Learn how to grow your savings by over $1,000 with the 52-week money challenge!
What would you do with an extra $1,300?
Grow your emergency savings?
Take a much-needed mini-vacation?
Having some extra money on hand is a great feeling, especially if an unexpected expense comes along. Nearly four in 10 Americans say they’d have to borrow money to cover a $1,000 emergency.
The problem is finding the money to save when you live paycheck to paycheck or have a tight budget.
That’s where the 52-week savings challenge comes in.
What Is the 52-Week Money Challenge?
The 52-week money challenge is designed to get you in the habit of saving money every week.
It’s actually an effortless way to save money, even if you don’t have a lot of extra cash to spare.
It works like this:
- You save $1 the first week
- In week 2, you save $2
- Week 3, you save $3
You keep on going this way, increasing your savings amount by an extra dollar each week.
So by the time you reach the end of the challenge, you’re saving $52 a week.
Here’s what the 52-week money challenge looks like if you’re the visual type:
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How simple is that?
Starting off with just $1 is something virtually anyone should be able to do, even if you’ve never been able to save money before.
The beauty of the 52-week savings challenge is that you build up your savings gradually, in small amounts.
You’re not trying to save $200 a week or $1,000 a month, which could be tough when money is tight. Instead, you use small amounts and watch them pile up week by week.
How Much Money Do You Save in the 52-Week Money Challenge?
If you follow the 52-week savings challenge to the letter, then you’ll end up with $1,378 in savings.
That’s not too shabby, considering that you’re only saving small amounts at a time.
And if you start your savings challenge in January, then you could have a decent chunk of change to help pay for Christmas.
Of course, you can always tweak the challenge to fit your budget.
So if you can’t start with $1 the first week, you could try for $0.50 instead. I know that doesn’t seem like much but it’s better than saving nothing at all, especially if you can add to it over time.
Or you could supersize your savings efforts to sock away even more money.
For example, say you start off saving $5 a week instead. You add $5 to your savings total each week for the first 26 weeks.
By the halfway point of the year, you’d be saving $125 a week. If you kept that up for the rest of the year, you’d have $5,000 in savings at the end of the challenge!
The 52-week money challenge isn’t so much about how much you save. It’s more about getting into the savings habit.
But having savings is so important, especially when something major like a job loss happens.
Without money coming in, you risk falling behind on bills. And that can lead to late fees, credit score damage and big money headaches.
How to Save $1,000 or More With the 52-Week Money Challenge
Ready to grow your savings?
I love saving money so if you said yes, I’m definitely cheering you on!
Here are some of my best tips for crushing a year-long money saving challenge.
1. Decide when you want to start
The first thing you need to do is figure out when you want to start your 52-week savings challenge.
January is a popular choice.
This is when a lot of people are coming off a holiday spending rush and they’re ready to hit the reset button on their finances.
But technically, you could start a 52-week money challenge at any time.
One helpful tip is to look at your year expenses and pinpoint when you may have more or less money to save.
For example, if you typically get a holiday bonus at work, then finishing up your challenge around Christmas might not be a problem.
Regardless of when you decide to start your money-saving challenge, the most important thing is committing to it.
Remember, this challenge is more about consistency than dollar amounts.
2. Choose the right place to keep your savings
Next, think about where you want to keep the money you’re saving each week for the challenge.
You could stash it in a piggy bank but keeping it in a separate savings account is a smarter choice.
For one thing, your money is safer in an FDIC-insured savings account.
And for another, you can earn interest on what you’re saving to help grow your money faster. You won’t get that by leaving it in your piggy bank or stuffing it under the mattress!
A high yield online savings account is your best bet for getting a great interest rate on savings. Online banks almost always pay higher rates than regular banks and they tend to charge fewer fees, too.
They both offer competitive APYs on savings and money market accounts, without high fees.
3. Build the 52-week money challenge into your budget
A budget is one of the simplest and most important financial tools you can have.
When you have a budget in place, it’s so much easier to save money because you can plan for it.
If you don’t have a budget yet, read through this guide to making a budget first.
Then, look at your expenses to figure out where you can fit the 52-week savings challenge in.
If you need an easy way to cut back on spending, Billshark can help.
Billshark is a financial app that reviews your expenses to find money that’s going to waste.
For example, you might be paying for streaming services you’re not using or overpaying bank fees.
I like Billshark because it can help you save money without having to completely overhaul your lifestyle. So if you need help finding the money to save for the 52-week challenge, check out Billshark now!
4. Automate your weekly savings deposits
Automating is one of the easiest ways to simplify your financial life.
Putting bill payments on autopilot means you don’t have to worry about late fees.
And you can also automate savings to make winning a 52-week challenge that much easier.
If you’ve set up a separate savings account, a simple way to automate is to link it to checking. You can then schedule weekly transfers of money from checking to savings.
But if you can’t or don’t want to automate your savings deposits, then here’s another tip: set up a weekly reminder.
