The 52-Week Savings Challenge
Most of us could probably stand to put away a little more money than we currently do.
You might have a financial goal you want to work on, like paying down credit card debt, increasing your emergency savings, or saving for something fun. Whatever your money goals are, doing a money-saving challenge can help you reach them and help you establish a savings routine.
You can save nearly $1,400 in one year by doing the 52-week money challenge. You only need a savings account, a calendar, and some determination. You can get started with $1.
- The 52-Week Savings Challenge
- How to Do the 52-Week Money Challenge
- Your 52-Week Savings Plan (an Easy-to-Follow Chart)
- How Much Money Do You Save in the 52-Week Challenge?
- Does the 52-Week Money Challenge work?
- Why It Works
- 52-Week Money Challenge Variations
- 52-Week Savings Challenge Tips
- Doing the 52-Week Money Challenge
How to Do the 52-Week Money Challenge
Start by saving $1 your first week. Each week for an entire year, you’ll add $1 to the amount you saved the previous week. You’ll put aside $2 the second week and $3 the third week. You’ll continue adding $1 weekly until you stash $52 in week 52.
Each week’s savings amount corresponds with the week number of the challenge. You’ll know how far along you are and how much you should save at any point.
Your 52-Week Savings Plan (an Easy-to-Follow Chart)
Here’s a weekly savings chart you can use for guidance:
As you can see, the money builds up over time, and you build a savings habit you can continue forever.
How Much Money Do You Save in the 52-Week Challenge?
If you complete the 52-week challenge, you’ll save $1,378 in one year. You save $1 in week one and $2 in week two until you save $52 in week fifty-two. In addition to the money you save, you build a consistent savings habit that will serve you well and help you reach your financial goals in time.
Does the 52-Week Money Challenge work?
The 52-week money challenge works well for anyone who wants to save money. Doing the challenge is a simple and effective way to grow your savings and build a habit of saving regularly. In one year, you’ll have $1,378 to increase your emergency fund, pay down debt, or use toward one of your goals.
Why It Works
The 52-week challenge works because it’s simple. With the largest deposit being $52, it’s challenging but not too challenging. Having a 52-week savings plan that’s all mapped out for you in advance is perfect for building up your savings.
Saving a few dollars once a week for the first few months is easier than coming up with large lump sums other money challenges require. The savings ramp up slowly and predictably so you can plan for the more difficult weeks.
Compared to the 100-envelope challenge, the 52-week savings challenge is more straightforward. The 100-envelope challenge has an element of randomness that could send you scrambling to come up with hundreds of dollars in one week to stay the course.
52-Week Money Challenge Variations
You don’t have to do the 52-week challenge by the book.
The point is not to see if you can follow directions or stick to some rule that doesn’t really work for you. The point is to increase your savings while learning to save money each week by making saving a priority.
Try one of these variations if one suits you better:
Start with a Higher Amount
You might not be content with saving $1,378 over a 52-week time period. Perhaps you have a bigger goal in mind. You can always save more if it doesn’t cause any financial strain.
For example, you could double the savings amount. Start with $2 on week 1, save $4 on week 2, put away $6 in week 3, and so on.
You could also start with a higher amount and add $1 every week: Save $5 on week 1 and $6 on week 2, then continue adding a dollar each week for 52 weeks.
Do the Reverse 52-Week Savings Challenge
When you build new habits, they often get easier the longer you stick with them. Not so with the 52-week money challenge.
As each month passes, the amounts you have to save each week get larger. That could make sticking with it more difficult.
Doing a reverse 52-week savings challenge gets the hard parts out of the way early. It still requires 52 weeks of saving, but it gets much easier as you progress. Start by saving $52 the first week, then lower the amount by a dollar each week until you get down to $1 in week 52.
As an added benefit, you’ll earn more interest doing the challenge in reverse. It’s not much of a benefit, even with the most generous online savings accounts, but it is something.
Save the Same Amount Each Week
Perhaps you want to build good money habits like saving consistently, paying yourself first, and automating your finances. And the idea of establishing a savings routine and building up your cash reserves appeals to you but saving a different amount each week sounds like a hassle.
You can easily establish good financial habits if you save the same amount every week using automatic transfers from your checking account. Use the $1,378 from the challenge as your savings goal, then set up a weekly automatic savings deposit of $26.50 with your bank.
An automatic savings schedule you never have to think about makes things easier. Neither the amount you save nor the level of difficulty changes, so there’s less to worry about. With automatic transfers, you never have to lift a finger after setting it up.
52-Week Savings Challenge Tips
Here are some tips that might make the 52-week savings challenge a little easier for you to complete:
1. Set Up a Separate Account
It doesn’t matter what type of savings account you use for the challenge, but keep your challenge money separate. A high-yield savings account at an online bank is my preferred choice. Regular savings accounts and money market accounts work just fine, too.
2. Set Reminders
Maybe doing weekly transfers online is impossible, or you’d rather physically make the weekly deposits yourself. If so, create reminders on your calendar for your deposit days.
Most calendar apps allow you to create custom alerts you can receive on your phone or through email. You could go old school and circle the deposit days on a paper calendar hung where you can see it.
3. Change the Order
You can save your money in any order. If it’s a three-paycheck month or you receive a bonus, cash gift, overtime compensation, or tax refund, using the extra money to save more than the week calls for might not be a bad idea. You can knock out the more challenging higher dollar amount weeks early.
4. Find an Accountability Partner
You probably have at least one friend or family member who wouldn’t mind learning to save money every week and ending up with a nice chunk of cash. See if you can get someone to do the challenge with you.
Accountability partners keep each other motivated and on track. Have a weekly check-in call or meeting to discuss any difficulties or concerns.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
You won’t treat yourself to a spa day or a fancy dinner because you saved $10 toward your emergency fund in the first month. You should still acknowledge progress toward a financial goal when you start stringing those weeks of saving together without missing one.
Think self-care, not splurges. Find no-cost ways to celebrate or do something you love. Stay home and bake, soak in the tub, go for a hike, or binge-watch an old favorite show.
6. Cut Spending
As the challenge rolls on, it may get more difficult to come up with the money to stay on pace. Lowering your spending could make the challenge a lot easier.
Review your budget and find any discretionary expenses you can reduce or eliminate to free up extra cash. Maybe there’s a service or membership you’re paying for but not using. Or perhaps you can cut down on buying coffee and meals out.
You might also be able to reduce other bills like utilities, insurance premiums, or mobile phone service by shopping around for better offers or changing your usage patterns.
7. Increase Your Income
As your savings accumulate and grow during the challenge, you might be motivated to put aside more. Increasing your income gives you more money for savings. Consider asking for a raise, getting a second job, or using your existing skills for freelancing on the side.
You could also pick up extra work through gig economy companies offering flexible hours and easy work. You could try driving for DoorDash, walking dogs through Rover.com, or doing tasks for other people via TaskRabbit.
Doing the 52-Week Money Challenge
We all understand the importance of saving money. Make this year the year you make better financial decisions, develop better habits, and improve your financial health. Ramping up your savings efforts with the 52-week money challenge is a great place to start.
Image Credits: Pexels
Jerry is a personal finance enthusiast, side hustler, and freelance web developer who began his career in financial services. He co-founded KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog. His insights have appeared on MSN, Newsweek.com, HerCampus.com, Mashed.com, and many others.