Many people make New Year’s resolutions about money, deciding that this will be the year they save money or pay off debt. But why wait until January to start saving money? There’s no particular magic about starting at the first of the year that’s likely to make you a more successful saver. What is likely to make you successful at hitting your savings goals is setting specific, measurable goals with a timeline and some built-in accountability. It’s also better if you make your goals enjoyable. So how can saving money be fun? By trying one of the many money challenges you see floating around online! These seven challenges have timelines and defined saving methods, and they can even include a fun element of competition, especially if you get a friend to start one with you.
52-Week Saving Challenge
This challenge is great because you start off small. In week one, you save $1. In week two, you save $2. In week three, you save $3. Get the idea? By the last week of the challenge, you’ll be dropping $52 into your piggy bank (or savings account), and you’ll have saved $1,378 in a year’s time. Want a harder challenge? Double it. By saving $2 in week one, $4 in the second week, and $6 in week three, you’ll end the year with $2,756. Why does this work? You have a defined timeline and know how much to put in each week. Hopefully, you’ll leave the 52-week challenge with new saving skills you can apply to the next year!
The No-Spend Challenge
The No-Spend Challenge is one of the oldest social media saving challenges. It started as a no-spending month. Now, though, most people pick an amount of time that works for them. If you select a period longer than a week, realize you will still have to spend some money on bills. But discretionary spending is off the table, including groceries, which will require some meal planning to help you get through the time period successfully. Using what you have instead of running out to buy things you want or think you need is a big part of the no-spend challenge. Like the idea but not ready to commit for a week? A popular twist on the idea is to pick a day of the week and have a weekly no-spend day. After you conquer one day, try more than one day at a time.
Spare Change (and Dollars!) Challenge
Think of this as the piggy bank challenge. At the end of each day for a year, drop your spare change into a jar (or amp up the fun and get a real piggy bank!). Some people will also drop in a specific bill: $5 is a popular option, but you could also choose to drop in your dollar bills. Count it up at the end of the year to determine how much you effortlessly saved. If you rarely carry cash, technology can help you do this challenge. Download an app like Qapital, which can round your debit card transactions up to the nearest dollar amount and save the change. For instance, if you buy a $3.23 coffee, the app would take $4 out of your spending account and put 79 cents into your savings account. Check with your bank if you like the idea of automatic savings: Some banks offer this service, too.
365-Day Nickel-Saving Challenge
The 365-day nickel-saving challenge is a great twist on the 52-week challenge and works for similar reasons. You have a defined timeline and a defined saving strategy, but you start smaller. On day one, you save a nickel. On day two, put away a dime. On day three, save 15 cents. Every day, add five cents more. This challenge is effective because you start so small and increase your saving rate gradually. It may not seem like much, but if you keep adding a nickel to how much you put aside every day, in a year, you’ll end up saving $3,339.75! You’ll also have established the habit of saving money daily.
Weather Savings Challenge
Most of the other savings challenges depend on you saving money in a regimented way. If that doesn’t work with your personality, you might find a randomized savings challenge to be more fun. And if you think it’s more fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Plus, if you don’t have the exact savings rate mapped out, you’ll have to be prepared to save higher amounts on different days, which helps keep your spending down.
So how does the Weather Savings Challenge work? Pick a day of the week (say, Wednesday), and then save the amount that matches the high temperature that day: If the high reaches 84 degrees, save $84 for the week. Don’t like using the weather for your savings rule? Pick another randomized number. Maybe it’s the score of your favorite team this week, or maybe it’s the number of minutes it takes you to drive to work in the morning.
This is less of an actual saving challenge and more of a strategy to consider your spending and identify areas where you can save. Every day for a month, track every single penny you spend. When you buy coffee, write it down. When you get gas, add that to the list. Put down how much you spent to pay bills, too. You can use either a simple spreadsheet or an app like You Need a Budget or Mint. At the end of the month, you’ll see where you spend money and where you can make cuts to save more.
Little Vices Savings Challenge
Experts agree that your coffee habit probably isn’t why you aren’t a millionaire. However, making small changes to your budget can result in money saved. After all, the 365-day savings challenge shows that starting with saving just a nickel can result in thousands of dollars in savings by the end of the year. So, consult your data from the expense-tracking challenge and think about your daily habits. What’s a small vice that drains your budget? For some people, it’s adding small items to their online carts. For other people, it’s going out for drinks one or two nights a week. Maybe your vice is eating lunch out most days. Even value meals add up over time!
Once you’ve identified your little vices, decide on a time when you’ll avoid them. Cut out one day a week, or go bigger and give up your vice for a month or a season. Estimate how much you would have spent indulging your favorite little vice, and drop that amount into your savings instead. Another twist on the little vice challenge is to charge yourself a luxury tax for a set period of time. Every time you order a cocktail, slide an equal amount into your savings. Suddenly, your little vice is funding your savings, too! Of course, it’s also making indulging in your favorite vice more expensive, and that might lead to you cutting back … which will leave you more money for saving!
New Year’s resolution or not, now is the perfect time to start taking control of your finances. If a financial emergency made it impossible to gain the control needed for financial health, TitleMax may have the alternative lending solutions needed to get back on your feet. Whether you need a personal loan or a car title loan to make ends meet, TitleMax has lending options to fit your specific situation.