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Many consumers saw their savings stagnate or even diminish in 2022 — inflation and rising rates on loans over the past year have increased certain budget costs. In fact, just 24 percent of consumers reported that they had more in their savings in a June 2022 Bankrate survey, while the rest had the same amount of savings, less or none at all.
The new year offers a great opportunity to reevaluate your budget and rebuild savings. For anyone trying to improve their savings in 2023. the 52-week money challenge is a simple and effective way to stay on track. And at the end of the year, you’ll have $1,378 extra dollars to bulk up your emergency savings or put toward a savings goal, such as a vacation fund or a down payment on a home.
What is the 52-week money challenge?
Using the 52-week money challenge, you should deposit an increasing amount of money into your savings each week for one year.
Match each week’s savings amount with the number of the week in your challenge. In other words, you’ll save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week, and so on until you put away $52 in week 52.
Those numbers are guidelines, but you can get creative with the amount you save each week if you’d like to save more over the year or you don’t have enough extra cash available for the regular challenge.
If you stick to this challenge throughout the entire year, you’ll save a total of $1,378.
|Week number||Weekly deposit||Total savings|
How to get started
It’s important to first find somewhere to store your savings that’s manageable, risk-free and has growth potential.
A simple piggy bank may work for you, but not everyone has cash on hand to deposit each week. Plus, having your savings in such an accessible place may tempt you to dip into it before the end of the challenge.
Consider opening a high-yield savings account and transferring your challenge money into it each week instead. In addition to curbing any impulse spending, a savings account can help you accumulate a bit more over the course of the year through interest earnings.
If you really want to make things easy, consider utilizing automated savings features. These features, which come with many mobile banking apps and money-saving apps, let you set up automatic transfers of a certain amount of money into your new savings account. If you never see it, you won’t have the chance to miss the cash before it goes into savings.
Adjust the challenge to fit your needs
One way to improve your chances of sticking to the challenge for the full 52-week period is to personalize the process to suit your needs. The details don’t matter as much as actually succeeding in accumulating your savings by the year’s end.
Saving money in increasing increments over the course of a calendar year can be difficult, mostly because your spending likely increases in December. If you’re worried about your savings falling off during the holidays, try flipping your money challenge. So, instead, you put away $52 the first week, $51 the second and so on until you owe just $1 the last week of December.
Perhaps you’re anticipating a bonus sometime during the year or a cash gift for your birthday or a holiday. Use those extra sums to get a head start on the tougher weeks or catch up if you’ve fallen behind.
Instead of keeping up with changing deposits, you may want to simply save the same amount every week until you reach your year-end goal. This is helpful if you want to go the automated route, as you’ll be able to direct the same amount each week or pay cycle. If you transfer $26.50 into your savings every week, you’ll accumulate the same $1,378 as in the regular challenge.
Maybe you have more ambitious goals. Double up on the challenge by saving $2 in week one, $4 in week two and $6 for week three until you save $104 in week 52 for a total of $2,756.
There are countless versions of the challenge that you can find templates for online, but don’t be afraid to put your own spin on things. The best method is whatever helps you reach your goal by the end of the year.
How to stay on track
Set reminders and benchmarks for yourself to make sure you don’t quit midway through your challenge.
Have an end goal in mind before you begin saving, whether that’s a down payment, your emergency fund, a vacation budget or some other goal. Having something to work toward will help you stay motivated throughout the year.
To help yourself stay on track, keep a regular reminder on the calendar. Weekly notifications can ensure the challenge stays top of mind.
If you need extra help staying motivated, set smaller benchmarks for yourself throughout the year. For instance, for every 13 weeks that you successfully save (four times throughout the year) reward yourself for keeping pace. Plus, like any New Year’s resolution, having someone keeping you accountable can be a great motivator for success. Ask your friends or family to take the challenge with you and check in with each other monthly to ensure you’re keeping up with your deposits.
And after you hit your savings goal in full at the end of the 52 weeks, don’t stop your momentum.
You’ve already accomplished the most difficult part — getting started. Start over with another 52-week money challenge or challenge yourself to a new goal for next year.
— Bankrate’s René Bennett contributed to an update of this story.