Sunday's updates on previous posts made me think about the frugal challenges I lay in front of myself. Sometimes I'm happy at completing the challenges and having a positive outcome and other times, not so much.

flickr/cc - exfordy

I like the idea of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. There are some things I am good at like reducing my usage, and others I know for a fact I don't want to get near, like mechanical parts. It's all part of the learning and the challenge to save.  money is actually fun for me and I try to keep a good attitude about it. But I keep a few things in mind when I challenge myself.

1. Set Goals Within Reach

I take small steps to the goal, but keeping it is still a bit of a challenge and fun. The A.C challenge is one way to take it one day at a time. Another is that I buy quality used or 2nd hand every chance I shop. Essentially, the world won't fall apart if I don't live up to the challenge but the savings is there if I do.  Or if your challenge is to pay down your debt, you don't say you will pay off all your debt by certain time, instead you challenge yourself to pay off one debt at a time and grow more confident from there.

2. Have A Reason

Setting up a reason for saving money will cause those excuses against it to detour and help you move down the road smoother. The reason I live frugally is that, whether I am well off or not, I don't have to feel like I'm depriving myself because I have maintained a standard of living that is not as dependent on my income.

The reasons I have challenged myself to take shorter showers are twofold; to cut back on the water bill and heating the water (electricity). Plus that much hot water on my skin isn't good for it; dries it out and makes my skin itch.

3.  Appreciate The Small Steps Attained

Don't forget that we humans are a lot like dogs. We respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative ones.

When I was able to drop the shower timer down from 15 minutes to 8 minutes, I told my partner. She wasn't as enthused as I was, but still she was happy so I took a moment to appreciate what I was doing was right. And when she told me that she was dying to turn on the A.C one day but didn't and found other ways to fight the heat, I made sure to congratulate her on being creative and making it through the day's heat.

4. Reward Yourself Accordingly

A reward for myself meeting a goal is to see the money saved, no matter how small. That is my style of reward and it works for me. However my partner's reward style involves going out or shopping; it is a physical or tangible reward that helps her feel like she is accomplishing something. When your reward style is to spend money I would suggest that you pre-plan what you would do ahead of time or you could take a step forward. But with the spending, you can end up taking a step back. If you can consider something that is free, like taking a tour with free beer at the end, that might be all you need.

5.  Have a Visual Reminder

If you are paying down debt, motivate yourself with a picture of the life you daydream about that doesn't include debt. Or if you are saving for an item, a picture of said item taped to your bathroom mirror or placed in your wallet will be a nice reminder of what you are working so hard for.

6. Open Up

When you speak the goal out loud to others it brings the dream into reality for yourself. You now have a witness/friend who can remind you and help you stay on track (hopefully).  And you are now being held accountable by those people who heard you say that you were paying debt or saving money toward a goal.


  1. Hollis Colquhoun // Monday, July 12, 2010 8:50:00 AM  

    Good post! It's much better to start a better spending/saving journey with positive reinforcements, eg. small and large goals. Even set up several goal accounts at Smarty Pig, tell your friends so they can join your effort, then be positively motivated to make changes on the budget and spending side.