Plan for 2017 With This 365 Day Money Challenge

365 day money challenge

Although I am still not done with all my Christmas shopping, I am already thinking about 2017. A new year brings new opportunities for growth, and I’m hoping for financial growth. One of my favorite ways to kick-start savings each year is a money challenge. In 2017, I will be giving the 365 day money challenge a try.

What is the 365 day money challenge?

The 365 money challenge is a clever tool to encourage consistent saving. Not just this, but it helps to change your mindset to pay yourself first. Traditionally, the challenge calls for saving a penny a day, increasing in the amount you set aside each day.

For example, one the first day, you will save one cent. Day two, two cents will be included. Three pennies will be saved on the third day and so on.

A couple years ago, I started the 52 Week Money Challenge, but this year, I want to give this one a try.

How much can you save?

The penny version of the 365 day money challenge will increase your savings by $668, but you can drive up this amount by saving more. And actually, that is what I plan on doing. Currently, every year I save $1,378 with the 52 week challenge. Committing to $1 every single day may be a little much; however, by simply dedicating a starting point of five cents a day, I can save an extra $3,339.75 in 2017.

It’s crazy to think how much a nickel per day adds up, but the truth is in the numbers. Here is what the pattern will look like:

  • Day 1: $0.05
  • Day 2: $0.10
  • Day 3: $0.15
  • Day 4: $0.20
  • Day 5: $0.25
  • Day 6: $0.30
  • Day 7: $0.35
  • Day 8: $0.40
  • Day 9: $0.45
  • Day 10: $0.50

By the end of the first 10 days, I’d only be putting aside $3.20. But, by the end of the challenge, it will amount to $18.40 set aside that day. It all quickly adds up, though, with $23.70 saved in your first month.

It takes 19 days to increase by another dollar, but in the eleventh month, you’ll put aside $349.50, not including what was already saved. See how that five cents can really add up in this 365 day money challenge? If you are still having a hard time envisioning this, our friends over at SavingAdvice.com placed it all out on the chart pictured, which is how I initially heard about this particular way to do the challenge in the first place.

365 day money challenge

You can stick with the penny a day challenge or you can shoot for an added nickel per day like me. If you are interested in pursuing this yourself, you can download a template here.

The importance of money challenges

Left to our own devices, we tend to forget about (or ignore) building up a financial cushion. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2014 economic report on U.S. households, many Americans could not even cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money. Additionally, 31 percent went without medical care in the 12 months prior to participating in the survey because “they could not afford it.”

By challenging ourselves to save, we are creating a habit that, in time, become like second nature. Even as I had followed through on the 52 week money challenge previously, there would be times I would forget to place money into my savings come Monday morning. But, I would make it a point to get to it Tuesday if it did not happen Monday.

I feel I should note, though, that you cannot solely rely on money challenges to build your savings. This is a great way to encourage paying yourself first, but

Even though the only debt I carry are in the form of student loans at this current time and I live comfortably, I have my eyes set on financial freedom and continue to plan financially for my future. I know that with consistency, dedication and hard work, my savings in 2017 will flourish and grow.

Will you be trying this challenge out for yourself? 

Why Robo-Advisors Are a Great Choice for Millennial Investors

girl-320262_640Today we have a guest post for you from Frugal Rules about why millennials should consider using robo advisors to invest. Enjoy!

If you are a millennial interested in investing, you probably aren’t looking only at the standard ways your parent’s generation invested. Instead, you may be more likely to look for alternative methods to help you with your investment needs, like robo advisors that have become more popular in the past few years. There are several reasons why robo advisors are a great choice for millennial investors.

1 Automated Investing

Robo advisors use computer algorithms to help with investing. Investment advisors are also sometimes utilized, but automating your investing is one of the great things robo advisors have to offer. Automated investing allows the millennial the ability to invest without the guess work involved in other investment methods. This is a great tool for the beginning investor and will allow you to begin investing even when you aren’t sure where to start. Although some robo advisors are too inflexible in their fund choices, others, like Motif Investing allow you several choices. You can invest through a pre-set group of funds but you also have the choice of choosing some of the funds for yourself giving you greater flexibility and control as an investor.

