12 Fun Money Saving Challenges

Saving money is difficult.

According to the Economic Well-Being report from the Federal Reserve Board, 30% of Americans would be unable to cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense using cash or a credit card paid off the next month. A 2020 FinanceBuzz survey revealed that 35% of respondents had no retirement savings at all.

If you’re finding it hard to save money or sick of having no money in your savings account, a money-saving challenge might be just what you need.

Fun money-saving challenges keep you focused and motivated to save cash and reach your larger goals. At the end of a savings challenge, you’ll have that extra money put aside. More importantly, you’ll have built a new savings habit you can continue.

Why Do A Money Saving Challenge?

You should try a money-saving challenge if you have trouble saving money regularly. The best money-saving challenges provide motivation and consistency, and they get results. A savings challenge can help you build an emergency fund, save for a down payment on a house, pay off debt, or reach a savings goal.

Fun Savings Challenge Ideas

If you’re trying to save money on a low income, don’t have an established saving strategy, or struggle to save money, one or more of these fun money-saving challenges might help you put money aside toward your goals. They work by adding an element of fun to the otherwise boring and often stressful task of saving money. Turning saving into a challenge or game might help you build better money habits, like making saving a priority.

Gamification, or adding gameplay elements to things that aren’t games, has been hyped as a way of increasing engagement, motivation, and participation for everything from weight loss programs to corporate training classes. Gamification mostly works plus it makes things more enjoyable and interesting, which helps you keep at it. Here are some fun financial challenges that will help you save money:

1. The 52 Week Savings Challenge

Obviously, this challenge is going to take you a year. You start off small, saving $1 the first week. Every week, you’ll save an additional dollar until you’re saving $52 in the last week of the year.

When you complete the 52-week money challenge, you’ll have $1,378 to do with what you wish. If you want to save even more money you could increase the savings amount to $2, $3, or $5 dollars if you’re sure you can stick to it.

2. The Reverse 52 Week Challenge

I like the reverse 52-week challenge because it gets easier as it goes along. That could keep you more motivated to complete it.

With the reverse 52-week challenge, you’re doing the same 52 weeks as above, but instead of going $1 to $52, you’ll start with $52. By the last week, you only have to put in $1.

You’ll still save the same $1,378. You’ll just do it in reverse order.

Reversing the order makes it less of a grind since you don’t need a higher dollar amount every week. You save the larger amounts when the challenge is new and your motivation is likely the highest.

3. The $5 Saving Challenge

The $5 savings challenge is a fun and easy savings challenge. While $5 doesn’t buy you as much as it used to, accumulating a stack of $5 bills adds up to a good amount of money.

For the $5 money savings challenge, all you need to do is put aside any $5 bills you get back in change. You can stuff them in an envelope or drop them in a jar. In a year’s time, you might have enough saved up to cover your holiday shopping or take a dream vacation if you pay for most things in cash.

There’s an element of randomness to it that keeps things interesting. The other thing I like about it is it incentivizes you to use cash more often. Paying for things in cash removes the need to use credit cards or pull out your debit card, which helps you live below your means.

4. Weather Wednesday Savings Challenge

The weather Wednesday savings challenge is one of the more fun money-saving challenges. This weekly saving challenge adds a random element based on the temperature.

Every Wednesday for an entire year, pull up the weather on your phone. Save the amount of money equal to the high temperature in your city. It makes checking the weather fun and good for your savings account.

The amount you save each week will obviously fluctuate with the seasons. Even if you don’t live somewhere with extreme temperatures, you’ll stash away a good amount of money over the course of a year.

5. The Bad Habit Money Challenge

When I was in my teens, my family had a swear jar. My parents figured they couldn’t stop us from using bad words, but they could tax us twenty-five cents per incident.

My parents would curse occasionally, but my older sister and I supplied the bulk of the quarters. Every few months, we’d go out to dinner or do something fun with the proceeds. Even though we’re all adults now when one of us curses we still joke about owing a quarter.

If you have a bad habit or two you’d like to cut down on or cut out completely, the bad habit money challenge can help with that while you save money. To do the bad habit money challenge, grab a jar and put aside a set amount of money every time you indulge in your bad habit. It could be smoking, oversleeping, skipping workouts, or a combination of multiple vices.

The benefit of the bad habit money challenge is twofold. It allows you to save some money and it might provide the motivation you need to quit a bad habit.

6. 365 Day Penny Challenge

Here’s a daily money-saving challenge where the rules are simple. Anyone can start today. All you need is a penny and a jar.

Start the penny challenge by putting one penny in a jar. That’s it. You’re done for the first day.

Every day after that for one year, add one more penny to the previous day’s amount. So on the last day of the challenge, you’re putting $3.65 in your jar.

The beauty of the 365-day penny challenge is that it never seems like a lot of money. But at the end of the challenge, you have a jar with $667.95 in it.

It’s not a life-changing amount of money, but it’s not bad for something that helps you build a daily savings habit and requires only small amounts of money at a time. With some of these other challenges, you might be unable or have to scramble to come up with the amount of money necessary to keep the challenge going.