Creating a weekly calendar reminder can help you stay accountable to the savings challenge. When you get the notification, you can make a deposit or transfer money to savings.
That way, a week of saving doesn’t slip through the cracks and you don’t fall behind.
5. Look for ways to increase your savings
The 52-week savings challenge can get you fired up and excited about saving money. (Or at least, I hope so anyway. 🙂 )
So as you go through the challenge, be on the lookout for ways you can add to your savings on top of what you’re setting aside each week.
For example, you could:
- Use your tax refund to grow your savings
- Apply holiday bonuses to savings
- Save any cash gifts you receive for birthdays
- Grow your savings with rebates
- Sell things you don’t need and save the extra money
- Stop buying frivolous items that are just draining your budget and save the money instead
- Start a side hustle to make extra money for savings
- Use cashback apps to earn money back that you can save
All of these are great ways to add to your savings. Out of all of them, starting a side hustle and using cashback apps are my favorites.
Make extra money with side hustles
Starting a side hustle was how I eventually ended up running a six-figure business from home.
What’s great about side hustles is that there are so many ways to make money!
Some of my favorite ideas include:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg!
For more ways to make extra money and grow your savings, check out the ideas I’ve rounded up for you at the end of this post!
Use cashback apps to make extra money
The 52-week money challenge isn’t the same as a no-spend challenge. It assumes that you will spend money along the way as you’re saving.
So if you’re going to be spending, why not get some of that money back as cash rewards?
That’s what cashback apps do for you. They pay you back a percentage of purchases in cash.
There are lots of different cash back apps out there but some are better than others. Here are some of my go-to picks for earning cashback.
Rakuten lets you shop and earn cash back at more than 2,500 partner retailers.
I love Rakuten because you can earn cashback in-stores or online, depending on how you prefer to shop.
All you do is create your Rakuten account, shop partner stores and earn cashback. You get paid via check or PayPal–it’s really that simple!
Aside from cashback, Rakuten also offers special promotions and discount codes. It’s an easy way to double up on savings.
With Ibotta, you can link your store loyalty cards to the app. When you shop, you can earn cashback instantly at partner stores!
Or, you can scan your receipts after you shop to earn cash rewards. Either way, you can rack up more cash to put toward savings.
As a bonus, Ibotta also works with Instacart. So if you’d rather let someone else do your grocery shopping for you, you can still score cash rewards!
The Dosh app is another must-have app for earning cashback and saving money.
This app pays you cashback on shopping, but you can also earn cash rewards at restaurants and on travel.
If you’re already using Ibotta and Rakuten to save at grocery stores and retail stores, the Dosh app can round out a perfect trifecta for earning cash rewards.
Bottom line, all three of these apps can put extra cash in your hands that you can use to save during the 52-week money challenge.
Try the 52-Week Savings Challenge in Reverse
If you want to hack the 52-week money challenge, there’s a really simple way to do it: try it in reverse!
So what does that mean?
Instead of starting the challenge by saving $1 a week and building up your savings from there, you do the opposite.
You start by saving $52 the first week, then $53, $52 and so on.
Doing the savings challenge in reverse might be more appealing if you’re starting in January and you don’t want to have to save larger amounts around the holidays.
Reverse engineering the savings challenge is a fun way to mix it up while still hitting your savings goal!
What If You Can’t Save Any Money at All?
If you want to tackle a 52-week savings challenge or any type of savings challenge but can’t make it work, don’t panic.
There are a few things you can do to start carving out some money to save.
1. Review your budget
And even if you’ve done this already, do it again. There could be some expenses you’re overlooking that you could reduce or cut altogether.
2. Make a dent in your debt
Debt — whether it’s credit cards, student loans or something else — can be a huge obstacle to saving money.
If you have debt, think about what you can do to pay it down or at least make it less expensive so you have more money to save.
Refinancing student loans, for example, can save you money on interest if you’re able to get a lower rate. If you’re interested in student loan refinancing, SuperMoney can help you find the best loan option.
Rethinking your credit card repayment plan is another option.
The debt snowball and the debt avalanche are two popular methods for paying down debt. But if you want to keep debt repayment simple, you could let an app like Tally do the work for you.
Tally helps you pay off your debt faster while saving money on interest. Plus, it makes sure you pay on time so you don’t get stuck with late fees.
3. Get help from a finance professional
If you’ve done all you can do to pay down debt, cut your budget and grow your income but you still can’t save, it may be time to bring in the pros.
Talking to a nonprofit credit counselor, for example, could help you figure out where you’re going wrong so you can get back on the right track.
Check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to get free debt help and money advice from certified credit counselors.
Have You Tried the 52-Week Money Challenge?
A year-long savings challenge can be great for getting in the habit of saving. And it’s simple enough that even the most beginning savers won’t feel overwhelmed.
Have you tried a 52-week savings challenge? If so, how did it go?
Head to the comments and tell me about it. Then don’t forget to pin and share this post!