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Saving money is hard. Yet it’s so important to have cash stocked away for emergencies, vacations, school, holidays, and retirement. A fun and effective way to start saving more and make it a habit is by starting a money saving challenge.
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What is a Money Saving Challenge?
Simply put, a money saving challenge is a way to help push yourself to either start saving or to save more. It’s a ‘challenge’ you decide to take that will help achieve a savings goal as well as build good saving habits.
There are countless money savings challenges out there, so finding one that fits your savings goals shouldn’t be terribly hard. You can choose a challenge that lasts from a day, a weekend, a week, several weeks, a month, 3 months, 6 months, or even a year.
Typically, you’ll be saving on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. You can always modify these challenges if needed.
Finally, these are called challenges…they shouldn’t be simple to achieve. It should force you to review your budget and find ways to cut your current spending.
You Need to Save Money – 10 Great Challenges to Help
1. 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
If saving money is a challenge for you, the 52-week saving challenge should be your go-to option. The gradual increase in the amount you save helps build a money saving habit. This foundation is vital to success and can help even the worst savers out there.
How it works: The logic is simple, you start by saving $1 in week 1. In week 2, you save $2. Any idea how much to save in week 3? You guessed it…$3. You increase the amount you save by $1 each week.
In this weekly money saving challenge, you’ll have $10 saved in the first month. In the final month you’ll save $202. By the conclusion of the challenge, you will have $1,378 of new savings.
Have your heights set on more savings in a year? Just increase the numbers. Here are some suggested goals to help. Download your very own 52-week money saving challenge printable below.
$2,000 saved: would require that you start with $13 in week 1. Week 2 you’d save $14, and continue to add $1 each week.
$2,756 saved: start week 1 by saving $2. Instead of adding $1 each week, add $2 instead.
$3,978 saved: start week 1 off with $51 and increase by $1 each week.
Potential Savings: $1,378 or more
Pros: by starting off slowly, you’re able to easily save money in the beginning of the challenge, gaining small wins which can help build a saving habit.
Cons: it takes a while to see your savings grow. If you happen to quit the challenge early on, you probably won’t have much to show for it.
2. 26-Week or Bi-Weekly Savings Challenge
This one is simple to explain. Read the 52-week money saving challenge and do the same, with the only difference being you save every other week.
This is a great option for those who are paid bi-weekly.
The goal is to save $1,378 in a year. The first time you’ll move funds to savings is in week 2. The amount of your first transfer will be $3 ($1 + $2). You’ll then save $7 ($3 + $4) in week 4, $11 ($5 + $6) in week 6, and so on.
Like any challenge, you can adjust the goal to fit your financial situation. The recurring theme is that these are challenges, they are meant to be somewhat difficult to achieve but should be attainable.
A 26-week money saving challenge printable can be downloaded here.
Potential Savings: $1,378
Pros: just like the 52-week challenge, the bi-weekly challenge starts off slowly giving you the chance to build a savings habit. It’s also helpful that this can align with those earning paychecks on a bi-weekly basis.
Cons: it takes a while to see your savings grow. If you happen to quit the challenge early on, you probably won’t have much to show for it. Because you’re stocking money away less frequently, the challenge may not be top of mind resulting in failure.
3. Monthly Money Saving Challenge
In this monthly savings challenge, you’ll save as often as you’d like, but at least once per month. The goal is to save a percentage of your gross salary or pay each month. I would suggest trying to save 1%, but if that’s too much then try half of 1%.
Your gross pay is how much you make before any costs like taxes, health insurance, or retirement are taken out. If your salary is $50,000, then that is your gross pay. If you’re saving 1% of this amount, you’d be saving $500 on a monthly basis.
Try using this calculator if you need help determining how much 1% or 0.5% of your pay is.
This challenge can be for a single month, 3 months, 6 months, or even an entire year. Just think, if your salary is $50,000 then you’d have $6,000 saved in a year or 12% of your pay!
For best results, try setting up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings.
Potential Savings: whatever % of your gross salary or pay that you choose. I suggest shooting for 1% each month.
Pros: this challenge may be a stretch for you, but will result in a nice savings balance when completed, especially if you stick to it for an entire year.
Cons: this challenge doesn’t provide a specific dollar amount to save, so it might be difficult to stay on track if you’re not committed.
4. No Spend Challenge
When it comes to the no spend challenge, the name says it all. The goal is to cut out all non-essential spending for a period of time.
How long you ask?
