10 Great Alternatives to the Classic 52 Week Money Challenge

Ten alternatives to the 52 week money challenge
It’s that time of year when people are looking to better their finances as part of their New Year’s resolutions, and many decide one way to do this is through the 52 week money challenge. The challenge is a simple and effective way to save money that isn’t complicated. All one has to do is save $1 corresponding to the week of the year. For example, during week one, you would save $1. During week two you would save $2 and during week three you would save $3. You continue this every week of the year until the last week when you would save $52. By doing this each week, at the end of the year you will save $1,378. 

 

While the classic challenge can help a lot of people save money, there are some limitations to it. The challenge also doesn’t fit the finances of all people. The result has been that there are a lot of alternatives created to this challenge you can do, one of which is likely to fit nicely with your current finances and financial goals. Below you’ll find ten alternatives to the 52 week money challenge to consider. (Click on the headlines to get more detail about each challenge and to print that specific challenge sheet.)

Modified 52 Week Money Challenge

The modified 52 week money challenge allows you to choose how much you save each week from $1 to $52. Instead of going in order from $1 to $52, you can choose any amount that is still left on your challenge chart. Since it’s difficult to predict when you will have a week where you can’t save as much as you hoped, this modified challenge gives you more flexibility to succeed. The goals should always be to save the highest amount still on your chart, but if you can’t for whatever reason, you can substitute that for a smaller amount.

26 Bi-Weekly Money Challenge

Some people get paid bi-weekly and find it easier to save the money for the challenge when they get paid, rather than each week. They find that when it comes to week 2 after they have been paid, they may not have the money left to save. For them, it’s easier to pay the money for the two weeks as soon as they get paid and they have it available. You can also try the twice a month money challenge if you get paid this way rather than bi-weekly.

Monthly Money Challenge

Much like the issue that people who get paid bi-weekly have, those who get paid monthly also can find it difficult to save the money the week before they’re paid. Many find it easier to pay for the entire month when they get paid and have the money. It’s the classic “you don’t miss what you can’t see” philosophy behind pay yourself first.

Double 52 Week Money Challenge

For those who want a bit more of a challenge than simply $1 a week, they can try the 52 week double challenge. In this challenge all the numbers are doubled, so at the end of the year you end up with $2,756 instead of $1,378. It’s a great challenge for those who believe they can save a little more and want to challenge their savings a bit more.

Mega 52 Week Money Challenge

For those who are really looking to jumpstart their savings, the mega 52 week money challenge might be exactly what they’re looking for. Instead of $1 a week, the mega challenge shoots for $5 a week. For those able to complete the mega challenge, they will find an extra $6,890 in their bank account at the end of the year.

52 Week Mini Money Challenge

Also called the 52 week half challenge, this one uses $0.50 each week instead of $1. This makes it easier to save the money, but it also means you’ll end up with half as much at the end of the year ($674 instead of $1,378). For those who want to take the challenge, but start a bit slower, this can be the perfect alternative.

52 Week Coin Challenge

On the opposite end of the double and mega challenges is the 52 week change challenge. In this challenge, you simply save the number of coins for each week of the year. In week one you save a single coin, while in week fifty-two, you save 52 coins. The amount you save will depend on the value of the coins you save each week. Another option is to save specific coins during the year such as a 52 week challenge for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

52 Week Bill Challenge

The 52 week bill challenge is like the coin challenge, but uses bills instead. In the first week, you save a single bill (it could be a $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 bill), week two, 2 bills and week fifty-two, 52 different bills. In this challenge you would save a minimum of $1,378 (if you only used $1 bills), but it could be much more depending on the bill denominations you save each week.

365 Day Money Challenge

Some people find that in order to save money, they need to do it on a daily rather than weekly basis. For those who want to make sure saving money becomes a habit this year, the 365 day money challenge can be a great alternative. In this challenge, you begin with a penny on day one and end with $3.65 on day 365.

Create Your Own 52 Week Money Challenge

None of the above money challenges meet exactly what you’re looking for? That isn’t a problem. You can simply create your own 52 week challenge which meets the exact specifications and needs you want. You know yourself better than anyone else, so creating your own specific challenged will give you the best chance of completing it.

For all these challenges, it’s important to remember the actual amount you decide to try and save is not nearly as important as creating the habit of saving money on a consistent basis. Once this habit has been formed, you can then increase the amounts you save to meet your current financial situation. While each challenge is an important step to jump-start your savings, it’s the habit of consistency which will help your finances in the long run.

5 Ways to Stick To Your Financial Resolutions

Fidelity Investments® released their fifth annual study on financial New Year’s Resolutions and found that 54% of Americans (an all-time high) will consider a financial resolution for 2014. The most popular resolution by far was to save more money next year, primarily for long term goals like retirement or college.

Unfortunately, almost a third of respondents stated that in relation to other popular resolutions, such as exercising more, quitting smoking or finding a new job, financial resolutions were more difficult to keep.

“Our research and many years of experience have shown that Americans have a need in three areas, which would allow them to better attain their financial resolutions,” said Ken Hevert, Vice President, Fidelity Investments. “They are calculating the benefit of keeping their resolutions, having a reward for reaching their goals, and breaking down their resolution into smaller, more attainable short-term goals.”

If you struggle with sticking to your financial resolutions, here are a few tips to keep you on track:


1) Create a year-long action plan – Hevert recommends creating a series of monthly goals that move you closer to your resolution. This breaks down your resolution into shorter, simpler goals and allows you to feel confident in your progress. “It’s also a helpful tool to help you stay optimistic about sticking to your resolution throughout the year,” Hevert says. “If you fall off track in March, you know how to make up for it in April.”

If you need some guidance creating a plan, Fidelity has an online annual roadmap. Start the year by revisiting your budget in January.


2) Reward yourself properly – As you progress toward your goal, it might be tempting to reward yourself by spending. While that can provide instant gratification, it may set you farther away from your goal and create a habit for frivolous spending. “Your reward is financial peace of mind,” says Hevert. “Stay focused on satisfaction of your accomplishment and how you’ve benefitted from keeping your resolution.”


3) Make it a team effort – One of the most powerful ways to reward yourself is with affirmations from people you love. According to Fidelity’s fourth annual Couples Retirement Study, the top piece of advice long-time couples had for newlyweds was to make their financial plans together. “Making your financial resolutions with your spouse, partner or family holds you accountable for your progress towards that goal,” says Hevert. “Being able to share your accomplishment with them can be a powerful motivator towards financial success.”


4) Use automatic payment programs – Automatic payments or increases to your investment contributions can take the emotion out of saving more money. Hevert says, “Increasing your contributions by 5-10% can be daunting at first. But by gradually increasing what you put away with automatic payments, you might not even notice the difference.”


5) Revisit your investment balance – Because of recent economic volatility, people have become more conservative with their funds. “If all you are doing to reach your goal is putting away cash, you’ll have to save a larger portion of your income to meet that goal,” says Hevert. “Adjusting your investment portfolio to include the right blend of stocks, bonds and cash can get you closer to your financial goals without contributing additional funds.”

Photo credit: Getty ThinkStock and Fidelity Investments

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