The 52-Week Money Challenge: What Is It And Should You Try It?

It’s pretty safe to assume that everyone would like to save money and more of it on a consistent basis. 

It’s exactly where the idea of the 52-Week Money Challenge started and it has helped tons of people develop great financial habits. 

This challenge can be used to build your emergency fund, to save for a big purchase like a home, or maybe it’s for a nice family vacation.

Whatever your reasoning, this process will help you save money without breaking the bank. 

Before you begin, make sure that you have some specific goal in mind before attempting the money saving challenge, even if it is a smaller amount of money you want to save. This can help you stay motivated during the challenge.

What is the 52-Week Money Challenge?

The 52-week money challenge is a year-long challenge to help you save money. The idea is that you will deposit an increasing amount of money each week into your savings account until you reach a specific financial goal. 

The basic form of the 52-week challenge is you start by saving $1 on the first week of the year, and gradually increase your savings every week by one dollar. That means you would save $2 on week two, $3 on week three, and so on. 

Once you reach December, you’ll be saving over $50 per week! 

How much money do you save in the 52-week challenge?

If you are sticking with the traditional 52-week challenge and consistently saving, by the last week you’ll have saved $1,378! And this is starting off by saving just $1 in your first week. You can also save more aggressively if you want to reach a different amount by the 52nd week. 

Money Challenge Chart

The great part of this challenge is how simple it is: you just need to increase the amount you save by $1 every week.

At the end of the year, you’ll have a pretty sweet amount of cash saved up which you can use as your emergency fund, to pay off a debt or for a nice vacation. 

Naturally, you can start your increments off higher if you are looking to save money fast or more of it. Maybe you want to save $2,000 or $5,000 instead. It’s entirely up to you, but the most common one is to start with $1 your first week. 

Who Should Try The 52-Week Money Challenge?

The 52-week savings challenge is perfect for anyone who is looking to save more cash and start to develop better financial habits. 

It can also be a great way for those struggling to save consistently and be an easier (and more attainable) way to build an emergency fund. 

While the traditional 52-week savings challenge has you saving up to $1,378 by week 52, remember you can make it any number you want!

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the challenge. 

Advantages of 52-Week Money Challenge

The main advantage of taking on the 52-week money challenge is that you’ll slowly be building momentum and saving more every week. If you’re someone who has difficulty saving, starting with $1 per month makes saving a little less overwhelming. 

As you increase the amount you’re saving every week, you’ll be gaining confidence and it’ll be easier to save more the week after.

This kind of momentum will then translate into a positive habit to help you save money – one that will stick even once the challenge is over!

The other advantage is that you’ll have a decent amount of money at the end of the year saved up in time for Christmas. It could be the perfect opportunity to go off on a much-needed vacation, or to set aside money for some new goals.

Disadvantages of 52-Week Money Challenge

The main disadvantage is that if you’re not prepared, you may find it difficult to set aside money every week. This can especially happen when you reach the second half of the year and are starting to save over $100 per month. 

It’s worth making sure you can commit to the challenge throughout the entire year before taking it on.

And don’t forget to set reminders for yourself if you think you’ll forget to save each week and the amount, as it’s certainly easy to lose track of progress or what amount you need to contribute on a given week. 

The other disadvantage is that you’ll be saving larger amounts of money towards the end of the year, which can get problematic if you’re spending money on vacations, gifts and large meals for Christmas and other festive holidays. 

Some people remedy this issue by starting the year with $52 in the first week and decreasing by $1 every week. Making it easier to handle the goal towards the end of the year.

Many people stop the savings challenge in the middle of the year for the simple reason that they don’t have a specific goal that they’re saving for — so remember to set some financial goals!  

Extra: Those that do have a specific goal — say an emergency fund or a debt payoff — are more likely to stick to their goal. You’ll want to know what you’re saving for so you get excited when you transfer the money into your savings every week and stay motivated throughout the year.

Tips to Be Successful With the 52-Week Challenge

Make a plan

It can sometimes get confusing to keep track of how much you need to increase your savings by every week. As mentioned above, you’ll also want to have a specific goal in mind.

