Saving is hard. No matter how many times we hear that we need to be putting aside 20 percent of our income, we just can’t seem to, you know, set aside 20 percent of our income. Somehow things like paying rent and buying groceries always get in the way.
But wouldn’t it feel good to know that if something came up, you’d be able to cover it? If your bathroom flooded, you could afford to call a plumber. If you got in a car accident, you’d be able to pay your deductible. Or if the opportunity to see Rihanna perform presented itself, you’d be able to buy a ticket. Sadly, according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, 57 percent of Americans aren’t able to swing many emergency costs because they have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.
There are many tricks and tips out there that promise to help people grow their savings, but few have caught on in quite the way the 52-week money challenge has. The premise of the 52-week money challenge, believed to have been created in 2013 by Kassondra Perry-Moreland through a Facebook group called Kassondra’s 52-Week Money Challenge, is a simple one: Start by saving $1 and increase the amount by $1 every week for 52 weeks.
The premise is a simple one: Start by saving $1 and increase the amount by $1 every week for 52 weeks.
Say you start the challenge this week. You’d move $1 into your savings account (or piggy bank if that’s more your style). Next week, you’ll deposit $2. You’ll save $3 in the third week and so on. When you deposit $52 during the 52 week, you’ll have saved $1,378 in a relatively-painless way. (This chart makes things even easier.)
By amping up your savings gradually, the 52-week money challenge eases you into the idea of long-term steady saving without being overwhelming. And there are many ways to tailor it to your needs.
Put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it
In a piece for The Simple Dollar, Jon Gorey suggests reversing the challenge and starting by depositing $52 in the first week and contributing less each week. This approach is appealing for those who are flush with cash right now and anticipate the holidays being a little rough. Make your big contributions now and you’ll shell out less come December.
Customize the challenge
Instead of following the schedule in any linear fashion, trying checking off the amounts as you go based on when you have the most cash. Put all the amounts from $1 – $52 on a checklist and simply mark them off in whatever order you can. Saving those $1 – $10 deposits for weeks when things just aren’t going your way—and shelling out in the high $40s when your return comes in—will make sticking to the plan that much easier. Print out the Local Government Federal Credit Union’s checklist to help you stay on track.
Double the fun
For those of us who read the words 52-week money challenge and hone in on the word “challenge,” Jeffrey Strain of Saving Advice suggests challenging yourself to double the amount you save. By saving $2 in week one instead of $1, $4 in week two instead of $2, all the way to $104 in week 52 instead of $52, you’ll end up with $2,756 in your savings instead of $1,378.
Or, if this all seems silly and too much work, set up a automatic weekly transfer of $26.50 from your checking account to your savings. At the end of 52 weeks, you’ll end up with that same $1,378 balance.
No matter how you complete the challenge, at the end of 52 weeks you’ll be able to breathe a little bit easier knowing your new cushion will help break your fall, no matter what comes your way.
This story was originally published on May 15, 2018. It has been updated (and will continue to be updated) to include new tips, advice, and guidance, to ensure we are always giving you the best, most valuable resources.
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