Something about the task of saving money does not appear to be enjoyable.
Sure, everyone wants to have more money for their wants and needs, but what about the process of doing it? It conjures up images of depriving yourself of activities you enjoy or eating the same meal repeatedly to save money.
However, as you watch your nest egg grow, changing your approach to saving money may motivate you to develop better habits. Making saving a game, even if it’s a short one, may energize your money-saving efforts.
And, while many money-saving games last a long time, such as an entire year, there is good news for those of you who have resolved to save long after January 1 has passed: you can begin a saving challenge at any time.
Try one or more of these eight money-saving challenges to spice up your endeavor. You can make any of these games work for you whether you prefer to manage your money digitally or with cash on hand.
1. 52-Week Challenge
So what if it’s already the middle of January or later? In the early stages of this challenge, catching up is simple. Increase your savings from $1 in week one to $2 in week two, and so on until you reach the final week: $52 in week 52.
After a year, you’ll have $1,378 in the bank, which you can put toward a large purchase you’ve been saving for or an unexpected expense. Local Government Federal Credit Union has a printable chart to help you stay organized.
2. Dollar Savings Challenge
Every day, save one dollar. That’s all! Do this for the entire year to jumpstart your savings fund in a manageable way. While this challenge has a maximum payout of $365, it can go a long way toward helping you develop a habit of saving consistently—and demonstrate how small amounts add up over time.
3. $20 Savings Challenge
Is it too easy for you to save $1 per day? Experiment with multiplying the savings. Try putting aside $20 each week of the year. You’ll end up with $1,040—those $20s add up quickly!
4. The 26-Week Challenge
Do you get paid every other week? Instead of the 52-week savings challenge, try the Redwood Credit Union’s 26-week challenge. Over the course of the year, you’ll save the same amount, but with set amounts adjusted for each of your biweekly pay periods. You can also choose whether to save more at the start or end of the year.
5. Roll the Dice Savings Challenge
Roll a six-sided die every day for a week. Worst-case scenario: You save $6 per day for a total of just over $2,000 over the course of a year. However, in this case, your “worst-case” scenario is excellent news for your savings account.
6. The 3.3 Challenge
Do you want to save a lot of money quickly? Try to save $1,000 in 30 days. If you think of it as $33.33 per day, it may seem more attainable. This challenge is best suited for someone who has a lot of disposable income but needs a little push to cut back on frivolous spending.
7. Bowl-Grab Challenge
Take 30 scraps of paper (or 31, for those special months) and write a dollar amount on each. Perhaps you do a mix of $1 and $5 slips, with a $20 written on a few to keep things interesting.
Place all scraps in a bowl or mug and take one out every day for a month. Set aside the amount written on the paper and rejoice in your savings at the end of the month.
This is a fun challenge to do with roommates or if you have children at home. It not only makes saving a group project (you could choose rotating days so everyone gets a chance to pull amounts and contribute), but it also gets everyone talking about the process of saving in small amounts.
8. No Spend Challenge
Instead of focusing on how much you can save over a specific time period, how about seeing how little you can spend?
A no-spend challenge can last for a single day, a month, or even longer. While the challenge is ongoing, you are not permitted to spend any money other than for routine bills and any other regular expenses that you have already planned for (say, gas for your commute or getting a prescription refill from the pharmacy). At the end of the challenge, transfer the “extra” money you found from your checking account to a savings account.
The longer your no-spend challenge lasts, the more planning you’ll need to do to succeed.