New Money Challenges: Testing My Financial Willpower

I’ve always liked setting challenges for myself.  Perhaps it’s a strange obsession that I have with self-improvement, but I find it interesting to see how I do when I’m truly testing myself.  Many of the challenges I’ve come up with in the past have been a bit informal.  I’ve told myself I needed to lose weight and have succeeded in doing so many times.  I forced myself to quit spending so much time reading Yahoo news stories and the Facebook news feed.  I even convinced myself to go without eating meat for a week, which turned into 6 years (and counting).

I’ve gotten a little bored with finances lately, so I’ve decided to spice things up with some new ideas.  Here are a few challenges I created for myself for the next month (until March 4):

I will only drive a maximum of once per week.  Excessive driving is one of the things that I truly dislike about car ownership.  Once I had a car around again, but biking and walking trips plummet.  It’s so easy to jump in the car when it’s cold outside or my destination is just a little too far for easy biking or walking.  But, in reality, a lot of people get by in New Haven without a car. It’s tough at times, but if I really want to get somewhere, I’ll find a way, car or not.  Allowing myself to drive once a week will ensure that I plan out my one trip really well and grocery shop or whatever on just that one trip.  In case you were wondering, if I ride in someone else’s car, that counts as my one trip.

I will not check email from 6 to 10 pm. Okay so this isn’t a direct financial goal, but email is a time waster that impedes financial goals.  I’ve been trying really hard to find a better system for reducing email since reading The 4-Hour Workweek.  This period is my prime time for working on my personal and professional development, along with writing.  If I wasted less time dealing with email, I’d have more time to work on these things instead.

I will plan out my time and what I need to get done each day. This goes along with my post on my job and scheduling around my 9-5 workday.  I’m still amazed at how much I get done when I come home from work contrasted to how little I seem to get done on days off.  Having a structure in place is what drives me to work the most.  In order to accomplish this goal, I’m going to use an idea from David Risley.  I’ll plan out each day the night before so that I make sure to manage my free time well and get everything I need done.

I will not purchase any “things”. I’m trembling and pondering this one nervously as I write it.  Will there be something I desperately need?  What if something breaks? I’m going on a trip to Spain in March.  What if I need to buy something for that? Despite my reservations, I feel slightly reassured because I actually completed this challenge accidentally back in October. I just didn’t realize it until I looked back at my spending for that month.  But I want to see if I can do it again, consciously this time.  So, no buying anything non-consumable: no books, CDs, DVDs, computer equipment, or other toys.  I’ll have to rely on borrowing or just get along without it until March 4.

I’m normally not big on attempting multiple challenges at the same time.  I feel that lowers the chances of success, as some goals distract from one another.  But I feel like these challenges are separate enough that I can attempt them without interference from one another. So on we go.  I’ll provide updates throughout the month, and I’ll (hopefully) be reporting successes instead of failures.

Here are some other challenges I’m thinking of for future months:

– Purchase everything with cash only

– Read news for less than 5 minutes a day

– Don’t make excuses for anything I know I should do but don’t due to laziness

Do you have any challenges you think I should attempt? How about some goals for yourself?

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Photo by: Global Jet

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