The campaign, #GY$T (Get Your $ Together) was sadly never going to turn me into Warren Buffett in 22 days, especially with tasks like putting spare coins in a jar, but I have saved significantly (read on for the final tally after 10 days), and it’s got me questioning whether I *need* the dinner starter, takeaway latte, or spending to feel good.
Each challenge is listed below, along with my experience, and money saved after 10 days, almost halfway through #GY$T):
1. Lunch deloaded
The challenge: Eat packed lunches and snacks for a week instead of buying them. Compare that with what you normally spend on food (easy if you use 22seven). Or, make coffee at home and work instead of buying it.
Thoughts and money saved: I thought this would be an easy one, since I get free lunch at my work every day. This in fact was one of the hardest as it meant saying goodbye to all the snacks I buy and scoff – from popcorn and biltong to freezos and diet colddrinks (which I’ve since cut out, saving me around R25 alone). Estimated savings: R300
2 Happy snaps
The challenge: Take a pic of the thing that made you happiest today/this week, and the thing that was most expensive. Tomorrow/next week, do more of the happy and less of the expensive.
Thoughts and money saved: This has been one of my best things to do, and while it hasn’t saved me big money per se, it’s made me quite grateful for the experiences, possessions and people I have around me. I took snaps of my colouring-in books as my less expensive thing, and then a pic of some of my sneakers, reminding me of my more expensive things. Each time I went onto Superbalist to look at their latest Nike additions, I remembered the other things that make me happy. Total perceived savings (by not buying another pair of shoes): R899
3. Find something free
The challenge: Do something free (or cheap) for entertainment and compare that to what a meal or night out would have cost.
Thoughts and money saved: I had to think quite hard to find something, since I usually entertain myself by going for dinners, or watching TV. What I did do, which was lots of fun, was read through all my collections of magazines I’ve ever edited. Estimated savings by going out less and not spending on new reading material: R400
4 No-spend Sunday
The challenge: Cook from your pantry, read a book, go for a hike… and compare that with what you might have spent on a normal Sunday (also easy if you use 22seven)
Thoughts and money saved: You might be thinking that I “cheated” this one by asking my fiance to do all my shopping and spending using his card for the two Sundays I’ve been on the challenge, but it didn’t go like that, honest. The first Sunday I was in the Kruger Park and we had brought food from home, so all I did was avoid the curio shops and buying more biltong.
In Joburg for the second Sunday, I ate leftover food, and chilled at home reading. Estimated savings: R400
5 Pay yourself first on payday
The challenge: Put a few hundred bucks into a loan or savings account or investment and see if you even miss the money later in the month.
Thoughts and money saved: This was one of my best, but also a little challenging… pay myself? But what if I need that money at the end of the month? But what if I run out of money?
Eventually, I transferred R1000 into my investment account, and I’ve written it off from my current account, and have the mindset that it’s gone, and that I must make do without R1000 less. While I haven’t technically saved money, I’m putting this down as a gain. Money gained: R1000
6 Coin jar
The challenge: Put every coin and any spare change that comes your way into a jar for 22 days and see how much it comes to at the end.
Thoughts and money saved: Since most of my coins get lost owing to a big hole in my coin section of my wallet, or to car guards or people at robots, I still emptied out most of the coins from my Hello Kitty wallet into my glass jar every night. My jar currently holds R27.30, and I’m trying to fend off my almost six-year-old son, who has asked me once if he can put some of the coins in his piggy bank. Savings: R27.30
7 Cash it to cap it
The challenge: On a night out, decide what you want to spend and only take that much cash (no cards – which allow you to keep spending).
Thoughts and money saved: I’ve been out once at night where I took R150 with me, to cover dinner at a good restaurant. I had a vegetarian main course and the cheapest tot of whiskey, and covered the tip too. This was tough – ordinarily I probably would have ordered a larger dish or some more drinks. And while I could have gone to a “cheaper” restaurant, this one had already been chosen, and it’s one of my favourites.
I still had a good night, and while I had a few pangs at the time that I was missing out on more food and drink, the experience showed me that I can get by with less. Estimated savings: R150
Total savings after 10 days: R2 176.30
Additional gain in investment account: R1 000
Look out this week!
I’ll also be giving away a R1000 voucher to any South African store (I’d choose Woolies or MAC) of your choice if you can guess how much money I save in 22 days. I’ll post details of the giveaway soon, along with feedback from this challenge.