In an ideal world we would conjure up a genie to do our budgeting and saving, but sadly it is something we all have to take responsibility and do ourselves. There are few things as difficult as saving your money and building up a strong personal finance. The idea of somehow making extra room in your budget may seem impossible but the 52-week money challenge makes it easy to become a savvy saver in just a year.
For many, those magical savings we all want are non-existent or at least very meager. In fact, millions of Americans don’t have any cash aside to get them through an emergency. The 52-week challenge can help strategically develop a habit for saving your hard-earned cash. So if you’re guilty of neglecting the piggy bank and want to start working towards your financial goal then continue to discover more about how you can embark on your journey to financial ease.
What is the 52-week money challenge?
The 52-week challenge is a way of saving up an increasing amount of money every week over a period of 52 weeks. The beauty of it is that it’s simple and achievable, whilst developing an all-important savings habit. A year-long savings goal can be pretty daunting, so breaking it down into weeks is much more manageable. It doesn’t require you to get a subscription to Business Insider, study the stock market and get a degree in economics. It is simply putting that first dollar away in week 1 and continuing through to week 52.
Every week you save $1 extra than the week before, so by week 52, you find that you’ve saved over a thousand dollars. This means you can end up with a hefty chunk of savings of just under $1,400 by the end of a year to go towards a dream holiday, fixing that leaky roof, or as an emergency fund. For many, the hardest part of saving is starting, but when all it takes is one dollar then what’s stopping you?
What Are The benefits?
There are so many benefits to participating in a challenge like this. The biggest one is simply the cash reward waiting for you at the end. Checking your balance and seeing triple or quadruple digits instead of a few mere dollars is such a satisfying feeling. The trick is that it’s easily achievable! The challenge is to benefit you; to develop your personal finance, boost your savings amount, and for you to finally feel good about checking your bank balance. By the end of the challenge, you will be able to save money without even thinking about it.
A savings challenge like this instills an important financial discipline that many lack. In turbulent economic times, ensuring that you’re more aware of your money and how you spend it can be life-changing. Once you’re able to commit to putting money away for a whole year what is stopping you from continuing? This challenge could even develop into saving enough to put a deposit down on a house one day. If you prove to yourself that you can actually save and reap the benefits then it becomes easier to skip that morning Starbucks and put those dollars into savings.
Being able to commit to something like this also just benefits you as a person. The self-discipline required to manage your own savings can ripple out to all aspects of your life. We all know it isn’t easy to motivate yourself to do tasks that could maybe be done… just a little later? A week by week challenge like this can help kick those thoughts of procrastination. Improving your self-discipline is about more than just building your savings, it can be life-altering in how you approach your daily life.
How Do I Participate?
The 52-week money challenge aims to develop your savings so by the end of the year you have a built-up fund for whatever you wish. The first step is opening a savings account into which you transfer the money each week. This is essential so you can separate your personal finance into disposable income and savings. With this, you don’t have to worry about accidentally dipping into the 52-week challenge money.
You can do your challenge however best fits you! Many people do it by starting with saving $1 in the first week, then adding a dollar to the amount you will save each week as you go forward. This means by week 2 you will save $2, then $3 in week 3, and so forth. This builds until week 52 where you save $52. The incredible part is that these incremental savings total to $1,378! Doing it this way, gradually building up the money you put away, is excellent if you’re new to saving money and want to be eased into it. If you save 1 extra dollar a week, your savings account sees the benefit. It also means that if you’re working on improving your income, you’re not having to part with large chunks of money until weeks later.
You can also easily reverse it by starting with the $52 a week down to $1 a week. Instead of gradually increasing, you decrease how much you’re saving per week. This means you can get the bulk of money saved within the first few months of this challenge and not worry as much about having the available income at a later point. This is perfect if you’re starting just after Christmas and you received cash gifts that could be easily saved earlier on. An added benefit is that once you’ve managed to save 50 dollars a week regularly, you’ll be more inclined to save a little extra as it decreases. Instead of $1, you may choose to put $10 instead as you’ve already saved much higher values. The key thing is that you can participate in the challenge however feels best for your income and lifestyle. It is your savings.
