Save $1,000 in 2018 with the 12-week money challenge

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Save $1,000 in 2018 with the 12-week money challenge
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All year long, Clark.com’s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!

How would you like an extra $1,000 or more in your savings account by the end of March? It’s possible with this fun and flexible New Year’s money challenge!

Let’s be clear: This challenge is a little different than most others that require you to save “X” amount per week.

RELATED: My 7 best money-saving tips for 2018

New Year’s money challenge to save $1,000 in 12 weeks

Instead, this challenge is focused on action items. I’m challenging you to do one thing each week to improve your financial situation — increasing earnings, reducing spending or both — and save $1,000 or more.

Here’s a sample 12-week challenge, followed by some of the strategies that have helped me save money:

1. Save $1 and $5 bills: Do you have a piggy bank around the house? Rather than just throwing your change in there, add $1 and $5 bills. I saved $200 in just three months by stashing away $5 bills.

2. Shop for auto insurance: You don’t have to wait until your policy is up for renewal to shop for a better rate! I get auto insurance quotes from a handful of companies every 6-12 months.

RELATED: Best and worst auto insurance companies

3. Switch cell phone provider: Do you really need unlimited data? If not, you may be able to cut your cell phone bill substantially with a low-cost wireless carrier. I lowered mine from $60/month to $12/month.

See Clark’s list of the best cell phone plans and deals!

4. Create a Waste Log: In January 2017, I shared the five lists that I use to save money. Creating a Waste Log of the food items I throw away has been really eye-opening. I now update the list using a note-taking app.

5. Lower or eliminate one bill: Every now and then, I call up my service providers and politely ask for a lower rate. This is most effective when you have an offer from a competitor to reference.

Companies to call:

  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Satellite radio
  • Cell phone
  • Gym membership
  • Security services
  • Pest control

Trim is a service that will do the work for you. It has lowered my cable/internet bill three times already!

RELATED: How I lowered my cable and internet bill 3 times this year

6. No eating out for 7 days: One of the easiest ways to save money is to stop going to restaurants! I’ve really cut down the number of drive-thru visits since I bought an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.

7. Download a cash-back app: Coupon apps are a great way to save money on groceries. I’ve earned over $1,750 since May 2014 using three of them. I particularly love Ibotta — known for its generous welcome bonus.

8. Earn a sign-up bonus: Looking for a new bank? Need a new credit card? Opening up a new checking, savings or credit card account with some banks can earn you $200 or more! Just make sure you can meet the requirements to avoid fees.

RELATED: How I use 4 bank accounts to save more money

9. Choose a personal challenge: I left a space in the challenge for a personal goal. My plan is to experiment with a new DIY laundry detergent recipe since I’ve already started making my own dishwasher detergent tabs.

10. No-spend workweek: No-spend weekends can be tricky because it’s when families schedule most of their activities. Instead, try a no-spend workweek.

11. Donate or sell something: Old electronics, jewelry, clothing and furniture are only collecting dust in your attic. Take an hour to get organized and turn them into cash. Here are the best places to sell.

12. Earn an extra $50: Already trimmed your budget to the bone? Find a side hustle. If you like pets, consider signing up for Rover.com. As an occasional dog boarder, I’ve charged up to $50 a night.

RELATED: 29 easy ways to make extra cash each month 

Are you up for the challenge?

The great thing about this 12-week money challenge is that you can customize it to make it work for you! Click here to print out a blank 12-week challenge or click here to print out the one shown above.

If you’re taking the 12-week challenge, share your goals with Team Clark on Facebook and Twitter!

Team Clark’s guide to save more and spend less in 2018: 

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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