Saving Money Just Got a Lot More Fun with the 52-Week Savings Challenge


Here are five different 52-week savings challenges + tips to help make it a home run!

Author: Kari Lorz, Certified Financial Education Instructor

Author: Kari Lorz – Certified Financial Education Instructor

“Saving money” sounds so boring. Of course, you know it’s a good idea, but that doesn’t make it any more fun.

But what if I told you there was a way to make saving money exciting? Yes, it’s true, and it’s called the 52-week savings challenge! As the name implies, you’re saving for an entire year, which is challenging.

Can you do it? Are you up for the challenge? I bet you’re stronger than you think, so let’s dive right into how you can save $1,378 with the 52-week savings challenge!

saving money just got a lot more fun with a 52-week-savings challenge

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What is the 52-week savings challenge?

It’s a savings plan where you save a set amount each week of the year. The genius thing about the challenge is that you decide how much to save; it can be any amount. We’ll go through a bunch of different options below!

The 52 week challenge is just one type of many money-saving challenges that you can do to help you put extra money into your savings account.

Different kinds of 52-week saving challenges

While you can choose any amount to save each week, it can be helpful to know what other people have had success with. Let’s go through the popular challenges.

The Beginner 52 week money challenge – the $1 challenge

This one might be the easiest option as the total dollar amount is low. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, but the dollar amount makes it a great beginner savings challenge.

Here’s how it works:

  • Week 1: save $1
  • Week 2: save $2; balance is $3
  • Week 3: save $3; balance is $6
  • Week 4: save $4; balance is $10
  • Week 5: save $5; balance is $15
  • Week 52: save $52; balance is $1,378
  • Total saved: $1,378
$1 52-week savings challenge printable

Reverse $1 money challenge

If you’re worried that you’ll lose steam and potentially quit, then consider doing the reverse challenge. This way, you save the most at the beginning of the year, when your motivation is higher. And then, each week, it gets easier by going down $1.

  • Week 1: save $52
  • Week 2: save $51; balance is $103
  • Week 3: save $50; balance is $153
  • Week 4: save $49; balance is $202
  • Week 5: save $48; balance is $250
  • Week 52: save $1
  • Total saved is $1,378
52-week savings challenge $1 reverse printable

$5,000 52 week saving challenge

If you’re looking to save a good chunk of money, say $5,000, then this is the perfect challenge. Now, you’re not saving the exact same amount each week, which is $96.15. That would be a little boring and hard to do if you were using cash.

Instead, you’ll save an even dollar amount, which is a lot easier when using cash. Each week you’ll save somewhere between $20 and $160; it changes each week, alternating between high and low amounts, making it easier to balance.  

$5,000 52-week savings challenge printable
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$10,000 52 week savings challenge

If you’re looking to save even more, say for a downpayment on a home or a new car, then consider the $10K money challenge.

Again, each week you save a different amount, but it all adds up to $10,000 saved.

52 week money saving challenge

Holiday helper savings challenge

So I’m cheating a bit, as this is essentially a 48-week savings challenge; that’s close enough, right? I start saving for Christmas on January 1st; it’s just the way that works the best for me. So I save $20 each week as a sinking fund. That’s when you save up for a specific thing/event.

I have this savings challenge ending by Black Friday, that way; you have plenty of time to shop for the holidays.

christmas money saving challenge

How to actually do a money challenge

There are a few different ways to do a money challenge. Here are the basic steps.

  1. Decide.  Pick an amount that you want to save.

  2. Write out your why.  Why is saving this amount important to you? What are you going to do with the money? You need to have a strong enough reason to keep sticking with it when it gets hard.

  3. Get your materials together, such as your 52 week money challenge printable and a cash envelope. Or if you’re going to do it all-digital, get a separate savings account set up just for this. Yes, it needs to be separate. Maybe even consider getting it at a different bank if you think you’ll be tempted to dip into it. (and don’t get a debit card for it.) You can make it even easier with an online account and set up an automatic transfer for weekly deposits for the exact amount.
    1. $5,000 money challenge = $96.15 a week
    2. $10,000 money challenge = $192.31 a week

  4. Set up calendar reminders. You need to check in every so often to make sure you’re on track to reach your goal. Or you may want to revaluate if you’re going to continue at all. Sometimes circumstances change, and we can’t continue. It’s okay to adjust or reassign money to go someplace else. What’s not okay is to quit because you’re bored. Set it up so you check in at least quarterly; add it to your calendar now so you don’t forget.