It’s really up to you, but I’d suggest at least 2-3 days at any one time. A weekend would be a great way to dip your toes into this challenge. Why not try the weekend after payday? Or how about the entire week after receiving your paycheck? According to a study by Gallup, consumers spend more money on weekends and weeks followed by payday.
What is non-essential spending?
Your mortgage or rent payment…is essential. Utilities? Essential. Groceries? That’s where it gets interesting. Of course, it’s important to eat, but how often do you waste food because you preferred a different meal? Think back, have you ever thrown away food from the fridge or pantry? What would happen if you nixed the grocery store for a week? Could you find enough food at home to make meals for the week? Or at least for a few days?
Any bills or obligations would also be considered essential. Although, it’s best to try and pay these ahead of time so you truly aren’t spending a dime during the challenge.
Once you’re able to win the challenge for a day or two, try not spending money for an entire week. Or even a month!
Potential Savings: whatever you normally spend in the timeframe of the challenge
Pros: if you’re accustomed to spending somewhat frivolously on a frequent basis, every day that you successfully complete the challenge will be money saved. It’s also a great way to force yourself to eat those meals stuffed in the back of your pantry or freezer.
Cons: if you’re already a frugal person, a few days or even a week on the no spend challenge won’t make much of a difference. You’ll need to shoot for multiple weeks or even a month to make it worthwhile. Also, it doesn’t make sense or save you money to load up on groceries days before you start the challenge.
5. 100 Envelope Money Saving Challenge
I really like the thought of this challenge, but it might take some altering from its origins to work for most. Which is totally fine!
The purpose of these challenges is to simply help you save more!
The 100 envelope money saving challenge starts with collecting 100 envelopes. Next, you number each and every envelope, starting with the number 1, followed by 2, then 3…you get the idea. The last envelope will be numbered 100.
Shuffle the envelopes up and place them in a container or a shoebox.
Every day, you will pick an envelope from the box. If the envelope is numbered 52, you will place $52 in the envelope. If it’s 100…that’s right, you’ll put $100 bucks in there.
After 100 days pass and you’ve completed the challenge, you’ll have $5,050 sitting in your envelopes.
If keeping that much cash is a concern, you can always do this electronically and transfer the money into your savings account online.
Now, here’s my concern about this challenge. Let’s say on day 1 you choose envelope #100. The next day, you pick #99 and keep having crazy odds where you’ve picked envelopes 94-100. That means you’d have to save $679 in one week.
Even if you just average out how much $5,050 is over a 100 day period, that’s $50.50 you’ll need to save every day ($1,515 a month). Is that doable?
If not, then you can adjust this challenge to fit your ability.
It’s important not to over adjust, which means you’re not challenging yourself at all to save more than you have been. As the name states, it’s meant to be a challenge. You should have days where you’re cutting out the coffee, or maybe not eating out for lunch or dinner. Maybe it’s being more conscious while at the grocery store. Your goal should be to save more than you think you can, requiring cost-cutting to achieve your objective.
Simple adjustments could mean reducing this from a 100 to a 50 envelope money saving challenge.
The same rules apply, but the total you’ll save over a 50 day period would be $1,275, or an average of $25.50 a day ($765 a month).
How about a 30 envelope money saving challenge? That’s $465 saved in one month. An average of $15.50 a day.
Any way you slice this challenge, it’s really a great option for those who need a little extra push to save more money. Add in a cash diet and your savings will really soar!
Potential Savings: $5,050
Pros: a great option to really push yourself to save more money in a relatively short amount of time.
Cons: if you don’t plan right, you may get burned out early on if high dollar envelopes come up in bunches. Make sure you understand how the numbers can play out on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If there’s no chance you can cut enough spending to save what’s required, you’ll probably quit, ending a fun way to save.
6. 30-Day Money Challenge
If you’re looking to save money sooner than a year, but a weekend’s worth of savings isn’t enough, the 30 day money challenge is for you.
It’s a great option to quickly boost your emergency fund, save for an upcoming vacation, or maybe for a holiday like Christmas.
As with any challenge you choose, the goal amount can be whatever fits into your financial situation. I’ve put together two 30-day money saving challenge templates with a goal of saving $500 and $1,000.
Every day, you’ll save a different amount, with the end prize being $500 or $1,000 extra dollars in your savings account!
Potential Savings: $500 or $1,000
Pros: helpful for those looking to save money quickly. A good option to quickly boost your emergency fund, save for a vacation, or help pay for Christmas gifts.
Cons: saving money on a daily basis can be difficult. Make sure you’re choosing a goal that is achievable.
7. Eat-In Challenge
How often do you eat out for lunch or dinner? Once a week? Three times? Every day?! If you’re frequently heading to a restaurant or ordering fast food, this is your kind of challenge.
