Spend less or save more: how the MSE Forum can help you make or break a habit in 2023

The MSE Forum is a one-of-a-kind place, and a big part of what makes our community so special is the way MoneySavers encourage one another by joining challenges. These quests range from ways to meet your savings goals to ideas for setting budgets so that you can trim your spending.

With the cost of living on the rise, many of us will be thinking about saving some money or spending less in 2023. On the MSE Forum, dozens have found ways to nudge each other in the right direction through MoneySaving challenges – and you can join too.

By making a public commitment to a MoneySaving goal, Forumites can cheer each other on through the difficult times, all in a supportive environment.

Some MSE Forum MoneySaving missions run for a whole year (such as the 1p Savings Challenge MSE Molly previously took part in), and others are set up on a monthly basis, so there's always something you can join in with. Here are just a few...

The Frugal Living Challenge

On the Old-Style MoneySaving board, you'll find the Frugal Living Challenge which is now in its 16th year. As thread-starter Frugaldom puts it, it's all about "living within our means", and while frugal might not sound like fun, "living without waste" can be very satisfying.

Forumite cw18 is aiming to use up the big stock of groceries in their cupboard before buying more, and is also planning to grow their own veg: "Whilst this isn't cheaper than buying in many cases, it does taste much better – and that encourages me to eat more healthily."

Some participants really embrace the self-sustainability ethos: "There is no food waste here," says asparklyblonde. "The veggie scraps go to the hens, and the wider plan is to get a couple of pigs next year who will certainly help on reducing waste."

Make £2,023 in 2023 Challenge

On the Boost Your Income board, nearly 50 Forumites have signed up for a challenge to make at least £2,023 during 2023 by selling unwanted items, completing surveys, earning cashback and maximising their gains from loyalty cards.

Explaining the challenge to a new Forumite, SuperExcelMan summed it up: "Basically, you forget all about your regular income (pay, pensions, benefits, student loans, grants), and you tot up all the extras you have made throughout the year.

"For example, last year I made £567 on eBay, £608 on bank switching and monthly bank rewards, £709 on surveys, and so on."

Two years ago, Fairy_Shazza beat the £2,021 target with a final total of £2,143.38.

The Monthly Grocery Challenge

Galtizz recommends that you start this challenge by keeping all your receipts for a month to find out how much you're currently spending on food: "For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget. Just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be £1 a week or £20 a week.

"If you are currently spending £200 a month, don't suddenly drop it to £100 – you'll never do it, but if you cut £20 a month off for a few months, you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything."

Each month's thread also includes a compendium of tried and tested recipe ideas shared by Forumites over the years, so inspiration is always close at hand.

A new January 2023 thread has begun, so you can hop aboard and begin the year with good intentions. 

The Saving for Christmas 2023 Challenge

A group of Forumites on the Debt-Free Wannabe board commit to putting at least £1 aside each day throughout the year for Christmas, and break open the virtual pot on 1 December, ready to share their results. "This thread has really motivated me to be organised about our Christmas budgeting," said cookie02, who previously saved £2 a day to amass a festive fund of £730.

Forumite Kingfisher500 received a handy tax rebate which they used to kick-start their savings for Christmas, and Kamila20 added: "It was great last year to have so much to spend for Christmas and took the stress out of last-minute saving."

No Craft Spending Challenge

If – like these Forumites – you've built up a big stash of supplies for your crafting hobby, why not join them in trying to use up what you've already got in stock during 2023?

Just a couple of weeks into the year, Animaltribe had already made 30 small felt ornaments. And sabsob has proposed their own twist on the challenge: "Every month, I want to finish something, or turn something left over into something useful, and also every month, I want to try something – a new craft, a new technique, without buying more things."

A few other noteworthy challenges

The above is just a selection – there are many other opportunities for participation. Here are some of the other popular recurring challenges, yearly and monthly, in the MSE Forum.

Feeling inspired? You can join in too

Whatever your tastes, there will be a challenge on the MSE Forum that can help you think differently about money in 2023. It might just give you the prod you need to make or break a habit.

Happy MoneySaving – and please be sure to share your journey with other Forumites so we can all be inspired!