The Simple Money Challenge You Should Start Right Now

money challenge

I’m terrified of heights.

Not the cute kind of fear where I inch up slowly to the edge of a cliff and gaze at the picturesque canyon below.

I’m talking about the kind of irrational fear where I close my eyes in an IMAX movie and grip the armrest like it’s a lifesaving device.

I’ve worked on overcoming this fear throughout my life: I jump off a 3 meter diving board when I have the opportunity; I’m open to the possibility of ziplining.

But I’ll laugh in your face if you ask me to skydive.

Confession: I’m Intimidated By #Goals

Saving money is not the same thing as skydiving, but money does bring its own kind of stress. Especially when I think about big money goals, like saving a solid chunk of my income every month.

When I first started researching it, every article out there told me I should save between 10% and 30% of my income.

30%?!

Do other people actually do that? That sort of advice should come with a warning: Professional driver on closed course.

I didn’t comprehend how that was something I could actually achieve. Maybe someday, I thought, when I’m really good at money. So I just kept putting it off for later.

I Challenged Myself To Start Small

I chose an amount to set aside every week that wouldn’t break the bank or cause me to panic. I set up a $5 weekly Auto-Stash.

I watched it come out of my bank account every week until I got the hang of it. And then every couple of weeks I increased the amount by $5 or $10.

I realized that I could afford to be setting more aside, and I was motivated to set aside even more.

  • I switched from one coffee brand to another and increased my weekly Auto-Stash by $5.
  • I brought my lunch to work 3 days a week instead of 2, and scored $10 more to add to my Auto-Stash.
  • I canceled a subscription that I thought I needed, but I would be perfectly happy without it. I added that amount to my weekly Auto-Stash.

Game on, budget.

Eight months later I’m still adding more, trying to find my upper limit — the highest amount that I can set aside weekly and feel like I have a good balance between spending and saving. Am I saving anywhere near 30% of my income? No. Let’s be honest… this is New York City. But here I am, eight months into my challenge and well on my way.

Here’s Your Challenge

  1. Put a number into your head that feels like it’s really small. Don’t try to be a hero. Make it small enough that it’s easy for you to set aside weekly without thinking about it. Chances are it’s going to seem like it won’t amount to much… and that’s the point.
  2. Set yourself a weekly Auto-Stash for that amount.

And then stop there.

No, really. Stop there.

When you are ready (and you will know when you are), increase it a little bit. And then do it again a few weeks later. Increase it every couple of weeks and try to find your upper limit — the amount where you have a good balance between spending and saving. An amount that allows you to pay for the things you need, enjoy some of your hard-earned money, and still set money aside every week.

Maybe you’ll be inspired along the way to determine that what you thought was a weekly need was actually a want and can be transitioned to a treat that happens only once a month.

Remember, Failure Happens To The Best Of Us

And no, I don’t mean that you should try hard not to fail but it’s really okay if it happens. I mean that you should embrace failing. The kind where you really put in an effort, take a risk, and learn something from the outcome of your swing and miss.

Nobody means to start January with a goal and abandon it by February. But that’s frequently what happens when you make unrealistic resolutions and commit to being absolutely perfect from day one.

Start with a weekly Auto-Stash that feels too easy. It’s not that resolutions aren’t worthy goals, but end results are not starting points. The Auto-Stash challenge is about starting small.







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