According to studies, 42% of Americans can’t come up with $400 without borrowing money. That’s almost half of the population.
Not having enough money in times of crisis is a worry most people share. Yet despite the risk, living paycheck to paycheck is something many American families do.
A 2019 survey from GOBankingRates found that 45% of Americans have nothing saved, and almost 69% have less than $1,000.
Whether you’re one of them or are afraid to become part of the number, seeing a goose egg in your savings account is preventable—and doesn’t mean you have to dish out 50% of your paycheck.
So how do you start saving money while still staying afloat and on top of your bills?
The answer: money saving challenges.
By using money saving challenges, saving $1,000 in less than a year is possible and dare I say, easy.
15+ Money Saving Challenges to Help You Control the Purse Strings
Saving money can feel like a challenge in itself. It seems like every time a dollar enters your checking account, it exits just as fast.
While opening a savings account can certainly help, it’s a good practice to control unhealthy impulses, or even just get in the habit of setting money aside.
Instead of battling your shopaholic nature or trying to mentally keep up with how much you’ve saved, try sticking to a creative and fun challenge that’ll leave you with more money saved than you started out with.
1. 52 Week Money Saving Challenge
It’s widely believed that it takes at least 21 days—or, three weeks—to build a new habit. Imagine how second-nature saving money will feel after doing it for 52!
The 52 week money saving challenge works by having the number of the week decide how much you’ll put into savings.
For example, on Week 1 you put away $1. On Week 13, you put away $13. On Week 52, you put away $52.
By the end of the challenge, you will have saved $1,378.
You can also do this challenge in reverse by working your way backward. For example, you’ll save $52 on the first week, and then on the last, only $1. You’ll still end up with exactly $1,378, so no matter how you go about it, the total will be the same.
This is one of my favorite saving challenges and I use it myself. I have managed to save up a few thousand dollars by sticking to it over time and saving a few bucks every week with regularity. To make things easier on myself, I use printables to keep track of everything.
You can get my printable free here-
2. Envelope Money Saving Challenge
Commonly referred to as the “100 Envelope Challenge,” this one is quite fun and addicting to work through. All you’ll need is money to save, 100 envelopes, and a box to put them in.
But the number 100 doesn’t just refer to the amount of envelopes you’ll need. The challenge lasts for 100 days, which is a little over three months—once again, a great amount of time to build a healthy new habit.
Most people who swear by the challenge say they end up with $5,050. Of course, this depends on how much you have.
And if you use 200 envelopes and pull two per day, you could end up with $10,100.
To complete the challenge, simply take 100 envelopes and label them 1-100. Once you’ve finished, place them in a container. Each day, you’ll draw one envelope from the container and put in the amount of money that matches the envelope’s number.
For example, if you draw Envelope #23, you’d need to put $23 into it.
If you have enough money to place the exact amount written on each envelope, you’ll end up with $5,050 by the end of 100 days.
3. 365 Day Dime Challenge
Similar to the 52 week money saving challenge, this one will require you to save a specific amount of money for a whole year.
If you don’t have $5,050 to put aside for the envelope challenge, the 365 Day Dime challenge is a good alternative.
Instead of saving large amounts of money over a relatively short time period, the dime challenge prompts you to set aside just one dime (10 cents) per day. While this might seem like an insanely small amount of money, you’ll be surprised to see how much your money grows as you go through the challenge.
By the time you reach Day 90, you will have saved $409.50. By the end of the 365 days, the total will come out to an astounding $6,679.50.
4. 365 Day Penny Challenge
The dime challenge is doable for anyone who makes over $6,680 a year. While most adults and older teenagers certainly do, the challenge isn’t quite as achievable for younger audiences or parents who want to teach their kids the importance of saving.
Luckily, we have yet another alternative. Instead of saving one dime a day, you can save one penny a day.
If you do so for an entire 365 days, you’ll end up with a surprising $668. Who knew you could accumulate so much from pennies?
Visit Hassle Free Savings to grab a copy of this penny challenge printable
5. 365 Day Quarter Challenge
Another challenge that involves setting aside a coin a day is the 365 Day Quarter Challenge. It works the same way the previous 365 day coin challenges work, except you’re a bit more ambitious.
In this challenge, you’ll be prompted to save one quarter (25 cents) per day. And if you thought the end result of the dime challenge was impressive, you’re in for a surprise.
After 365 days of the quarter challenge, you’ll have a whopping $16,698.75 in savings.
6. 52-Week Dollar Saving Challenge
Perhaps the easiest of them all, this challenge requires participants to only set aside $1 per week. By doing simple math, you’ll have $52 in savings by the end of a year.
While the amount isn’t as big as even the penny saving challenge, the 52-week dollar challenge is perfect for beginners in saving who don’t know where to start or are too nervous to try one of the harder challenges.
It also beats the penny challenge when it comes to the easiest for kids. If your kids receive allowances or earn money from odd jobs (like babysitting or mowing lawns), this challenge is the perfect way to teach them the importance of saving.
7. 26-Week Money Saving Challenge
Also called the bi-weekly savings plan, this challenge is almost the exact same as the 52-week money savings challenge. The only difference is that instead of setting aside your savings amount each week, you do so every two weeks.
The reason this challenge is popular is because most people get paid bi-weekly. Saving a certain amount of money each time you get paid versus every week is a bit more achievable and—if you’re saving a larger chunk of change—less stressful.
8. One Year Savings Challenge
The one year savings challenge is similar to the 52 week one, but instead of letting the week you are on determine the amount you save, you save a specific amount every time.
Instead of saving $1 on Week 1 and $26 on Week 26, you’ll save the same amount of money every week—such as saving $15 every week for one year.
Even by saving just $15 a week, you’ll end up with $780 by the end of the year.
