Have you ever participated in some kind of challenge? Maybe you’ve tried a dieting challenge before, or you’ve hit walls trying to endure a sports challenge. Well, you can also make use of money saving challenges to boost your savings account. In this article, you’re going to find 18 different ideas you can start immediately.
How can a money saving challenge help you?
We all have tried it with discipline before. But don’t you find it strange that almost nobody is able to keep saving money for a long time? At one point it’s just too hard, so we fall back into old habits.
Saving money with a challenge is a lot easier because there’s a playful component in there that motivates us to reach our goals. However, you need to pick the right one for you, since different games lead to different outcomes as well.
How to decide which money challenge is right for you
When picking a challenge (or a combination of multiple ones), I suggest you start with defining why you want to save money in the first place. There could be different reasons why you would want to set aside some of your income for the future, including:
- Retirement savings
- Emergency fund
- A huge downpayment (on a home, a car, a business venture, etc.)
- Christmas season
- Holiday trips
- Investing in stocks or real estate
- Long-term saving vs. quick growth
Once you’ve decided what your intentions are, you can make a much better choice. Moreover, you will more likely reach your goals if you know exactly why you are doing what you’re doing.
Start saving money with these 18 challenges
First, here’s a quick overview of all the different challenges we’re going to cover. You can also click on any of these to jump down to them immediately.
These are all the fun money-saving challenges we are going to cover:
- Increasing $5 Challenge
- $1,000 Challenge
- Bi-Weekly Savings Challenge
- 52-Week Challenge
- Reverse 52-Week Challenge
- Flexible 52-Week Challenge
- Save-One-Month-Of-Salary Challenge
- $5 Challenge
- Daily Saving Challenge
- One For You, One For The Bank
- Free-Weekend Challenge
- Cash Only Challenge
- Save-The-Change Challenge (also called Roundup Challenge)
- The Envelope Challenge
- The Bad Habit Jar
- 401k Increase Challenge
- One-Survey-A-Day Challenge
Approach 1: Saving With A Defined Financial Goal In Mind
The Increasing $5 Challenge
Let’s start our list with this money-saving challenge, which involves some easy math. The thought behind it is to make it more playful than linear savings. You will be saving on a specific day every week. It doesn’t matter which day you choose, but it has to be the same one every week (to build a strong habit).
In the first week, you start with setting aside $5. In the following weeks, you will multiply the number of the week (depending on when you started) with $5. That means that in week 5, you will save $25 (5 x $5) dollars, in week 16 you will save $80 (16 x $5), and in the last week, you will put $260 (52 x $5) into your savings account.
Using this strategy, you will have a total of $6,890 after one year. This challenge is also great to come up with ideas for making money on the side because you will have to come up with something around $100 per week in the middle of the year. By the end of the year, your weekly savings will be $230-$260.
The $1,000 Challenge
The name is a little misleading, as this money-saving challenge will earn you $1,378 after one year.
Simply take the number of the week you are in and set aside the same amount of dollars. In week 1 you put $1 in your piggy bank, in week 26 you save $26, and so forth.
You can also reverse this challenge to have a quick growth in the beginning. To do this, save $52 in week 1, $51 in week 2, and so on. Maybe you want to keep up the pace and won’t let your savings drop below $30 a week or so. That would be a great effect for this approach, wouldn’t it?
The Bi-Weekly Savings Challenge
The idea behind this strategy is that you use your salary payments (if you are paid bi-weekly) to trigger your money-saving mechanism. To calculate your bi-weekly savings based on your financial goal for one year, use this formula:
Financial goal / 26 = bi-weekly savings.
The 52-Week Challenge – The Most Popular Challenge For Saving Money
The 52-Week Challenge has many faces and appears in various forms. Besides, there is no exact formula to calculate how you spread your weekly savings. The approach is to determine a financial goal and then build some kind of snowball savings plan around it.
Here is an example of the weekly amount you need to save in order to end up with $10,000 in your savings account:
To save $5,000 in one year, use this savings table:
The Reverse 52-Week Challenge
To speed up your initial reward, you could reverse the plan and start with the highest amount, then decreasing saving deposits week by week. Consequently, you might find yourself a lot more motivated because you see fast results in the beginning.
However, this money saving challenge is also harder to endure because you might feel that the difference to not saving anything at all is just too huge. So if you are looking for something that eases you into the process, choose the normal 52-week money-saving challenge. If you want to go strong right from the beginning, you might want to play the reversed game. Simply take any one of the above plans (or one that you created on your own based on your individual goal). Then start with week 52 and move backward.
