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What would you do with some extra money? Pay off debt? Build an emergency fund? Save for a vacation? Save for retirement?
Regardless of your personal or family situation, spending less and saving more are good financial habits to develop. A money saving challenge can be a fun and effective way to help with developing those habits and to provide the motivation and accountability to stick with them.
There are a number of different money challenges you can try, and we’ll look at some of the best options in this article (like the 52-week money challenge, 100 envelope challenge, and more). Consider the different options and see which one may be a good fit for you and your financial goals.
As you’ll see when you read the descriptions of the challenges, the way you’re paid (weekly, bi-weekly, twice per month, monthly) may have some impact in determining which challenge is right for you.
You can either take the challenge yourself or find a friend who wants to take it along with you. Having a friend join you in the challenge can make it a little more fun, and it may also serve as extra motivation.
Money saving challenges are often associated with New Year’s Resolutions and get mentioned a lot near the end of the year, but there’s no reason why your challenge needs to start in January and end in December. You can start at any time and take the challenge for the next 12 months (or however long the challenge lasts).
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The Best Money Saving Challenges to Try
Now, let’s take a look at some of the specific challenges that can help you to save money and make progress toward financial freedom.
Looking for ways to free up some extra cash to save? Check out this list of 101 Practical and Realistic Ways to Save Money and this list of 40 Smart Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Bills for plenty of money saving tips.
52-Week Money Saving Challenge
The 52-week savings challenge is very popular, partly (in my opinion) because of its simplicity. Throughout the 52 weeks, you’ll gradually increase the amount you save each week. The first week you’ll save $1. The second week you’ll save $2. The third week, $3. And it goes on like that until you save $52 in the final week. If you complete the challenge, you will have saved $1,378!
One of the nice things about this challenge is that it starts off very easy and it builds up slowly. Anybody can save a few dollars per week, so the first few weeks are simple. As you go, you’ll probably get better at saving money, and you’re likely to find a few ways to save a little more each week or each month.
Of all the money saving challenges, this one is probably the most popular.
Double 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
If the 52-week challenge seems too easy for you, another option is to double it. If you’ve been saving for a while or if you have more disposable income, this one may be realistic for you, and it will allow you to save a lot more money.
With this version, you simply double everything. The first week you’ll save $2. The second week you’ll save $4. The third week you’ll save $6, and so on. In the final week, you’ll save $104. By the end, you will have saved $2,756.
Mini 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
If the 52-week challenge seems a little too aggressive for you, consider the mini version. This one is ideal for people who’ve had trouble saving in the past or have a small amount of disposable income.
Instead of starting with $1, you’ll save $0.50 the first week, and the amount will increase by $0.50 each week. The second week you’ll save $1. The third week it will be $1.50, and so on.
By the end, you will have saved $689, which is still a nice amount of money if you haven’t been saving in the past.
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Reverse 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
Many people who start the 52-week challenge in January find that it gets really difficult in December. At the end of the 52 weeks, you’ll be saving around $50 each week, and December is a month when many people have higher expenses due to Christmas and holiday shopping.
The reverse version of the challenge allows you to start by saving $52 the first week, and then work your way down by $1 each week. By the end, you’ll be saving only a small amount each week, which can be more realistic for some people. You’ll still wind up with the same $1,378 saved.
If you’re putting the money into a high-interest account, you’ll actually be better off with the reverse version, because you’ll accrue more interest by building up the balance earlier.
Of course, you can also reverse the order with the double or mini versions if you prefer.
Flexible 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
The flexible challenge can be fun and maybe more realistic depending on your income, bills, and expenses. This version involves 52 weeks where you’ll be saving anywhere from $1 to $52, but the order doesn’t matter.
The first week you might save $7. If that’s the case, cross off $7 and save a different amount the next week. Keep crossing the numbers off as you use them, and by the end, each number should be used once.
The end result is that you’ll save the same $1,378, but you have more flexibility with the amount that you save for a given week.
365-Day Money Saving Challenge
This challenge is also called the penny challenge. You start by saving $0.01 the first day, and you increase the amount saved by $0.01 each day. The final day you’ll save $3.65.
Throughout the course of a year, you can save $667.95 by following this challenge.
Bi-Weekly Saving Challenge
If you get a paycheck every two weeks (26 paychecks per year), the bi-weekly money challenge may be a good option for you. You’ll be saving money for each week, but you’ll actually set the money aside every other week when you get your check.
You’ll save $3 with your first paycheck ($1 for week one + $2 for week two). You’ll save $7 with your second paycheck ($3 for week three + $4 for week four), and so on. It’s basically the same as the 52-week challenge, but you’ll be setting money aside every two weeks instead of every week.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Pay period 1: Save $3
- Pay period 2: Save $7
- Pay period 3: Save $11
- Pay period 4: Save $15
- Pay period 5: Save $19
- Pay period 6: Save $23
- Pay period 7: Save $27
- Pay period 8: Save $31
- Pay period 9: Save $35
- Pay period 10: Save $39
- Pay period 11: Save $43
- Pay period 12: Save $47
- Pay period 13: Save $51
- Pay period 14: Save $55
- Pay period 15: Save $59
- Pay period 16: Save $63
- Pay period 17: Save $67
- Pay period 18: Save $71
- Pay period 19: Save $75
- Pay period 20: Save $79
- Pay period 21: Save $83
- Pay period 22: Save $87
- Pay period 23: Save $91
- Pay period 24: Save $95
- Pay period 25: Save $99
- Pay period 26: Save $103
The end result is the same, $1,378 saved.
