Congratulations! If you’ve followed QuickQuid’s “The Frugal Living Challenge” since January of this year, you’re just £250 away from meeting your 12-month savings goal of £3000. That probably also means you’ve sacrificed a lot this year to make sure you have more money in the bank going into 2014. We never said it would be easy, but we do hope it was worth it.
Let’s recap what we’ve done together over the past 11 months:
January 2012 – Budgeting
We began with the basics at the beginning of the year, which included planning and budgeting your expenses. We encouraged you to cut back where you could, completely eliminate items you could live without, and think twice when temptation reared its ugly head.
February 2012 – Abstain
An extension of January’s challenge, in February we concentrated more on items that you could completely live without, encouraging you to cut out one or more expenses altogether for the month in order to reach your savings goal. Suggested savings strategies included walking, biking or taking public transit instead of driving, and shutting off cable and DVR services for the month.
March 2013 – Pay it off
In March we focused on how to pay off your debts on time so you don’t rack up unnecessary late fees and interest charges. A good way to ensure that you’re paying what you need to pay to stay in the black is to compare the interest rates of any debts to the rates of any savings accounts you have open. Then, you can put your extra money toward the higher one.
April 2013 – Increase your income
There are lots of little ways you can bring in extra cash each month, including selling possessions you no longer use, working extra hours, or picking up a side job that utilises your favourite hobbies.
May 2013 – Keep going
We know that saving is hard — and sacrificing many of life’s little pleasures is even harder — but we encouraged you to stick with the Frugal Living Challenge in May by rewarding yourself in a small way every time you reached a new savings goal. We gave you even more suggestions on how to save a bit more by carpooling with a co-worker, not eating out for an entire week, having a date night during the day instead of at night — just to name a few — and we hope you cashed in on your small self-selected reward after successfully committing to at least one of our suggestions.
June 2013 – Free fun
We were back at it in June, challenging you to have fun for free this month. Some of our suggestions included playing board games, hosting a movie marathon at home, volunteering, and picnicking in the park. Did you choose one of our free fun suggestions, or did you think of one of your own?
July 2013 – Explore new routes
We told you that Britons typically spend £260 a month on transportation, almost the same amount as your monthly Frugal Living Challenge savings goal. It only made sense, of course, to reduce your expensive transportation and trade it in for a more manual mode like walking or biking to reduce those costs. Benefits of exploring new routes included seeing new things, getting more exercise and preserving your car longer.
August 2013 – Learn new skills
Thanks to the Internet, you can learn a host of new skills by going online and watching free how-to videos and tutorials. We provided a list of videos that helped you learn new skills, all tasks you can complete by yourself and save money if you have the knowledge.
September 2013 – Work your wisdom
Do you have a specialised skill that you’ve left untapped? That’s what we were trying to tap into in September as we gave you creative ideas on how you can use the talents you already have to make money — all you had to do was market them.
October 2013 – Use less energy
As the fall and winter kicked off, we provided tips on how to use less energy around the house so you can stay on track for saving another £250 a month as part of the Frugal Living Challenge. Cutting energy use isn’t always the most comfortable way to save money, we understand, but with our suggestions it proved possible to keep your sacrifice to a minimum if you were smart about conservation.
November 2013 – Research
By doing a little research before making purchases, you can save a small bundle. Whether it’s comparing prices between retailers, searching for a coupon code online, scoring a retroactive deal once a sale has passed, or another savvy savings method, the research tips we provided in November helped you reduce the cost of items you need or want to buy, making you feel a little bit better about every purchase you make.
December 2013 – Do what works
That brings us back to this month — the last in our Frugal Living Challenge. For December, we’re asking you to do what works for you in terms of saving and spending and making the best decisions for a healthy financial future.
Over the past 11 months, you can see what’s worked and what’s failed, and you can make adjustments to your strategies moving forward to help you stay on the right path. Our ideas were just to get your started, and they’re obviously not tailored to each individual. Thus, use the past 11 months of tips and tricks and amend them to suit you so they work as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, continue to think of new strategies — better ones even — that can keep you on track to save and perhaps even to inspire others as well.
Now that you’ve completed your yearlong trek to saving more and spending less, think about these questions:
What other lifestyle changes could help you live frugally?
What worked and what didn’t work?
Is £3,000 a reasonable amount to save in a year?
Did you reach your goal?
Let us know the answers to these questions — and pose your own — in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.