52-Week Money Saving Challenge [Includes Printable!]

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 2022

 

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

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?

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

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  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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar Catherine Gordon says

    Hey, PT

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