Saving money is an important goal for most people, but many of us lack discipline. Sometimes it helps to have a plan or a program to follow in order to increase your chances for success.
In this article, you’ll find a free printable that shows how to save $5,000 in a year just by setting aside a small amount each week. You’ll also find plenty of tips and practical ways to cut expenses and find that extra money that you can save.
$5,000 may sound like a lot of money to save, and it is, but over the course of 12 months it comes out to less than $100 per week. It sounds a lot more realistic when you look at it that way.
With the plan presented in this article, you’ll reach $5,000 one year from now, and the most you’ll save in any given week is $130.
What Would You Do with $5,000?
$5,000 is a nice chunk of money. There are a lot of different things you could do with it. Build up your retirement savings. Take a nice vacation. Use it for a down payment on a house. Buy a cheap used car or put it towards the purchase of a more expensive car. Build up an emergency fund.
I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with a few ideas pretty easily.
Why a Savings Challenge?
While you don’t need a money saving challenge in order to save, a challenge can help in several specific ways.
Let’s face it, saving money isn’t always exciting. Sure, it’s fun to see the results, but saving money takes some commitment and sacrifice.
A savings challenge can help a boring topic to become more fun and more enjoyable. Making saving fun means that you’ll also be more likely to stick with it.
The saving challenges add some accountability, even if it is just accountability to yourself. Once you start the challenge, hopefully you’ll feel the need to stick with it and complete the challenge.
You can have a generic goal of saving money, but the money challenge gives you specific goals for each week, and you can easily check on your progress at any time.
Why not take a savings challenge along with a friend? Taking the challenge with a friend gives you even more accountability, and also provides some extra motivation because of the competition.
If you’re following along exactly with the plan and the specific amounts to save, the competition may not be about who saves the most money, but instead, it’s more about simply sticking with the challenge and completing it. Most of us wouldn’t want to see our friend complete a challenge that we quit, so it gives some extra motivation to stick with it.
The Math is Done for You
One of the nice things about the challenge is that it takes care of the math for you. All you need to do is deposit the amount listed on the printable each week and you’ll reach $5,000 at the end of 52 weeks.
Creating a New Savings Account for the Challenge
While it’s not completely necessary, I recommend using a separate savings account for the challenge. The two main reasons are:
- You’ll be able to see exactly how much you have saved at any point in time
- It makes it easy to keep the money separate from your other accounts so you don’t accidentally withdraw the money that you’re saving through the challenge.
And if you’re going to put money into a savings account, you might as well set up an account at a bank that offers a good interest rate. There are a number of good online banks that will work, but I personally use and recommend CIT Bank. They offer high-yield savings accounts and money market accounts that would work well for this challenge. They also have a really nice user interface and mobile apps that make it easy to manage your account.
Free Printable PDF – Save $5,000 in a Year
Below you’ll find a free printable that you can use to make the money saving challenge easier. Click on the image to open the full-size printable. You can print it, and then cross out each week after you’ve made the deposit to your savings account.
Ways to Save $5,000
Ok, so now you’ve got the printable to lay out the amount to save each week. That’s great, but if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck you may be wondering how you’re going to come up with the money that you need to save each week. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the specific things you can do to free up the money to put in your savings account.
1. Create a Budget
If you’re not currently using a budget, this is one of the first things you should consider. A budget will help you to make the most of your money and live well within your means. Your budget will give you a plan for how to use your money, including money that you want to save or invest.
If you’ve never created a budget before, don’t worry. You can enter your email address below to get a budget template (spreadsheet and PDF) that you can use to create your own.
2. Track Your Spending
Having a budget is good, but you won’t know if you’re really sticking to the budget unless you’re also tracking expenses. I recommend recording your expenses every day so you don’t lose track, and at the end of the month you’ll be able to see exactly how much you’re spending, and what you’re spending it on.
Tracking your spending helps you to see some areas where you may be spending too much. You can identify the problem areas where you’re wasting money. Once you know that, you can adjust your spending correct those issues, leaving you with more money saved.
I’ve always found that tracking your spending forces you to scrutinize every expense, and you’ll be a lot more careful about how you spend your money if you know you’re going to be recording the details.