The beginning of the year sees many of us trying to make good on our New Year’s resolutions about spending money and looking to avoid the financial short falls of the previous year. As a result a lot of people on social media are talking about #savingschallenges. These challenges are crafty little ways to help you save throughout the year by putting a certain amount away each week for the end of the year. They can be a great way of involving the whole family by providing goals such as offsetting the cost of a plentiful Christmas or making possible an end of year family holiday.
There are many #savingschallenges to choose from that might suit you. The 52 week challenge, The $5 note Challenge, $20 a week Challenge, Christmas saving challenge and the Gold coin challenge where you slide in any loose $2 coins in a plastic drink bottle. A coke bottle full of $2 coins is a lot of money and can take quite some time to fill. Like most challenges in life the support from others participating or friends and family groups can really help to keep you going. If there is a nifty way of saving there is a challenge for you to try.
Something to consider is that coming up to February a lot of us will be expecting deferred Christmas payment options and many more of us would have experimented with Afterpay during the Holiday season. This week will also see more spending with the back to school necessities. Like Christmas it is likely our credit cards will once again bleep and ping at the cash registers. These accumulated debts can amount to a considerable sum and will probably require a range of payments and doing without over the next weeks or even months. Any credit card or payment option will most likely have high interest associated and even higher interest rates if payments are not met. If your planning on paying just the minimum you may be in for a long haul of debt well into the year. A lot of people find themselves only paying off their Christmas debt up to six months into the New Year. Those gold coins in the plastic bottle will look very tempting.
So there is one thing you need to take into consideration when starting any “Savings Challenge”. If you have on-going debt you may be savings pennies but bleeding dollars. In some cases big dollars if you don’t look at paying off more than the minimum. So perhaps it's being a downer on your enthusiasm but sometimes the best savings challenge is to pay back debt as early as possible. On every debt dollar saved from debt you could be saving yourself an extra 20 cents and in many cases even more. Sometimes the real challenge may be to manage your debts as a priority and leave the coke bottle for the recycling.
If you find yourself in financial difficulty you can speak to a Financial Counsellor for help. Financial Counselling is free, independent and confidential. Ring the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539 or the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to arrange an appointment with a Counsellor nearest you or on the phone.