7. The Nickel Savings Challenge

If $667.95 isn’t where you want to be in one year, turn that penny challenge into a nickel savings challenge instead.

Instead of saving a penny on day one, raise it to a nickel then increase your savings by 5 cents every day. On day 365, you’ll be adding $18.25 to your jar. You’ll have saved a total of $3,339.75 when the year is up.

From day 200 on, you’ll be putting away at least $10 every day. If that’s doable for you, the 365-day nickel savings challenge will help you bank a nice chunk of extra cash you can put toward one of your financial goals.

8. Coffee Break Challenge

Even though skipping lattes won’t make you a millionaire anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to make your coffee at home and then put the money you would’ve spent into a savings account.

For example, a grande latte costs me $3.91. If I were to do the coffee break challenge, every time I make myself a cup of coffee at home, I would transfer $3.91 into my savings account. Since I drink one cup of coffee every morning without fail, I’d have an extra $1,427.15 in my savings after one year.

The next time you’re tempted to stop at Starbucks, skip the fancy coffee and put the money you didn’t spend aside instead. Or just put whatever a coffee drink at your favorite coffee shop costs into your savings any time you have a cup at home.

9. Receipt Savings Challenge

Stores have sales and specials every week. Many of these stores like to highlight how much you saved on groceries or other purchases right on your receipt. If you do your grocery shopping at Kroger or Publix or you shop at CVS, you know what I’m referring to.

For the receipt money savings challenge, all you need to do is look at the line on your receipt that tells you how much you saved. You then transfer that amount into your savings account. If you treat this as a 52-week saving challenge, with the random dollar amounts you’ll be putting aside, you’ll have plenty of money saved up in a year.

10. No Spend Challenge

If you’re looking for an easy savings challenge, this isn’t it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun or achievable. In fact, I’d recommend you try a 30 day no spend challenge at least once if you find saving money hard or have trouble sticking to your budget.

Spending zero dollars for an entire month isn’t a very realistic goal so the no spend part isn’t meant to be taken literally. To do a no-spend challenge, you basically don’t spend any money you don’t have to. You pay your bills, you buy groceries, but you don’t spend money on entertainment, dining out, drinks with friends or unnecessary online shopping.

If a whole month without discretionary spending doesn’t sound like a fun challenge, you can ease into it with a no-spend week or a no-spend weekend challenge.

No-spend challenges force you to thoroughly examine your spending habits. You’ll see where your budget can be trimmed by eliminating unnecessary spending, discover ways to have fun without spending money and save a significant amount of money in the process.

A no-spend challenge is a pretty aggressive way to save money. The lessons you learn from it might help you get your finances under control once and for all, though.

11. Round Up Money Saving Challenge

The round up money saving challenge is a spare change challenge that allows you to save small amounts of spare change, which adds up over a long period of time. The rules are simple: when you buy something, simply round up the amount to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into your savings account.

You can save your receipts and total up the amounts with a pen and paper. Or you can automate it with one of several micro saving and investing apps, like Digit or Acorns. If you use one of these apps, make sure you understand the fees and risks involved.

12. The Hundred Envelope Challenge

The 100 envelope challenge is a money-saving challenge that’s popular on TikTok. It’s not for everyone, though, as it’s not exactly easy.

To do this challenge, grab 100 envelopes and label them 1 through 100. Mix them up, put them in a shoebox or drawer, then randomly pull one out every day. Whatever number is on the envelope, that’s the amount of cash you put in it.

If you manage to complete the challenge, you’ll have $5,050. It’ll be spread out among the 100 envelopes so opening them all up will be like Christmas.

As nice as it would be to save over $5,000 in 100 days, this challenge can get downright tough. What happens if you pull envelope number 98, followed by 80, and then 72? That’s $250 in 3 days. For most people, that would probably be a stretch and not very fun.

Then there’s this: if you can raise thousands of dollars in 100 days, you might be better off putting that money toward your debts or in an IRA rather than in a bunch of envelopes.

So how do you keep this fun?

You could number the envelopes differently. Maybe do 1-50 twice.

Or instead of trying to do this daily, change the savings rate to make it into a yearly money-saving challenge by pulling two envelopes once a week. Or just pull an envelope every payday and don’t worry about the time frame or how long the challenge takes.

Keep the ultimate goal in sight. It’s more important to save money and build a saving habit than it is to follow the instructions exactly as described in some viral video or on some personal finance blog. Make it your own and have fun with it.

Which of These Fun Money Savings Challenges Will You Try?

It’s hard to save money when you feel like you don’t make enough money to save, you’re struggling to pay bills on your tight budget, or you have other financial priorities like paying off your credit cards.

A fun money challenge might help you fill up your piggy bank and achieve more financial security. You can do a challenge with friends to add an element of competition to make it even more fun. The money you save can be used to build an emergency fund, tackle a large upcoming expense, help you get out of debt, or put toward retirement.

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Sara Graham is a frugal living and household budgeting expert. Her writing has appeared on MSN Money, The Good Men Project, Fairygodboss, and several other online publications. She is the co-founder of KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog.