2024 money challenges: 12 ways to Be Clever With Your Cash this year

We challenge you to save with a year of money-saving challenges

People love to make resolutions in January. It’s typically to lose weight or get fit, but why not take on a year of money challenges instead? 

We’ve got 12 challenges that you can pick and mix over the next 12 months, whether that’s a handful over the year, one each month or even do one (or more) for the full year. 

We’ve marked each one with whether we think it’ll be easy 🟢, moderate 🟠, or hard 🔴to do. 

If you opt to try any of these, we’d love to hear from you over on our Facebook Community – tell us which challenge you’re trying, any adaptations you’re making and how you get on.

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Make your money challenge count

Trying any of these challenges will save or make you some money.

But to really make the most of it, try to keep track of how much you would have spent and how much you’ve saved. 

The figure for each challenge, or overall total for the year, could be the motivation you need to keep some (or all) of these going

Say no to Amazon 

How easy is it? 🟠

A few years ago, Andy managed to ditch Amazon for a full year, saving him more than £200 over the year. We’re challenging you to try it for a month.

This means that you’d take the extra effort to shop around for the best prices and to put an end to impulse purchases. 

You might have to wait slightly longer for your items to arrive as you won’t be able to get next-day delivery, but you might find that items that you’d typically just buy on Amazon would cost you less when bought elsewhere. 

The rules:

  • You make no purchases on Amazon from the first to the last day of the month.
  • You can still use Audible, Prime Video or Kindle, if these are services you already use – make this harder by pairing this month with the stream-free month and cancelling your Prime membership, too. 

Try out a “no spend” month

How easy is it? 🔴

A no spend month is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You don’t spend money on anything that’s not essential. You can’t spend money on going out, buying new clothes or gadgets, or on entertainment. 

This involves a lot of planning – you’ll have to plan your meals and what free entertainment you’ll be getting up to (we have some ideas for this below). 

Don’t fall into the trap of completely bingeing at the end of the month. If you want to make this one easier, you could try a no-spend week to start with. Or you could scatter four no-spend weeks across the year to get a full month in overall.

The rules:

  • You’re allowed to spend money on essentials. This includes food, utilities, housing and transport. 
  • You can’t spend money on anything else, such as entertainment, alcohol, clothing, gadgets, meals out or coffee out.

Take your own lunch to work

How easy is it? 🟠

This was one of my worst habits when I worked in London – I’d “nip out” and spend nearly £10 on a lunch that I could’ve easily made myself for less than half the cash. 

With this challenge, you’ll have to prep a lunch everyday. This could be leftovers from the night before, or you could make a separate meal. You can do a whole week of lunch prepping on a Sunday night if you’re super organised.

I like to cook an extra portion or two when I’m making a meal I really like – that way I’m excited to tuck in the next day. I also take the time to organise it nicely in a glass dish with a lid instead of shoving it into a stained plastic tupperware. This makes it feel less like leftovers! 

Work fully remote? You may still be guilty of popping out to get some lunch (my partner goes to Waitrose to buy an aggressively overpriced meal deal when he works from home). If you order a lunch takeaway or use your lunch break to go to the supermarket for the weekly shop and grab a meal deal while you’re at it, this counts too. 

The rules: You have to prepare yourself a lunch for work instead of nipping to Pret to spend an exorbitant amount on a salad.  

No takeaways for a month

How easy is it?  🟢

Takeaways are fine as the occasional treat, but they’re a huge waste of money when you have them regularly. You’re completely overpaying for the convenience, and it doesn’t help the waistline at all. 

For this challenge, delete the takeaway apps and ban yourself from calling the local Chinese or going to the chippie. If you’re craving a takeaway, you can always try some fakeaway recipes. 

You might be surprised at how easy some of your favourite dishes are to make yourself, and you can make a night of it by getting everyone involved.  

The rules: You can’t order a takeaway for the month. This includes collections, deliveries and lunches. We’ll let you decide whether takeaway coffee counts too.

Have a dry month

How easy is it? 🟠

It might be considered a British staple, but whether we like it or not, alcohol is expensive. For this challenge, you’ll ditch alcohol for the month. 

A lot of people opt to do Dry January to kick start health plans for the new year, but it can save you some money too. Plus, you can do it in any month of the year.  

This doesn’t mean you can’t go out with your friends! There are loads of great soft drinks on the menu, and you can try alcohol-free versions, though these sometimes cost just as much. 

If you like to go clubbing, opt to be the designated driver. Some clubs will give you drinks for free if you’re the designated driver. Plus, your friends will owe you one for next time you’re out! 

The rules: No alcoholic beverages for the month. 

Don’t call a taxi

How easy is it? 🟢

For this challenge, you can’t call yourself a taxi or order an Uber for the month. Instead, make the most out of public transport – after all, buses are only £2 each way. You can also walk and cycle for shorter distances. 

You can pair this with a dry month and be the designated driver, just be careful not to spend just as much on parking.  

The rules: You’re not allowed to call a taxi or order an Uber for the month. 

