Saving moeny isn’t exactly the most exciting thing on our to-do list, but it should undoubtedly be at the top of it. For many of us, getting into any new habit can be tough. As a result, we often need to develop different ways to motivate ourselves with more than just the “it’s a good idea” mentality. For those of us that need a bit of extra motivation, money challenges can be a good way to start saving. Today, we’ll talk about the most popular money saving challenge, the 52 week money challenge.
What is A Money Saving Challenge?
A money saving challenge is precisely what it sounds like, a challenge that helps you to save money. You could have a health challenge, maybe your favorite blogger has a writing challenge, but in this case, a money-saving challenge is on the docket.
Money saving challenges can come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have the same goal. And that goal is to change our mindsets around our money and motivate us to start saving money and use creative ways to save money.
They can be daily, weekly, or even monthly challenges. In all reality, they can be for any amount of time you want, however long you think will get you to where you want to be.
Time frames don’t need to be your only guide. Maybe the challenge is to save a certain amount as fast as possible. Once you’ve hit the goal, you try to do it again, but quicker.
Whatever the structure, a money saving challenge is a great way to get yourself motivated to save more money.
Why Should I Do A Money Saving Challenge?
I think the better question is, why aren’t you doing a money saving challenge?! A money saving challenge is an excellent way to motivate yourself and\or others (oh yeah, you should try challenging a friend too!) to start saving more money.
Saving up money is extremely important. Most, if not all, financial experts recommend having an emergency fund of 4-6 months worth of expenses saved up in case of financial hardship. This will help cover you if you lose your job, get hurt or sick, or any other reason your income might take a hit.
Once you hit that goal of a full emergency fund, you can start to do even more with your money by investing all the cash you’ve been saving. This is where the real fun begins!
When Should I Start a Money Saving Challenge?
The short answer is that there is no wrong time to start a money saving challenge. However, starting on a random day can make it challenging to track your progress.
For most of us, we need an easy starting point to remember and keep track of. A few ideas are:
Start of a New Month
By starting a money saving challenge at the beginning of the month, you’ll have a straightforward way to track your progress. Not only that, but it will be easy to figure out if you are behind schedule or, hopefully, way ahead. Monthly challenges are super easy to track and stay motivated with their shorter timeframe.
Start of a New Season
Depending on your challenge, you might want to start it at the beginning of a new season. This could be a little more difficult than the monthly challenge as the seasons officially begin in the middle of certain months. You can easily remedy this by starting on the 1st of the month the season starts, we won’t hold it against you.
Start of a New Year
Another super popular and easy starting point for any challenge is the beginning of a new year. You can even make the challenge your New Years Resolution. Be sure to break down how often you need to meet your goal so that you’re not falling behind and need to scramble to meet your challenge at the end of the year.
Where Do I Put My Savings?
To have the most effective money saving challenge, it’s best to open up another savings account. This should have no credit card, debit card, or any bills associated with it. Use this account solely for the purpose of saving money.
There are several advantages to this. For one, it will be much more difficult to take any money out of the account, which would defeat the purpose of saving. Two, it will be much easier to keep track of your progress as you’ll only see money in and won’t have to worry about adding up different amounts, subtracting monthly bills, etc.
For even better results, use a high yield savings account to earn that extra interest each month too.
Ok, time for the fun now. The 52 week money saving challenge! Really, this challenge is quite simple, and there are a few popular versions of it out there.
52 Week Challenge
At its core, the 52-week challenge is simple. First, come up with a savings goal for every week for an entire year. It can be a set amount of money like $20 a week, or you can start lower and work your way up. Then, simply start saving!
52 Week Challenge Backwards
A popular tweak to the original 52 week money challenge is doing it backward, starting with the most savings on week one and working your way back down. The strategy here is if you can save the most starting in week one, you’re more likely not to want to lower it moving forward.
52 Week Challenge Random
We could spend all day on different iterations of the 52 week money challenge, but I’ll just do one more. Each week pick a random number from $1 – $52 to save. Then, after each week, remove that week’s savings number from the available numbers until you’ve done them all.