Twice Per Month Saving Challenge
If you get paid twice per month (24 paychecks per year), this one is a good option for you. This one is close to the bi-weekly challenge but the numbers are a little different because you’ll have two fewer paychecks.
With this challenge, you will be saving a specific amount for each paycheck. You can use the chart below to know how much to save. The end result is still $1,378 saved.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Pay period 1: Save $6
- Pay period 2: Save $15
- Pay period 3: Save $24
- Pay period 4: Save $27
- Pay period 5: Save $31
- Pay period 6: Save $33
- Pay period 7: Save $35
- Pay period 8: Save $39
- Pay period 9: Save $43
- Pay period 10: Save $47
- Pay period 11: Save $51
- Pay period 12: Save $55
- Pay period 13: Save $59
- Pay period 14: Save $63
- Pay period 15: Save $67
- Pay period 16: Save $71
- Pay period 17: Save $75
- Pay period 18: Save $79
- Pay period 19: Save $83
- Pay period 20: Save $87
- Pay period 21: Save $91
- Pay period 22: Save $95
- Pay period 23: Save $99
- Pay period 24: Save $103
Monthly Saving Challenge
If you’re paid monthly, you may like this challenge the best. You’ll be saving a specific amount each month, and that amount will increase throughout the challenge. Of course, you can also create your own adaptation if you don’t want to save these amounts in that specific order.
The end result is still $1,378 saved. You can use the chart below to know how much to save each month.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Month 1: Save $21
- Month 2: Save $45
- Month 3: Save $70
- Month 4: Save $74
- Month 5: Save $90
- Month 6: Save $106
- Month 7: Save $122
- Month 8: Save $138
- Month 9: Save $154
- Month 10: Save $170
- Month 11: Save $156
- Month 12: Save $202
100 Envelope Money Challenge
If you’re looking for a fun way to save money, try the 100 envelope money challenge (you may also see it referred to as the “100 envelope challenge” or the “100-day money challenge”.
You’ll start with 100 envelopes and write each number 1 through 100 on one of the envelopes. Each day you’ll pull one of the envelopes at random. Based on the number of the envelope, you’ll insert that amount of cash and set it aside. For example, if you select envelope number 21, you’ll put $21 into the envelope.
Take a new envelope each day and by the end of 100 days, you’ll have $5,050 saved! This is a fantastic way to save $5,000 quickly, although it may not be easy to save that much money in just 100 days. This $5,000 savings challenge is an ideal option for anyone who wants to aggressively build up savings quickly.
Related: How to Save $5,000 in a Year
No Spend Challenge
A no-spend challenge gives you some flexibility in terms of the length and the “rules”. A lot of people like to do a no-spend challenge for one month, but the length is up to you.
You could challenge yourself to not spend money on anything outside of necessities. As an alternative, you could pick a specific category or type of expenses that you want to eliminate for that period of time. For example, you could stop eating at restaurants or buying your lunch every day. You could decide to spend no money on clothes for the next month. The details are up to you.
Of course, the amount you save will vary depending on what you cut out, and for how long.
Spare Change or Rounding Up Challenge
Another option is to save all of your spare change/coins. If you use cash to make a purchase and you get two quarters back, you could put them in a piggy bank or jar and let the change add up.
This can add up quickly or slowly, depending on how many purchases you make with cash.
When I was a teenager I bought a PlayStation by saving spare change.
A similar option is to round up your purchases. You could use the Acorns app to automatically invest your rounded-up money from credit card purchases. The app monitors your spending. If you buy a drink for $1.75, it will round up to $2 and invest the $0.25 for you.
Another way to round up is to do it through your bank (if offered). I have a savings account that rounds up every purchase I make with a debit card (from my checking account). The difference to the next dollar amount is automatically transferred from the checking account to the savings account. If you use a debit card a lot (I used to, but don’t anymore), you can wind up with a nice amount of money in the savings account.
12-Week Money Saving Challenge
Want to save up quickly? If so, this one is a nice choice.
You’ll save a different amount each week, somewhere between $65 – $100. By the end of 12 weeks, you will have saved $1,000. This is a great option if you’re trying to build up an emergency fund or saving for an upcoming trip.
You can get the printable from Mint Notion.
This challenge involves saving money each month, but the amounts are different from the monthly savings challenge listed above. With this challenge, you’ll save a total of $1,050 by saving amounts ranging from $25 – $150 per month.
You can get the printable from The Extra Income Project.
Final Thoughts on a Money Saving Challenge
You don’t have to use money saving challenges to improve your financial situation, but they can help to provide some extra motivation to change spending habits and to make saving more fun. They’re also fantastic for turning saving into a group activity by inviting some friends to take the challenge along with you. Financial success is even more fun with friends.
In this article, we’ve shared several different challenges you can use to boost your savings. Choose one the works well for your situation (we love the 52-week money challenge and the 100 envelope challenge) and commit to completing it. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach your savings goals.
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