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 are a lot of 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 how much you need to save, week by week, in order to cross the $5K finish line!
Introducing the 52-Week Money Challenge
Download and print the Clark 52-Week Money Challenge today!
With this plan, you start by socking away $20 during the first week. 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.
The 52-week money challenge is designed this way for a couple of reasons.
You start out with relatively small amounts, 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, you get to practice your savings habit over and over again.
In fact, after saving each week for two months, you’ll have $400. That’s by design, too. You start out slowly to build the habit of saving money in the first few weeks.
The goal is to prepare you for the heavy lifts that will come by mid-year.
Finally, recognizing that you have a life to live while you’re saving the $5,000 is also factored into the challenge.
If you start the challenge at the beginning of the year, it accounts for people getting ready to splurge a little during the holidays. So the 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 in my third 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
At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “Where am I going to come up with $5,000?”
But if you 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 cheapest plan possible, money expert Clark Howard says the best cell phone plan for your money may be offered by a smaller carrier like Mint Mobile or Visible.
Maybe you’re paying $80 for unlimited service with one of the major 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 $30 per 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 its Visible sub-brand will save you $40 each month or $480 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 hundreds of dollars 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 article on how to find the best deal on internet service. In it, we explain the best ways to shop for a 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.
We’ve got popular lists of the best home insurance companies and the best auto insurance companies for you to consult when you’re ready to start your shopping.
Did you know the typical auto insurance customer can save up to $500 a year by bumping the deductible up from $250 to $500? The savings jump, on average, to $1,000 annually if you make the leap to a $1,000 deductible.
Check out our full story on saving money on car insurance for more great tips like that one.
In about half the states across the country, you are free to shop around for the best natural gas and/or electricity rates because energy markets have been deregulated.
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 affordable piece of equipment.
Finally, if you’re a thermometer watcher, you’ll want to be sure to check out our articles on where to set your thermostat in the winter and where to set it 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 Franklin’s advice.
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 presented just 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.
Now that you’ve seen the 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.
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