Welcome to the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge! Every weekday in January, I’m sharing steps to help you make 2015 your most frugal year yet. Each day includes a specific challenge to help you make new frugal habits, lower your expenses, and get your finances in order.
Why do you want to be more frugal?
To get started, let’s think about YOUR reason to make a frugal fresh start. It’s probably not just for the fun of it, or to get attention from your friends. Maybe you want to pay off those credit cards once and for all. Maybe you want to save for a house. Maybe your retirement accounts are slimmer than you’d like. Maybe you just have a spending problem. Who couldn’t use a little more cash in their pockets?
Let’s turn your reason for wanting to spend less, into a goal.
I love this metaphor from Earl Nightingale.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. It’s that simple. Failures, on the other hand, believe that their lives are shaped by circumstances … by things that happen to them … by exterior forces.
Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take–it has a definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there.
Now let’s take another ship, just like the first, only let’s not put a crew on it, or a captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all, it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach–a derelict. It can’t go anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance.”
It’s very hard to succeed unless you know what you’re trying to succeed at. If you’re not trying to reach a defined destination, your end point will be determined by a series of uncoordinated decisions made each time you find yourself under pressure. Your goal is your destination. It’s where you want to end up. It keeps you from simply wandering.
A goal does three things for you: 1. It gives you a direction and helps you focus your efforts to make sure you’re heading in that direction. 2. It acts as a finish line, a destination that you look to for motivation when things get hard. 3. It allows you to measure and celebrate your progress.
Goals come in all shapes and sizes. Goals can be hourly (keep the peace until bedtime) or span years (paying off student loans). For the purpose of this challenge, I want you to set a goal for about 6 months down the road.
What sort of a goal? That depends on you! Think of your reason for wanting a frugal fresh start and you may find that you have a goal already, or at least the beginnings of one. To get your mind moving, here is a non-comprehensive list of examples that could be a goal or part of a goal, in no particular order:
- Save a certain amount of money for a certain purpose (new car, vacation, down payment, retirement).
- Quit spending on certain items altogether.
- Constrain spending in certain categories in a measurable way.
- Pay off a certain credit card balance.
- Pay off a car, a student loan or some other debt.
- Add a certain amount to an emergency fund.
- Make three extra mortgage payments.
Don’t get so caught up in the right number for your goal right now, especially if being actively involved in your finances is new for you. The actual number may need adjusting after you begin, but having some number is important. If your goal is not quantifiable, you won’t be able to tell if you’re making progress, and at the end of six months, you won’t know if you succeeded! The most important part is to set a goal that will motivate you and give you a reason to be more frugal. A good goal will help you realize that the sacrifices you are making and the new habits you are cultivating will be worth it.
Challenge– Day 1
Set a financial goal for 6 months from now that gives you a reason to be more frugal. Write your goal down somewhere you will see it. You can even share it in the comments if you like!
Just so you know we are participating right along with you and to give ourselves some accountability, I will tell you that our goal is to get our remaining student loan debt down to $65,000 by six months from now.
Let's Do This Together!
We're banding together to pay off some serious debt in 2019! We want you to join in the debt-smashing fun!
When you subscribe, you'll get monthly reminders to report your progress and you'll see how we're doing as a group!
You'll also receive frugal inspiration and financial motivation in your inbox to help you along the way!
Are you ready to smash debt with us?!