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Saving with a friend

The holidays are a time for cheer, celebration and big spending. This year, So, when next year rolls around and you check your bank account, you might face some post-holiday spending blues.

Fortunately, the New Year is the perfect time for resolutions, so pledging to spend less or save more could be a good move.

But sticking to a New Year’s resolution isn’t usually a walk in the park. Following through with your resolutions requires maintaining a high level of self-discipline to help you stay motivated and overcome the challenge of dealing with change – easier said than done.

One thing that might help? Saving with a friend. Saving is hard work, but it can help when you have someone to keep you motivated and accountable.

Here are five savings challenges you can take on with a friend in the new year.

1. Agreeing to a no-spend day once a week:

 Whether it’s a few hundred spent on coffee, lunch or an Uber ride, your everyday spending could add up fast.

Even if you don’t spend that much ordinarily, a no-spend day could still help you save.

First, you and a friend can figure out how long this challenge is going to last. Whether it’s for one month, three months or six, make sure it’s a defined period that sounds reasonable to you both.

The next step can be selecting which day you plan to go spending-free, and figuring out how you can achieve this. It might mean making a cup of coffee at home instead of stopping by a coffee shop on your way to work, or packing lunch instead of buying it.It might not be possible to select certain days as no-spend ones, so figure out what’s feasible.

It’s up to both of you to decide what constitutes “no-spend.” As there’s generally a cost involved in most things – consider making your no-spend day a day that you don’t physically hand over cash or make charges to your credit card.

 

2. Clearing out your closets together:

Many of us have items in our closets that we haven’t worn for months or even years – and as much as we keep telling ourselves that we’ll wear them eventually, it’s probably not going to happen.

Clothing resale has become a multi-billion industry, and with all the resale apps and websites out there, you too can earn your share. You can also drop off your clothes to a community or garage sale, which will sell it for you.

Sometimes it’s hard parting with old clothes, but that’s where a friend can help you rip off the Band-Aid. When you’ve received money back for your clothes, consider putting it into a high interest savings account – though the temptation may be to spend your newly earned cash – remember that the goal is to save.

 

 3. Dining in on your evening out:

Going out for dinner can be a nice treat, but it can cost you. So, if you eat out regularly, one way to save quickly is to stay in instead. Cooking with a friend can help cut the workload and also turn meal prep into a social event.

Dining in might not seem as fun as going out, but you can find fun ways to jazz up a meal at home, especially if you have a friend to plan with you.

You might consider themed meals – an “around the world” theme could mean that you cook a different cuisine every week, for instance – or go through a recipe book and try out a new recipe every week.

If you’re planning to dine with more than one friend, you could turn a standard meal into a progressive dinner party, where each person prepares a course and serves it at his or her home. That plan would involve all of you moving from place to place throughout the evening. This way, you’ll cut your dining-out costs, but will still get a change in scenery.

 

4. Monthly budgeting:

Making a budget can be tough, and sticking to it can be even tougher. If you have a friend working with you, though, it might feel less daunting.

Consider making a monthly budget with a friend that you’re comfortable talking through your finances with. At the beginning of each month, each of you should set a realistic budget based on your income and regular expenses. Don’t know where to start? Consider using an online tool, such as You Need a Budget or Mint.

At the end of each month, you and your friend can discuss how well you stayed on budget. You can offer encouragement to each other, exchange lessons and help each other plan for the next month. 

 

5. Rewarding yourself:

Rewarding yourself might seem at odds with saving money, but if you’ve reached a major savings goal, one way to stay motivated is to reward yourself. And by choosing to reward yourself frugally, you can still stick to the theme of saving (or spending less than you normally would).

Maybe you and your friend decide that if you stick to your budget for three months, you’ll treat yourselves to a spa day. You can do this frugally by looking for a discounted spa deal through Groupon or LivingSocial, for instance. Agree that you’ll only find rewards that you don’t pay full price for.

Saving isn’t easy, but if you’ve got a friend to work at it with you, it could go a long way. In addition to a fuller bank account, you might even walk away with a stronger friendship.

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