Instead of eating out, your goal is to cook all your meals for a period of time. I’d suggest starting out with at least a week, with a month being ideal.
The amount you’ll save is based on how often you’re ordering out. Of course, your grocery bill will most likely rise because you’re cooking more meals. That’s ok, home-cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinners should be much cheaper when prepared by you. Here are some great lunch and dinner ideas that are dirt cheap, simple, and delicious.
Potential Savings: varies based on how often you eat out
Pros: a great way to build money saving habits.
Cons: not beneficial if you aren’t eating out at restaurants and fast-food joints often.
8. Rainy Day Savings Challenge
Ever heard of a rainy day fund? It’s essentially your emergency savings that’s there to help pay bills when your income is disrupted. Think job loss, medical issues, or large unexpected expenses.
Anytime it rains, you add a set dollar amount to your savings. You could have a jar in the house that you throw the money into, or you could just transfer funds online. I’d suggest saving $10 with each rainfall. If you live in Seattle, you might just have $3,650 at the end of the year. If you live in Arizona…you might not save any money.
The rainy day money challenge is perfect for boosting your rainy day fund.
I’d suggest making this an ongoing challenge that could even be in progress while you’re working on another challenge.
Potential Savings: up to $3,650 if it rains a lot where you live.
Pros: can be an ongoing challenge that runs simultaneously with other challenges.
Cons: if it doesn’t rain a lot by you, not the best challenge to choose.
9. Roll the Dice Money Saving Challenge – Modified 365 Day Challenge
I’m sure someone has thought of this already, but I’m adding it because it sounds like a fun idea. I’ll call it my modified 365-day challenge since it’s a perfect option for daily savings.
Simply roll either 1 die or add in more and save what number comes up. Let’s say you choose to roll 1 die, you’ll roll it every day for as long as you want. I’d suggest at least a month but you can honestly make this an ongoing challenge.
The most you’d save in a week using 1 die is $42. That’s a maximum of $180 in a month…and only if you roll a 6 for 30 straight days.
You can easily add in 1, 2, 3 more dice to increase the amount you’ll save.
Potential Savings: 1 die maximum saved is $180 per month (expected average is $105). 2 dice maximum saved is $360 per month (expected average is $210). 3 dice maximum saved is $540 per month (expected average is $315).
Pros: it’s a fun and simple way to add to your savings. It can also be an ongoing challenge that has no expiration!
Cons: like Vegas, it’s all about odds. If you roll low numbers for an extended period your savings won’t grow as quickly. Try and add as many dice as possible. The odds of hitting a 6 on all die for days in a row are slim, so assume the average number to be 3-4.
10. 2021 Money Saving Challenge
With the new year approaching, it’s a perfect time to start a savings challenge. This one results in a savings balance of $2,021 in 1 year.
You’ll be saving money every other week, or bi-weekly, so 26 total transfers into your savings account. The first transfer will be $21. Every other bi-weekly transfer will be $80.
To summarize, 1 transfer of $21 and 25 transfers of $80. After one year you will have $2,021 saved up!
Helpful Ways to Save More
The hardest part of saving money is finding where these savings will come from. If you’re considering one of these money saving challenges, you’re most likely trying to push yourself to save more.
That’s great! But cutting costs is hard work. Below are a few cost-cutting ideas that may come in handy to identify extra money. Of course, be sure to review your own budget, see where you spend money, and find all the areas you can cut costs and boost your savings.
Cut Out the Starbucks
If you’re a coffee fanatic like me, you may be ordering coffee or lattes at your favorite shop. Consider cutting this out and brewing your own at home.
Call Your Cable Company
If you’re not getting a deal on your cable and internet, call to negotiate. I’ve never had an issue getting a deal. They’re usually only for a 12 month period, but that’s ok. Just call once the promotion is over to do it all over again.
The third most expensive cost to a household is food. Pay more attention to what you’re putting in your cart and easily save money. Here are some dirt cheap dinner ideas to help reduce your grocery spending.
Increasing or decreasing your thermostat by 1-degree results in a 3% savings. If your family won’t hate you for it, try adjusting for some savings.
You pay for the convenience of someone else cooking for you. Eat out less and save more.
If you’re not shopping your home and car insurance every couple of years, you might be missing out on some savings. Call around and get some quotes.
Money saving challenges are a great way to get you started on your savings journey as well as help build long term savings habits. It’s important to choose a challenge that is attainable, yet difficult enough that you need to reduce some of your non-essential spending. Good luck and have fun!