52-Week Money Saving Challenge [New Printable for 2019]

So you want to save more money? Today is as good a day as any to get started saving more. A fun way to kick your savings in high gear is by doing a 52-week money saving challenge.

You simply start by saving $1 on week one. Week two, save $2. Week three, save $3 and so on until in week 52 you save $52. If you complete the challenge you will have painlessly saved almost $1,400!

Having some extra money can help you build your emergency fund, pay off debt, and save up for a big financial goal. Doing a challenge can turn saving money into a game and make it more fun.

If you’d like some extra money to pay down credit card debt, you’re not alone. According to an annual survey by Experian, the average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from the previous year. Wouldn’t it be nice to make a big dent in your debt?

Better yet, the skills you learn during the process will help you continue saving long after the 52-week money saving challenge is over. Here are all the tools, tips, and tricks you need to make this a success.

52 Week Money Challenge Image

Download the full 52-Week Money Saving Challenge Printable Spreadsheet below.

How the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge Works (With Free Printable!)

The basic idea of the challenge is simple but it creates a saving snowball that quickly adds up. Here’s how it works:

  1. During week one, deposit $1 into your savings account (if you don't have one, open one)
  2. In week two, follow that up by adding $2
  3. Deposit $3 during week three, and so on
  4. During week 52, you’ll make your last deposit of $52

Stay on track every week and make sure to add the amount indicated on the printable worksheet. Don’t skip weeks and tell yourself you’ll make it up later. Even though it may seem silly to deposit just $1 the first week, it’s essential for creating momentum.

The first five to 10 weeks will create the saving habit that will propel you through the later part of the challenge. Adding just a few dollars a week to your savings account won’t amount to much at first but as the amounts grow in the $30s, $40s, and finally $50s, the savings will pile up.

Pro tip: Open a separate saving account for this challenge and set up automatic transfers. Keep it separate from your daily checking and saving accounts to make it difficult to access. This will ensure you’re not tempted to touch the funds before the challenge is over.

How Much Money Do You Save Doing the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge?

Your final balance at the end of the year will be $1,378. It's a simple and easy way to save nearly $1,400. To help keep your savings momentum, download the printable spreadsheet and check off each week as you add the money to your account.

There are two versions of the 52-week money saving challenge worksheet. The first version starts with adding $1 to your savings account and ends with the final deposit of $52. The second version starts with an initial deposit of $52 and goes down from there.

If you’re starting this challenge at the beginning of a new year, you may want to use the second version. It may be harder to find an extra $52 to add to your savings account around the holidays. Either way, the end result will be an additional savings of $1,378.

*Includes a reverse order spreadsheet in case you want to do the 52-week money saving challenge in reverse (i.e. start with a $52 deposit on week one).

Why You Should Take the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge in 2019

 

The amount, $1,378, might not sound life-changing for you at first. However, taking on simple financial challenges leads to tackling bigger ones. It will create a savings habit for you so you can keep the momentum going.

Why’s that important? A recent report by the Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of Americans don’t have the cash to pay for an unexpected expense without borrowing money or selling something.

Related: 31 Days to Positively Improve Your Financial Life!

Another survey by Bankrate found that only four in 10 Americans have the money to pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense without borrowing. If you complete this challenge, you’ll be able to afford to pay for an emergency without going into debt.

No one says you can't continue saving past week 52. Even though the process is simple, the challenge has some powerful effects. Once you’re done with the first 52 weeks, keep going!

1. It's Simple!

First, the challenge is embarrassingly simple (most great ideas are). Everyone has a dollar and a place to stash it. A simple savings account or a coffee can will suffice.

Related: The Best High Yield Online Savings Accounts

There is no excuse for not being able to at least start this challenge. Five weeks in and you're only putting $5 away at the end of the week.

2. It's Habit-Forming

The second thing I like about this challenge is that it's habit-forming. It sets you on the path toward saving so you’ll overcome the initial resistance to doing something new. This means you'll have to:

  • Establish a place to put the money, and
  • Determine where the money is going to come from

As easy as these two steps sound, if you're not saving regularly then it's because you aren't doing those two things. And there's nothing like the fun of a good challenge to help make the habit-forming process easy.

Once you get started, don’t miss a deposit. Every deposit you make creates momentum that turns into a savings snowball. Once you get into the habit of putting money away every week, it’ll become second nature.

