Why do a money-saving challenge?
If you’re looking to add some money to your savings account this year, a money-saving challenge may be for you. There are so many ways you can challenge yourself to save money. The key is to find a challenge that is right for you. Maybe a daily saving money challenge would help you curb impulse purchases. Perhaps a 52-week money challenge will help you achieve your longer-term financial goals.
The goal of saving money is of course to save. But it’s also to establish a habit where saving becomes second nature, not spending.
Check out a list below of money-saving challenges you can start today. Find one that sounds like it fits you and your lifestyle, and try it. At a minimum, you should be able to add at least a little more money to your savings account this year.
Why is saving money important?
You never know what financial opportunity or emergency or disaster is around the corner. Experts recommend having at least 3-6 months of expenses in an Emergency Fund in case you find yourself in an unfortunate situation and need to support yourself and your family if you cannot work or are not collecting a paycheck. That could be the loss of a job, health-related challenges, or any number of other personal emergencies.
This CNBC article shows how much money Americans have in savings at every age. Check it out to see where you fall. The bottom line is most of us are not doing enough to save money in case of an emergency or simply for a rainy day.
You may be thinking if I had money to save I would but I can barely pay the bills as it is. Check out this list of money-saving challenges and try one today. Even with a limited income, you may surprise yourself how easy they are to start, and how quickly you can see the savings add up!
1. A spending fast or no spend month
I recently completed my own no-spend month and highly recommend it. A no-spend month is where you challenge yourself to only spend on needs (not wants) for an entire month. Of course, it can be modified shorter or longer depending on how you want to challenge yourself. This is one of my favorite money-saving challenges.
I found that not only did I spend less money. But I was able to put more into savings, and I had more free time!
Why did I have more free time? My face wasn’t stuck in my phone surfing for deals and opening promotional emails all day. What was the point in checking out a sales flyer if I knew I couldn’t spend any money for the month?
A no-spend month really helped me reprioritize my spending. So much of what you spend money on is simply not needed! A no-spend month will help you see that.
2. Change jar or saving penny challenge
Another money-saving challenge is a change jar. This works well if you’re on a primarily cash-based budget. Simply save all your physical change (coins).
Nothing fancy, grab an old jar. Aim to not spend any change you accumulate and add it to the jar. Once full, take it to the bank, cash it out, and sock it away somewhere safe in savings.
3. Automated savings app such as Acorns to round up digitally
I love the Acorns app for saving without thinking about it. Acorns digitally rounds up any purchases you make with select debit or credit cards. Meaning, small-dollar amounts get taken out of your accounts, around $5. That amount is small enough that you won’t even notice the money is missing.
The money is automatically placed and saved in your Acorns account for you for a rainy day. Try it today if you’re looking for a no-brainer easy way to save small amounts of money regularly.
Related: Acorns app review, how I’m saving for my 40th birthday with this app!
4. Don’t spend during the workweek
If you plan meals and gas in advance, what could you possibly need to spend money on during a typical workweek? Any easy money saving challenge is to not spend any money unnecessarily during the workweek and put the money not spent into your savings account.
5. Save select bills (you decide which ones)
For this cash saving challenge, choose a bill denomination and try to save all of them that hit your wallet. For example, $1 bills or $5 bills. If you’re consistently paying with cash, and consistently breaking $10 or $20 bills to pay for things, you’ll run across more of these than you think. And $1 is small enough, you won’t even notice it’s missing from your wallet. But over time, the single dollars will really add up!
6. 52-week money challenge
Start by saving $1 the first week, $2 the next, etc. In the final week of the year, you will save $52. It doesn’t seem like much, but at the end of the money-saving challenge, you’ll have saved $1378!
7. Save $1 a day or a certain dollar amount each day
An alternative to the 52-week money challenge is a daily challenge. Vow to save a certain amount of money every single day. It could be $1. It gets you in the habit of saving and makes you think twice about spending knowing you need to put money aside for saving.
8. 401K savings challenge
Increase your retirement contribution by 1% a few times throughout the year. If you are already a good contributor, maybe 1% total is a good number. If you haven’t started a 401K or need to play catchup, plan to increase your contribution a few times throughout the year. Maybe every 3-4 months.
