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Saving money can be a struggle, especially with prices constantly rising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation was 3.7% in September 2023, well above the Fed’s 2% inflation target. Despite the difficulty this might create, money-saving challenges can help you save even in today’s economy.
You don’t necessarily need a lot of money to start one of these challenges. Simply save what you can — you can always increase your savings later. Try each of these money-saving challenges to find the one that works best for you.
Type of Money-Saving Challenges
There are many different money-saving challenges you can try. Different challenges might work better depending on your preferences and finances.
1. 52-Week Money-Saving Challenge
A 52-week money-saving challenge is great for those who are just getting started. It’s very simple to get started and easy to understand. All you have to do is save $1 the first week and increase it by $1 each successive week.
Here’s how it works:
- Week 1: $1
- Week 2: $2
- Week 3: $3
- Week 4: $4
- Week 5: $5
- Increase by $1 each additional week
- Week 52: $52
This simple yet powerful money-saving challenge lets you save $1,378 by the end of the year. After the first year, you can keep saving the same amount each week or increase your savings if your budget allows.
Better yet, put your money in a high-yield savings account for even better results. You’ll earn compounding interest on your savings, allowing your money to grow even more.
Save Even More with this $5,000 52-week Challenge
If you want to save even more, try this $5,000 52-week money-saving challenge. It may not be easy, but the dedication can really be worthwhile!
2. Reverse 52-Week Savings Challenge
The reverse 52-week savings challenge is exactly what it sounds like: the reverse of the 52-week savings challenge. Instead of starting small, you start big.
This is what it looks like:
- Week 1: $52
- Week 2: $51
- Week 3: $50
- Week 4: $49
- Week 5: $48
- Continue subtracting $1 each week…
- Week 52: $1
With this money-saving challenge, you save $1,378 by the end of the year, just like you do with the 52-week challenge. The biggest difference is it gets easier as it goes on instead of more difficult.
This challenge might work well if you are starting with a large amount upfront, such as a tax refund or inheritance. As that money goes away, you adjust your savings amounts downward.
3. 6-Month Money-Saving Challenge
A 6-month money-saving challenge is also known as a bi-weekly money-saving challenge. This challenge is similar to the 52-week money-saving challenge, but you save money every other week instead of every week.
Because you save money every other week, the amounts will be a bit bigger than they are for the 52-week challenge. However, the concept is the same:
- Week 1: $125
- Week 3: $145
- Week 5: $175
- Week 7: $180
- Week 9: $125
- Week 11: $145
- Week 13: $175
- Week 15: $180
- Week 17: $125
- Week 19: $145
- Week 21: $175
- Week 23: $180
- Week 25: $125
With this challenge, you will save $2,000 in just six months. Of course, you can always adjust the amounts higher or lower depending on your budget. What’s most important is staying committed and saving money throughout the year.
Note: The above graphic starts on week two, but you will probably want to start with week one. However, the dollar amounts will be the same.
4. No-Spend Challenge
A no-spend challenge is exactly what it sounds like — a time when you stop spending money. Your no-spend challenge could last a week, a month, or even a few months. How long it lasts is up to you.
You will still have some expenses, like rent and groceries, but the idea is to cut non-essential spending. You can cut all discretionary spending or choose not to spend money on a specific category, like clothes or eating out.
As you can see, this money-saving challenge has a lot of room for customization to meet your needs. Ultimately, the goal is to help you be more intentional with your money and learn not to spend on things you don’t need.
5. Round-Up Money-Savings Challenge
A round-up money-saving challenge is one where you round every purchase up to the nearest whole dollar and put the rest into a savings or investment account. For instance, suppose you buy something for $24.32. If you’re doing a round-up challenge, you would make the amount an even $25 and set the remaining 68 cents aside.
This is also known as “spare change investing” or “round-up savings.” Some banks, credit unions, and apps have an automatic round-up feature. They will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and save or invest the rest. Some even let you round up to the nearest $5 or $10 amount.