  5. Work the plan; don’t deviate, don’t lose steam. Just keep your eye on the prize!

  6. Celebrate!  At the end of the 52 weeks, you will feel so proud of all you have done!
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Do I have to start the 52-week money challenge at the beginning of the year?

No, you don’t have to start your challenge at New Year’s, you can start the money challenge at any time. But it’s convenient to start at the beginning of the year. Starting January 1st can be a great time to optimize on “new beginnings” enthusiasm and build a solid foundation to work towards your financial goals.

Tips to succeed with your 52-week money challenge

Even the best-laid plans need a bit of help from time to time. So here are some tips to help keep you on track.

  1. Keep it visual – put your savings tracker or chart somewhere where you can see it often. Say in a closet or on your bathroom mirror. When I was doing a no-spend month, I put my savings charts up on the fridge. I saw it every day, and each time I looked at it, it filled me with determination!

  2. Make sure your budget can afford it before starting.  Saving money is a great goal, yet if it won’t fit in your regular monthly budget, then it’s not going to work.

  3. Make it a habit.  One of the easiest ways to help you along the challenge is to make contributing a habit and not a haphazard afterthought. What I mean by this is that you decide, and do your saving on a set day & way. So every Tuesday, after your grocery run, you always drop by the bank and withdraw your money, and then you come home and stuff your envelope and check off your tracker sheet first thing. This Tuesday process becomes easier and easier every week because your brain knows that this is what you do on Tuesday.

  4. Where will you cut?  If saving money is a top priority, then decide at the beginning where you will cut expenses to keep saving if things get tight. For example, if your rent goes up, then you may need to cut your other discretionary expenses, like a gym membership, fun money, cut your beauty or clothing budget.

  5. Start small – If this is your first money saving challenge start small with the $1 challenge and then work up to save larger amounts, like the $5K challenge later on. Yes, go big or go home is a thing, but don’t set yourself up to fail; play it smart.

If you like the idea of saving money but don’t like the pressure of having to do it every week, then consider using a savings chart. It’s similar to a money challenge, but there are no timelines. You save money when you can. This takes the pressure off but still keeps it fun with a visual tracker and a goal you’re working towards.

Savings Hacks for your 52 week savings plan

If you are struggling through some tight months while doing your 52-week money challenge, then here are some ideas to help…

  1. Gifts – Consider asking for money as your birthday gift. Then use this gift to keep you on track with your challenge. No, it’s not cheating; it’s being resourceful!

  2. Clean out the clutter – If you’re struggling to save, then consider selling some of your unwanted items to be able to make your regular weekly contribution. This is a great reason to clean out all those boxes that are in storage!

  3. You won’t miss what you don’t see – Any easy way to save your challenge money is to have part of your paycheck sent to this new savings account. Ask your HR department for a new direct deposit form and designate a specific amount to your savings.

52 week money challenge printable

With every endeavor, you’re going to need a bit of help to set you up for success! Don’t worry, you don’t need a lot, just a few pieces of paper to get set up and keep you on track. You can absolutely make these yourself or buy them from the shop if you’re not feeling very crafty.

The Money Savings Challenges template set comes with 14 challenges (has a time limit) and two savings charts (no time limit).

no spend challenge mockup

What’s Included:

  • 52 Week BLANK Challenge
  • 52 Week Savings Challenge ($1)
  • 52 Week Savings Challenge Reverse $1
  • 52 week $5,000 Challenge
  • 52 Week $10,000 Challenge
  • $1 a Day to $500 Challenge
  • $1 a Day to $500 Reverse Challenge
  • 365 Day Penny Challenge
  • Save $1,000 a Month Challenge
  • Save $5,000 a Year Challenge
  • $1 to $100 Savings Chart
  • $5 to $500 Savings Chart
  • Cancel It! Challenge
  • Savings Jar Tracker
  • Holiday Helper Challenge (ends Black Friday)
  • Holiday Helper Half Challenge (starts July 25th)
  • No Spend Month Challenge (4 pages) 

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Why do people do a 52 week savings challenge?