3. It Sparks New Habits

Finally, the 52-week money saving challenge is sure to spark other good financial habits like spending less than you earn and finding ways to increase your income.

Related: How to Spend Money Wisely (10 Things You Probably Aren’t Doing)

Odds are, if you stick to the challenge, you'll have much more than $1,378 by the end of the year. It’ll build your savings skills and help you figure out how to find extra money in your budget. Also, it’ll get the gears turning on how to make some extra cash.

How to Find Extra Money to Save

Are you ready to get started with the challenge? Before you say you don’t have any extra money you can save, here are a few ideas to get you going. If you implement a couple of the suggestions below, the savings will continue adding up long after the 52-week money saving challenge is over.

Make a budget

This is the big elephant in the room. If you’ve resisted making a budget before, this is your opportunity to make it work for you. Budgets get a bad reputation but they’re really a tool to help you tell your money where to go.

Creating a budget requires that you decide how you want to spend your income. That’s it. You’re in charge and you get to decide where your money goes. However, planning to set some of your income aside will go a long way toward helping you feel more financially secure.

Related: The Best Personal Finance Budget Software with Apps (In 2019)

The easiest way to make a budget is to track your spending for two to three months to see where your money is going. Add up how much you spend in each category every month. When you’re ready to draft your first budget, look at these numbers to decide how much to budget.

With that said, finding opportunities to cut down in each category will pay the most dividends. Can you skip your morning latte on the way to work and just make coffee at home? Or, cut back on takeout to once a week? Each of these decisions will help you find extra money to put toward your savings goals.

Related: Ibotta Review: Earn More Cash Back When Shopping for Groceries

Cut Down Your Grocery Bill

One big area ripe with opportunity for saving money is your grocery bill. The grocery cart can be a great place to get started with saving. If you’re spending more money than you’d like at the grocery store each week, here are a few tips to help you cut back:

  • Start with a plan: Saving money starts before you step foot inside the grocery store. Before you head out, look at what you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Make a meal plan the uses up as much of what you already have on hand. Don’t forget to include snacks in your meal planning.
  • Shop sales: When making your meal plan, check out what’s on sale. Incorporate items that are on sale into your plan. For example, if potatoes are on sale, plan a meal using them as the base. Try to plan the majority of your meals using sale items.
  • Go generic: Buying generic can save you as much as 25 percent during your next shopping trip. While you don’t have to buy everything generic, pick a few areas where you won’t notice the difference. Canned goods such as tomatoes and beans, as well as yogurt, meat, and frozen produce are all good candidates.
  • Make a shopping list: Don’t shop by memory. Make a list based on your meal plan and weekly sales and stick to it. Look through your pantry and fridge to check if you’re running low on certain items and add them to your list. When you get to the store, only buy what’s on your list.
  • Use coupons: There are coupons for everything from pasta to toothpaste. Check out websites such as Coupons.com and Swagbucks.com for coupons from your favorite brands. Also, download the Ibotta app for some additional savings you can stack with in-store coupons.
  • Have a snack: This tip may seem odd but if you’re hungry when you shop, you’ll end up buying more stuff. Grab a quick snack before your next shopping trip to curb any impulse spending.

Use the money you save toward your 52-week money saving challenge. You can also add any additional surplus to your regular saving account.

Related: How to Save Money on Groceries

Save on Dining Out

Dining out is another budget area with a lot of opportunity for saving. You don’t have to cut out all eating out but cutting out just one or two meals out a week will really add up. If you spend $20-$30 each time you go out, forego one outing and stash the money away.

This will be particularly helpful as the 52-week money saving challenge ramps up. Take the money you planned to spend eating out that week and put it toward your savings goal.

Related: Save on Dining: Eat Out and Spend Less

If you spend money on coffee each morning, make coffee at home and take it with you. Pack your lunch and snacks so you’re not tempted to spend when you’re hungry.

If you still want to hang out with your friends, why don’t you invite them over to your place? You can host a potluck or suggest doing something cheaper such as a game night with snacks. There are many different ways to save while still maintaining a social life.

Earn More

If you’ve tried the tips above but you’re still coming up short, consider earning more money. There are many different options for making extra cash, even if you only have a few hours a week. Here are a few options to try:

For more ideas on how to make extra cash, check out the Side Hustle section of this website.

