If your new year’s resolution includes a savings goal, consider the 52-week money challenge. The increments you save are meant to be so small that you barely notice you’ve been saving money. Is it a gimmick? Absolutely—but it works.
The 52-week money challenge explained
The challenge is quite simple. Each week you put an increment of cash aside and watch the amount grow throughout the year:
- In first week of the year, you save $1.
- For week two, you save $2.
- For week three, you save $3.
- For week four, you save $4.
By the end of the year, you’re putting aside more money:
- For Week 49, you save $49.
- For Week 50, you save $50.
- For Week 51, you save $51.
- For Week 52, you save $52.
At the end of 2021, you’ll total $1,378 in savings. The appeal of this challenge is that the initial amounts are so minimal that it feels like you’re creating something out of almost nothing. It also gets you into the habit of saving, which is something that a lot of people struggle with. There are variations to this challenge, too, including:
- Saving in reverse order, in case you want more breathing room during the holidays (the last week of 2021 would be $1)
- Simplifying the savings to a weekly averaged amount of $26.50—convenient if you want to make regular, automated payments from your checking account
- Adjusting the weekly amount to meet a specific spending goal (starting with $3 in the first week, as an example, will save you almost $4000—use this calculator to make your adjustments, as needed)
- You could stretch the savings into a two or three year challenge, reseting the incremental savings amount back to $1 in the first week of each year.
How to track your savings
Ideally, this challenge works best if you have a separate savings account to stash your money challenge savings. If you only have one savings account, however, you might want to try an online bank, which will have higher savings rates and lower fees than brick-and-mortar banks. Nerdwallet has a good rundown on savings accounts offered by online banks, including some that have no monthly fees, here.
Alternatively, try a simple printout to chart your savings. You might wonder why people might use a printout rather than track their savings using an app or computer, but people often prefer a visual, tactile reminder—if you slap it on your fridge, it’s literally impossible to avoid.