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 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 it.
There are a number of different money challenges that you can try, and we’ll look at some of the best options in this article. Take a look at the different options and see which one may be a good fit for you.
As you’ll see when you read the descriptions of the challenges, the way you are 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 any time and take the challenge for the next 12 months.
Throughout the article, you’ll find printables for many of the challenges. Click on an image to see the full-sized version that can be printed if you want to use it for the challenge.
Where to Put the Money You’re Saving
If you complete any of these challenges, by the end of 12 months you’ll have a nice amount saved. To get the most benefit, put the money that you are saving into a high-yield savings or money market account. There are a number of online banks that offer good interest rates, much better than what you’ll find at the typical local bank.
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.
52-Week Money Saving Challenge
The 52-week challenge is very popular, partly (in my opinion) because of its simplicity. Throughout the 52 weeks, you will be gradually increasing the amount that 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.
One easy way to automate this challenge is to use the free app Qapital. It has a 52-week challenge option that will automate transfers each week in the right amount.
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 have 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.
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. At 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 want.
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 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