2 Time

One of the things many millennials hate is wasted time. Using a robo advisor to automate your investing can help you save time and also help you decide on your investment options. Allowing the robo advisor to determine your investments frees up your valuable time because you don’t have to spend it researching and learning about different fund choices so you can decide which is better.  Many robo advisors will also rebalance for you and send out trading alerts, both of which can also increase your time savings. In addition, you don’t have to spend time meeting with investment advisors one on one.

3 Deposits

The deposit amounts required to get started with robo advisors can be different depending on which company you are considering. The minimum with some companies is a few thousand dollars, but others require far less. For the millennial without a lot of starting capital, that is just one more reason robo advisors are a good investment option. In fact, Motif Investing can get you started investing with only a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands required by other robo advisors.

4 Easy to Follow Fees

Robo advisors usually offer low trading fees. Of course, these can be different from company to company, so you should check into what each charges before making any final decisions on which robo advisor to use for your investing needs. The last thing you want is a charge you weren’t expecting because you didn’t do your homework before you chose which robo advisor to use.

5 Cash in Your Pocket

Some robo advisors pay dividends in cash rather than reinvesting them. This could be considered as either an advantage or a disadvantage of investing through a robo advisor, depending on your unique financial situation. Of course, you always have the option of reinvesting that money on your own or through other investment options.

Have you ever thought about using robot advisors to help you invest?

Kayla is a personal finance blogger in her mid-20s who loves to write about money topics of all kinds.

 

Save Money by Planning for the Holidays Now

save money by planning for the holidays nowYou can save money by planning for the holidays now.

Thanksgiving has sadly come and gone, and Christmas will be here before we know it. In 2016, the estimated average Christmas spending is $831, according to the Gallup Poll. This does not include money put toward holiday parties or traveling expenses. Just because the average U.S. consumer plans to spend more than $800 on Christmas gifts does not mean you have to. Although December 25 is less than a month away, there are many opportunities where you can save money by planning for the holidays now.

Online Tips

When shopping online, there are quite a few ways to get even more discounts. Here are just a few:

  • Discount Codes. Discount codes can be found all over the internet. Freeshipping.com will give you promotional codes for free shipping and coupons, and a slew of discounts can be found on RetailMeNot.com as well. Personally, I like to use the Chrome browser extension Honey, which does all the sale searching for you as you are on any given retail site.
  • Social Media. If you know your gift receiver loves a certain store, follow the company on social media. Retailers are often sharing exclusive specials and updates on their Facebook and Twitter pages, providing valuable information to followers everywhere.
  • Check reviews. Don’t waste money on junk by not looking at reviews first. You can grab a great deal on any computer, but it may not last as long as another at a similar price. ConsumerReports.com or simply checking reviews on Google or Amazon will help show you what will be worth your money as well as a nice gift.

Leave yourself out of it

As you shop, you will likely find items you would love to have for yourself. Stay focused and dedicate your December shopping to gifts for others only. Besides, if the item is a “must-have,” you can put some of that Christmas money toward the inevitable big sales after the holiday season.

Avoid store credit cards

Don’t fall for the “15% off your total purchase”specials when you sign up for the store’s credit card that day. While you may save money that day, these often come with higher interest rates, causing you to spend more in the long run. Instead, find out if any of your existing credit cards provide any cash back deals when shopping during the Christmas season.

Decide a gift budget ahead of time

Before you do any Christmas shopping, make a plan. Write out who you plan to buy gifts for and how much you are able to spend on each individual. Make sure to add up the numbers before continuing so that you can evaluate your totals. Then, adjust as you need to. Having a number in place will keep you in check as you shop.

Shop with a purpose

Don’t buy a gift just to buy a gift. Similarly, don’t purchase multiple gifts just so the receiver has multiple gifts to open from you. This is a surefire way to waste money. I know I would much rather get one meaningful gift than several items that are nice but have little use in my life. Purchase things that your loved ones will actually enjoy, not trinkets that will take up space.

Consider buying for groups

Buying for couples or a family instead of each individual can also save you money while allowing you to give something more meaningful. A game a family can play together or a household item for a couple are a couple examples of purchases that go much farther while also saving you money.

When you put your mind to it, it is not hard to save money by planning for the holidays now. And remember, those who truly love you will be more worried about spending time with you than what you bought them for Christmas. Sometimes, a well-thought out card with a meaningful letter speaks more to the individuals than anything you could buy them at the store. Keep that in mind and try not to stress out too much when shopping this season.

Is there anything you would add to this list that may help our readers save money over the holidays?