Do you find it hard to save money? If so, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 62% of Americans have under $1000 in savings.1 This can be disconcerting when we think about the future – buying a house, car, or even much-needed holidays – our desire to be successful in saving money is important to our peace of mind and security. But could there be a simple and easy way to encourage our saving habits?
What is the 52-Week Money Challenge?
A new concept has become increasingly popular that does just that – the 52-week money challenge.
The idea is to focus on each week, starting small, and gradually building up the amount of money you save. It’s not only consistent, but it takes away the pressure of taking big chunks of income each month which, let’s face it, never feels great. Intrigued? This is how it works.
You start by saving just $1 in week 1. The next week it’s $2, the third week it’s $3 and so on. The idea is that by week 52 when you’ve saved $52 in that weekly period, you will have amassed $1,378.
What Are the Pros and Cons?
The best thing about this 52-week money challenge is anyone can do it. It’s doable and you can adapt it to your needs.
For example, you can reverse the process by saving $52 in week 1 and working backwards. This is particularly beneficial for people worried about having to put away $52 during the end of the year holidays.
You could even mix the amounts up according to how much or how little you have each week, making smaller contributions when the purse strings are tighter or choose a higher amount when you can afford more. Either way, it’s a solid, simple way to save up a sizeable chunk.
There are potential cons to this challenge. One is that it can be hard if you’re used to handing over your debit card instead of using cash. But setting up a bank transfer could help here.
Want to Try the 52-Week Money Challenge? Here’s How to Get Started
Whether it’s saving for a holiday, putting more towards your mortgage or other monthly or yearly bills, starting this challenge will get you motivated to putting aside those all-important dollars.
Write It Out
Write out (or print out) a list of each week and the amount to save. Having it as a reference will allow you to see your progress. Cross off each week or each amount you’ve managed to achieve.
Set Up Reminders
Once you’ve reached a few weeks it can be easy to start forgetting to put your money aside. Make sure you set up a weekly reminder on your phone or desktop to help you keep on top of it. Keep the cash jar in a place where you can see it and will serve as a reminder. Alternatively, set up an automatic bank transfer so you don’t have to think about it at all.
Make a List of Ways You Can Save
There are literally hundreds of ways you can save dollars here and there. The first weeks will be easy but as it progresses, finding ways to tuck away $40 or more can get tricky but it’s not impossible.
Think of ways to cut back or generate money – these could include:
- Selling unwanted items
- Making gifts for people instead of buying
- Switching off your heating for longer periods
- Car sharing to save petrol
- Walking instead of driving
- Negotiating a better contract for your phone, heating or water supply
- Switching off unneeded lights
- Cooking big meals and freezing them for future meals
- Looking for deals or discounts at your grocery store
- Choosing shop brands over big brands
- Making your lunch instead of buying it
Once you have a list of practical ways you can save, estimate how much money could could potentially save for each one. For example, buying lunch every day could cost $5-10 so ultimately saving you around $30 a week if you made your lunch instead.
Why not turn this challenge into one with your friends or spouse? Having someone there to motivate you will spur you on and keep you on track. Have an incentive going like the person who saves the most money gets to choose the next big vacation.
Every Little Helps
The main importance of the 52-week money challenge is that it’s encouraging you to save. If 62% of Americans are not regularly saving then it shows that anything that’s getting you to put a few dollars aside every week is better than not saving at all.
Remember, it’s the small steps that lead to the big progression. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t fulfil an amount in a particular week, just know that your willingness to put a strategy in place is good enough. Keep a positive mindset and see how it’ll reflect the money you’ll ultimately save in a year.