The 52-week money challenge could help you keep an extra $5,000 in your pocket this year.
What would an extra $5,000 mean in your life? Would you use it to pay bills, buy a used vehicle, take a vacation, invest for your retirement or maybe save for a mortgage down payment?
There’s almost no limit to the things you could do with $5,000. The trick is figuring out how you save that much money in the first place.
That’s where the 52-week money challenge comes in. In this article, we’re going to show you week by week how much you need to save in order to cross the $5K finish line!
Introducing the 52-Week Money Challenge
With our plan, you start by socking away $20 during the first week of the 52-week money challenge. Then during the second week, you save $35. During the third week, it’s $45. And each week the amount you save gets progressively bigger.
We designed the 52-week money challenge this way for a couple of reasons.
First, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with an overhang of holiday debt in the new year. So we start you out small, making it easy for you to meet the weekly savings goal. By doing that, you build the confidence to keep going.
Second, it’s well documented that forming a new habit — whether it’s saving money, going to the gym or anything else — takes repetition and time to develop.
By saving something every week of the year, you get to practice your savings habit in a tangible way over and over again.
In fact, after saving each week for two months, you’ll have $400. That’s by design, too. We start you out slow to build the habit of saving money in the first few weeks.
The goal is to prepare you for the heavy savings lifts that will come by mid-year.
Finally, we also realize that you have a life to live while you’re saving $5,000…and we factor that into our challenge, too!
When October rolls around, we know people are ready to splurge a little as the holidays ramp up. So, our 52-week money challenge builds to a crescendo around midyear and then gets progressively easier during the second half of the year.
Check Out This Audience Feedback on the 52-Week Money Challenge
This is a formula that our audience tells us works! Check out this feedback from members of our Facebook page who have already completed our 52-week money challenge:
Patricia: You put up charts on the internet last year…I printed them [out,] opened a savings account ‘just for me’ and have faithfully deposited the total weekly…plus any time we have any extra money, we throw that in, too. We’re now up to over $10K just putting away small amounts every week. Painless way to save. Now we’re trying to figure out what to do with the money… I want to take a big, memorable trip, but dollars to donuts, hubby invests most of it.
Cindy: Using your $5k annual savings chart. I’m on my 3rd year and have no plans to stop. At the start of the year, I set up the entire year of weekly transfers from my checking acct to my savings acct. If you don’t have it automatically set up to transfer each week, you either will forget or justify why you can’t save the funds.
How to Reduce Your Bills and Free Up More Money for Savings
Now, you may be sitting there scratching your head saying, “Where am I going to come up with $5,000?!”
But if you just target a few categories where you can cut costs, you may be surprised by how easy it is to drum up hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings right off the bat.
When it comes to big spending categories, try tackling these first:
- Cell phone service
- Internet/Pay TV
- Auto/Home insurance
- Housing costs
- Everyday expenses
Cell Phone Service
Whether you want unlimited data or just the lowest price, money expert Clark Howard says the best cell phone plan for your money may be offered by a smaller carrier like Cricket Wireless, Mint Mobile or Total Wireless.
See our complete list of the best cell phone deals right now here.
Maybe you’re paying $80 for unlimited service with one of the Big 4 Wireless carriers right now. Did you know that it’s not uncommon to pay $40 for the same unlimited service using one of their sub-brands?
For example, Verizon-owned Visible has a $40/month unlimited plan. Yet if you stick with the parent company, you’ll pay $70 for unlimited on a single line. So making the switch from Verizon to it’s Visible sub-brand will save you $30 each month or $360 annually.
If you’re paying more than $100 a month for cable or satellite TV, switching to an internet-based streaming service like YouTube TV could save you up to $1,000 a year!
Here’s how to cut the cord and never pay for cable or satellite TV again.
Meanwhile, if it’s the cost of internet service that’s a problem for you, you’ll want to see our piece on How to Find the Best Deal on Cheap Internet Service. In it, we explain the best ways to shop for new service or to get your current provider to lower your existing rate.
Home and auto insurance is a category that most people like to ignore when it’s time to cut bills. But you’ll be amazed by how much money you can put back in your wallet just by shopping around.
Meanwhile, did you know the typical auto insurance customer can save up to $500 a year by bumping their deductible up from $250 to $500? That savings jumps on average to $1,000 annually if you make the leap to a $1,000 deductible.
Check out our piece on How to Save Money on Car Insurance for more great tips like that one.
Did you know that in about half the country, you are free to shop around for the best natural gas or electricity rates because energy markets have been deregulated?
Meanwhile, no matter where you live, there’s one great way to reduce heating and cooling costs in your home. Try a programmable thermostat. You can lower your bill by 25% or 30% during both the winter and the summer months with this one affordable piece of equipment.
Finally, if you’re a thermometer watcher, you’ll want to be sure to check out our articles on What Temperature Should I Set My Thermostat in the Winter? and What’s the Best Setting for Your Thermostat During the Summer?
It was Ben Franklin who said, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” If you want more Benjamins in your wallet, you’d be wise to heed old Ben’s advice.
Chelsea of Team Clark recently sat down with her father and helped him save $283 a month on recurring monthly charges in his life. And get this — it only took her about two hours! That’s almost $3,400 a year she helped him save.
When is the last time you took out your bank statement and combed through it looking for recurring charges? Maybe there’s a streaming service you don’t use anymore or some kind of gourmet meal delivery kit service that you could cut out of your life.
Ways to Make Extra Money
There are many ways to cut your budget and we’ve only presented a small sample here. But at some point, you may run out of areas to cut. That’s when you should consider making extra money. We’ve got a great guide with 20+ ways to make extra money here.
And if you’re really focused on earning some extra money in a short period of time, check out these guides we’ve put together:
- How to Make an Extra $100 in a Day
- 8 Ways to Make an Extra $500 Fast
- 6 Steps to Make $1,000 Fast
- 7 Ways to Make an Extra $5,000 Fast
Now that you’ve seen our 52-week money challenge and know how to get started saving, we want to leave you with one last suggestion: Open a dedicated account with an online bank and make your weekly deposits into that account. That will really help you maximize the impact of your savings efforts.
Consider this: $5,000 in a bank account that pays 1.80% APY would earn $90 of interest after growing all year. Wouldn’t it be nice to make some real money on your money after you worked so hard to save it?
We’ve got an updated list of the best high-interest savings accounts here.
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