With a new year comes goals, resolutions and promises to “get right”. Finances is an area that is often at the top of many a list and you may have seen the 52 Week Money Challenge come through your social media feeds.
The basic concept of the plan is to save a specific dollar amount each week of the year. The most common one is to save $1 week 1, $2 week 2, etc. Some variations suggest reversing it and saving $52 week 1, $51 week 2, etc. to get the larger dollar amounts out of the way early on.
Related Article: How To Save $1000 in 90 Days
I love the concept because it appeals to just about everyone – especially people who do not save on a regular basis. Janeane of Janeane’s World put it best on her post reflecting on how the 52 Week Money Challenge can benefit entrepreneurs: “great things can come from saving with the tiniest of starts”
5 Steps To Succeeding With The 52 Week Money Challenge
Step 1: Determine what you are saving for? Having a tangible savings goal will help to keep you focused and motivated
Step 2: How much will you save this year? Is there a specific, reasonable dollar amount you need to save for your goal? The great thing about the 52 Week Savings Challenge is that the dollar amounts are pre-set, but you can and should tweak them to your personal needs, if necessary.
Step 3: How often will you save? The easiest way to save is to base it on when you generally receive your income. If you’re saving small amounts daily, divide your amount from step 2 by 365 to see you daily goal. Weekly – Divide by 52. Bi-weekly – divide by 26. Monthly – Divide by 12.
Step 4: What is your mini savings goal? Write out your savings goal or make a visual and place somewhere you’ll see on a regular basis. Example: I will save $____ every _______.
Step 5: Accountability will help keep you on track. Link up with an accountability partner to keep you on track. If you’re on social media, Tweet or Instagram your goal using #BudgetingDivas #52WeekSavingsChallenge to join up with fellow divas committed to learning to save, make and manage our finances.
Simple Ways to Save Money
If you make savings a part of your regular routine, then it does not become a chore or hardship, but something that just comes naturally. Making changes to your lifestyle – starting new habits – can be difficult. When you make dramatic changes, you get a rush and do fantastic. However, if you crash and burn then it’s easy to slip into old habits and overcompensate with splurges and large purchases. The best route to success is to take little steps and keep building upon them.
- Automate your savings. If you have direct deposit, start off with a small amount (say $5-10 per pay check) for a month or two, then increase it by $5 and so on. Digit is a great tool you can use to help get you started with this process, too! I easily saved $300+ dollars the first few months I started using this tool. (Note: In mid-2017 Digit began charging a monthly fee)
- Avoid the vending machine at work. I have a Mountain Dew habit. The price in our vending machines at work have slowly crept up from $0.50 to $0.75. At one soda a day…okay at 2 sodas a day for a work-week that’s a difference between $5.00 and $7.50. By purchasing a case of soda (12 cans for approximately $2.50) and storing in my office, I’m paying as little as $0.21 per can. That’s a $0.54 savings per can – or $1.08 a day (with the 2 cans a day that I’ll own up to).
- Check your car’s owner’s manual. Oil changes every 3 months or every 3000 miles is the norm that we are used to. However, many cars can go longer than that based on the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check your manual to confirm how long you can go between oil changes.
- Check the price per unit on your favorite detergent, juices, etc. Just because it’s a larger size doesn’t mean that you’re paying less per unit.
- If you purchase items online, price check. Free shipping does not always equate to a savings. Sometimes paying shipping at another site can be less than your item with free shipping somewhere else.
- Utilize coupons. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer, but those small amounts can quickly add up. You can take it a stop further and learn how use the rewards programs at your local drug stores (CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens) to save even more.
- When eating out, order water instead of soda or tea. For a family of 5, if drinks average $1.50 (and that is a low figure) you can save up to $7.50/tax off your meal.
- Know the dining specials at your favorite restaurants – when do kids eat for free or a reduced price, buy 1 get 1 dinner or lunch specials, etc.
- Give up or scale down on expensive habits like smoking, drinking, shopping, gambling, etc.
- Pack snacks and food when going on car trips or even when running errands around town. Having your own food will eliminate stopping at fast food or grabbing items from a convenience store.
If you’d like additional tips and inspiration on your money savings journey, our ebook “Simple Tips for Succeeding At The 52 Week Money Challenge” is a great resource.
Please chime in with your easy savings tips in the comments below.
I’d love to hear what has worked for you.
Still Dating My Spouse has some great variations of the 52 Week Money Challenge that can be used by couples as a joint savings plan.
4 Hats and Frugal shares three variations of the 52 Week Money Challenge including bulk monthly savings plans.
How I Pinch A Penny shares how doing the 52 Week Money Challenge in reverse can be a win even if you don’t make it all the way through.
Saving Advice shares how to do the 52 Week Money Challenge if you are paid on a 26 Bi-Weekly basis.
For those that love a great tracking tool, Savings Lifestyle shares a great downloadable spreadsheet for the 52 Week Money Challenge.
My children will be saving an additional penny each day (Day 1 – $0.01, Day 2 – $0.02, Day 365 – $3.65). I shared with my 12 year old that he could save over $600 in a years time – more than enough for the latest video game console he will most likely have to have at the end of the year. He quickly took on the challenge! We’re making it fun by seeing who will have more in their savings jar at the end of the year (boys versus girls). Of course, there will be days we “forget” or get busy, but we’re tracking the weekly amount we need to save and can play catch-up when necessary.
Our family uses the tracker below to compare and add up our savings for each family member that participates in our penny challenge. Subscribers to our #BudgetingDivas newsletter will receive the full-size PDF file for this tracker.
I found this great twist of the 52 Week Savings Challenge over at House Made Home and love it! The 52 Week Savings Deck Challenge is where you draw a card from the deck each week that determines how much you save. It would be great to involve the children in drawing the card each week.
However you do it, I hope you will include some type of savings plan with your 2014 goals. Start small and work yourself up to larger amounts.