15 Money Saving Challenges to Try This Year

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If you feel like you’re constantly struggling to cover your bills, you’re not alone – actually, it’s more common than you’d think. According to a recent survey released by PYMNTS, 60% of consumers live paycheck to paycheck. Even those with high incomes are at risk of this problem, with about 40% of those earning $100,000 or more barely making it until payday.

In general, experts recommend saving 20% of your take-home pay. If that percentage sounds impossible and you have problems budgeting and setting aside money for a rainy day, money-saving challenges can be a major help. These savings challenges make the act of saving more manageable, and by turning it into a game, you may be more likely to stick with it and save.

Money Savings Challenges

If you spend time on platforms like TikTok or Instagram, you may have come across funny videos highlighting money-saving challenges. Challenges range in duration and difficulty, so you can choose the one that meets your comfort level.

Whether you’re saving for college or building an emergency fund, these 15 saving challenges can help get you started:

1. No-Spend Challenge

If you track your spending for 30 days or even two weeks, you may be surprised by how much money you spent on unnecessary purchases. Whether it’s a treat at the grocery store, a new app subscription, a lipstick you pick up, or drinks after work, those little purchases add up.

The no-spend challenge helps curb unnecessary spending by forcing you to be more mindful about where your money goes.

With the no-spend challenge, you pick a certain period two weeks, 30 days, or 90 days and you spend no money beyond what you need to cover essential bills, like your rent, utilities, and groceries.

You can start with a shorter challenge, then try a longer version later. Once you see your savings build, you may be motivated to keep it going longer.

2. 52-Week Money Saving Challenge

With the 52-week challenge, you’ll save about $1,300 in one year. All you need is $1 to get started.

With this challenge, you set aside cash every week, increasing the amount you contribute the following. For example, in week one, you’d save $1, and in week two, you’d save $2. Continue this process up through week 52, and you’ll tuck away $1,378.

Week Contribution Amount Total Saved Week Contribution Amount Total Saved
Week 1 $1 $1 Week 27 $27 $378
Week 2 $2 $3 Week 28 $28 $406
Week 3 $3 $6 Week 29 $29 $435
Week 4 $4 $10 Week 30 $30 $465
Week 5 $5 $15 Week 31 $31 $496
Week 6 $6 $21 Week 32 $32 $528
Week 7 $7 $28 Week 33 $33 $561
Week 8 $8 $36 Week 34 $34 $595
Week 9 $9 $45 Week 35 $35 $630
Week 10 $10 $55 Week 36 $36 $666
Week 11 $11 $66 Week 37 $37 $703
Week 12 $12 $78 Week 38 $38 $741
Week 13 $13 $91 Week 39 $39 $780
Week 14 $14 $105 Week 40 $40 $820
Week 15 $15 $120 Week 41 $41 $861
Week 16 $16 $136 Week 42 $42 $903
Week 17 $17 $153 Week 43 $43 $946
Week 18 $8 $171 Week 44 $44 $990
Week 19 $19 $190 Week 45 $45 $1,035
Week 20 $20 $210 Week 46 $46 $1,081
Week 21 $21 $231 Week 47 $47 $1,128
Week 22 $22 $253 Week 48 $48 $1,176
Week 23 $23 $276 Week 49 $49 $1,225
Week 24 $24 $300 Week 50 $50 $1,275
Week 25 $25 $325 Week 51 $51 $1,326
Week 26 $26 $351 Week 52 $52 $1,378

3. 26 Bi-Weekly Money Saving Challenge

The 26 bi-weekly challenge, sometimes referred to as the biweekly money-saving challenge, works similarly to the 52-week challenge, except you make contributions every other week. By making contributions twice a month, you can sync your contributions with your paychecks, making it easier to stay on track.

You can start with a contribution of just $1 and increase it by a dollar for every pay period, or you can set whatever contributions work for your budget.

4. 8-Week Savings Plan

The eight-week savings plan is best for those who have a short-term goal, like saving for a vacation or holiday gifts.

With this approach, you start with $25 in savings, and increase your contributions every week. Once you reach week five, you begin to reduce your contributions.

By the end of the eight-week challenge, you will have saved $500.

Week Contribution Total Saved
Week 1 $25 $25
Week 2 $50 $75
Week 3 $75 $150
Week 4 $100 $250
Week 5 $100 $350
Week 6 $75 $425
Week 7 $50 $475
Week 8 $25 $500

5. 100-Envelope Challenge

The 100-envelope challenge has gone viral on TikTok, and devotees say it has helped them save over $5,000 in 100 days.

With the 100-envelope challenge, you get 100 paper envelopes and label them one to 100. On day one, put $1 in the first envelope. On day two, put $2 in the second envelope. Continue this process through day 100, when you deposit $100 into the last envelope. At the end, you’ll have $5,050.

