The 'Haven't Got $21' Challenge

Posted March 31st, 2012 by Penny Wise

Another $21 Challenge Month is almost upon us! One thing that a lot of people get mistaken about is that you have to be pretty much broke to do a $21 Challenge. You have to be on the bare bones of your bum with close to no food and no money in order to 'qualify'. However this couldn't be further than the truth. Obviously it is a brilliant tool to fall back on when times are tough and things go wrong but there is never a right or wrong time. Just because you have money in the bank doesn't make you ineligible. Take Barb for example, the original founder of the $21 Challenge. When her husband came home waving that $20 note after she had asked him to bring home some money for food shopping she could have given him a swift clip round the ear, hopped in her car and gone and got herself the money she needed for the shop she had originally planned. But being made of tougher stuff she chose not to. She decided she wanted to prove a point and show her cheeky hubby what she was capable of. And that, dear reader is exactly what the $21 Challenge is all about - realising what you are capable of. Showing yourself and others how little you can get away with spending, how little you can waste, how resourceful you can be, how creative you can be, what a smart shopper you really are when you put your mind to it.

Thinking back to all the $21 Challenges we have done as a family I don't think there has been a single one that we have had to do out of necessity. I could be wrong but I'm not going to trawl through the last six years of blogs to check! On the whole it has always been out of choice - the first one back in 2006 was for fun, to see if we could and all the others I can remember have been to brush up our skills or to make sure things get used up, or have been part of the Simple Savings calendar like now. But this year will be a little different for us because when April 1st comes we will be starting our $21 Challenge with nothing. Not even $21. Quite simply, we can't spend anything because we haven't got anything so we're just going to have to make do and apply the same principles as we have with every other $21 Challenge.

I have to admit having no cash is a tad inconvenient. I'd be lying if I said it didn't get me down a little sometimes but immediately after I wrote my last blog 'Paying the price for being too nice' I accidentally stumbled upon a couple of threads in the Forum which changed my perspective. First this one:

How broke have you been?

This thread blew me away and soon had me counting my lucky stars and scolding myself for being a great big girls' blouse. I mean for goodness' sake Penny you have HEAPS! You're not living in your car, you're still living in your cute little beach house, surrounded by tons of possessions and two cars parked outside. You have more food in your pantry, fridge and freezer right now than some people ever have. You have enough toothpaste, shampoo and whatever else you need to keep going for quite a while yet and if you don't, you know perfectly well how to diversify. You may not have anything in the bank right now but you still have a LOT. Reading the stories of other Simple Savings members helped me to define what being broke really is and the fact they were brave enough to share their stories and show how they have moved forward was hugely encouraging and inspiring. Just because a person is broke today doesn't mean they are doomed to being broke forever. It also made me see that if and when the proverbial did hit the fan, there is always something more you can do. If they can claw their way out of genuinely dire situations, I can claw my way out of this.

And if you want to be truly motivated to save money, take a look at Granny's thread. I may not be where she is yet but I plan to be! Her story really makes me smile:

People think I've won Tattslotto

Brilliant, just brilliant! And that's one of the things I love best about Simple Savings. Whether you have heaps of money or whether you have zippity, we can all freely talk about it here. If you started with nothing and worked your way up to a position of security, you can help others by providing tips and encouragement. On the other end of the scale if you HAD money and now find yourself with none, there are always people like in the two threads I have mentioned to help you see there is light at the end of the tunnel. As Granny herself says 'It amazes me still to see how SS ways can do so much for you' and there's no better proof than her! So I shall stop whinging about being 'broke' and do my $21 Challenge the same way I've always done it, because it doesn't matter whether you have a $100, $21 or $0 budget, the principles are always the same. Will let you know how I go - good luck everyone!

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