Here are some places where you can enable automatic round-ups:
- Bank of America (and other bank apps)
Rounding up your spare change won’t make you rich overnight. However, it can be a good way to get started with savings and investing and help you see their wealth-building potential.
6. 30-Day Savings Rule
The 30-day savings rule is one that helps you think twice about impulse buys. Instead of buying something you want right away, you wait 30 days before buying it. If you still want to buy it 30 days later, it’s probably something you want, not just an impulse buy.
However, implementing the 30-day savings rule takes more work than waiting 30 days before buying something. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Write out your monthly expenses.
- Determine which expenses are wants vs. needs.
- Delay purchasing your wants by 30 days.
- Adjust your budget if necessary after buying an item.
Following these steps will help you spend less and avoid buying things you don’t need. Again, it’s about being more intentional with your money.
7. Pantry Challenge
The pantry money-saving challenge is a creative and practical way to save money and minimize waste. Instead of buying new items all the time, you focus on what you already have in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
Start by taking an inventory of what you already have in all the aforementioned places. It may help to write down each item to make it easier to see what you have. Then, plan your meals for the week around the items you already have, using as many existing ingredients as possible. This will help minimize what you need to buy at the grocery store while minimizing the number of ingredients that end up spoiling.
While this isn’t a money-saving challenge in the same way as the first few on this list, you can still make it a fun experience. For instance, you can track your savings by comparing your grocery bill to your previous grocery bills while doing the challenge.
This can help you see the value in exercise and decide if you should keep doing it. Plus, it could end up being how you do things going forward instead of something you only do for a limited time.
8. 365-Day Penny Challenge
The 365-day penny challenge is another simple but fun money-saving challenge. With this challenge, save one penny on the first day, then add another penny every day for 365 years.
This is how it would look:
- Day 1: $0.01
- Day 2: $0.02
- Day 3: $0.03
- Day 4: $0.04
- Day 5: $0.05
- Keep repeating this process…
- Day 365: $3.65
While you won’t save much in the beginning, you’ll end up with some decent savings by the end of the year because you’ll be increasing your savings every day. At the end of the year, you’ll have $667.95. This is a good one to keep increasing — see how long you can keep it up!
9. Automated Savings Challenge
An automated savings challenge is one where you set up automatic deposits into a savings or investment account. You usually transfer money from your checking account.
First, decide what you want your savings goal to be. For instance, you can save for retirement, a trip, or for a home improvement project. Some banks or savings have buckets where you can label your savings goals. Then, determine the amount you want (and can afford) to save each week or month.
The next step is to set up your automatic transfers at your bank. Many banks support these transfers, but check whether your bank has this feature. If it does, you will automatically move the amount you determined with whichever frequency you have decided.
Keep an eye on your progress and adjust the amount of your automatic transfer if necessary. You can also combine this challenge with some of the others on this list, giving you a fun and interesting way to save money automatically.
10. Envelope System
The envelope system can also be considered a budgeting method, but this money-saving challenge is another way to increase your savings. This challenge works well if you prefer to work with something tangible.
First, determine your categories. For example, you might have gas, groceries, dining out, entertainment, utilities, and discretionary spending. Then, label each envelope to match your categories.
Allocate cash to each envelope according to what your budget allows. Use money from the matching envelope whenever you make a purchase.
If you want to spend more money in a category, you can “borrow” from another envelope. However, this reduces how much you can spend in that category.
If you have money left in any category at the end of the month, you can add it to savings, roll it over to the next month, or add it to other envelopes. Readjust your amounts over time as needed.
11. $5 Savings Challenge
With the $5 savings challenge, you save $5 bills when you receive them as change rather than spending them. Put your extra $5 in a specific place, like a special jar, envelope, or special section of your wallet. You can also create a savings bucket if you want for any extra $5 amount you receive electronically.