The Flexible 52-Week Money Saving Challenge
To take your options one step further, you might also use this way of doing the 52-week challenge. It might be more fun for you as it mixes things up and therefore is a little more engaging.
All you have to do is take your 52-week plan and mix the single weeks up to taste. The end result will stay the same, but during the year you will not have a regular increase or decrease (as in the reverse challenge), but an interesting mix throughout all weeks of the year.
Among financial advisors, there’s a popular idea of building an emergency fund that will be able to sustain you in rough times. Indeed, having multiple monthly salaries in savings can absolutely put your mind at ease. Here is how you can build up your emergency fund, based on your salary:
If you want to reach this goal in one year, then divide your monthly salary (after taxes, so the amount that you really have in your hands!) by 12. This will give you a monthly amount of 8.33%. Consequently, you would have to save 8.33% of your salary per month to have a full monthly salary in savings after one year.
If you want to shorten the amount of time, simply divide your monthly salary by the number of months by which you want to reach your goal.
Approach 2: Money Saving Challenges Focusing On Daily Savings
The challenges in this group are perfect to build strong habits for saving money regularly. The daily repetition helps a lot when it gets hard. And trust me when I say, these days will come!
The $5 Challenge (my favorite money-saving challenge)
Let’s begin this category with a pretty simple yet incredibly effective one. This is the one I started with back in the day, and it helped me increase my savings to a 5-digit amount over the years.
The idea is to set aside $5 a day. That’s roughly $150 a month and $1,825 a year. Not a bad starting point, right? If you want more at the end of the year, you can simply take your desired amount and divide it by 365. This will give you the exact amount you need to save daily. Let’s take a quick look at an example.
- Desired amount after 1 year: $6,000
- $6,000 / 365 = (rounded) $16,44
- You have to save $16,44 a day to reach $6,000 after one year.
Motivational Tip: This challenge is particularly motivating when you use physical cash. Put away a $5 bill every day into a moneybox. This way you can see your daily progress. This helped me a lot in the beginning, and after a while, I was addicted to watching my piggy bank grow.
The Daily Saving Challenge
This money saving challenge is easy (though a little complicated to execute). The idea behind it is that you set aside one cent more each day. On day 1, you put away $0,01. The next day you put away $0,02. On day 365, you will save $3,65.
The upside of this approach is that (like the most challenges on this list) you can start it on any day of the year, maybe even today! The downside is the pretty low savings amount after one year. This approach is definitely not for you if you aim for fast results or a 4-to-5-digit savings balance. Also, the odd numbers make this plan very impractical to follow.
Approach 3: Challenges For Saving Money Based On Specific Occasions
Now we dive into a fun area of money saving challenges as you could say they are based on specific prerequisites. These are the most individual, and they might or might not be a great fit for you. Take a look at every single one of these techniques and decide if you want to give them a try!
This strategy is a pretty hard one, although one of the most rewarding on this list. The reason why it’s such a strong money challenge is that it not only focuses on saving but also on increasing your income.
If you really want to level up your financial life and leave any financial struggles behind, this one might actually be a game-changer for you! The idea is to find an idea to earn an extra $500 (a week, a month, twice a year, you name it…) and then take that side income and put it in your savings account entirely.
Free Resource: If this view on income and finance is completely new to you and you never thought about making some extra money on the side, I have a free ebook teaching you the process to come up with and develop a money-making idea from scratch! I invite you to take a look at it, as it could absolutely change your financial life.
One For You, One For The Bank
This saving challenge is exclusive to the YourPassionPays Academy website as far as I know, as it’s one that I have developed for myself. It helped me a lot with installing strong money-saving habits, as it allows you to combine things you enjoy with saving money.
Here is how it works: Whenever you buy something that can be considered a “non-essential” item or gadget (like a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a beautiful dress you’ve been resisting for months, a video game, etc.), put the exact same amount of money of its cost into your savings box. This way you buy something cool for yourself and save money at the same time.
Pay attention though that you are honest with yourself here. The main reason I have implemented this strategy in my life is to keep me from buying unnecessary stuff that is over my budget. I consider all things which are so expensive that I can’t put the same amount of money into my savings account over my budget.
The free-weekend money saving challenge can be a fun challenge to save money This is especially true if you are used to going out on weekends and connect the amount of fun you have with the amount of money you spend.