Creating a simple plan with a list of how much you need to save every week will be helpful as a reference. Not only will you be able to see your progress, but you’ll get motivated to keep going!

Write down ways to save

It may be easy to find an extra $1 and $5 to save during the first few weeks, but once you get into the $20s, you may need to look for ways to cut back on in order to save the right amount of money.

Writing down a list of things you can do to save money will prepare you for any week you find yourself coming short.

The list could include ideas such as selling items, lowering your electricity bill (check out Arcadia), or even doing some gigs on Rover or Instacart.

Looking for ways to slash your A/C bill? Consider investing in a whole house fan.

What savings tools will you use?

While you may have multiple bank accounts, you’ll want to know what options you have to help you reach your 52-week challenge and where you can put your money to work while you sleep.

Additionally, you might want to look at some personal finance tools or apps that can assist you on your journey. 

Consider an online bank account with good interest and where you can separate this money from your main banking if you think you’ll be tempted to spend it.

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Or if you want a more “hands-off” approach you can with money tools like Digit or Qapital. Both are perfect to help you save money.

However, Qapital actually has their own 52-week money challenge built in that you can utilize to ensure you are on track.

Reward yourself

At certain points throughout the year, you may find yourself asking why you’re doing the challenge and whether this is really worth doing.

To make sure you don’t fall off the bandwagon or give up, consider setting checkpoints throughout the year and celebrating every time you reach one.

For example, when you first hit $50 in one month, celebrate by doing something that doesn’t cost too much but can still be regarded as a celebrating; a night in with Netflix or a picnic in the park with your favorite foods are good examples.

Celebrating milestones will make the challenge fun and help keep you motivated throughout the year. So think about some cool rewards that might be helpful in your saving journey.

Get a partner

Another great way to make the money challenge a little more fun is to do it with a friend, loved one or anyone who wants to join in.

By completing it with someone else, you’ll be holding each other accountable for contributing the correct amount every week and not spending your savings on something frivolous.

To make the challenge even more fun, consider doing it in a group. Every time you hit a checkpoint, do a small celebration in a group gathering!

Set reminders or set up an automatic transfer

Set up a reminder every week to make sure you’re not forgetting to add the correct amount. This could be a weekly reminder on your phone or on a paper calendar to set aside some money.

If it’s cash, then you can put a cash jar somewhere visible so you’re constantly reminded to do your weekly contribution.

And if you’re doing the challenge online, you can set up an automatic transfer every week and just watch your savings increase every week or month.

Does the 52-Week Money Challenge Work?

The money challenge does work for those who manage to stick to it. At the end of the day, the money challenge is still a challenge, and it may be easier or more difficult depending on your situation. 

If you are someone who struggles to save even $1, then this challenge will help you get ahead. If, however, you are a regular saver, consider adjusting the challenge and making it even harder (how about adding $3 every week?).

Feel free to adjust the challenge to meet your goals; instead of starting with $1 per week you can start with a lot more, and maybe contribute per month instead of per week. 

The most important is that you are consistently saving every week and end the year with a nice pot of money. 

Extra: If the money saving challenge is still difficult for you right now, do not get discouraged! You can start off with an app like Acorns, that rounds up spare change for you in investments. This could be a nice start to better financial habits and then when you are ready you can try this challenge!

Final Thoughts

Remember that the money challenge is more likely to work if you have a specific goal in mind.

Not only will you be more motivated to save the money to reach your goal, but you’re also less likely to spend the money on something you may not need. 

At the end of the money challenge, you’ll likely have acquired a habit of saving consistently. You’ll get into the habit of transferring money every week and seeing your savings gradually increase. 

The 52-week money challenge will also help you prove yourself that are capable of saving money and reaching financial goals. 

Once you do it for one year you’ll be able to repeat it the year after, and maybe strive for even larger goals. As you get used to the idea of saving consistently, you’ll find yourself leaning more towards saving than spending.

Have you used the 52-week money challenge to elevate your savings? After reading the above are you considering doing a money saving challenge? Let me know in the comments below!