Whilst the 52-week challenge has a very simple premise, savings can be a hugely tricky subject to wrap your head around. There are so many ways to get started when it comes to saving and it can get quickly confusing whilst trying to figure out what is the best approach for you. Here, I am going to go through some of the most common questions that you may have when thinking about starting your journey with the 52-week money challenge, and how it can easily work within your life.
How Much Money Can You Save With The 52 Week Challenge?
The standard 52-week savings challenge means that you’ll save at least $1,378 which is an incredible amount to rely on. This could be enough to start a substantial emergency fund or be the opportunity to finally buy that one special treat or vacation. This calculation is based on the premise that from the first week to week 52, you increase the amount you transfer so you save $1 extra each time.
That being said, you can easily increase this amount with little tips and tricks. For example, week 52 doesn’t have to mean the end of your savings journey, after all this challenge is all about developing that natural savings habit. Maybe just add an extra dollar on come week 53 and keep it going every week for another year. This could result in saving thousands if you’re able to keep it up! Of course, it doesn’t have to go up, if you found it easy to set aside 25 to 50 dollars a week then maybe steadily continue with that.
Some find that to just save $1 extra each week isn’t enough to meet their savings goals. If this is your case, then feel free to up the ante by starting at $2 and saving $2 extra each week. Doing this means that by week 52 you could have double the amount of the original 52-week money challenge, leaving you with a hefty $2,756 free to do whatever you wish with. Saving extra doesn’t have to be so regulated, you can always save a ton by transferring any extra dollars you come into such as tax rebates or cash gifts, straight into your savings.
What Is The 5 Dollar Challenge?
Another popular method of saving is the 5 dollar challenge. This is where whenever you receive a $5 bill, whether it’s change from the shop or family, you put it aside for the end of the year. The bills can be popped into a special jar or transferred straight into your savings bank account if you’re tempted by the bills laying around. The cash you accumulate by the end of the year can be used to add to your emergency fund or to make an important financial move such as paying off a credit card debt.
This works amazingly alongside the 52-week savings challenge as it encourages casual saving alongside you more disciplined transfers of money each week. Saving $5 bills here and there is a low-pressure way of bulking up your finances without an intense budgeting plan.
Does This Challenge Really Work?
Yes! It works as long as you are willing to commit to it for the whole 52 weeks. The gradual increase of the amount you’re saving means that it is so much less daunting than just putting away $100 every month. Doing it once a week, over 52 weeks means that the money transfers into your savings without you really thinking about how much you’re putting aside. The best thing is, you’re not putting in all this effort for anybody but future you.
To help with this you can always get friends to join and start the money challenge together. This means you can keep each other accountable and encourage one another to push through to meet your goals. Once you both start saving, it’ll be easier to meet your goals. There are also tools which help ease the difficult saving experience such as budget planners or automated saving apps which transfers into your saving account depending on rules you set up.
You can also play around with the challenge to suit your own needs! If you decided to start the challenge at the beginning of the year in January, then you may find yourself saving $50 or more each week in December. As it is already an expensive month for some people, the idea of setting aside over $200 for the month is incredibly stressful. To get around this problem, you could print out a chart of the 52-week money challenge and go along crossing off the weeks in whatever order you complete them. By doing this, you can keep the saving momentum going and choose to save lesser values by the end of the 52-week challenge in December.
When Should I Start?
It is common to start big challenges at the beginning of a new year. Filled with the optimism of a fresh year, it can be good to start a new thing. But you can start at any point. You do not have to wait for a new year to begin saving! There are no rules that dictate when week 1 should be.
With that being said, starting at the beginning of a new week or month is seen to give an extra psychological boost as it feels like a fresh start. This is why new year’s resolutions are so popular. The prospect of a fresh new start to the year can be that much-needed motivation. But it doesn’t have to be limited to January 1st – the beginning of a new day can be all the motivation you need. An added bit of encouragement can be invaluable to start your journey of saving. Truly, the most important aspect of deciding when to go for it is ensuring you’re ready to start and commit yourself to a new way of thinking about saving.