Wondering which challenges saved me the most money?
I’m a huge fan of money challenges.
In 2021, I tried a different challenge each month using a combination of my own ideas and some of Peak Money’s automatic savings actions.
This podcast episode walks you through each month’s challenges and whether it was a success or a complete dud.
Your action task this week is to download Peak Money and start with their free Round-up action.
If you don’t like apps or can’t join Peak, choose your own savings challenge. Here are some resources to get you started:
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Below is the transcript from today’s show. Or you can download the full transcript as a PDF.
Welcome to the Go From Broke podcast where you'll learn how to take control of your money so you can stress less and save more. If you're tired of living paycheck to paycheck or constantly wondering where your money is going, you're in the right place. This podcast is all about giving you actionable tips and advice so you can get started improving your finances today. If you've been in my world for long, you know I love a good money challenge. Last year was the third year running where I took on a different money challenge every month. Typically I like to vary them up in terms of the focus: ways to address my mindset, ways to save more, ways to earn more. You get the idea. But last year was all about ways to automate savings and see what would generate the biggest return. I used the app Peak Money to help me, and I have to say I'm super excited with the results. First, let me clarify. Peak Money is free, but they do have an upgrade option for, I think it was around $50 a year. I know that may sound like a lot, but it opens up a lot of automated savings actions that Peak has designed that actually make it worth the cost for me. It may not be for you. Now, not all my challenges last year were Peak's automations, but I still used the app to store all of my savings and to keep track of my results. A few of the challenges were done manually. Things that I couldn't really automate very well, like the Roll the Dice challenge, or the Save the Date challenge. And interestingly, those manual challenges actually paid off the most. But the premium savings actions from Peak definitely covered my subscription costs. Okay. So let's do a quick breakdown of which challenges I ran and what the results were. Keep in mind with a lot of these challenges, your results may vary based on your spending habits. Okay. So for January of 2021, I eased into the year with a
simpleRound-up challenge. Peak rounded every purchase up to the nearest dollar and saved the difference. In January that led to about $42 saved. Not an earth shattering amount, but it's not too shabby for what it was. I actually kept the Round-ups active to see if something so simplecould really make a difference, and I ended up saving just over $400 for the year. So it's not a bad way to end the year, even if you don't do anything else. All right, so February. This was another simpleone. Save $25 a week. Nothing too surprising here with the end result, but it was a simpleand effective way to save without too much effort or needing to adjust my budget too much. If you do nothing but this challenge for a year, you'll end up with $1,300. So it's definitely a good one. But it wasn't the most effective saving strategy. That one was definitely March's Save the Date challenge. And this one was also the most difficult. The premise is to save the dollar equivalent of the date. So $1 on the first, $2 on the second, and so on until you get the $31 on the 31st. I made sure to pick a month with 31 days so I could get the most bang for my buck. And boy did I. It doesn't sound like it'd be too difficult, but it definitely adds up. And it definitely required me to shift things around in my budget more than usual. But it was worth it. In the end I saved $496 in March. Logistically, Peak wasn't able to automate this process. But to make it easier on myself, I tallied up each week's contribution and moved it into Peak at the beginning of the week. Moving on to April, I was ready to embrace the automation again. So I tried out Peak's action called Weekend Saves. The idea is to save 1% of everything you spend on the weekend. I saved a whopping $6.67 with this challenge. I'm not sure I thought this one through that well, though, because while my first thought is I just must not spend that much on the weekends. The math says I actually spent $667. I just wasn't saving much of it. In hindsight and moving forward, if I tackle this automation again, I'd definitely up it to 10% so that it saves a little bit more. I would suggest experimenting with the default settings first though so you get an idea of your expenses before you start increasing your percentages. Okay, so next was May. This was the Pay Yourself First action. And it really didn't wow me much either. In this one Peak saves $1 for every bill you pay. I saved $5. Which seems absurdly low to me. I'm guessing I either didn't have certain accounts linked for Peak to see the payments. Or they were getting miscategorized. The mis-categorization thing actually happened a few times, but the Peak support team was really helpful in correcting it. I've been told the ability to recategorize things ourselves would be coming, but with the logistics of that, I'm not holding my breath. Okay. So June's challenge felt a bit more on track for what I was trying to accomplish. I saved $159.66 