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.

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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

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/ehow-money/blog/5-ways-to-stick-to-your-financial-resolutions/#ixzz2qclc75bu

Who’s Up for a Challenge? 52 Week Money Challenge

52weekmoneychallenge

 

By now, many of you may have seen the 52 Week Money Challenge floating around the Internet. The idea is simple – build a large stash of savings by the end of the year through weekly deposits that increase $1/week. On Week 1, you contribute $1. On Week 2 you contribute $2. So on and so forth.

I think the challenge is a great idea. According to a study by the University of Scranton, spending less and saving more was the third most popular resolution for 2014. Having a measurable plan with specific action items is a great way to ensure that you stick to your resolution. Also, by gradually increasing the amounts you save each week, you won’t feel such a big impact on your budget, making you less likely to feel discouraged.

Here are a few tips that might help you make the most out of this year-long challenge.

1) Play with the increments. For those who are just starting to stash away funds or might be on a tight budget, this current plan is challenge enough. But if you are looking to save more, play with your budget and develop a plan of your own. If you can handle higher denominations and steeper increases, go for it! If this was supposed to be easy, it wouldn’t be called a challenge.

2) Shop around for an account.I wouldn’t recommend putting your money in a jar or even your primary savings account. For one, you might be tempted to spend what you’ve saved if the cash is at your fingertips. Moreover, a high yield savings account will help you accrue interest on what you save. Currently, Barclays US is offering 0.90% APY on their online savings account with no minimum deposit. That’s much higher than the standard 0.01% APY offered on most standard savings accounts from major banking institutions. Check with your current banking institutions for new savings accounts or look at Bankrate.com to find the right account for your savings needs. If your financial goals are for the long term, this savings products crash course can help you identify the right product for your financial goals.

3) Set a reminder. It’s easy to stick to the money challenge in January when you have $3 to spare. But to hold fast to your resolution weeks from now when the increments are higher, you may need a motivating nudge. Set weekly reminders for the rest of the year. You may also want to include the increments you owe each week and a few words of encouragement.

For those of you that are doing the challenge, I wish you the best of luck. I’ll be doing the challenge too, so feel free to leave a comment about your resolution below or commiserate with me on Twitter.

Photo credit: Imgur

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/ehow-money/blog/whos-up-for-a-challenge/#ixzz2qck96nRw

Earn Reward Points and Redeem Them For Free Stuff | Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called “Swag Bucks”. These bucks can be redeemed for things like gift cards, downloads and products in the Swag Store.

Earn Swagbucks Faster: 15 Ways to Earn Swag Bucks

Swagbucks

Does it actually work?

Yes – it really does!

In the last year, I have earned over $600 in gift cards by using Swagbucks. I was able to purchase many books and kitchen items that we needed with the Amazon.ca gift cards that I redeemed my bucks for.

How do I sign up?

If you’re interested in signing up to Swagbucks, visit the Swagbucks website and register. You will earn 30 free Swag Bucks just for signing up.

Please note that you are only allowed to have one account per individual (not per household).

How do I earn Swag Bucks?

There are actually many ways that you can earn Swag Bucks other than just using the search engine.

I don’t recommend trying to do all 15 of these things because it will probably be overwhelming and take up an incredible amount of time, but these are all ways to earn Swag Bucks that I feel are worth mentioning.

1. Search the Web

The most popular way to earn Swag Bucks is to search the web. Just visit the Swagbucks homepage and every time you search for something using their search engine, you will have the chance to earn Swag Bucks.

You will only earn bucks periodically as you search, so don’t try searching for things over and over again – it won’t work.

2. Watch Videos

Find some great content that you are interested in, and fill your Swag Bucks meter as you watch. Once the meter is full, you’ll have a chance to win Swag Bucks.

All you have to do is watch videos that interest you and at the end of each video you can earn anywhere from 1-5 Swag Bucks. Keep in mind that you won’t win every time you watch a video.

I like to run these videos when I am doing something in the office, such as cleaning or organizing paperwork. That way I am nearby to click to the next video. I don’t do this very often, but when I do, I usually earn about 4 Swag Bucks for every “winning” video.

3. Play Games

If you enjoy computer games, check out the free ones offered by Swagbucks and you can earn 1-5 bonus Swag Bucks just for playing.

