Are you looking for a fun and simple way to save money? Why not try out one of these 20 money-saving challenges to make your cash go further this year?
These money-saving challenges require little setup and are designed to be easy to stick to.
The $1-a-day challenge is just that - a challenge to save just $1 a day.
You can do this in two ways. You can save just $1 day, which will leave you with a pot of $365 at the end of the year. Or, you make it a bit more of a challenge and add $1 a day to the amount you saved the previous day.
So, it would look like this:
- Day 1 - Save $1
- Day 2 - Save $2
- Day 3 - Save $3
By the end of the year, it becomes a lot more challenging, but it leaves you with a nice little pot of savings to enjoy.
2. No-spend month
If you are a bit of an over-spender, a no-spend month might be a great way to reset your spending habits. A no-spend challenge doesn’t mean absolutely zero spending. Of course, you still need to buy food, pay rent, and so on.
Instead, the no-spend challenge refers to things like new clothes, happy hours after work, eating out, home décor, electronics, or fancy coffee.
Set yourself a month where you’ll purchase none of these things. It may be difficult, more so than you think, but if you’re an over-spender, it’ll be satisfying to see how much you save at the end of the month.
3. 52-week savings challenge
The 52-week savings challenge is where you save $1 in week one, $2 in week two and so on until you get to week 52 where you save $52.
4. Reverse 52-week challenge
As a twist on the 52-week challenge, you can choose to do the same thing but backwards. Some people find that if they start this challenge on January 1st as a New Year resolution, things get a bit difficult come December.
For those who celebrate Christmas and want to purchase gifts in December, that’s when you’d be saving the most in the regular 52-week challenge which may not be ideal.
To avoid this, you could save $52 in week one, $51 in week two, all the way up until the end of the year where all you have to save is $1 in week 52.
5. The bi-weekly savings plan
Rather than a weekly challenge, you can try a 26-week bi-weekly version instead. With this version, you challenge yourself to save money every other week. In the first week, you could put $4 in savings, in the 3rd week it would be $8, and $12 in the fifth week.
All you need to do is increase the amount by $4 (or however much you want) every two weeks.
6. The weather savings challenge
There are a few ways to do this one, but pick a day of the week. Let’s say Wednesday. Look at the highest temperature in your state, and save that amount in dollars. If it’s 70 degrees, put away $70.
7. 5-cent 365 days
A more manageable variation of the $1 a day challenge is to save an extra 5 cents a day. On day one, you set aside five cents, on day two, it’s ten cents. This one is a great one for those who dread the thought of getting to the end of the year with the $1 a day challenge.
8. Expense tracking
Less of a savings challenge and more of a good habit to get into is the expense tracking challenge. This is where you commit to tracking every single dollar you spend - start doing it for a month. A lot of people think they know exactly where their money is going but would still end up surprised after doing this challenge.
You can do this with a spreadsheet or an app like Thinkflow instead. The challenge is a great starting point for those who aren’t sure where their money is disappearing to.
9. Spare change challenge
As we move to a more card-based and online spending world, spare change is becoming less and less useful. However, many of us still end up with change we wouldn’t ordinarily use.
Rather than ignoring it or leaving it in a jar to be forgotten, round up all your spare change into one place. Once you count it all up you may have more than you think. Once you do this, try to get into the habit of saving your spare change in one place so you can see how much you’re saving at the end of a month/year.
10. The 30-day meal planning challenge
One area where even the strictest budgeters struggle is grocery shopping. It’s so easy to overspend when at the store, but one way to get around that is to change the way you plan out your meals.
Food shopping can quickly go out of control if you don’t plan your meals first. If you start planning each week of meals, you know exactly what groceries to buy and can reduce overspending.
Start small by creating a weekly menu and write down exactly what you’re going to eat and cook. Try to factor in snacks and drinks as well - you want it to be realistic enough that it’s easy to stick with.
When you have written out all the meals you want for that week, list out all the ingredients you need to buy. Next time you go to the store, you’ll have a specific shopping list you can follow. Try this for at least a month and see how much you save on grocery shopping.
11. Round-up challenge
The round-up challenge is a great habit to get into. Some banks even offer it as a feature in their online banking services.
Rounding up just means rounding up any purchase you make to the nearest dollar and putting that excess into a separate savings account. Finance apps like Chime and Acorn can offer this so you don’t even have to think about it.
12. 1% savings challenge
This savings challenge works by taking a goal you have, for example, saving up $1,000 and dividing it by 100. This gives you the 1% figure of the total amount.
In this case, 1% of $1,000 is just $10. Whenever you save $10, think of it as saving 1% at a time. It helps to break down financial goals into smaller chunks that feel manageable.
13. $5 savings challenge
This is another simple challenge. Whenever you find a $5 bill in your possession, put it away into a separate savings pot, jar, or envelope. Don’t even think about it, just put it away as soon as you get it.
14. Bingo card challenge
To do the bingo card challenge, create a financial goal. Let’s say $500. Next, create your own little bingo card with each section listing a different amount - all adding up to $500. Whenever you save one of those amounts, you can cross it off.
You can either find a template online (try Pinterest) or you can create your own simple one to put on the fridge to remind you.
15. Bad habit savings jar
Do you have a bad habit you can’t seem to crack? Take a lesson from the old swear jar idea and create a jar for your own bad habit.
For example, you could put away a dollar whenever you buy a Starbucks latte or takeout, or whenever you smoke a cigarette if you’re trying to quit.
16. Snowball debt repayment challenge
This challenge is more related to debt, but clearing your debt also makes savings easier. The snowball debt repayment method works by focusing on one debt at a time, in this case, the smallest debt.
You continue to make minimum payments on other debts and pour all your excess into overpaying the smallest debt to clear it as fast as possible.
Then move onto the next smallest debt and the one after that. Each time you clear a debt, you build momentum.
17. No takeout challenge
Is takeout your weakness? In a busy world, it’s so easy to load up the Dominos app, but those pizza slices add up. If you’re trying to save money, takeout is a great habit to kick (even temporarily). Set yourself a no-takeout month and put all the money you would have spent on takeout into a separate savings account.
18. Alcohol-free month
Alcohol can be a big expense for households. One great way to cut down on grocery bills is to have an alcohol-free month. You may be quite surprised by how much you typically spend each month.
Any money you would have spent on alcohol, put aside into a separate savings account to see how much you save over the whole month.
19. Expense minimizer challenge
While it may be less of a fun challenge, expense minimizing should ideally be a regular habit for your household.
Every month, take a look at all your outgoings and find realistic ways you can cut back. Are your energy or insurance bills negotiable? Can you switch to a cheaper cable provider? Maybe you have subscriptions that you never use. Did you overspend on groceries this month?
Set aside an afternoon each month to find ways to reduce your household outgoings and boost your savings.
20. Penny saving challenge
Looking for a simple challenge you don’t really have to think about? The penny-saving challenge is one of the simplest challenges you can set yourself.
If you have children and want to teach them the value of saving, the penny-saving challenge is a great one to start them off on.
Saving money doesn’t have to be boring. A simple money-saving challenge like any of the above helps to gamify your spending which makes it easier to remember and stick to. Even if it’s just a cent or a dollar a day, every little helps.