52 Week Challange Expert Mode
Ok, so maybe you think some of these challenges are too easy or you want to go all out. Saving $1378 over the course of a year just isn’t enough for you. Ok then tough guy, here we go. If you really want to make these 52 money challenges hard, you have a few options.
First up, you can simply start with a higher starting point. Instead of saving one dollar the first week, start a two, five, or even 10 and move up from there.
If that’s not your style, then you can all increase the increments from week to week. Instead of going up by a dollar, go up two or three each week to make the savings pile up even faster.
If you really want to go add it, do both! Use a higher starting point and use bigger weekly increments and see just how much you can really save!
Money Saving Challenge Tips
As with any new habit, the hard part is getting started. Here are a few tips that could help you along your way.
Setting a weekly reminder when you’re saving is due is a good way to make sure you don’t get off track in the beginning. Again, eventually, the saving will become a habit, but in the beginning, there is nothing wrong with setting a few reminders to yourself.
Telling someone you are doing the challenge, or better yet, having them do it with you is a great way to keep yourself motivated and on track. When we are held accountable by someone other than ourselves, we are far more likely to stay on target, no matter what the challenge is.
If you need help find ways to get money to save, I’ve got you covered there too. In order to get some extra cash at the start, selling some of your things might be a good way to get the saving ball rolling. Not only that, you’ll have less clutter in your home.
If you want to save more money, it only makes sense that you might need to spend less money. Can you get away with cutting back or eliminating a few expenses? More than likely, the answer to that is yes.
There are tons of ways to save money. Eat out less, don’t buy a daily coffee or two, cancel a few unused subscriptions, walk places instead of driving, and these are just the low-hanging fruit. There are plenty of services you can negotiate price on and tons of other ways you can really dig in to save money, you just need to write those emails and make those phone calls.
What To Do With All the Money You’ve Saved
You’ve done your challenge, and now have oodles of money saved up, now what? What do you do with all this new saved money? Here are a few ideas:
Start or Pump Up Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is a staple of personal finance. Basically, it’s a savings account, again, preferably a high yield savings account, that you only use in case of emergencies. This could be a big medical bill, loss of your main income, or anything else that you simply couldn’t see coming.
Most people like to have four to six months’ worth of expenses saved up. This way when the unexpected happens, you’ll have a cushion to fall back on. Emergency funds are a great use of money saving challenge money.
Sinking funds are a great way to plan ahead. Somewhat the opposite of the emergency fund, sinking funds are for expenses we know are coming. Maybe the holidays are coming up and instead of getting slammed with a huge credit card bill, now you’re ready with the money saved up already.
Maybe you have a vacation coming up and now you have some extra money put aside for food and other expenses you’ll incur.
The sinking fund can be used for any big expense you know is coming up. They can be used to soften the blow and make it easier to pay for them when the time comes.
Nothing builds wealth better than investing. Will you be a millionaire overnight, definitely not. However, with enough time and money, you can become a millionaire. Now that you’ve got your new money savings habits and account, investing is a great way to keep improving your money game.
Even if you don’t know much about investing, you can open a brokerage account, find a nice index fund to invest in, and watch your money grow.
Pay Off Debt
Another excellent use of all the money you saved is to pay off debt. Debt wrecks personal net worth. Not only do you owe someone else your hard-earned money, but you are paying interest on it too, costing you even more money.
Some people like to start with the highest interest loan, others will pick off the loans with the lowest amounts owed. No matter what your plan of attack, paying off any debt you owe is a great idea, you simply can’t go wrong.
Getting started with any new habit like saving money can be hard. When we can make it a challenge to ourselves or competition with others, it can make it easier and maybe even a little fun. Getting started is the hard part, but once you get going, you’ll find the 52 week money challenge makes it much easier to keep going. There are lots of uses you’ll have for all that money once you’re in the groove. Once you’ve done one challenge, start another, and never look back!
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.