What not to do when setting yourself a saving challenge

13 Dec 2018,
By Syed S., Student at University of Portsmouth

Challenge accepted, I told myself as I set a target of spending no more than £35 this week. You must have heard this a lot from your elders, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’.

But to start saving, you must first determine your expenses. Separate the needs from the wants, wants such as (in my case) cigarettes and takeout. So, my journey began.

Day one of my challenge went great, up until the evening where I ordered takeout (it was actually easier for me to quit smoking than give up takeout). I mean, how could I resist the temptation of Mediterranean cuisine?

Day one of my challenge went great, up until the evening where I ordered takeout.

Day two, I looked in the mirror and told myself, ‘The week begins today’. So, I came back from a tiring day at university, looked at the cluttered dishes in the sink and said to myself, ‘I still have time to write this article, I will start the challenge tomorrow’. Lo and behold, I ordered takeout again. The saving challenge seemed out of my grasp. Apparently, I lacked the discipline to fight the urge to order takeout.

On to day three, and I went out shopping and ended up spending £70 on groceries alone. This challenge started to seem like that one course where you did not study at all and tried to rush everything in the last moment. Time to call it quits for this week, I’m clearly not ready.

A new week, a new beginning. Back to day one again. Learning from the previous week, I started to research cooking on a budget. Have a look at the student food project - it has quick, cheap, and easy student recipes.

My advice? Make a budget

Learn from my experience and make a budget. List everything down and go over your expenses one by one (I use Google Sheets for this). It give you a clearer picture, and will serve as a constant reminder of your wants (the things you can cut back on most easily)!

The beauty of keeping a budget? You either give up takeout or you get broke enough to see yourself failing. It has been more than three weeks since I smoked a cigarette, I’ve (nearly) given up on takeout but, most importantly, I was able to stick to a strict budget for one whole week. That’s progress.

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Day one of my challenge went great, up until the evening where I ordered takeout.
By Syed S.
Student at University of Portsmouth