9. No Spending Challenge
Instead of setting aside money to save, this challenge encourages you to take dedicated periods of time off spending.
The most popular version of the challenge is no spending for a month, but many people dedicate certain days or one week to the challenge.
The goal is for you to become more aware of what you’re spending money on, how and where you can cut back, and save as much money as you can.
And by “no spending,” this doesn’t mean you limit yourself just on extracurricular activities or nights out. You must even avoid the grocery store.
To succeed at the challenge, it’s recommended to stock your fridge and pantry before you start.
If you are interested in tracking your new no spend challenge’s success rate, consider downloading this free budget template I created-
10. Randomize Your Savings Challenge
Instead of sticking to a plan for a duration of time, this challenge randomizes when and how much you save—which can also make it fun!
The challenge first gained momentum when an Arizona blogger decided to save according to the weather on Wednesdays.
For one year, the blogger challenged herself to save as much as the high temperature every Wednesday. For example, if the high is 98 degrees, she’d save $98 that week. If the high is 36, she’d save $36 that week.
You can also randomize your savings by indicators other than the weather, such as the latest score from your favorite sports team, how long your bike ride to work lasted, or how your favorite song is ranking on billboards on a certain day.
11. Tracking Expenses Challenge
While you might not end up with a chunk of change in savings, this challenge forces you to be aware of how much you’re spending. Thus, making it easier for you to save after identifying categories you spend too much money on.
For a month, keep a money diary, excel spreadsheet, or another form of logging device, and write down everything you spend money on. Groceries, gas, concert tickets- everything.
After the month is over, identify where you spent too much money. Then, challenge yourself to save a certain amount in that category next month.
12. Spare Change Challenge
Another quite easy challenge, the Spare Change Challenge is quite true to its name. Instead of saving a certain amount of money, you’re prompted to save whatever change you’re left with.
While this might seem like a challenge solely for cash carriers, those who rarely use cash can participate too, thanks to apps.
13. Habit Spending Challenge
The items or places you spend your money often become habits. Also known as little vices, these habitual spending patterns leave you with less money than you thought you’d have.
These habits include buying a latte every morning before work, going out to eat three times a week, smoking, adding too much to your Amazon cart, or using delivery services.
Instead of transferring a certain amount of dollars to your savings account each week, this challenge encourages you to stop spending money on these little vices.
14. One Month Meal Planning Challenge
If you go out to eat a few times a month, this challenge will help you cut back on the money leaving your bank account.
Similar to the habit spending challenge, this one focuses on shifting your lifestyle instead of setting aside money on a regular basis.
To complete the challenge, plan out your meals for the month. Instead of eating out, pack your lunch to work and eat dinner at home according to your meal plan. By deciding what you’re going to eat a month in advance, the temptation to eat out is greatly reduced.
An easy way to stick to this challenge and sustain motivation is by joining a member site like $5 Meal Plan. All it costs is $5 a month and they send you weekly plans that can cost as little as $2 per person.
So not only will you save by not eating out, but also by not wasting money on groceries you won’t use!
15. $5 Savings Challenge
This challenge prompts you to move $5 into savings every time you receive money, whether it be cash or virtual. It lasts for 90 days, and those $5 add up faster than you’d think.
The amount you end up with in savings will depend on how often you get paid. However, if you receive money biweekly as most income earners do, you’ll have approximately $32.14 by 90 days (almost 13 weeks).
16. Spend Cash, Save Cash Challenge
Instead of shopping on Amazon or at Walmart, do most of your shopping with sites like Honey and Rakuten. Honey finds and applies coupons to your order every time you shop online, and Rakuten gives you cash back every time you spend.
Another option is to find items around your house that you don’t use anymore and sell them on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, to Goodwill, or other stores and sites.
Whatever money you make from selling those items, saving with coupons, or receiving in cash back, put in your savings.
FAQs About Money Saving Challenges
How much money do you save by saving a dollar a week?
If you save $1 per week for an entire year (52 weeks), you’ll save $52. The answer really depends on how many weeks you plan to save $1.
For example, if you decide to do so for two years (104 weeks), you’ll save $104 instead of $52.
After doing the 52 week money saving challenge, how much would I have saved?
By completing the 52 week money saving challenge, you’ll save $1,378.
What is the best way to save money using a challenge?
Choose a challenge that suits your lifestyle, needs, and budget. The purpose of doing a saving money challenge isn’t just to accumulate a large number of savings, but to also build a habit of saving money.
As long as you stay consistent, you’ll end the challenge with results.
Where do I put the money I save during a money saving challenge?
The way you “set aside” your dedicated amount of money is up to you, but I’d recommend putting it somewhere other than your checking account.
If you receive a lot of your money in cash, consider tucking it away into a shoebox or jar and hiding it in your closet somewhere out of sight. Even if you don’t carry cash, you can simply withdraw your weekly savings amount in cash and then stash it away.
If you don’t like the idea of storing cash, consider opening a savings account. That way, you can simply transfer your challenge money from one account to the other when it comes time to save.
No matter what you decide, it’s important that you separate the money you’re saving from the money that’s available for you to spend.
Not only does it prevent you from accidentally using it and then losing track of how much you’ve saved, but it’s also extremely satisfying to see the exact amount you’ve accumulated at the end of the challenge.
Saving Money Is About Changing Your Lifestyle and Being Consistent
If you want saving to feel like second nature, you must turn it into a habit by being consistent. Once you stay consistent, the action will become part of your regular routine.
To make your savings journey a bit easier, tweaking your lifestyle to avoid spending money on excess items and excursions will help you stay consistent and keep more of your hard-earned money.
Overall, saving money is about a combination of those two secret ingredients—consistency and lifestyle maintenance.