including it in the very beginning, unless it is absolutely necessary, of course.
This challenge requires plenty of planning and communication between both partners because defining your list of things to spend on requires thinking about your different tasks, meals, activities, and so on. Once you’ve mastered Level 1 of the challenge, i.e., sticking to it for a week, take it up a notch by extending the timespan. This way, it will mostly become a habit too!
4. The ‘Single Income’ Challenge
This one is actually applicable for couples where both members are earning. The challenge basically is to reduce expenses to the extent that the household functions on a single member’s income, while the other member’s income is kept aside as savings. Now, can you imagine how much the expenses would have to come by to be able to achieve this goal? You cannot, of course, skip important payments like your car’s EMI or rent but what you can do is cut back on any frivolous or unnecessary spending that you tend to do. Again, this requires tons of planning and proper execution to work without both partners throwing in the towel in the first go. That’s why it’s important to test it out for a month, figure out where you’re facing troubles (if any), and then regroup to work out these problems. This could be the toughest challenge of the lot to tackle, so make sure you’re prepared for some troubles and arguments. But find a way to master this challenge, and a couple of years from now, you’ll be thanking yourself for having gone through with it.
Other Fun Challenges You Can Try to Save Money
The above challenges can be a little on the, well, challenging side! But there are also some fun ways you can save little amounts of money and include the kids too, while you’re at it. After all, isn’t it best to inculcate such habits in children at an early age?
- The Envelope Challenge – Mark a few envelopes with denominations of Re.1, Rs.2, Rs.5, Rs.10, Rs.20, so on, till you have covered all the denominations (including the Rs.2000 note is entirely up to you!). During the year, whenever there is the opportunity to do so, i.e., finding loose change or receiving money as a gift or simply deciding to save some money, for example, keep aside those notes and coins in these envelopes. You can either set a timeline for when the challenge will end or end it when all the envelopes are filled to the brim. Once you’re done, count your stash – you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve saved! Envelopes of smaller denominations are perfect if you want your kids to try this out.
- The ‘Bad Habit’ Jar – Here’s a fun way to kick a bad habit and gain some monetary benefits too! This challenge will have you and your family choose which of all your bad habits need to be penalised. For each time one of you indulges or shows an example of that habit, you’ll have to drop a designated amount (Rs.2 is a nice amount to start with!) into a jar. Sounds fun right? Say, for example, your child spends too much time playing on the phone. Your child will now have to come up with creative ways to reduce his screen-time, failing which he’ll have to pay up – either way, it’s a win-win situation! Once the challenge ends, you’ll either have a nice big amount of money or have given up your bad habit – or both!
- The 365-Day Challenge – This is pretty much the simplest challenge there can be – save a rupee a day! At the end of the year, you’ll have 365 rupees in hand, without too much effort. Get your kids in on this one because it would be easy for them to do. Once they see how much they’re able to save by keeping aside just a single coin every day, they’re bound to continue this challenge for a while! Another version you can try is to match the amount you save to the day of the year, i.e., Re.1 on the 1st day, Rs.10 on the 10th day, Rs.75 on the 75th day…you get the drift!
Saving money is an essential habit everyone should cultivate, but there’s no rule that says it can’t be made fun at all! Try out any of the four couple challenges we’ve mentioned and don’t forget to involve your kids in the rest of them. Let us know if you managed to survive any, however short the duration was!