How about making a money resolution you can stick to this year? Saving challenges can be a fun and profitable way to save money and meet your 2020 financial goals — and the 52-week money challenge is a great one to try.
Whatever your 2020 New Year’s resolutions are, staying motivated is usually the biggest obstacle to meeting your goals. Enlist some friends and family to do the money challenge with you, to keep each other accountable and watch your money grow together.
The annual GOBankingRates survey always finds that the majority of adults surveyed don’t have $1,000 in a savings account. The 52-week money challenge can help you, your friends and family put over $1,000 into savings before 2020 is over.
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The challenge’s concept is simple to grasp. You start by saving $1 the first week of the challenge and slowly add one dollar a week to your savings amount. You’ll be saving $1 in week one, $2 in week two and $10 by week 10.
The challenge gets tricky toward the end of the year when you need to put away around $50 per week. Luckily, you’re building momentum, so saving more should get easier. At the end of the 52 weeks, you’ll have $1,378 saved up.
This challenge is best for those who want to get into the habit of saving money regularly to meet a specific goal, such as building an emergency savings fund. The 52-week money challenge is different compared with other savings challenges because it starts slowly and builds momentum. Much like compounding interest, the savings compound as you put away $1 extra each week.
You can adjust the challenge to meet your needs in a way that helps you save money consistently. Here are some ideas to make the challenge more manageable:
Make Saving Automatic
Putting the weekly savings into a jar or piggy bank is a good way to start off, but it can be tempting to tap into your jar in a pinch. Set up a bank savings account and schedule a weekly draft from your checking to your savings account.
Take Advantage of High-Yield Savings Accounts
Putting your money in a jar means you’re missing out on earning interest. To solve this, open a high-yield savings account where you can earn interest at a better than average rate. The interest paid on your weekly deposits may not be significant at first — but every penny counts.
Set Up Reminders
Print the money savings challenge table above to keep track of your progress. Set up a weekly calendar alert on your smartphone that reminds you when it’s time to sock money away. Cross out each week of the challenge as you meet your savings goal.
Track Your Progress With Friends
Doing the money challenge with friends and family is the best way to stay on track and keep motivated. Track each other’s progress by doing weekly check-ins. Consider taking screenshots of growing bank account balances to share.
Download a Savings App
Qapital makes an app designed specifically for the 52-week money challenge. Download the app for iOS or Android, create an account and set a goal to start saving.
Sweeten the Deal
Fire up your competitive side to stay motivated. Sweeten the money challenge by setting rewards for completion. For example, enlist friends and family to contribute a certain amount, like $5 each, at the beginning of the year. Then, the winner of the 52-week challenge takes the money pooled as a reward.
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Kick in Extra Money When You Can
The challenge starts off easy and gets harder as the weeks move along. The hardest part comes during November and December — when holiday spending and saving $40-$50 per week is tough. To offset this potential issue, contribute extra money toward your savings in the earlier weeks. If you contribute $5 instead of $1 on week one, you’ve just knocked $4 off the $52 you need to save on week 52.
Budget During the Harder Weeks
As the weekly money-saving challenge amounts get steeper, find ways to save on daily expenses — like tricking yourself into saving money — to contribute toward your challenge. If you enjoy a $4 latte every weekday, consider buying one every other day and putting $8 toward the week’s savings.
If you find you like doing the weekly money-saving challenge, don’t stop at 52 weeks. Keep going as long as you comfortably can — or start again on day one with $1.
Here’s how the money challenge will play out if you stick to it. You can print the table and cross off each week as you go, for a little extra motivation:
|52-Week Money Challenge Savings Table|
|Week Number||Deposit Amount||Total Balance||Week Number||Deposit Amount||Total Balance|
Take the popular 52-week challenge and adapt it to fit your needs. If you’re up for a New Year’s savings resolution, here are seven other money challenges you and your loved ones can try.
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In this challenge, you get the largest savings contribution out of the way early. Start by saving $52 on week one and work down to $1 — contributing the least amount the last week of the year.
Best For: People who spend a lot on traveling and gifts during the holidays and are worried they won’t have the funds available to put away $45 or more per week during the holidays
Tips and Tricks: To get the most out of this challenge, put the funds away in an interest-earning savings account. You’ll be accruing money faster in this reverse challenge and can take advantage of compounding interest longer.
Adjust the challenge to teach a young person how to save regularly. The concept of saving every week may be overwhelming at first, but they’ll get the hang of it.
Best For: Teens with a job who can contribute part of their earnings or children with a weekly allowance
Tips and Tricks: Adjust the savings amount according to the child’s or teen’s income or allowance. Work with cents instead of dollars. Or set up a challenge for your child to contribute an increased percentage of each monthly paycheck, which corresponds with the number of months participating in the challenge. For example:
- Month 1: Save 1% of the paycheck.
- Month 5: Save 5% of the paycheck.
- Month 12: Save 12% of the paycheck.
Take the weekly money challenge and use it to do good. Choose a favorite charitable cause, enlist friends and family and collectively contribute funds every week.
Best for: Friends, family or groups like a school or church group with a common cause
Tips and Tricks: If the group is larger, set up a savings account that allows for free unlimited deposits. Designate someone to send out weekly contribution reminders and update the group on contributions. Encourage members who can afford it to make their annual contribution in one payment to ensure you’re meeting the group’s savings goals.
In this challenge, the goal is not about earning more money to contribute toward your savings plan — but redirecting bad spending habits into good ones instead. Look at where you can save money every week, and apply the savings toward each week’s savings goals. For example, on week one, when you have to contribute $1 for the week, walk or ride your bike to work once instead of taking the bus or metro to save on one fare. Apply the funds to your savings.
Best for: Reducing spending habits
Tips and Tricks: Here are some ways you can redirect money toward your savings:
- Park in the free parking lot and walk a little further
- Save by grocery shopping strategically and packing lunches from home instead of eating out
- Reduce the amount you spend on nonessential things, like daily latte runs
The Qapital app for the 52-week challenge has a cool feature where you can round up certain amounts. Rounding up by contributing $10 instead of $7 on week 7, for example, can help you save almost $2,000.
Best for: Power savers who are able to contribute a few dollars more than required each week
Tips and Tricks: Use the app to calculate the roundup rule for you automatically. If you’re working without an app, round up your contribution to the nearest five or ten-dollar amount each week. For example, contribute $10 for weeks 6, 7, 8 and 9 instead of $6, $7, $8 and $9.
Take two challenges and roll them up into one by decluttering your home and making money for your savings plan. Total your weekly savings amount over a month, and find items in your home you no longer use. Sell them to fund your savings. For example, you’ll need to save $202 in the last month of the year. Find items around the house you can sell to raise $202 for December.
Best For: Savers who have a lot of collectibles and items they no longer use
Tips and Tricks: You don’t have to wait until December to sell $202 worth of household items. You can get ahead of your money challenge by having a garage sale in the spring and applying the funds toward certain weeks or months. Don’t forget to continue your regular contributions, so you don’t fall behind.
Any challenge where you set your mind to save regularly throughout the year is the best money-saving challenge. The key is consistency. The 52-week money challenge is successful because it’s simple to follow and requires regularly saving a set amount. Adapt it to best fit your financial goals.
While the challenge is a great way to get an emergency fund started or to save for a small goal, the method is not the only option. Once you’re comfortable setting money aside every week, look to make savings part of your lifestyle by contributing a portion of your weekly or monthly income toward longer-term goals like education, investing and retirement.
Keep Reading: Here’s How Much Americans Have in Savings in Every State
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