Or if you really want to challenge yourself, increase it every month. For example, 1% in January, another 1% February, etc. At the end of the year, you are contributing 12% more than you are today. The goal would be to max out your 401k!
9. Create your own spending challenge (travel, Christmas, etc.)
If there is a specific thing you are trying to save for, create your own challenge. Maybe it’s a vacation or a car. Maybe you are trying to save up for the holidays. Create your own savings challenge specific for that one “thing.” Focusing on the key savings area will keep you motivated to stick with it!
10. Vices saving challenge
Identify a vice or two you know you spend too much money on. Come on, we all have that one bad habit we’ve been meaning to break.
Maybe it’s a happy hour or that 6-pack of beer. Maybe it’s a latte or your daily trip to the vending machine. Whatever it is, identify one or two things you know are bad habits you’d like to break, and try to not spend money on them for a set period of time.
This works two-fold. Not only will you save some cash, but you could break a bad habit in the meantime!
11. Make money challenge
Find a few things around the house that you no longer use and sell. Try Facebook marketplace, Poshmark or Letgo. Wouldn’t you rather have a few extra bucks in your pocket than things you aren’t using around the house? I recently started posting baby items (my youngest just turned 1) on Facebook marketplace and have been amazed at what people are willing to buy.
12. Cash spending challenge
Pull out enough cash from the ATM or bank you think you’re going to need for the week. Then any purchases you make, use the cash. Any money left over at the end of the week put in savings.
It’s impossible to go over budget if you stick to this challenge. Plus, when you don’t spend every cent, you’ll have a stockpile of cash for a rainy day or unexpected expense in the future. This is one of my favorite ways to stay on track with my budget: pay in cash!
13. Grocery shopping challenge
First, make a list before each grocery shopping trip. Purchase only what you have on the list and nothing more. Even if something is on sale or it’s a great deal. There will be other deals.
Then, before you check out, review your cart. Remove any items you may have impulsively grabbed that were not on the list. It’s okay to put something back on the shelf. Just because something made it into your cart does not mean you need to buy it. Check out how to stop impulse buys for other tips.
Also, check out easy ways to save money at the grocery store!
14. Unsubscribe challenge
This would include anything that you auto pay for. Think gym memberships or streaming services. Are you really using these things, or do you keep paying for them but forget to cancel? If you don’t use them, unsubscribe from them.
This can also be a good time to unsubscribe from any emails you receive from stores offering sales and promotions. There will always be another sale or promotion. If it lands in your inbox and you are tempted to take advantage, unsubscribe from those emails.
Use offers you find on Rakuten (formerly ebates) or Retailmenot.com so you’re always getting a good deal. You don’t need an email to convince you to buy something you don’t need.
15. Save your online cart
We all do this: put something in your cart that you think you need and then forget about it. Challenge yourself when you’re online shopping for something you don’t need to NOT buy it. Instead, take the money you were so close to spending and put it in savings.
I do this when I’m tempted to spend money on my daughters. Especially clothes or toys that are cute and I think they would enjoy but that they simply do not need. I’m constantly online shopping to a fault. Not always checking out but browsing a lot.
If I put something into my cart that’s let’s say $20 and I don’t check out. I’ll put $20 into my daughter’s savings account instead. She’ll appreciate it in the future and she simply doesn’t need any more toys or clothes that she’ll play with or use once and get lost amongst the sea of other toys and clothes.
16. Save on select expenses each month
Mix it up each month. This money-saving challenge would be like a no spend fast or a no-spend month, but you choose a select category or categories to not spend on. This makes the challenge a little less intimidating.
For example, one month you try to save as much as you can on groceries and make do with that is in your pantry and fridge. The next month, try to not spend on clothing or reduce your expenses on gas. This may make you think twice about taking the extra trip or combining trips to use less gas.
Money-saving challenges only work if you take them seriously and actually save money. So, you should think about not only spending less but how and where specifically you plan to save.
Is it a savings account at a bank? A high yield savings account? Will you plan to invest in the stock market? Will you use a savings app like Stockpile or Acorns? So not spending is important, but make sure you also have a plan for what you are going to do with the savings.
What savings challenge have you tried? Would you recommend it?
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