Ryan O’Leary is a writer and former financial services professional. He writes about personal finance for Wealthsimple and his work has been featured by the New York Stock Exchange. Ryan holds a Bachelor's degree in International Business from University College Cork in Ireland.
What is the 52 week money challenge?
The premise of the popular 52-week money challenge is simple: you start off by putting away $1 in the first week of the challenge, and then gradually increase your savings by a dollar a week. By the end of the challenge, you are saving more than $52 a week.
The beauty of the 52-week money challenge is its simplicity and the momentum it can catalyze. It’s a simple, effective way to build a rainy day fund or save up for a much-needed vacation. To start the challenge you can simply do manual transfers from your checking to a savings account or set up auto depositing.
While the 52-week money challenge might not sound like a way to save a huge sum of money, it will help you get into the habit of saving. The amounts you save, however small, will benefit from the power of compound interest — meaning the sooner you start, the better.
If the dollar amounts in the 52-week money challenge represent mere pocket change you can start saving a larger sum of money straight away. You could also do the 52-week double money challenge (more on that later). While the 52-week money challenge is traditionally used for saving money, you could also follow the challenge as a means to start investing.
The table below shows you how much to deposit each week in order to follow the 52 Week Money Challenge:
How much can you save by doing the 52-week money challenge?
You save $1,378 by doing the 52-week money challenge. This does not include interest or investment gains. If you flip the order of the challenge and start by setting aside $52 in week one, you will be saving $1 in the final week. In any case, the target to reach is $1,378.
The 52-week double money challenge
For those who have already completed the standard 52-week money challenge, or who are simply looking to save more money, you can try the 52-week double money challenge.
The premise is the same, but you save double the amount of each week in the standard 52-week challenge. For example, during week one you save $2 instead of $1 and in week two you save $4 instead of $2. This continues until the final week when you now save $104.
This may be more difficult to maintain than the standard challenge, but at the end of the year you end up with twice the money in your savings account. Instead of $1,378, your bank account will amass $2,756, not including interest or investment gains.
The table below shows you how much to deposit each week in order to follow the 52 Week Double Money Challenge:
If you think you'll be able to save more at the beginning of the year and less at the end then you can flip the challenge. This means you'll set aside $104 in week one and conclude by saving $2 in the final week. The table below shows how to follow the 52-Week Double Money Challenge Flipped:
Both the standard and double versions of the 52-week money challenge allow for customization. You can adjust the amount you put into savings each week depending on your cash flow and other plans. For example, if you, like many others, feel the pinch during the holiday season, you can plan accordingly by allocating certain amounts to different weeks. Customizing your challenge allows you to plan for both expected and unexpected events by adjusting amounts when necessary, rather than saving an amount that has been predetermined for each week.
Other money challenges
If you've already done the 52-week Money Challenge or you feel like it's not going float your boat - you're in luck. There are plenty of other money challenges to choose from.
Mini 52-week money challenge
For those looking to start small, the mini 52-week money challenge involves starting at $0.50 instead of $1. You start off by saving $0.50 the first week, $1 the second week, and increase each weekly amount by $0.50. When the final week of the challenge rolls around, you will be putting away $26. Here's exactly how much you'll need to set aside each week:
This mini version leads to a saving of $689, half of the regular 52-week money challenge. It’s a useful way to start small and adapt to the concept of regular saving.
Biweekly money challenge
Do you get your paychecks every other week? If so, a biweekly money challenge may be a better fit. The challenge still runs over 52 weeks — the only difference is that you save bi-weekly rather than weekly.
Each time you get paid, you save an increasing amount of money. You start by putting away $3 from your first paycheck ($1 for week one, $2 for week two). The savings for the second biweekly paycheck would be $7 ($3 for week three, $4 for week four). When your 26th and final paycheck of the year comes through, you will be putting away $103 to amass a grand total of $1,378. Here's what you should put away each week to follow the biweekly money challenge:
365-day money challenge
If you’re a creature of habit and would rather save on a daily basis then the 365-day money challenge is an ideal introduction to savings. As the name suggests, with this challenge, you save money every single day!
You start off with $0.01 the first day, $0.02 the second day, and increase each daily amount by $0.01. When the final day rolls around, you put away $3.65 to amass a grand total of $667.95. For beginners, this represents an accessible first step towards regular savings habits.
104-week money challenge
You’ve already completed a grueling 52-week money challenge, but why stop there? Now that you’re an accomplished saver, you can start to pursue more aggressive savings targets.
By increasing savings amounts by a dollar a week for the second year, you can save up another $4,082. Alternatively, if you’re keen to seek a fresh start for year two, a 52-week treble money challenge can lead to savings of $4,134, while a 52-week quadruple money challenge creates $5,512 in savings.
No spend challenge
At the other end of the spectrum is the no spend challenge. These challenges are much more open to interpretation and can last anywhere from one month to six months and even a year. A no spend challenge can involve either buying just the bare essentials or not buying anything in certain categories, for example, spending only on “needs” but not on “wants”.
Savings amounts are determined by a number of factors and personal circumstances, but no spend challenges can help you identify the areas where you’re spending too much (e.g. eating out, shopping, socializing) and help you become more disciplined with your spending.
Spare change challenge
Buy yourself a piggy bank or better still, download an app like this and save or invest your spare change. All of your change goes straight into your piggy bank or the app. If you’re feeling extra disciplined, you can even add additional cash whenever you have some extra money. This challenge favors passive saving: after all, most people have some spare change lying around or won't miss it when their purchases are rounded up.
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