If you want to play against other Swagbucks members, you can buy into a tournament (these are limited time or limited player tournaments) and have a chance to win as much as 2000 Swag Bucks or more.

I haven’t had much luck with these games, but I know a few people that claim to earn quite a few Swag Bucks by playing games a few times per day.

4. Take Surveys

Visit the “Trusted Survey” dashboard every day for great survey opportunities. When you give your opinion, you will be awarded with Swag Bucks.

You will only earn Swag Bucks when you qualify and I have found that I don’t qualify for many. However, it may be worth your time to check and see if you do qualify.

5. Complete Time Sensitive Offers

There are some offers that you can complete to earn bonus Swag Bucks, and many of them don’t require payment of any kind.

You can earn quite a few Swag Bucks by completing these offers, but be sure to only complete the ones you are sincerely interested in to avoid spam mail.

6. View No Obligation Special Offers

Visit the “NOSO” page to view special offers with no obligation necessary to earn Swag Bucks. You can look at all of the offers and not even sign up to one of them and earn 2 Swag Bucks per day.

However, if there is an offer that interests you, be sure to sign up for it to earn even more bonus Swag Bucks.

7. Recycle Products

Swagbucks has a recycling program where you can earn Swag Bucks for handing over your old cell phone, books and gaming systems.

All you have to do is look up the product that you’d like to trade in, print the pre-paid label and trade-in receipt, stick the package in the mail and collect your Swag Bucks (once your item has been received and processed).

Personally, I don’t think the bucks that you get for these items is very much, but if these are items that are just sitting around your home collecting dust, it may be worth it for you to trade them for some Swag Bucks.

8. Answer Polls

There is a new poll every day on the Swagbucks website. Every time you vote in the current daily poll, you will earn 1 bonus Swag Buck.

This is such a simple way to earn around 30 Swag Bucks every month. It only takes a few seconds to do. It is usually the first thing I do in the morning when I log on to the computer.

9. Referrals

Once you see how easy it is to earn great prizes through Swagbucks, you will want to tell all of your friends so that they can start earning prizes too.

Make sure you get them to sign up through your referral link so that you can earn points for referring them. Swagbucks will match your referral’s points – up to 1,000. This means that if your friend earns 50 Swag Bucks one day, you do too.

10. Perform Tasks

When you do small “tasks” on the Swag Bucks website, you will be rewarded with bonus Swag Bucks. Small tasks include things such as testing online discounts and promotions, finding biographical information for celebrity actors, finding great things to do in a particular city, etc.

11. Use the Toolbar

Be sure to install the Swagbucks toolbar on your browser so that you can search for things on the web easily.

You can type all your searches into the toolbar instead of having to click on the homepage to do so. You are also awarded 1 bonus Swag Buck every a day, just for using the toolbar.

12. Follow Swagbucks on Facebook

Swagbucks will often post special codes and offers for their Facebook fans, so it’s a good idea to “Like” them on Facebook.

Check their page every day or so to see if there are any new promotions or special Swag Codes available.

13. Follow Swagbucks on Twitter

Just like on Facebook, Swag Bucks rewards their Twitter followers will special offers and codes, so be sure to add them to your list.

14. Read the Swagbucks Blog

The blog is always updated with news and offers and is a great place for you to find special promotions.

Occasionally, Swagbucks will pick a random follower and reward them with FREE Swag Buckd! Look for blog posts from “The Swag Guy” (TSG) or “The Swag Girl” (TSGal) to find exclusive Swag Buck opportunities.

15. Make a Search Your Homepage

Most people say to make Swagbucks.com your homepage, but I have a much better tip for you.

  • Go to Swagbucks.com
  • Search for something you search for a lot (maybe MrsJanuary.com?)
  • When the search results come up, make the search results page your homepage
  • Now, every time you click the HOMEPAGE button (the little house) in your browser, you will end up at that search page

This means that every time you go to your homepage you will have a chance to win bucks – and you didn’t even have to manually search for anything.

After referrals, this is how I get the bulk of my Swag Bucks.

Swag Bucks is one of my favourite “money” making programs and I recommend it 100% to anyone who spends time online.

For very little effort you can enjoy free gift cards and other prizes for doing something as simple as surfing the web.

What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up for Swagbucks.