After Bankrate.com ran a story
on the 7-day
money challenge, readers flooded us with e-mails describing their own savings
success stories. They also had lots of advice and tips for others who need help
sticking to a budget.
The money challenge is simple. Figure out how much
cash you need to cover a week's worth of expenses such as groceries,
gas, food out and entertainment. Then, get that amount of cash and
put away your credit or debit cards. You need to note what you're
spending in a notepad as you go through the week or you won't remember
where the money went. Can you make it seven days? Or will you run
out at midweek?
exercise will help you understand your spending habits and identify where you
can cut back in order to keep within your budget. If you need to create a budget,
just use this handy work
The stories that follow are from readers who are
conscious of their spending and proud of their saving ability. Maybe one of their
tips will help you get on the road to saving.
The fun bank
I have a little "mind trick" that readers might find useful. First,
figure out how much they can use for spontaneous spending each month. I take that
amount out of the bank in cash and put it in a wallet that I think of as my "fun
Then I put a quarter of that money in the wallet
I'm going to spend out of. If I have to spend over that weekly limit -- for example,
a Friday lunch with people at work -- then I go to my fun bank and withdraw what
The trick is to say to yourself, "I have to go
to the bank to get the money to pay for that." But you're not going to a
brick-and-mortar bank either in person or via your ATM card; you're going to your
It took months for me to get used to it, but now
the enjoyment of spending money I know I can afford to spend far outweighs any
disappointment I might feel at not being able to buy something that I want right
now, this minute. For those things, I save up.
I did this same challenge a year ago. We took a Christian financial counseling
course and wrote down everything we spent for a month. I then started taking out
cash from my paycheck for several categories -- gas, groceries, entertainment,
everyday spending and miscellaneous -- and budgeted "setbacks" for the
direct deposited payroll. I was allotted so much for each category for a two-week
period. I could not spend grocery money for gas, for example. When the money in
that category was gone, it was gone.
That was a year ago and
I am doing well with my spending. We have money in savings for the "unexpected."
I falter every now and again, but for the most part it has been a very good thing
for all of us.