Empty the freezer 

How easy is it? 🟢

There’s no use freezing your bargain reduced-aisle purchases if you never use them. With this challenge, you’re going to take stock of everything you have, work out some recipes that make use of it all and only shop for the extra bits you’ll need. 

If you’re struggling to think of what to cook, you can use apps like BBC Good Foods or Lollipop to search for recipes that use an ingredient.

You’ll be shocked at how much money you’ll save by doing this. Plus, once your freezer and cupboards are empty, you can give them a decent clean. In addition, you can use the opportunity to defrost your freezer to make sure it’s working efficiently.

The rules: All meals that you make have to make use of food already in the freezer or cupboards. You’re only allowed to purchase essential items or fresh fruit and vegetables that can be combined with the ingredients you’ve got.

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Cancel the streaming services and use free at-home entertainment

How easy is it? 🟢

With this challenge, you’re going to make the most out of free entertainment that’s available. You’ll have to cancel Netflix, Paramount+, Disney+, Apple TV+, ITVX, Spotify, Audible and Kindle Unlimited. Plus, skip the trips to the bookshop. 

There’s loads of free entertainment available – you can get DVDs, books and CDs at the library. You can also use online libraries to rent ebooks and audiobooks.

You can still use catch-up services to watch films and series’, and you can dust off some of the DVDs you’ve no doubt got stacked up. We’re including Spotify and Apple Music here, so you better pop some CDs in the car, or find a radio station you like. 

Hopefully it’ll show you that you don’t actually need to be paying for multiple subscriptions each month. In fact for the rest of the year we’d suggest you only pay for one service at a time, binge it, then cancel it before starting a different one, and repeat.

The rules: For this, you need to cancel all of your subscriptions for the month. These services are often flexible, so you don’t lose out by cancelling, you can just sign up again once it’s over. This gives you the chance to really work out which services you actually use, too. 

Challenge: Go vegetarian or vegan

How easy is it? 🔴

Meat can be expensive, so ditching it for a month can save you a great deal of money. If you want to take it one step further, you could try going vegan for a month – people tend to do this in January, calling it Veganuary, but you can do it in any month you like. 

Ditching meat can be a healthier choice, too.

The rules: Choose whether you want to go veggie or vegan and stick to it for the month.

A month of cheap nights out

How easy is it? 🟢

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a night out – there are loads of things you can do for free or cheap. You can get free drinks with some apps, become a seat filler for cheap theatre tickets, and go to the cinema with free tickets from Sky, Lloyds or Vitality. 

During the day, you can sometimes get free National Trust tickets and go for a picnic. If you have a local pub that has board games you can have a really nice evening out for just the cost of a few drinks. Or get out the ones you’ve got for a cheap night in.

Reduce additional spending by making sure you eat at home or take snacks along with you. 

The rules: Create a £5 budget per person for your nights out and get creative. 

Get thrifty: buy second-hand items only

How easy is it? 🟠

In this month, if there’s anything you need to buy, try and get it second hand. In our house, all of our furniture is bought second-hand — we have pets, so buying new can be a huge waste of money. You can often get some really good quality items for IKEA prices. 

If you find that you need a new set of glassware or want a new book to read, try your local charity shop. While you’re there, drop off that bag of donations you’ve been keeping in the boot for months, too. 

You might not even need to buy anything at all – check your wardrobe and at the back of the cupboard for things you might have forgotten all about.

The rules: If you need to buy anything, try a second hand shop first

Try a savings challenge

How easy is it? 🟢

Savings challenges are really popular – with this challenge, you’ll be trying one for 30 days instead of for a full year. You can choose to round up your purchases using a digital bank or put away a set amount per day.

£5 a day would save you £150 in a 30 day month. 

The rules: Choose a set amount to set aside each day or choose to round-up your purchases over the month. Here’s more on different savings challenges.

What to do with your savings

Once you’ve saved some money, you’ll need a good savings account to save into. We’ve rounded up the accounts paying the best rates on our best savings accounts guide and our best ISA guide. 

Why not make it a competition? 

A great way to stay motivated is to create a little contest among friends – I never did as many steps as the month my friends challenged me on Fitbit. 

You can choose to do a monthly challenge, or even the whole year, against a friend to see who can save the most money. You could even keep a set amount of the total savings you make aside for a treat if you win. 

There’s also no use challenging yourself if you don’t have a forfeit for when you slip up. Decide on an amount to fine yourself, such as if you get a takeaway on a takeaway-free month then you have to put the equivalent into a savings account.

3 thoughts on “2024 money challenges: 12 ways to Be Clever With Your Cash this year

  1. Use your local library! Also mine has an app so I can read magazines. I’ve not bought one in years. This year I’ve decided to not buy a book but to use the library as before I spent hundreds on books probably.

  2. Don’t like using Amazon. I don’t like their marketing methods and I don’t like the way they treat their staff.
    I already do most of the others

    1. I’ve not used Amazon either. You can go on their site and then quite often click to go on the individual shops website. Quite often it’s cheaper on there too.

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