using Peak's Payday Saves action. The Payday Saves action saves 1% of all deposits. Typically this would be your paychecks, but it could also be any checks you cash or refunds you receive. I like this one because saving 1% of your paycheck, isn't super tough, but it can add up. Alright, next was July and it was a total bust. I tried the Subscription Save action and only saved a dollar. Yes. A dollar. The idea with this one is to save a dollar for every subscription you pay for. I think this one failed for me because most of my subscriptions are through iTunes or the app store. So they go on my Apple card, which isn't connected to Peak. I'm still doubtful this would have been a significant amount of savings regardless, but it could be a good way to see just how many subscriptions you have. Assuming you're paying for them with your linked account. On to August and Dine Out Dollars. This was an interesting challenge where I saved 10% of every restaurant purchase. I saved almost $40, which on the surface doesn't seem like much compared to some other challenges. But it does tell me that I also spent $400 eating out. Now that's worth knowing. As a side note, I find it interesting that a lot of these challenges did more to improve my understanding of our spending than they did to actually increase my savings. Which in the long run is probably worth more. Okay, moving on to September. This was basically a repeat of February with the Weekly Drops action, saving $25 a week. I don't usually repeat challenges throughout the year, so I'm not really sure what happened here. I think in the February challenge, I must've manually created it while the September one was using Peak's Weekly Drop action. Either way, it was a pretty reasonable savings month. October was Save When You Spend where I saved a dollar for every purchase I made. I ended up saving $81, which again is a nice little sum, but of even greater value is the awareness into our spending habits. I'd have to run this one for a couple of months consecutively to know whether 81 purchases is actually a lot. But it's still some good information. Finally, we come to November and December. These were my favorite challenges of the year and also the most manual ones. For November, I did the Roll the Dice challenge. Every morning I'd roll a pair of dice and deposit the amount into my Peak savings. I ended up saving $198. I think this was one of my favorites because it was a bit of a stretch, but it also was deliberate and kind of fun. Not knowing how much I was going to save and leaving it up to the dice helped keep things interesting. But doing it daily did start to get old by the last week. Now December's challenge was a bit of a mixed bag. I wanted to end the year strong, both with savings and leveling up the fun factor. So I decided to save a dollar for every goal scored in the English Premiere League. If you're not familiar, that's British soccer. Typically you would think soccer scores are low. And while there is the risk of 0-0 games, there are usually some surprisingly high score games as well. But December is also the busiest time in the EPL and instead of the typical weekend matches, they have weekend and week day matches. So the number of games is doubled making it the perfect month to have this challenge. Unfortunately, because of COVID spreading throughout certain clubs, several games were postponed. So I didn't get to save as much as I might have in another year. But as it was, I saved $156 for the month. Which isn't too shabby. So looking back, I learned a few things. The manual challenges were not only more fun, but also more profitable. But they were also more likely to lead to burnout with me having to keep track of transferring things. Looking at the automatic actions Peak has I decided that instead of trialing them monthly again, I'm activating several of them at once to see how they can combine to help me save. So for 2022, these are the automations that I'm setting: Whole Dollar - which is saving $1 for every purchase. Holiday Saves - depositing $5 after every holiday. That's a new one, but it sounded fun to try. Monthly Drop - deposit $20 on the first of every month. Weekly Drops - save $5 every Monday. Dine Out Dollars - save 10% of any restaurant purchase. Payday Saves - saving 1% of all deposits. And Round-ups - where it rounds up to the nearest dollar and saves the difference. Individually, I wasn't that impressed with the savings amount of these last year, but combined, I think they'll help me save even more than the manual ones. And it'll be completely automated. At least that's my hope. And now we get to the action task of the week. I talked a lot about the Peak Money app in this episode and if I didn't make it obvious enough, I love them. So for your action task, I want you to download the app and set up the Round-up challenge. It's totally free and a super simpleway to get started automating your savings. Plus Peak pays interest on the money you save. So your money is going to make a little something too. And for those of you who don't do apps, I just want you to pick a saving challenge of your own for the month. I know we're a couple of weeks into January already, but it's never too late to start saving. I'll put some links in the show notes to some money challenge articles if you need more ideas. And don't forget if you liked this episode, share it with a friend or leave a rating and review to help other people find it. As always take action and make it a great day.