Track your progress with this challenge by periodically checking how much you’ve saved in total. Consistency is key with this money-saving challenge — every time you receive $5, save it immediately.
If you want, you can set a certain goal for this challenge. For instance, you can aim to save all $5 bills or amounts you receive in a year or to save a certain amount.
As with most of these challenges, you can always make changes. For instance, if you don’t often get $5, you can do the same with $1 or $10 bills. Again, the most important thing is to stay committed.
12. Expense Tracking Challenge
With the expense tracking challenge, you track every single expense you have for a month. This is easier to do if you make all your purchases with a credit or debit card. And it’s even easier if you connect your accounts to like Empower (formerly Personal Capital) because it automatically syncs with your accounts. In the budgeting tab, you’ll see what you spent and the amount.
This challenge is more about awareness and knowing exactly how much you spend and where the money goes. However, it can lead to savings because it may help you realize you are spending too much money in certain areas.
13. Financial Vice Challenge
The financial vice challenge is about giving something up that you might consider a financial vice. Yes, this means the $5 latte, but it could also mean going out to eat, drinking alcohol, or anything you want.
The first step with the financial vice challenge is to identify your financial vices. These are expenses that are not essential but are more about indulgence or convenience.
14. $3 Weekly Savings Challenge
The $3 weekly savings challenge is a straightforward money-saving challenge focused on saving $3 at a time. Like other challenges on this list, you start by saving a small amount and increasing it weekly. In this case, you increment your savings by $3.
This challenge typically lasts one year, though you can adjust it based on your finances and goals.
Here’s how it would look:
- Week 1: $3
- Week 2: $6
- Week 3: $9
- Week 4: $12
- Week 5: $15
- Keep incrementing by $3
- Week 52: $156
With this challenge, you will end up saving $4,134 by the end of the year. That’s quite a bit more than the other challenges on this list, which is great — if your budget can support it. If not, you can try increasing it every other week or increasing it by $1 or $2 instead.
15. $1 Per Day Savings Challenge
With the $1 per day money-saving challenge, you set $1 a day every day for one year. With this challenge, you don’t increase the amount, so you would save $365 by the end.
This challenge won’t result in quite as much savings as some of the others, but it could be a good start if you don’t have much extra room in your budget. Plus, you can still put your money in a high-yield savings account for a little bit extra.
Frequently Asked Questions
Completing a money-saving challenge isn’t always easy. Here are some answers to common questions about them.
What are the challenges when you are saving money?
Challenges you might face when saving money include difficulty keeping up with rising costs and the temptation to spend your extra cash. If inflation is a problem for you, it may help to consider one of the jobs that pay cash daily to earn more money.
If you’re tempted to spend your money, put it in a high-yield savings account that is separate from your checking. That small barrier might be enough to prevent you from spending it. Plus, many savings accounts limit you to six withdrawals per month, creating an additional obstacle.
What can make saving money difficult?
There are many reasons why saving money might be difficult, including low income, high cost of living, debt, and lack of financial education. If you are having trouble saving money, perhaps you can pick up a work-from-home job.
If you have a lot of debt, try paying it off with a debt payoff method such as the debt snowball or debt avalanche. In addition, keep educating yourself about finances so you can constantly improve.
Why do some people not save?
There are many reasons people may not save. In addition to the reasons mentioned in the previous questions, some people may deal with lifestyle inflation or the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses.” While people don’t save for many reasons, remember that saving money will pay off in the long run.
Money-saving challenges can be a great way to save some extra cash. Depending on your lifestyle, budget, and preferences, you might find that what works for someone else doesn’t work as well for you. Try these money-saving challenges and see if one works well for you in your unique situation. Ultimately, the benefits of saving will more than make up for the small sacrifices you may have to make along the way.
Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm an expert at frugal living and saving money. I’m also an EV enthusiast and have recently become mostly-vegetarian. Another thing I started doing recently? Dog walking. I’m working toward financial independence making money via my own ventures. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.