Here’s How to Save Extra Cash With the 52-Week Money Challenge

Here’s How to Save Extra Cash With the 52-Week Money Challenge
Photo: Piece of Cake, Shutterstock
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

If you’re looking to reach a savings goal but aren’t sure how to get there, consider the 52-week money challenge. The increments you save are meant to be so small that you barely notice you’ve been saving money. Is it a gimmick? Absolutely — but it works. Hell, it works so well you can start any time of the year, not just at the start of the year.

The 52-week money challenge explained

The 52-week money challenge is quite simple. Each week you put an increment of cash aside and watch the amount grow throughout the year:

  • In first week of the year, you save $1.
  • For week two, you save $2.
  • For week three, you save $3.
  • For week four, you save $4.

By the end of the year, you’re putting aside more money:

  • For Week 49, you save $49.
  • For Week 50, you save $50.
  • For Week 51, you save $51.
  • For Week 52, you save $52.

A year from your start date, you’ll total $1,378 in savings. The appeal of the 52-week money challenge is that the initial amounts are so minimal that it feels like you’re creating something out of almost nothing. It also gets you into the habit of saving, which is something that a lot of people struggle with. There are variations to this challenge, too, including:

  • Saving in reverse order, in case you want more breathing room during the holidays (the last week of that year would be $1)
  • Simplifying the savings to a weekly averaged amount of $30 — convenient if you want to make regular, automated payments from your checking account
  • Adjusting the weekly amount to meet a specific spending goal (starting with $3 in the first week, as an example, will save you almost $5,400 — use this calculator to make your adjustments, as needed)
  • You could stretch the savings into a two or three-year challenge, resetting the incremental savings amount back to $1 in the first week of each year.

How to track your savings

Ideally, the 52-week money challenge works best if you have a separate savings account to stash your money challenge savings. If you only have one savings account, however, you might want to try an online bank, which will have higher savings rates and lower fees than brick-and-mortar banks. Nerdwallet has a good rundown on savings accounts offered by online banks, including some that have no monthly fees, here.

Alternatively, try a simple printout to chart your savings. You might wonder why people might use a printout rather than track their savings using an app or computer, but people often prefer a visual, tactile reminder — if you slap it on your fridge, it’s literally impossible to avoid.

If you feel like adding a little extra to your weekly amount, you should try looking for ways to reduce your fixed expenses. Take your electricity or phone bill, for example. If you’ve been with the same provider for years and just letting your accounts rollover, it might be time to compare your current costs to other providers in your area.

To help with the process, we’ve partnered with a powerful comparison tool called eConnex to help make this process fast and easy. You can even use your most current electricity bill details to get an accurate comparison. Enter your postcode in the box below to get started.

Where are you located?

Currently available in ddd, ACT, SA, VIC, parts of QLD, TAS & WA (only Gas). Not available in Ergon Area (QLD), NT and embedded networks or non-quotable meters.

Log in to comment on this story!