If you are here reading this, you are probably one of those many people who never seem to have enough money in savings. Even if you are in debt up to your eyeballs, it is vitally important that you are able to have some savings available to you, or an unplanned event that happens becomes a major emergency. And no one wants to live in perpetual crisis mode, because that will lead us into making mistakes with our money.
To avoid being in constant crisis mode, even if you are on a tight budget, there are some ways that you can take small steps to save money to create the buffer for you that can mitigate those financial crises while you are getting out of debt. This article will go over a handful of money-saving challenges that you can do to save some money even in the tightest of budgets.
6 Savings Challenges To Try
#1. The Classic 52-week Challenge
This is a money-saving challenge that has gone viral in a lot of ways in terms of its popularity since it was introduced just a few short years ago. If you do this challenge, you can save nearly $1,400 in one year.
This challenge has given rise to others like it, and we will discuss a couple of those later. This challenge goes like this: Save $1 the first week, then $2 the second week, $3 the third, and so on, until you save $52 in the final week of the year. If you add it all up, it will come to $1,378
Saved, not including interest. That is a basic emergency fund.
This can be adjusted to a coin challenge, where you save so many coins in a week, or you save so many bills in a week (regardless of denomination). You can also do a “mini” or “mega” version of this challenge, where you save half as much each week or twice as much each week as the original.
#2. The Modified 52-week Challenge
For some of us, the thought of saving $40 or $50 in a week seems highly doubtful later in the year, so that the 52-week Challenge as established might be unrealistic. Here’s a way to adjust the challenge to fit your budget a little better: Save anywhere from $1 to $52 in any given week of the year, but only save that amount one time.
Maybe you get a bonus in the summer instead of in December, so you can save $45 or $50 a week at those times, while only able to save $5 in December because of holiday shopping. You still get $1,378 in savings and you still save the specified amount each week, but you have the flexibility according to your individual situation.
#3. The 12-Month Challenge
This is similar to the 52-week challenge, and could also be applied to a bi-weekly challenge (where you save every two weeks to correspond with your paychecks). With this challenge, you pick an amount to save in the first month (say, $25), and then you add to it every month the rest of the year ($50 in month two, $75 in month three, etc.).
If you were to consider four weeks as a month, then you can make this a 13-month challenge, where you save every four weeks an increasing amount.
#4. The 365-Day Challenge
It is said that to make a new activity a habit takes two consistent weeks without interruption for it to become part of routine. This might be just the thing for you if you want to make saving a real habit. With this challenge, you pick a small amount ($1, for example) and save it every day for a year. Of course saving just $1 a day doesn’t result in $1,378 like the 52-week challenge does, but it’s at least something.
And there is nothing wrong with saving more on certain days when you have the money! This is not about the amount, but the action of saving being a daily activity.
#5. The No-Spend Challenge
This is a challenge that hits right at your budget.
Do you have a specific, line-itemized budget in your home? Do you know where and how every dollar is spent, very specifically? Here is a way that you can save some money just by doing a little sacrifice.
You can take this one of two ways. The first original way is to look at something in your monthly budget and go 30 days without spending any money in that category. This could be going a month without going to the movies, or a month without eating out (yes, even fast food on the go counts).
Take that item out, whatever it is, and put that money away in savings. Don’t divert it to other things in your budget. Do it for one month, then see if you can go a second month, or find another category the following month to challenge yourself.
Another option here can be challenging yourself to not spend for a week. For example, do you have to get a latte at Starbucks every morning? For one week (seven days, either consecutively or spread out in a month), go without that Starbucks and pocket that money in savings.
#6. The No-Peek Challenge
This challenge is not necessarily that challenging, but it can be a way to ensure you save money. And once you do the initial steps, this challenge will pretty much work on its own.
The challenge is this: to create automatic deposits of a given amount into a savings account every month. The challenge is knowing how much you can spare each month to do this without falling behind on the rest of your budget.
Even if it’s just $20 a month, the idea is to set up a savings account in a bank other than the one that holds your checking account (this reduces the temptation to access the funds later). Once you have the savings account set up, you can go to your checking-account bank, go online (this is best done this way) and call your savings account a “bill” to be paid each month, and you can set up an automatic “payment” of that set amount each and every month on the same day of the month.
We aren’t saying you have to do all of these six challenges or their modified versions, or even any of them. Maybe you have your own system for developing a habit of saving. We are hopeful that this can at least inspire you to do some saving every week or every month, because having some savings prevents crises while you are getting out of debt and budgeting. And it’s not about making money or getting rich from this, but it’s about ensuring that you know the importance of paying yourself first.
Challenge yourself. While many bills in your budget are important, you are the most important aspect of your budget. So make sure you pay yourself, no matter how much or how little. Every little bit helps build that foundation for financial success.
Author Bio: Jon blogs at Penny Thots, a personal finance site that helps readers improve their finances, one day at a time.