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Frugal Living

11 Money Saving Challenges To Set You Up For Success

Here Are Some Great Money Saving Challenges For You To Try!

Do you want to save up money – for any reason – but find it hard to get started? You might do great at a money saving challenge! There’s no better time to start saving money than now since financial stability has become a thing of the past!

That said, we haven’t done a ton of special money-saving challenges. However, we do track and limit our spending in everyday life so we definitely keep an eye on our spending and savings!

We actually wrote this article partially because we wanted to save up for a bigger emergency fund in small steps and were looking for a good plan to follow! Sometimes it’s just so much easier to successfully save up money when you have a plan!

So, from classics like the 52-week challenge (or a variation of it) to just saving up your change, there are lots of great ideas for money challenges that you can try out!

Why Do A Money Saving Challenge?

colorful bills in a circle with coins in the middle on white counter money saving challenges
Doesn’t matter where you come from – money saved is money saved! // Photo: Burst

You might want to start a money saving challenge but you’re not sure if it’s a good idea. Right? You’re not alone. These kinds of “structured plans” can help you if you have trouble saving money. Usually, a challenge can keep you motivated or help you work harder because often we accept challenges with the goal of winning/succeeding.

These challenges also often work well because they can help open your eyes and get out of this consumer mindset that so many people have. We also shared this mindset but now we are more aware of what we really need vs what we want/think we need but don’t really. There are still lots of things that we/society spend our money on that are actually unnecessary.

Another great reason to start a money saving challenge that it can help you improve your financial situation and reduce your stress-levels regarding your finances. So, choose your reason – a money challenge can be a great thing to start!

Read Next – 8 Powerful Benefits Of Budgeting

How To Make Your Money Saving Challenge A Success

A very important aspect when choosing a money-saving challenge is to be as realistic as possible and choose a challenge that is right for you. That makes it a lot more likely to successfully complete it.

For that, you should have an understanding of how much money you make every month and how much you need to spend every month (talking about rent, mortgage, car, food – only the really important stuff).

If you choose a wrong challenge that will be impossible for you to do, then you most likely won’t stick with it. That’s not to say that you can’t push yourself and set ambitious goals – you could always pick up a side hustle and find another way to bring in some additional income every month.

However, generally, if you want to master a money-saving challenge, start with one that suits you. If you don’t use cash on a daily basis but pay most of your purchases with a card, then maybe don’t opt for the “5 dollar challenge”. The same is true if you need to save up some money quickly (e.g. for an emergency fund) – go for a short-term challenge instead of one that takes a whole year to complete.

Once you have completed one money-saving challenge successfully, you can always start another one. And knowing that you’ve already successfully completed one before (and having positive feelings about that) makes you more likely to do it again!

The bottom line is: Start with a challenge that is doable with your current financial situation and your timeframe and then go from there!

Another tip for successfully completing a money-saving challenge is to have a designated place where the money you are saving goes. This could either be a jar in your home (if you are saving a smaller amount) or a separate bank account from the account you use for ever day purchases. This will make it so much easier to keep an overview of your progress and your goals!

Short-Term Money Saving Challenges

white piggy bank with blue background with one bill sticking out
You have to start somewhere! // Photo: Burst

Let’s start off with some short-term money saving challenges. These challenges are great for people who need to save up some money quickly and/or want to try saving up but aren’t sure if they can/want to fully commit to the process.

Personally speaking, right now we have the big goals of saving up for the down payment of a house as well as eventually reaching financial independence. But we know that these are very long-term goals that will take us quite a few years to accomplish.

Therefore, we also try to incorporate some smaller, more short-term, money-saving challenges into our routines and budgets. It keeps our money focus short AND long at the same time!

3-Month Saving Challenge ($1426)

To be honest, we’re not sure if a similar challenge already exists, but we were searching for a simple short term saving challenge and couldn’t find one right away that fit our financial situation right now. That’s why we came up with this one!

We wanted a simple money saving challenge that was easy to follow without the need for a spreadsheet to double-check how much we were supposed to put away each day. So, the rules are pretty straightforward:

For three months – starting at the first of the month – you save the money amount that corresponds with the numbered date of the day. So, you start off with saving $1 the first of the month, $2 on the second of the month… all the way up to $30 on the 30th of the month (or even $31 on the 31st of the month).

If you do this every day for three months you’ll save $1426 dollars – or maybe even more depending on when you do this challenge. We calculated the numbers with two 30-day months and one 31-day month – but if you do it with two 31-day months you’ll actually save even more!