As the name states, you need to spend the weekend without spending money. Come up with a list of things to do on a weekend that don’t cost you anything. You might even find new activities you really like that you wouldn’t have found otherwise!
Of course, you can repeat this challenge with as many weekends as you like. The amount of money you save on these weekends could be significant. Set aside some of it so you don’t spend it somewhere else and counter the effect of your free weekend.
Cash Only Challenge
This money saving challenge has a similar effect to the free-weekend challenge. To play this game correctly, you decide on a time frame (for example one week) where you will pay cash for everything you buy.
This challenge has 2 huge effects. First, it helps you tremendously with being aware of where your money goes (while credit cards veil your spending in a rather sneaky way). Furthermore, you will hesitate a lot more with every expense you take, as you literally see your money float out of your hands. Try it for yourself!
Save-The-Change Challenge / Roundup Challenge
This challenge can complement any of the more complete saving challenges for a pretty decent additional effect. As you can probably guess by the name, this strategy works by putting your change money into your piggy bank.
You can define the rules for yourself. What change do you want to set aside? Are you going to apply it to any purchase you make, or just groceries, or restaurants and bars? There are numerous possibilities to implement this, and if you don’t like making decisions, I suggest you simply apply this challenge to every single expense you make. This way you ensure the biggest outcome!
The Envelope Challenge
You might have heard about the envelope budgeting technique. The envelope challenge for saving money is the equivalent in the area of savings. For this challenge to work, you need a decent amount of envelopes. You might want to fold them yourself with usual paper sheets so you don’t waste the money you want to save on envelopes.
Decide on a range of numbers you feel comfortable with, maybe 1 to 50. Assign each number to a single envelope. Then, over the year, fill all these envelopes with the amount of money that the number on the envelope states. The envelope with the number 17 will hold $17 at the end.
The higher the numbers you pick, the higher the final outcome is going to be, of course. Therefore, make sure to match the numbers with your goals. If you take 1 to 25, the final amount will be $325. Instead of increasing the numbers you might also shorten the time frame to complete this challenge. $325 in a year might not move mountains, $325 every month can accumulate to a pretty significant amount.
The Bad Habit Jar
This is a fun challenge for saving money. The idea behind it is to choose a bad habit and link an amount of money to it, so whenever you exercise the bad habit, you pay the corresponding amount of money as a soft penalty.
You might know about the Swear Jar where you have to put in money for cursing. Or there is the Bad Jokes Jar – the one that cost me most in my life. The idea is clear. Pick a bad habit and pay your penalty! It’s a great complementary challenge as well.
Additionally, there is one great side-effect here: You will be much more aware of these bad habits (like being late to an appointment), and thus much more likely to replace or drop them altogether. Although a little painful, this challenge can go a long way for you!
The 401k Increase Challenge
If you’re living in the US, the 401k Increase Challenge might be a great fit for you, especially if your goals contain saving for a blissful retirement. Saving money with this challenge works as follows:
Although there are many forms, the most rewarding one might be a little under the radar. I heard about it recently, and it doesn’t rely on increasing your deferrals only when you receive a raise (which would be the most common form of the 401k Increase Challenge).
There is another way of doing this. You can increase your 401k deferrals by 1% each month. If you are able to do this, you will not only have saved a lot at the end. You will also be forced to think about additional income sources you could use to come up with the necessary money. The end goal could be to reach your maximum deferral amount.
The One-Survey-A-Day Challenge
You might already know that a lot of people use paid survey sites today to improve their finances. Although there are mixed opinions on the topic because some shady service providers have evolved in the past few years, you can make some decent amount of money if you do it right.
Some of the sites I recommend for this are the following. They are legit, and you can make good money on the side with them:
Once you have signed up with a few survey providers, aim at doing one survey per day and put the money into your savings account. Depending on how much time you have, the money you can earn with a survey can be pretty decent and a great way to speed up your savings.
No matter what your saving habits have been up until today, this extensive list of money saving challenges will have something for you! Whether you want to save a specific amount in a specific time or just generally build a habit of saving, you will find a fitting challenge here.
Now there’s only one last thing for you to do: Take action and get started! It doesn’t matter how you choose to start because you can always change your approach later. Just make the first move and then go from there.
Let me know what challenge you chose and what your experiences are! Or do you have a unique idea for a challenge to save money? Put it in the comments below!
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