It sounds hard; why would anyone do this? The main reason that people do a money challenge is to obviously save money. Usually, a lot of money. Yet sometimes, we need an extra push to do it; we need a binding commitment. 

No, it’s not a true binding commitment, but sometimes competing with ourselves can be the strongest motivator. Or, it should be, as the promises we make to ourselves are the most important.

Another hard money challenge that people like is the 100 day envelope challenge. You can save $5,050! Yup, you guessed it, in 100 days! It’s challenging, but that’s why it’s fun!

Benefits of doing a 52-week savings challenge

There are three major benefits to doing a money challenge like this. Firstly, you’ll save up a good amount of money, which is always nice to have. Secondly, and most importantly, to prove to yourself that YOU CAN DO THIS! Yes, YOU can do hard things, you are good with money, you can achieve anything you set your mind to!

Thirdly, you will have developed a saving habit! This is huge, don’t underestimate this outcome. Once you develop this skill, it can serve you for the rest of your life!

But I don’t have any money to save

Doing a money challenge is exciting; the possibility of having all that cash at the end of the year can open up so many doors! But what happens if you don’t have any money to save?

You’ve cut out all unnecessary spending, but still, you’re left with nothing left over. One of the very best ways to free up your cash flow is to dump your credit card debt. Once you stop paying all that interest, you’ll be surprised at how fast you can save.  

I know paying off your debt is hard, and it’s not nearly as fun or exciting as doing a money saving challenge, but it’s a necessary step on anyone’s personal finance journey.

You can also turn your efforts to make more money with a side hustle. Having some extra income can be a massive bonus to your quality of life and your bank account!  

What to do with your savings

This sounds a little odd, but sometimes you want the challenge of saving money, but you’re not quite sure what to save for. Don’t worry; I’ve got lots of good ideas!

  • Fill your emergency fund of 6-9 months worth of expenses
  • Plan and save for your next vacation
  • Save up a downpayment for a house or a car
  • This is a great way to get some seed money to start your sinking funds. My family has five sinking funds we use all the time. Vacation fund, house repair fund, car repair fund, kiddo fund, and a vacation fund. Here are some more ideas on sinking fund categories that can be useful.
  • Start investing – if you haven’t started saving for your retirement, then NOW is a great opportunity. Open an IRA at an investment firm (Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, etc.) and look into buying index funds (this is an excellent option for beginners). Some funds you need a certain amount of money to buy in at. For example, with some funds, a standard buy-in is $3,000 for admiral shares at Vanguard.

If you want a very quick way to figure out your savings rate, then check out my sinking fund calculator. You input the dates to start/stop saving, the amounts, and if there’s any interest (if the money is in an interest bearing account, like a high-yield savings). The calculator will tell you exactly how much to save each week and/or month; super quick and easy!

At the end of the day

Doing a 52-week savings challenge can big a huge boost to your savings and your self-confidence! And once you develop this habit, it will compound throughout your entire life. This year, save $1,378, and next year try for the $5,000 challenge. If that goes well, then I know you’re ready for the $10,000 savings challenge! Don’t worry; you’ll do great; I absolutely know it!

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Which 52-week savings challenge are you goin to do?

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  1. Great strategy! Saving is never easy, but it is so worthwhile to have the peace of mind of knowing you are secure.

  2. 52 weeks can sound like a long time but its worth the savings. I would probably start small with my savings goal and I like the idea of budgeting yourself each week.

  3. I appreciate the very practical steps you’ve outlined here for how to make a savings challenge work. And the printables are cute too!

  4. I love that you made different challenges for different amounts of saving. It is amazing how much can really add up! Thank you for the tips!

  5. I struggle a lot when it comes to saving money, but I haven’t tried or heard about this method. I can’t wait to give this a try. Thank you so much for sharing! x

  6. I always start off strong with saving then frizzle out pretty soon after. I might start with he $1 challenge and see how it goes.