While you are picking your new Word of the Year, it is also a good time to give a little thought to your financial situation. If saving nearly $1400 this year sounds like a good idea, then you might want to consider doing the 52-Week Money Challenge. This isn’t a new thing. If you’ve been on Pinterest over the last few years, you may have seen the chart or variations floating around on Facebook. The idea is very simple: for each of the 52 weeks in the year, you save $1 to $52. At the end of the 52 weeks, you will have saved a total of $1378.00. Easy!
There is a bit of conversation online about the ‘best’ way to do the savings challenge. Here are a few suggestions, find the one that works best for your personality.
LEAST TO MOST
The original challenge has you saving $1 on week one, $2 on week 2, $3 on week 3, up to $52 on week 52. This way, you begin gradually. Saving $1 is painless at the start and in the first month you’re only saving $10. By the time you get to the end of the challenge, you will be accustomed to putting aside the money.
MOST TO LEAST
Staying committed to a challenge that gets harder and harder is definitely a downside of the original challenge. An alternative that has been suggested is that you do it in reverse – start by saving $52 in week 1, $51 in week 2, $50 in week 3, down to $1 in week 52. The original hardship of saving is over with and by the end of the first month you will already have $202 saved. Saving will only get easier from there!
MIX IT UP
The biggest drawback of both of the above versions is that both December and January are likely two of the hardest months to scratch up a spare $202 to set aside, so if you start easy, December 2015 is going to be tight and if you start hard, you better hope you didn’t over spend at Christmas! A third option is to have your spreadsheet of the different amounts you are going to need to contribute and then just put in what you can, when you can, and cross off that amount on your chart. You could even balance the amounts over the month, for example doing $52, $51, $1, $2 the first month, $50, $49, $3, $4, the second. You will average about $115/month in your savings if you do it equally.
$1378 would be an amazing amount of money to have at the end of the year, but if you have a bigger goal in mind for the start of 2016, you might want to save some more. Consider doubling the amounts for a savings of $2756 at the end of the year, just figure out which month would be easiest to save $404 and go from there. Still not enough? Triple it! $4134 is a great chunk of money to have.
HIDING THE CASH
There are a few different methods of storing your money. Pinterest proposes that you have a Mason jar on your kitchen counter, out where you can see it so that you never forget. Attach a copy of your payment schedule to the jar and mark it off as you go. You will always know how much is in there and how much you have to put in each week. My recommendation – GLUE THE LID. Having cash sitting out on display could be very tempting, too tempting! Especially if you have a kid or partner who ‘just needed a dollar’ or ‘promise they’ll pay it back’ or any number of excuses. If they container you put it in cannot be opened, then there is no risk of that money depleting instead of increasing. Poke a hole in the lid and watch it fill up.
Depending on your bank and the way your bank accounts are set up, you could do simple online banking and transfer money over from your chequing to your savings account every week. Insure that you will not have additional bank fees for doing this or you may not end up saving anything! Not having the cash present will save you from the risk of cracking open your jar in a desperate moment. Make a note on your calendar every week or tape it to your laptop so that you don’t forget to make the transfer.
Make a plan and start dreaming about what you’re going to do with your money!