The 52-Week Money Challenge idea is simple: You start by socking away just $1 in the first week of the year, and then gradually increase your savings by a dollar a week throughout the year. So you save $2 in Week 2, then $3 in Week 3, and so on, until you’re stashing away upwards of $50 a week next December.
By the end of the year, if you complete the challenge, you’ll have saved $1,378.
It’s a simple, effective way to build your first emergency fund or to save up for next year’s big winter vacation. And unlike so many financial endeavors, getting started isn’t at all intimidating — just about anyone can manage to save one dollar in a week. The problem? If you complete every weekly task as is, you’re stuck saving $50 or more per week in December, which is already a pretty expensive month for most of us. To optimize your saving potential and avoid saving mistakes, discover secrets that will supersize your savings quickly & easily below!
1. Print & Check
One way people get around that problem is by printing out the chart and crossing off the weeks in whatever order they fulfill them. For example, if you got a big year-end bonus or cash Christmas gift, you could start with a $52 contribution right off the bat, and cross that week off the list. Then you could put in $10 the next week, or $22, or whatever amount you can comfortably spare, and work upward from there. That way, you’ll save a few low-dollar “gimmes” for those inevitable cash-strapped weeks later in the year, ensuring you don’t fall off the wagon entirely during a tough stretch. (Insider’s Hack: I know a ton of people that complete the challenge in reverse, that way they look forward to depositing a little less every week while accomplishing the same goal.)
2. The Monthly Money Challenge
If your goal is simply to establish some fiscal discipline and save roughly $1,400, there’s no reason you have to do it weekly, Set up an automatic savings deposit for $100 a month. Then, each month, kick it up by $5 (or $10). For example, save $100 in January, $105 in February, $110 in March, and so on. By next December, you’ll be saving $155 a month and sitting on a balance of $1,530. (If you use $10 increments, you’ll have $1,860 saved up.)
3. Don’t Hate, Automate!
One of the hardest parts about saving money is making the conscious decision not to spend those dollars on fun, fleeting things, and instead to stick them in a jar or a savings account. Most big banks have sophisticated online and mobile banking platforms at this point that allow you to set up automatic deposits on whatever schedule you want — every Friday, or every payday, or whatever works for your schedule. Some of them even allow you to authorize transfers via text message, making it easy to stick to the challenge. There are plenty of amazing banking apps that make saving even easier, including Digit and Qapital. (Personally, I’ve saved almost $500 with Digit – sign up and begin hacking your way to automate your savings here!)
4. Double Your Savings, Double Your Fun!
If you’re really into challenging yourself, why not double your savings potential with this awesome 52-Week Money Savings hack. Start with $2 in the first week of the year, and then gradually increase your deposit by a $2 dollars a week throughout the year. So you save $6 in Week 2, then $12 in Week 3, and so on, until you’ve stashed up to $1,806 December. (Talk about a holiday shopping budget made easy!)
5. Get Competitive with your goals
It’s no doubt that completion is a great motivator for completing goals! Qapital ups the ante for savings and even has a 52-Week Money Challenge option built in. (And that’s not even the coolest thing you can do with the app.) Since Qapital plays well with other apps and devices — such as a FitBit, Foursquare, Instagram, or your phone’s GPS — you can set up almost any “savings rule” imaginable that will transfer money into your savings account based on your behavior. Qapital’s app also allows you to share a savings goal with someone. So, for example, if you and your bestie are saving up for a trip or you’re newlyweds saving for a down payment on a house, you can each contribute to the same goal – and egg each other on! Want a real 52-week challenge? Set up a shared goal together and see who can save the most money toward it this year. (Winner gets the window seat on your next big vacation.) At the very least, using an app or automatic savings schedule can make the 52-week challenge a whole lot less challenging.
Have you tried the 52-Week Money Challenge — or put your own spin on it? What are some savings rules that would get you to save more?