Welcome to February! In early January, we asked people what are their savings goals this year. But reading El Nerdo's post on Tuesday made me think about how focusing on a short-term goal could help us achieve a long-term goal. So we've come up a series of challenges to help us achieve some goals this year.
Here's the February challenge for our GRS community: What will you give up for just one month to save $250?
We're talking about GRS Tenet No. 3: To build wealth, you must spend less than you earn. So let's get some practice. Psychologically, it's probably easier to cut back for a month than for a year (or forever), so don't shoot for the moon here. As J.D. mentioned in that post, “Thrift has limits.” Use this month to see where you are on your saving spectrum. Have you already “trimmed all the fat”? Or can you identify some lifestyle creep?
We're not talking about committing to an extreme ramen diet or adopting the ultimate cheapskate lifestyle. But there are plenty of places to start. In the past, J.D. and other contributors have discussed canceling cable TV service as a way to save money. Could you do that for a month? Or maybe you could scale back on the cable services you currently buy.
How about carpooling? Calculate how much you could save on gas each day if you shared a ride with a colleague who drives by your house on the way to work. Yes, you should chip in for the gas your colleague spends, but it would still be less than you'd pay if you drove alone. (I won't suggest riding a bike to work in February…)
And of course there are dozens of ways to save on food: Make a pact not to eat out all month. Bring your lunch to work every day. Make a hearty soup or stew and freeze it in portions so you've got something in the freezer when you don't have the time (or motivation) to cook some nights.
Tell us what you will do to save $250 this month. At the end of the month, send us a reader story about your attempt. Who knows — a temporary change could become a habit that will save you money so you can achieve your long-term goal faster.
Author: Ellen Cannon
Ellen Cannon was the editorial director of the financial services sites at QuinStreet from 2010-2015. She has covered personal finance for magazines and websites for more than 20 years, including five years as managing editor of Bankrate.com. She lives in South Florida with her kitty and sunshine.