The 52-Week Money Challenge
I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the 52-week money challenge. The goal of the 52 week challenge is to save the week number in dollars for each of the year’s 52 weeks.
For example, during week one (Dec 30, 2013 – Jan 6, 2014), you save $1.00, during week 26 (June 23-29), you save $26, during week 52 (Dec 22-28), you save $52.00. If you save the week number in dollars every single week, by the end of the year, you will have saved $1,378.
Click here for a printable version of the 52-week money challenge, including week numbers, dates, amount to save, and total savings for each week.
This is a great way to save money. Eliza over at The Life of a Home Mom has accepted the challenge – but she is putting a slightly different spin on it. She finds that she needs more to spend at the end of the year, thanks to the holidays. Therefore, she is starting out saving $52 per week and working backwards to $1 a week on the last week of the year.
This is a perfect example of making a savings plan work for you. Everyone is different, so a good savings plan will be flexible to meet your needs. If it is too rigid, you might find yourself quitting.
More Money Saving Tips
I find that making small changes helped me become more of a saver. If you are someone who does better making small changes, here are a few ideas on where to start:
- Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account after each paycheck. Start with an amount that feels comfortable to you, as you get used to living without that amount, gradually increase the amount of the transfer. You will be surprised how quickly your savings will add up.
- Don’t spend your change, save it.
- Stop buying on credit, and pay off your credit cards. This can be tough, believe me, I know. But just think about how much you pay on your credit cards each month – now, think how easily you could save up for a special purchase if you were able to put that money into savings instead.
- Start making coffee at home (at least a few days a week), instead of paying for Starbucks every day.
- Eat out less often (including packing lunch). Start slowly if you need to – if you typically eat out 4 days a week, cut back to 3 and save the difference. When that is comfortable, cut back to 2 and save the difference.
- Plan your meals based on what is on sale at the grocery store that week.
- Stop buying books. Instead, check them out from your local library. I find this especially useful for things like cookbooks. If you find a book that you know you will want to reference again and again, you can always buy it later. You can even check out DVDs from many libraries.
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships that you don’t use (better yet, don’t even sign up for them to begin with).
- Find less-expensive entertainment options in your area. Parks and library story times are free. But you may also find historical sites, museums and children’s theaters that are free, or cost less than $10. For example, In Atlanta, admission to the Fernbank Science center is free, but if you want to add on the planetarium show, it is just $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids.
- Start using coupons, not just for groceries, but for most of your purchases. Many stores offer coupons now, including your favorite clothing retailers, restaurants, sporting-goods stores, events and attractions, etc. Oh, and if you don’t have a coupon, be sure to ask the sales clerk if they have any available.
I’ve tried these tips – some were easier, others harder. However, all of them made a huge improvement in my family’s financial health. For me, the easiest one to implement was saving my change instead of spending it. The hardest to implement were regularly increasing the amount of my automatic transfer to savings and eating out less often (we still have weeks where we fail on that one).
Which one of these tips would be the easiest for your, and which one would be the hardest?