Spending challenges are a big deal in the personal finance world. There are all types of challenges one can take on help tighten the purse strings and keep the money where you really want it. Not everyone has the restraint to keep to a budget even if it’s to meet a goal. That’s what makes spending challenges so enticing– they have a foreseeable ending and because they’re not too long-lasting, they are endurable.
Remember last week I mentioned Sharon had two fiscal problems that resonated with me? I tackled my idea for gifts but there was one more– SUMMER.
Yes the lazy days of summer seem to translate into general relaxation– including the wallet. That doesn’t mean the money gets a rest, it just means I seem to take a rest monitoring it and keeping it check.
Funny thing, Sharon and I love the occasional spending challenge and other fiscal related challenge. So my thinking is to NOT do spending challenges until we need them most. For us, it’s the summer. Maybe for you, it’s the winter. We all seem to go through a season of letting our guard down more often with our spending. Maybe some of us have an emotional trigger to a time of year. Whatever it is, we all seem to have (at least) one weak time of year. And that is the perfect time to put the spending challenges into play.
The problem is, if you’ve been doing them all year, you’re going to be burnt out on them already and when you’re in the rut already, another spending challenge is going to do nothing for you. So save those challenges for when you really don’t have the strength to keep the usual vigilance.
The other problem is, we tend to resort to spending challenges AFTER we screwed up. That’s where a little self-examination comes into play. Like I said before, it’s ok to admit we all have vulnerable moments. The good news is they tend to get pretty predictable. So take a look. If you blog, this is even easier– just start searching through your blog and see if you notice a pattern that is tied up with your money mistakes. Same thing if you use those paper things (journals). If you know it’s coming, make sure you schedule a challenge for that time.
Of course, get ready to ditch the excuses. Oh that time of year is when ALL of the birthdays happen? Ok, well start shopping and budgeting from now! That’s the time of year you like to go out and do things together as a family? Open up a Family Fun container and drop a few bucks here and there. If you know it’s coming, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself for it– not steel yourself for the ugly aftermath. That’s just going to guarantee failure.
What about you? Seasonal spending affect you at all? Do you just deal with the aftermath or do you try and head it off?