6. $1,000 in 3 Months Savings Challenge

The $1,000 in three months challenge is one of the simplest to follow. With this challenge, you deposit $84 every Friday for 12 weeks. At the end of three months, you’ll have $1,008 in savings.

7. Cancellation Challenge

Between app subscriptions and streaming platforms, you likely pay for several services without even realizing it. According to J.D. Power, 60% of viewers subscribed to at least four streaming services, spending an average of $54 per month.

Sit down and check your phone’s settings, along with your bank and credit card statements, for any recurring expenses you don’t use. Canceling some of your services could help you save a substantial amount of money. For example, if you subscribed to four streaming services and cut it down to two, you could save $324 in one year.

If the process seems overwhelming, you can use a service like AskTrim or Rocket Money. They review your spending and cancel unused subscriptions on your behalf. Rather than charging you an upfront fee, these companies take a percentage of your savings.

8. No Dining Out Challenge

Whether you dine out with friends or splurge on delivery apps after work, those added expenses can be expensive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures Report, families spend an average of $5,259 per year on food consumed away from home.

If you skip dining out between one and three months, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

9. Round-Up Money Saving Challenge

If you’re having trouble finding extra money to set aside, you can get started by saving your spare change. Some banks have programs that round up your transactions to the nearest full dollar, and the extra amount is deposited into savings.

For example, if your purchase was $5.70, the program would round the purchase up to $6.00, depositing the additional $0.30 into your savings account. Over time, those small deposits can build into a solid emergency fund.

If your bank doesn’t offer a round-up feature, services like Qapital can be helpful.

10. 1% 401(k) Challenge

One of the best strategies for retirement savings is to automate your contributions as much as possible. An excellent way is to boost your contribution percentage on a regular basis; for example, increasing it by one percentage point each year on your workplace anniversary.

The increase will be modest, so it won’t significantly impact your take-home pay, but it can significantly affect your retirement nest egg.

Some companies allow you to elect for annual contribution increases, so you can set it and forget it. If your company does not, set a calendar reminder for yourself to do it manually every year.

11. Make it a competition!

Competition can be a powerful motivator! Challenge your partner, a friend, or family member to a savings challenge and see who can save the most (or spend the least) for a specific period, like four to 12 weeks.

12. Grocery Budget Challenge

We’ve all been there: you head to the store intending only to buy milk and bread, and you walk out with $100 worth of stuff.

With the grocery budget challenge, you create a grocery budget for the week or month. The budget has to cover all of your purchases; you can’t add on any other products or last-minute indulgences. When you head to the store, you can only purchase items that are on your list, and you cannot exceed your weekly budget.

13. $5 Bill Challenge

The $5 challenge is particularly beneficial for those in tip-based positions or those that are paid in cash.

With this challenge, every time you receive a $5 bill, you set it aside for savings. You can keep or spend any other bill, but all $5 bills are tucked away. You’d be surprised by how much you can actually save by trying this challenge.

14. No New Clothes

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumers spend an average of $771 on clothes and personal care products. But if you love shopping, you may spend significantly more.

The ‘no new clothes’ challenge is where you prohibit yourself from buying new clothing, shoes, or accessories for a specific period. Depending on how tough it is for you, you may set the challenge for a period as short as three months. But if you want to challenge yourself even more, see if you can go for a full year without buying new items.

This challenge forces you to wear what you already own and shop your own closet. With some creativity, you can come up with new combinations and still express your own style.

15. Reselling Challenge

You likely have a substantial amount of money in your home without even realizing it. How? Think about all the books, clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, toys, or home decor that you don’t use and are just gathering dust. According to Mercari, a reselling platform, American households have an average of $4,517 in unused items in their homes.

With the reselling challenge, you try to earn as much money as possible by selling unused items. Here are some ideas of what to sell and where to sell it:

  • Electronics: You can sell old laptops, cell phones, and tablets on sites like Decluttr or Gazelle.
  • Clothes and accessories: Clothing, handbags, shoes, and other accessories can be sold on platforms like PoshMark, Tradesy, or eBay.
  • Books: If you have college textbooks, you could sell them on Chegg. For other books, you can sell them on BooksRun or BookScouter.
  • Toys: If you have old toys or collectibles, you can sell them on Mercari.
  • Furniture: Facebook Marketplace and offerUp are excellent places to sell furniture or home decor items.

Is Saving Money Easier Than We Thought?

If you’ve had trouble saving money in the past, using money saving challenges can be a great way to make it more manageable (and fun!). These challenges break up savings goals into smaller, easier-to-achieve increments, and because they’re fairly short in duration, you’re more likely to stick with them. Try it out, and be surprised by how much you’re able to save!


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