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Hacking the 52-Week Money Challenge: Eleven Creative Ways to Boost Your Savings

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A new year begins, and with it comes the opportunity to start fresh and make changes in our lives. Many people have resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, or get more organized.

One common New Year’s resolution is to save more money. However, saving can be difficult, as it requires discipline and motivation. One way to boost motivation is to turn saving into a game. This is a strategy that credit card companies, retailers, and apps have long employed, using rewards and points to encourage desired behavior.

The 52-Week Money Challenge is one such game that helps people save money and achieve their financial goals.


The 52-Week Money Challenge

The 52-Week Money Challenge is a personal finance challenge where you save an increasing amount of money each week for 52 weeks. It starts with saving $1 in the first week and increases by $1 each week until you save $52 in the final week of the year. If you complete the challenge, you will have saved a total of $1,378 by the end of the year.

The goal of the challenge is to create good saving habits and to save money for emergencies or a specific goal.

One benefit of the challenge is that it is simple to start and easy to follow, as you only need to save a small amount in the beginning. However, saving larger amounts in the later weeks, especially during the typically expensive month of December, may be challenging for some people.

You can visualize the 52-Week Money Challenge with this handy chart.


52-Week Money Challenge Chart

Week # Deposit Amount Total Savings
Week 1 $1.00 $1.00
Week 2 $2.00 $3.00
Week 3 $3.00 $6.00
Week 4 $4.00 $10.00
Week 5 $5.00 $15.00
Week 6 $6.00 $21.00
Week 7 $7.00 $28.00
Week 8 $8.00 $36.00
Week 9 $9.00 $45.00
Week 10 $10.00 $55.00
Week 11 $11.00 $66.00
Week 12 $12.00 $78.00
Week 13 $13.00 $91.00
Week 14 $14.00 $105.00
Week 15 $15.00 $120.00
Week 16 $16.00 $136.00
Week 17 $17.00 $153.00
Week 18 $18.00 $171.00
Week 19 $19.00 $190.00
Week 20 $20.00 $210.00
Week 21 $21.00 $231.00
Week 22 $22.00 $253.00
Week 23 $23.00 $276.00
Week 24 $24.00 $300.00
Week 25 $25.00 $325.00
Week 26 $26.00 $351.00
Week 27 $27.00 $378.00
Week 28 $28.00 $406.00
Week 29 $29.00 $435.00
Week 30 $30.00 $465.00
Week 31 $31.00 $496.00
Week 32 $32.00 $528.00
Week 33 $33.00 $561.00
Week 34 $34.00 $595.00
Week 35 $35.00 $630.00
Week 36 $36.00 $666.00
Week 37 $37.00 $703.00
Week 38 $38.00 $741.00
Week 39 $39.00 $780.00
Week 40 $40.00 $820.00
Week 41 $41.00 $861.00
Week 42 $42.00 $903.00
Week 43 $43.00 $946.00
Week 44 $44.00 $990.00
Week 45 $45.00 $1,035.00
Week 46 $46.00 $1,081.00
Week 47 $47.00 $1,128.00
Week 48 $48.00 $1,176.00
Week 49 $49.00 $1,225.00
Week 50 $50.00 $1,275.00
Week 51 $51.00 $1,326.00
Week 52 $52.00 $1,378.00


The Negatives of the 52-Week Money Challenge

One potential drawback of the 52-Week Money Challenge is that it requires a high level of discipline and commitment in order to be successful. The challenge requires participants to save a specific amount of money each week, increasing incrementally over the course of the year. By requiring a specific amount of savings each week, it may not allow for flexibility in terms of unexpected expenses or changes in income. For example, if you have an unexpected car repair or medical bill, you may not have enough money left to meet the savings goal for that week. This can lead to feeling discouraged and potentially abandoning the challenge altogether. Additionally, if your income changes significantly (either increase or decrease), the fixed savings amounts may no longer be realistic or attainable.

Additionally, the challenge asks participants to save increasingly larger sums of money as the weeks progress, with the final four weeks requiring a savings contribution of $49, $50, $51, and $52. This can be a significant amount for some people to come up with. This high final amount can be intimidating and discourage some people from finishing the challenge.


Hack and Improve the 52-Week Money Challenge

If you find the traditional format of the 52-Week Money Challenge too rigid, there are several ways to customize it to suit your own needs and goals.

For example, you can start by making larger contributions in the beginning, which will leave the easy, smaller amounts for later in the year.

Begin with a larger contribution, such as using a year-end bonus to make a $52 contribution at the start of the challenge. This allows you to save the “$1 week” for when you need to spend more money during the holidays in December.

This is just one way to tailoring the 52-Week Money Challenge to suit your personal circumstances and objectives. Continue reading for eight more ways to hack the 52-Week Money Challenge.


The 12-Month Money Challenge

If you want to save a specific amount of money and build good saving habits, you can modify the 52-Week Money Challenge to better suit your needs. Let’s call it the 12-Month Money Challenge.

One way to do this is to set up an automatic savings deposit for a fixed amount each month, and gradually increase the amount saved each month. For example, you could save $100 in January, $110 in February, $120 in March, $130 in April, and so on. This approach spreads out the savings over the course of the year and may be less challenging than saving a larger amount in the later weeks of the traditional 52-Week Money Challenge.

