5:2 Savings Challenge: Our month in review

Emily and Anna have finished their 5:2 savings challenge! This is how they found it.

Anna’s thoughts

I’m glad that January is over. Not just because it is the longest month by about 5 years. Or because the bluest day of the year falls somewhere in the middle. It’s also because it means I’m done with this savings challenge.

I think this is largely to do with the way I set up my weekly budget at the start of the month. Choosing two ‘no-spend’ days meant the whole thing required too much planning and monitoring, and then it felt too restrictive. Emily’s approach of spreading her spending limit across the week rather than fixing them to two days feels much more sustainable over the longer term.

For the same reason that diets often fail, having such strict rules around spending means when you mess up even a little bit, suddenly you feel like you might as well throw everything out of the window and not even try. 

Plus – budgeting shouldn’t be that hard. I want a spending plan that, once set up, means I can just go ahead and forget about it. It should just tick along without me having to think too much about it. There’s so many automated savings challenges you can link up to your bank account now – round ups, 1p savings challenge… and soon Wagestream’s very own Save the Pennies – that don’t require any brainpower to set up or manage. You can just switch them on and forget about them.

The good thing is it forced me to sit down and figure out what I can really afford to spend on a weekly basis if I also want to save. Plus I did save a bit. But going forward I’m going to opt for a less extreme way of doing it.

Emily’s thoughts

My spending habits have never been anything to boast about. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it, but making a new, spur of the moment purchase has long held a little thrill for me. It’s not been too much of an issue so far in life as I don’t have children or a mortgage to worry about. However if I have any hope of getting my foot on the property ladder then I need to get saving. 

I was holding a lot of hope for this savings challenge as it’s quite structured and simple to abide by and it’s been so successful for people trying to lose weight. Often, savings becomes an afterthought and just saying to yourself ‘I’ll spend less this month’ isn’t particularly effective. 

Generally I stayed within my weekly limit and it was easy to stick to spending less with a clear limit. Unfortunately any savings I’ve made have been a bit derailed by a few expenses that I hadn’t factored into my budget including my boyfriend’s birthday (luckily, I remembered just in time) and my new gym membership and joining fee. But I guess that’s what your savings are for, and my budget meant I could easily cover these costs without coming up short in the last few days of the month. 

I don’t think I’d do this all the time as it was fairly restrictive but a slightly adjusted method might work. For me, building savings through smaller contributions over time is definitely the way to go. I might give it a break for next month but will definitely do this again.