Developing a long-term savings habit takes commitment, dedication and resolve. While that may sound like a lot of work, it might be easier to stick to your savings plan by turning it into a savings challenge. All those fun savings challenges are just a set of rules for your saving habits. Whether you’re looking for a way to boost your savings in the short-term or to stay engaged with your money goals in the long-term, there’s a savings challenge out there for you!
How money saving challenges help
The secret to money saving challenges is that they give you a roadmap to follow. Rather than just saying “I want to save more,” you have a step-by-step plan that may help make it happen. Plus, there’s a chance they’ll make saving fun. When you turn saving into a game or a competition, you put a little more wind in your sails and might just find some extra motivation to stick to it.
A money saving challenge also hands you a clear-cut way to measure your progress. It’s one thing to know you’re saving money, but it’s even more satisfying to see just how much you’ve set aside each month. This might help you in the motivation department too, by showing you how small changes in your daily habits can have a real impact over time.
A money saving challenge also puts a positive spin on something that’s beneficial, but maybe not exciting. The “game” aspect adds structure, clear-cut goals and a sound measuring system into your savings habits, all of which are the main ingredients in a successful savings plan.
Savings challenge ideas
There’s a whole world of money saving challenges to explore. Whether you’re looking for something short-term to have some competitive fun or use a savings challenge to achieve a longer-term financial goal, there’s almost certainly a challenge out there for you.
Weekly savings challenges
If you’re looking to possibly make immediate changes to your spending habits, consider a short and sweet weekly challenge. In a weekly savings challenge, quick wins and short-term goals are the name of the game. The shorter timeframe encourages smaller changes and lower-pressure adjustments to your spending habits — habits that, as they become routine, become the building blocks of budgeting. Here are a few to consider:
- 1. The “spare change” challenge: Every time you buy something with cash, do your best to set aside the coins in a jar or a piggy bank. For those using digital or electronic payments, consider opting for any of the digital tools that round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and save the difference. You might be surprised at how fast that adds up.
- 2. The “no-spend day” challenge: Choose one day each week where you don’t spend any money on non-essentials. This challenges you to use what you already have, so you might find yourself peeking through the pantry or busting out a board game or two to stay entertained without opening up your wallet.
- 3. The “guess the bill” challenge: Each week, estimate how much you’ll spend on groceries, utilities or any other category. If your actual spending comes in under the estimate, you might consider saving the difference.
- 4. The “no eating out” challenge: For a week, avoid eating out and prepare home cooked meals instead. Planning ahead by meal prepping your lunches and preparing dinner menus for the week may help the urge to just order out.
Monthly savings challenges
When you’re ready, consider trying your hand at some consistent, monthly savings challenges. These focus more on consistency than sporadic savings, encouraging you to make regular savings decisions and examine routine purchases — a key skill for working towards medium-term money goals. These money saving challenges might help you better organize your expenses into needs and wants, helping you prioritize your spending a little better.
- 5. The “coffee shop swap” challenge: For a month, do your best to swap your daily coffee shop visits with homemade coffee and set aside what you would’ve spent otherwise.
- 6. The “free entertainment month” challenge: For 30 days, challenge yourself to only do free activities for your entertainment. This could be outdoor fun, free local events, an at-home game night or even just enjoying a library book and a comfy chair. It may just help you realize that fun doesn’t always scale proportionately with price.
- 7. The “digital detox” challenge: For one month, try to cancel or pause all of your paid digital entertainment platforms. You’ll save on subscription fees and might find you don’t need some of them anymore.
Yearly savings challenges
Yearly savings challenges might be a great fit for those looking to truly master their money and achieve longer term savings goals. These challenges promote comprehensive money skills and patience, teaching you to play the long game. By taking part in these yearly exercises, you might start to see the compounding effect of your savings decisions and the growth that comes with a regular, disciplined savings plan.
- 8. The “52-weeks of saving” challenge: For this classic challenge, you’ll try to save an increasing amount each week for a year straight. Start with a small amount you’re comfortable with and add to it weekly. For example, if you started by setting aside $1 the first week and then adding an extra dollar per week (so you set aside $2 the next week, then $3, then $4 and so on), you’d save $1,378 after 52 weeks. Just remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on saving and raising your goal by how much is comfortable for you, if feasible.
- 9. The “birthday bank” challenge: Every time it’s a friend or family member's birthday, put aside a set amount of cash like $5 or whatever amount works for you. Given the number of birthdays over the course of a year, you’ll likely end up with a small amount that you could put toward a savings goal. Setting money aside for these (sometimes) unexpected events helps foster the habit of always being prepared for unforeseen costs.
- 10. The “spare change challenge — annual edition”: Taking the weekly “spare change” challenge and extending it for a full year may be more challenging, but also carries the potential of some hefty savings if you can stick to it. Just giving it a shot may show you just how much minor money choices can potentially mean in the medium to long-term.
Taking on a savings challenge might just transform your savings habits. Indeed, the right savings challenge has the power to subtly teach you valuable money lessons while you’re just busy enjoying the game. So, why not give one a try?