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Have you heard of the 52-week savings challenge? The concept is simple.
In the first week, you save $1. In the second week, you save $2. You then continue saving one extra dollar every week until you save $52 in the 52nd week.
At the end of this money savings challenge, you'll have saved $1,378 in total.
A respectable sum indeed! Still there's no rule that says you can't 10x the goal and strive to save $13,780 instead. Just throw a zero behind each weekly savings target and before you know it you'll have more than $10,000 accumulated with this savings challenge.
Of course, there are many variations to such challenges, any one of which will help you reach your savings goal. While many people start this type of endeavor as a New Year’s resolution, it’s always a good time to save money, so there's no need to wait!
The 52-week Money Savings Challenge & 5 Ways to Shake it Up
Below are six of the most popular variations of the year-long money savings challenge and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. Traditional Challenge
The traditional method is precisely what’s outlined at the beginning of this article. You progressively increase your weekly savings rate by $1 over a year, saving $1 the first week and $52 the last.
- It's easy to start because you only need to save $1 in the first week. That's not too daunting of a task, is it? An easy start towards any savings goals can generate momentum to keep you moving forward.
- It's easy to implement and track your progress since there’s no equipment needed. All you have to remember is the need to save one more dollar than the week before.
- There are also apps to help make it easier to stick to the challenge! Several 52 Weeks Money Challenge apps are available in the App Store or on Google Play.
- The savings challenge becomes progressively harder as time goes by, which can potentially be discouraging.
- December will be your most difficult month if you plan to start saving in the first week of January as you make positive changes for the new year.
- This means you'll have to save $49 + $50 + $51 + $52 = $202 in the month in which you probably spend the most money because it's the holiday season!
2. Backward Savings Method
This method is exactly the opposite of the traditional 52-week method. Instead of starting easy, you start with the hardest, saving $52 in the first week of the challenge.
Every week after that, you save one fewer dollar until you reach the end of the challenge, only having to save $1 that final week.
- You get the most difficult tasks out of the way first, and the challenge will become easier as time goes on.
- December (assuming you start in January) now becomes the month with the lightest responsibility, which may work better with your cash flow.
- If you put your money away in an account such as the CIT Savings Builder, then this method will likely yield the most interest on top of the $1,378 you’re saving. This is because interest is usually calculated daily based on your balance at the end of the day, and you have a bigger balance at the beginning of the year.
- Your first month will be the hardest one. Having a difficult time starting this savings challenge could potentially lead you to abandon it altogether.
3. The Alternating Method
This method requires you to alternate between the easiest and the most difficult weekly savings goals, and gradually work towards the middle. This means your savings pattern should look like the following: $1, $52, $2, $51, etc.
- The cash outflow for this challenge will be steady every month, as you are saving a predictable $53 every two weeks, or $106 every month.
- Saving a fixed dollar amount monthly can help you build a healthy, long-term savings habit, even after the challenge is over.
- It may be difficult to track where you are because you’ll be jumping between numbers.
- This method provides no leeway if you ever find yourself in a temporary cash-flow problem cause there isn’t a month that’s easier than the others.
4. Odd/Even Savings Challenge
With this 52-week method, you finish all the odd numbers first and then follow with the even numbers.
So you’ll start with saving $1 the first week. The following week, you skip the $2 and save $3 instead. When you reach $51, you'll come back to the beginning and start from $2, then $4, until you reach $52.
- By employing this method, you're spreading out the hardest weeks a bit more, which will be easier on your cash flow.
- For example, instead of saving $202 ($49, $50, $51, and $52) in the last four weeks of the challenge, you'll be saving $196 ($46, $48, $50, $52). Sometimes even just a $6 difference can affect whether you finish the challenge or not.
- You also get a little bit of a break in the middle, saving $49, $51, and then followed by $2 and $4. This short break could be good encouragement.
- This method introduces a bit of a twist into the savings challenge, which can be fun for some.
- It may be difficult to track your progress because odd and even numbers are less intuitive than merely adding $1 to the amount saved in the previous week.
5. The 52-Week Savings Collaboration Method
The collaboration method requires you to ask a trustworthy person to select a number from 1 to 52 for you, and you save that exact amount.
- That person is helping you hold yourself accountable. With someone actively participating in the savings challenge, it may be less likely for you to quit. He/she can also offer encouragement when you need it.
- It may encourage the other person to start his/her own savings challenge as well! Discussing money with others is an important step for both of you in terms of taking control of your finances.
- Having someone involved could also be a double-edged sword.
- For example, if this person wants to go out for dinner with you, they may persuade you to put off your weekly savings goal until a later date. It may be more difficult for you to fight off the temptation.
- You could potentially introduce friction into your relationship with the other person. We all have a money story that affects our finances.
- If you're having a cash flow challenge this month, and that person wants you to save around $50 consecutively every week, you may grow resentful towards them, even if that person knows nothing about your situation.
6. Random Draw Challenge
The 52-week random draw savings method requires some simple supplies and preparation. You'll need a mason jar or similar container and 52 small pieces of paper with numbers 1 – 52 written on them.
Every week, you draw a new numbered paper from the mason jar, and save that specific amount of money.
- This is undoubtedly the most fun method out of all the options listed here. By employing a bit of a gamification strategy, you may find it easier to stick to the challenge.
- Given the probability theory, the chance of your drawing four high numbers consecutively is low. You’ll be more likely to have reasonably steady cash savings flow throughout the challenge.
- You’ll need a safe place to store your mason jar. You don’t want your cat tipping over the mason jar or attempting to eat the pieces of paper!
- You may be tempted to re-draw if the number you pick is too big, running you the risk of putting off all the hardest weekly goals towards the end of the year.
Ready, Set, Save
Which one of the above 52-week money-saving methods would you like to try the most?
No matter which method you choose, as long as you stick to the challenge for an entire year, you'll have $1,378 (not counting interest) in the bank at the end of 12 months.
If you’re able to save even more money, consider starting the challenge at a higher dollar amount. A more significant savings account balance at the end of the challenge would be terrific!
Yet dropping out of the challenge because you can’t save higher dollar amounts defeats the purpose of joining a savings challenge. So make sure it’s realistic and fits in your budget.
Once you determine your savings goal and decide on which 52-week money challenge method you'll use, open up a new savings account and start stashing your weekly savings away!
Article written by, Guest Contributor, Bella Wanana, a passionate personal finance writer. She hopes to share her personal finance knowledge with the rest of the world, one blog post at a time. You can find more money-saving tips and personal finance resources on her blog, and follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.