By starting at $100 and increasing the savings by $10 or $20 each month, you can reach your goal of saving $1,860 by the end of the year. If you choose to increase the savings by $20 each month, you will have saved a total of $2,520 by the end of the year.


The 104-Week Money Challenge

The 52-Week Money Challenge is a useful tool for building good saving habits and improving your financial situation. However, you can also extend the challenge by continuing to save money for an additional 52 weeks. By doing this, you can develop a long-term saving habit and save a larger amount of money over time. For example, if you continue to save $1 more each week for an additional 52 weeks, you can save an additional $4,082 by the end of the second year, for a total of $5,460 saved over the 104 weeks (two years).

If you have a higher income or have a much larger goal in mind, you may want to increase the amount saved each week to save more money over the course of the challenge. For example, you could start by saving $100 each week and increase the amount saved by $5 each week for 104 weeks. This will allow you to save over $37,000 in 2 years!


Flat Amount Savings

The 52-Week Money Challenge typically involves saving a specific dollar amount each week, with the amount increasing by one dollar each week. However, you can modify this approach by saving a flat amount each week, regardless of the week’s number. For example, you might choose to save $20 each week for the entire 52 weeks. This variation can be a good option for those who have a tighter budget and need to limit their savings to a specific amount each week.


Percentage of Income

Another variation on the 52-Week Money Challenge is to save a certain percentage of your income each week, rather than a fixed dollar amount. For example, you might choose to save 10% of your weekly income for the entire 52 weeks. This can be a good option for those who want to increase their savings each week as their income increases.


Automate Your Savings

Automating your savings is a useful strategy for completing the 52-Week Money Challenge and improving your financial situation. Most banks have online and mobile banking platforms that allow you to set up automatic deposits on a schedule that works for you. This can make it easier to save money and avoid the temptation to spend it on non-essential items. Additionally, setting up a high-interest savings account online can help you save money by automatically transferring it to a place where it is less accessible.

There are also several apps, such as Digit and Qapital, that make it easy to automate your savings and track your progress. Qapital even has a 52-Week Money Challenge option built-in. Additionally, it can be connected to other apps and devices, such as a FitBit or GPS, to create custom “savings rules” based on your behavior. For example, you could set the app to transfer money into your savings account every time you walk a certain number of steps or pass a particular location.

Automating your savings and using apps and tools can make the 52-Week Money Challenge less difficult and help you achieve your financial goals.


Payday Savings

If your pay schedule doesn’t align with the weekly schedule of the 52-Week Money Challenge, you can modify the challenge to fit your pay schedule. For example, you might choose to save every other week or twice a month if that is how often your payday occurs. This can be a good option for those who are paid biweekly or monthly, as it allows them to save in a way that aligns with their income.


Make it Competitive

If you’re having trouble staying motivated while saving money, consider setting up a shared savings goal with someone else. This could be a spouse, friend, or family member who is also working towards a financial goal. By sharing a savings goal, you can motivate each other to save more money and reach your goals faster.

Using competition as a motivator can be a fun and effective way to stay focused on your saving goals. You can track your progress and see who is saving more money towards the shared goal. The winner could receive a reward, such as the window seat on a vacation or a special treat. By making the saving process more interactive and engaging, you can stay motivated and make progress towards your financial goals.


Goal-Specific Savings

If you have a specific savings goal in mind, such as a down payment on a house or a major trip, you can use the 52-Week Money Challenge as a way to save for that goal. Simply calculate how much money you need to save each week in order to reach your goal by the end of the 52 weeks, and then stick to that plan. This can be a great way to stay motivated and stay on track towards achieving your goal.


Debt Repayment Savings

Another variation on the 52-Week Money Challenge is to use it as a way to pay off debt. Simply save the money each week and use it to make extra payments on your debts. This can be a good option for those who are looking to get out of debt and want to use the 52-Week Money Challenge as a way to make progress towards that goal. By making extra payments on your debts, you can pay them off faster and save money on interest in the long run.


Combine New Year’s Resolutions

Here’s our 11th variation on the 52-Week Money Challenge. If living healthier and exercising more are also your New Year’s resolution, combining them with the 52-Week Money Challenge can be a great way to make progress towards both your health and financial goals. Using apps or platforms that integrate with popular apps and social media platforms can be an effective way to track your progress and encourage good habits. For example, you can:

  • Log your food intake or track your daily water intake and deposit $5 into your savings.
  • Check in at the gym and deposit $10.
  • Go for a run, or play your favorite sport, and deposit $15.
  • Complete a task on your to-do list, such as sending out a resume or finishing a project, and deposit $20 reward.
  • Give yourself a “fine” and deposit a larger amount, say $50, if you smoke a cigarette or eat fast food.

By turning the saving process into a game and making it interactive and engaging, you can stay motivated and make progress towards your financial and health goals.


Sum It Up!

What matters most when it comes to saving money is not the specific method you use, but rather that you are consistently setting aside funds for your future.

Whether you use the 52-Week Money Challenge, use one of our 11 hacks, or come up with your own saving strategy, the important thing is to establish a regular savings routine and stick to it. This can be especially important for those who have little or no savings, as it can help you take control of their financial future and build a foundation for long-term financial stability.

Regardless of which approach you choose, the key is to start saving and stay committed to your goals.


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