Emergency Fund Challenge ($1,000 in 60 days)

glass jar filled with bills in held in hands money saving tips
Get the emergency fund going soon! // Photo: Unsplash

This challenge is slightly similar to the one mentioned above but has an even shorter time-frame. We first heard about this challenge on Megan’s blog Goodbye To Broke and then nicknamed it the emergency fund challenge for the purpose of this article.

We always find it super surprising – and a little bit worrisome – that there are so many people out there who don’t even have a small emergency fund. We know that it’s not always easy to put away money – especially when money is tight already.

However, having a small emergency fund set up can make such a difference to your anxiety and stress-levels regarding your finances – at least it did for us. And now we’re trying to save up for a bigger emergency fund after successfully completing the first step.

So, if you’re trying to set up an emergency fund but haven’t had success with it yet, then give a challenge like this 60-day challenge a try! The rules of the challenge itself are pretty simple – you just save pre-determined amounts over a period of 60-days.

It might not always be easy, but being resourceful and managing to do it is sometimes half the fun – and it’s only for two months! You can get the spreadsheet and all the rules on Megan’s blog here.

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No-Spend Challenge

The no-spend challenge is a great challenge that can be done on a shorter time-frame. If you wanted to, you could also make it a longer challenge. For example, we haven’t bought any new clothes for a whole year which technically was also a no-spend challenge (although not in the traditional sense). Overall, it has saved us quite a bit of money!

The rules of the traditional no-spend challenge are that you don’t spend any money other than on the essentials – i.e. food, essential bills, mortgage payment, etc. You basically cut out any expenses that are not really necessary such as eating out, coffees to go, shopping other than for groceries etc. for a pre-determined amount of time.

You can either do a traditional no-spend challenge and incorporate it into all aspects of your life or you could start on a smaller scale. For example, you could completely cut eating out for a month which would include bringing your lunch to work and cooking dinner at home! While it might be tough in the first few days (if you’re eating out a lot), you might be surprised how quickly you can adjust – and how much money you can save!

Special Occasion Challenge ($500)

Often times, it is easier for people to save up money when they know what you are saving for. While we generally enjoy saving money, this is certainly also true for us.

For example, we are really into traveling and therefore regularly try to put some money away for that. By creating our own “travel fund challenge” it becomes all the more fun.

You can do the same for any “special occasion” really. Are you trying to save up for Christmas gifts, do you want to splurge on your birthday or hoping to get away on a nice weekend trip? Doing a short-term money saving challenge towards that specific goal can help you with that!

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Typically, we do our special occasion challenge with the goal of saving up $500. If you are trying to save up more, you can either just do the challenge more than once or choose any of the other short-term money saving challenges that we talk about in this section.

How quickly you aim to save up the money depends a bit on your current financial situation. Usually, we would aim to save these $500 within a month – or maybe six weeks – but if money is really tight right now, then feel free to stretch it out a little bit longer! However, you should also make sure to not go too easy on yourself – it is supposed to be a challenge after all.

If you’re aiming to save up the money in approximately four weeks, aim to save $125 every week. For six weeks, try to save $84 every week, and for eight weeks aim for $62.50 per week. While there are some challenges that tell you how much money to save every single day, in this challenge this is up to you – as long as you manage to save up the full weekly amount at the end of the week!

Long-Term Money Saving Challenges

woman sitting outside counting money
It’ll start to add up if you try… // Photo: Burst

If you want to commit to something a little more long-term, consider one of the challenges below! These kinds of challenges definitely require a bit more effort to stay on track – but they usually come with great returns if you adhere to the program. Below are just a handful of challenges you might want to try out!

52-Week Challenge

The 52-Week Challenge is a super popular money saving challenge that many people have completed successfully. Compared to some of the short-term money saving challenges mentioned above, it is a lot less strenuous – making it more likely for you to actually keep going for a whole year!

The rules of the 52-Week challenge are actually a bit similar to the 3-month challenge we mentioned above – just with a longer timeframe. For the 52-Week challenge, your goal is to save $1 in week 1, $2 in week 2, $3 in week 3… all the way up to $52 in week 52. If you are consistent and save the correct amount every week, at the end of the challenge you’ll have saved up a total of $1378.

If you want to save up more than $1378 in a year, you could always increase the amounts you are saving per week. An easy way to do this would be to double your weekly contributions. So instead of saving $1 in week 1, you would be saving $2 and instead of saving $52 in week 52, you would be saving $104 – for an overall total of $2756.

Reverse 52-Week Challenge

The Reverse 52-Week Challenge works very similarly to the traditional 52-Week Challenge. However, instead of starting easy and getting harder, with the Reverse 52-Week Challenge you save $52 in the first week, $51 in the second week down to $1 in week 52. The overall amount you’ll save will be the same at $1378.