My Saving Story

I used to be terrible at saving money. In my 20s I'd wait till the end of the month and transfer whatever I hadn't spent over to my savings account.

Related: CIT Bank Premier High-Yield Savings Account Review

For a few weeks, I'd feel great! But then spending would get out of control and I wouldn't have any at the end of the month to save.

Or worse, I'd spend too much and have to borrow from my savings, reversing all the progress I'd made. It wasn't until I discovered the concept of “pay yourself first” and implemented my automate/separate strategy that I started seeing real progress with my saving.

Related: Save More Money: Automate and Separate Your Savings

I challenge you to take the extra step below.

Extra Step: Automate It!

To take your challenge to the next level, make it automatic. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into a separate online savings account or use one of these auto savings apps to make it happen.

Are you taking the 52-week money saving challenge? Do you use other savings challenges to encourage you to save more?

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Comments

  1. I’ve taken you up on this as well as the 365-day challenge, increasing what I put aside by 1 cent each day. The 365 I’m putting away manually in a sturdy zipper envelope; the 52-week challenge I’ve set up as automatic transfers online. Mr. Morgan’s idea of starting with $52 and working the amount down is great, but not possible just after spending for this year’s holidays for which I did not save. : ) Really looking forward to having actual funds for the 2018 Christmas season!

  2. I am taking the challenge, only doing it in reverse. $52 was my initial savings deposit and working my way till I achieve it all! Easier to pay the small amounts at the end of the year for me.

  3. Whitney Hansen says:

    This is awesome! And for everyone who thinks $1,300 isn’t life changing might spend that money on a trip. Every vacay I’ve been on have been life changing in some ways.

    I’all be joining you on this one. 🙌🏻

  4. Robert@OUR FINANCIAL JOURNEY says:

    Hello Philip,
    Great way to save without the pain! Just amazing how fast a little adds up. Your stats about saving are sad and more should take this simple advice. I cry every year after doing the taxes and think about what could have been saved. Thanks for the post!

  5. Catherine Gordon says:

    Hey, PT

    I can’t download the printable spreadsheet. Can you assist, please?

    • Catherine Gordon says:

      As you were…it’s OK now! HNY 2017!

      • Philip Taylor says:

        Glad you were able to grab it, Catherine. And good luck on the challenge!

        • Catherine Gordon says:

          Thank you! Really excited to get going and have added a line in my budget spreadsheet to enable me to anticipate what’s coming up each month.

  6. I accept your challenge , start now , great post, thank you

  7. I’m doing it, have debts. Quiet a lot,I have them on track but is equaly important to have te saving chip no matter what, some day the debt will be gone and I have to grow a little the saving habit.
    I change the challenge instead of following the order of saving I mak(e it random every week I save but some weeks are better than other so if I have a good one I save more money and delet the amount so I won’t repeat it. The same but with that little twist so I feel it doable.

  8. Jonny Pean says:

    Seems I have got work up my sleeve for the coming week! Thank you! Would try it just for the fun of it..:)

  9. This sounds like a good way to start the habit of saving. Any way to get in that habit is a good way. Even better would be to put those savings where you can get a higher return. Depending on your age, high quality corporate bonds or even a stock index fund would be a good choice. And starting with the higher amounts at the beginning of the year would give the money more time to grow (and give you more choices as to where to invest it).

  10. Mrs. lewis says:

    I attempted this savings method back in early 2014, only to give up and start saving lump sums. I would recommend that if you get paid bi-weekly, try adding up the weeks around each paycheck. It’s still the same amount of money but you aren’t maintaining the savings program every week, just when you get paid.

  11. TheMediaFairy says:

    JohnRPowers Normally I would enthusiastically agree, but my credit union’s interest rates are ridiculously low right now; not even half what I’m getting on my Christmas Club account at a small local bank.

  12. JohnRPowers says:

    Try a credit union you will get a better deal.

  13. good method there Philip Taylor. I think it’s not late for me to start doing it this month, right?

  14. hrazifernan says:

    I am doing it, saving double the amount each week  and  have already saved for the whole month of February, although we are just approaching the mid-month.  As the amounts increase, I will be doing it on a weekly basis as it will be more manageable.  

    This is a great way to save and my hat goes out to the person who came up with this.

