November 16th, 2011

Lessons from Novels and Mustaches: How to Tackle Any Financial Challenge this November

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November is a month of challenges.

You can grow a mustache, write a novel, eat six servings of pie, and land a great Black Friday deal on nutmeg like you wouldn’t believe.

I made the admirably foolish goal to write a 50,000 word novel in November as part of NaNoWriMo. My Credit Karma cohorts Bethy and Justine decided to try and summit this literary Everest as well. As you might expect with anything stupidly difficult, we were met with some obstacles. But the lessons we learned apply just as well to any financial challenges you might be undertaking. Whether you’re saving money for the holidays or finally sticking to a budget, these tips can give you an extra boost while trying to meet your financial challenges. Keep reading and benefit from our folly.

1. It takes a village…

It’s tough to go it alone, so the more people that know about your financial goal, the better. Support and the likelihood of embarrassment are great motivators. Recruit some friends to help shame you. Post on Facebook: “I’m going to save ___ dollars this month. Ask me how I’m doing and mock me mercilessly if I fail.”

2. Set up carrots and sticks.

Bethy, Justine, and I started out our challenge by agreeing to buy each other lunch if we missed our word quota. The extra incentive helped me to fall into a good habit of writing for the first week. To encourage saving, you can make a list of frugal ways to reward yourself for meeting your spending goals. Build a good habit of frugality and you’ll be halfway towards your savings goal.

3. Find a few tools to help you out.

I love tricks to help. I used Write or Die to whip myself into shape (if you stop writing, it plays Rick Astley). On the financial side, Mint is a great budgeting tool. You can also also keep an eye on all of your credit accounts in Credit Karma’s new My Accounts section. If you’re trying to cut down on spending you can keep an eye on your credit card utilization rate at a glance.

4. Bend, but don’t break.

Your budgeting challenge is probably hard (that’s why it’s called a challenge), so it’s likely that you might slip up at some point. Bethy had a hard time meeting her word count on the weekend she ran a marathon (slacker), but even though she fell behind, she didn’t quit. If you slip up, adjust your expectations and stick with it.

5. Celebrate your small victories.

Every few thousand words I put down on paper, I tell someone. Tell @creditkarma your saving successes. Challenges can be a long, lonely road. The more people rooting for you, the better you’ll do.

Two weeks left in November. May your novels be long, your mustaches bushy, and all your servings of pumpkin pie absolutely delicious.

Ooh, that’s a good price for twelve pounds of nutmeg.

Ezra Fox, Credit Karma Contributor, Mustache and Pie Enthusiast

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. I tried NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I didn’t make it very far, but I plan to try again once I’m done with school.

    Penny at 5:04 am on November 17, 2011
  2. Awesome! I’m finding it hard and exhilarating. Definitely hoping to finish!

    bethy at 9:54 am on November 17, 2011

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