Doing the challenge in this order can be great if you like to get the challenging part out of the way. When we do a challenge we are usually more motivated at the beginning as opposed to the end. Getting the high numbers out of the way early can give you a little bit of extra motivation to keep going and complete the challenge successfully.

Read Next – Why (And How) We Use A Monthly Expense Tracker

Bi-Weekly Money Challenge

For some people, saving every day or week might not be feasible depending on when you get paid every month. That’s why it’s good that there are some bi-weekly money challenges around that you can give a try. There are really no excuses to not try at least one challenge!

The amounts for the standard bi-weekly challenge are actually the same as for the 52-Week challenge. However, instead of putting some money away every week, you only do it bi-weekly.

So in week 2, you would save $1 from week 1 and $2 from week 2 for a total of $3. In week 10 for example, you’d save $9 from week 9 and $10 from week 10 for a total of $19… all the way to saving up $103 in week 52 ($51 from week 51 and $52 from week 52). Your overall total would be the same as with the 52-Week challenge at $1378.

You can just see which challenge works better for you – weekly or bi-weekly – and then stick to it. And once again, as with the 52-Week challenge, if you’d like to save up more, you can always increase the amounts saved per week!

Monthly Money Saving Challenge

The monthly saving challenge is another one of these classic year-long challenges you can do. And once again, the rules are pretty straightforward. If you start the challenge at the beginning of the year, you’ll save $25 in January and then increase the amount by $25 month after month until month 6.

This means you’d save $50 in February, $75 in March, $100 in April, $125 in May and $150 in June. In month 7 (July), you’d save $150 again and then decrease the amount by $25 a month until you are back at $25 in December. In total, you’d save $1050 over the course of twelve months.

Of course, you don’t have to start the monthly money saving challenge in January – any other month will work just as well. Just remember that you’ll increase the amount until month 6 and then decrease it again after month 7 – kind of like climbing up one hill and coming back down the other side!

Penny Challenge

pile of canadian coins on table money saving tips
Look at all those pennies! // Photo: Unsplash

The penny challenge can be a fun money saving challenge for those who like to use cash for their daily purchases. It’s also important to live in a place where they still use pennies (cough, USA) since Canada stopped using them and the UK is considering a phase-out. Otherwise, it might be a little bit difficult to get your hold on so many pennies.

The rules for the challenge are quite simple – every day you save one more day than the previous day. So on Day 1 you’d save 1 penny, on Day 2 you’d save 2 pennies… on Day 100 you’d save 100 pennies (so $1) all the way up to Day 365 where you would save 365 pennies ($3.65). If you do this consistently for a year, you’ll save up a total of $667.97.

It might be a little bit difficult to get your hands on that many pennies, so feel free to cheat a little bit by using bigger coins as well. To be fair, this challenge might not be for everyone. Remember how we said at the beginning that it’s important to choose a challenge that suits you? That’s why we haven’t tried out the penny challenge ourselves yet.

Spare Change Challenge

small change on white counter with bills and candle
That small change adds up in big ways! // Photo: Unsplash

The Spare Change Challenge is another super simple money saving challenge. It’s great if you want to get started with saving money but don’t have a lot of money to spare right now.

The rule is to – as the name suggests – save up your spare change throughout the year. Whenever you make a purchase, put the spare change you get back into a jar or other designated place. We’d recommend that you don’t count the money until the time frame of your challenge is over. This way you’re less tempted to spend it!

If you don’t usually use cash and like to pay with your debit card instead, you can also do this challenge in a slightly modified version. Fortunately, there are some great apps such as Acorns that will round up your purchases and invest your spare change. This might be a good way to put your money-saving on auto-pilot!

5 Dollar Challenge

We have never tried the Five Dollar Challenge ourselves, but have seen it quite a few times on Pinterest. It has become more and more popular and we believe the reason for this is that it is so simple.

Essentially, the only rule is that whenever you receive a 5 dollar bill, you put it away. If you do this over a period of six months – or even a year – you could actually save quite a bit of money.

A slight problem we have with this challenge is that it only really works if you use a lot of cash. While we do use cash frequently, we like to pay a lot of our purchases with a debit card to keep better track of our expenses. That would mean that we just won’t accumulate too many 5 dollar bills over the course of a year.

So while this challenge is not the best one for us – if you are using a lot of cash, you should definitely give it a try! Once again, it is important to choose a money-saving challenge that suits you to make it a success!

And there you have it – 11 great money saving challenges to help guide you in saving up a bit of money through more fun/interesting means. Saving money doesn’t have to be stressful or boring – but you DO have to make an effort and choose one that works best for you! Which one do you like? Get in touch and let us know!

As always, Stay Curious,
-B&L

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Money Saving Challenges