  15. TheMediaFairy says:

    Better yet, find a bank that still offers a Christmas Club account. Because they know you can’t touch the money without a penalty, they often pay a little better interest, which will also help grow your balance. You should be able to stash at least $5 a week just by collecting your loose change every day or skipping one half-caf mocha latte.

  16. brokeandbeau says:

    I’ve unknowingly been siphoning all my “side hustle” income into savings (I thought it was linked to checking).  It’s great, because by bypassing my checking account, I’m never tempted to spend that money.

  17. retirebyforty says:

    It’s not right for me either. It’s a good idea for someone who has little experience with saving. We already save our extra money instead of spending them. It’s not going to help us.

  18. DenverEric says:

    @AnneYu Some banks make this possible. Take a look at Capital One 360 or Ally Bank. The online banks usually have the best recurring transfer options.

  19. DenverEric says:

    I love the idea, but I’m not sure it’s right for me. I save hundreds in retirement accounts each payday automatically and have tons of savings. For people new to saving for a bad day, this is a great way to get going. Super easy, small amount of money, and it ads up to a big difference.

  20. Wondering if there is a way to set this up with automatic withdrawal. I know how to set it up for a weekly amount, just not sure if you could do it so it increases amounts each week.

  21. So my daughter came up with an idea where you deposit $52 the first week, then $51 the second week, and so on. As your number of weeks lessen, so does the deposit amount! Your last deposit will only be $1! This way would be fun!

  22. ShayGrandma says:

    A current FB post suggested that one might want to start with December now and work backwards so the sting of the $202 would be in January instead of December. Just a thought.

  23. Saw this on my future daughter in law’s FB page & thought I’d give it a try.  Just started a few weeks ago & am week 9.  I opened the container today to put in the money & got a strong wiff of coffee- my absolutely favorite drink!  Sign from God that this is a good thing?  🙂  Well… maybe not from God – but this still is a good thing… And forming a good habit usually takes some heavenly help! 🙂

  24. StefanFarrington says:

    I’ll give it a try 🙂

  25. The Debt Princess says:

    I’m absolutely taking this challenge. I have exactly 3 cents in my savings account currently. 2013 has kicked me in the rear and wiped out everything I’ve put away. I don’t know what will happen later in the year but I’m going to try to do this until it becomes impossible.

  26. PlungedinDebt says:

    I also saw this circulating and am going to do it because like you said, it’s habit forming.

  27. Interesting concept for sure – I saw this recently on facebook as well.  However, if you do the math, that’s around $115 a month – not everyone has that much “extra” available…  (or if you do it by the challenge, the last 4 weeks are $202 – that’s quite a bit in December.
     
    Of course, I am saying this from the perspective of someone for whom this would be an additional challenge on top of the 35%+ I’m already saving from each paycheck – and thus maybe it is easier for someone just starting to learn how to save!

    • Helen in CA says:

      The thing that’s different about the challenge (having done it), is the way it grows. It’s much more than the parts, much more than “merely” plunking down the amount per month. Because growing that small amt means that you adjust: the slow growth makes it do-able.

  28. Kylie Ofiu says:

    Thanks Philip! So great to see so many people on board with it. I know quite a few people who have done it and it made a real difference to their finances and their saving habits in general.

  29. Beachbudget says:

    Yup, I’m doing the challenge!

  30. freedommcflyy says:

    Great post!

  31. Montina Portis says:

    Hi, Philip!  Thank you so much for doing your research!  My husband and I began the 52 Week Financial Challenge July 2010 on You Tube and we are so grateful to God for how it continues to grow and grow and grow years later!  We have since made it our mission to save our monies using our passive income streams.  Glad to have you along!

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @Montina Portis Well thank for doing it. It’s helping a ton of people to think about saving.

  32. JoanConcilioOtto says:

    Great idea! I’m thinking my husband and I will be on board with this!

  33. Anne from ImpulseSave says:

    This is a great idea and totally agree about it being habit-forming. I can see it getting difficult when the holidays roll around, but hopefully by then the habit has sunk in and you’re making better spending choices.

  34. Money Life and More says:

    I am not taking the challenge but I save quite a bit already. Even more challenging would be the 100 or 104 week challenge!

  35. DebtRoundUp says:

    I am participating in this challenge.  It is a really great way to save money.  It is not life-changing for me, but can help on top of my other savings goals.