How To Start Saving Money

The 52 Week Challenge

Owen Winkelmolen

Financial planner, personal finance geek and founder of PlanEasy.

Saving money is the cornerstone of a good financial plan. Without a healthy savings rate there isn’t really a way to achieve your other financial goals.

Getting to a healthy savings rate can be a real challenge though. There are so many demands on our cash. Money comes in and goes out so quickly that it can be hard to put some aside.

One awesome trick to help you save money is the 52 week challenge. This is a simple but effective way to get into a saving habit. If you’re struggling with how to start saving money, then this could be the solution.

There are many variations of the 52 week challenge out there but this is my personal favorite…

How To Start Saving Money:

If you need to build a strong savings habit, then a fun way to start saving money is to do the 52 week challenge.

The challenge is simple. It takes 52 weeks and you start by saving just $1 in week one and then increase that by $1 each week.

  • Week 1: Save $1
  • Week 2: Save $2
  • Week 3: Save $3
  • Week 50: Save $50
  • Week 51: Save $51
  • Week 52: Save $52

By the end of the year you’re saving $52/week!

This is a great way to start saving money because it’s slow and gradual, giving you time to change your spending habits.

It gives you time to find new ways to save, you don’t go from $0 to $52 right away, there is a leisurely build over the year. This means there is a much, much higher chance of success.

Best of all, it’s big. Saving $52/week is a lot of money.

In the first year you’ll save $1,378. That’s already big. But in year two you’ll start the year saving $52/week, by keeping this savings rate all year long you’ll save $2,704 by the end of year two!

That’s HUGE!

That’s already a solid portion of what you need to save to have a good retirement.

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Good Ways To Save Money:

There are lots of good ways to save money but it all depends on what you value most. Some people prefer to save money on food while others may prefer to save money on their cable bill.

As the saving challenge ramps up you’ll need to find new ways to save.

Regular Monthly Expenses:

One good way to save money is on regular monthly expenses. Things like rent, utilities, insurance, maintenance and phone bills. The nice thing is that once you find a way to decrease your regular monthly expenses, maintaining it is easy.

Negotiate car insurance or home insurance. Find a cheaper apartment or split rent with a roommate. Be more efficient with your utility usage. Find a better phone deal.

Reducing regular monthly expenses is my preferred way to save money. It’s a bit of effort up front but then it’s easy to maintain.

We’ve done a few things to save money. We live in a small home, only 1,000 square feet. Last year we bought a used car for cash. Our latest effort has been to reduce our utility consumption. This has saved us ~$50/month and now that we’re in the routine it’s easy to maintain. The next thing on the list is to renegotiate our cell phone bill, this could save us another $15-20/month.

The nice thing about all these changes is that once we make the change it takes little to no effort to maintain each month. We hardly have to think about it at all. This makes it easy to save money each month.

Discretionary Expenses:

Another good way to save money is to track your discretionary expenses and prioritize your spending.

When you look at all your monthly purchases together there is always one thing that provides the least value. Reduce your spending on that one thing next month. It’s an easy (and relatively painless) way to save money.

Maybe it’s a monthly magazine subscription you don’t really have time to read. Maybe it’s a daily coffee that costs you $500+ over a full year. Maybe it’s a gym membership that you rarely use. It depends entirely on your personal preferences.

Years ago, when I started to really save money, I decided to stop buying coffee every day.

After tracking my spending for a month or two I realized I was spending a lot of money on coffee/treats. Something like $500-$600 per year.

I decided that this was money I’d rather spend on travel or a new bike.

I would still go for coffee with friends, but my daily coffee purchase got cut. Instead I made coffee at home or at work.

By reducing your spending on that one thing you value least you can slowly start to save more and more money each month. Try to do this once per month to help you get into new spending habits.

“Build a strong saving habit. Try the 52 week challenge!”

Money Saving Tips:

 

Need more ideas to help you start saving money? Good news! There are soooooooo many tips out there to help you save money. If you’re struggling with how to start saving money just use your googlefu to find a solution.

Just google “How to save money on xxxxxx”

Even the most random search will give you tips on how to save money.

For example…

I just searched “How to save money on dishwashing detergent” and got this random article from the Huffington post on how to make your own dishwasher detergent.

Serisouly, search anything, you’ll find a tip for saving money.

 

Good luck with the challenge and keep on saving!

 

Owen Winkelmolen

Financial planner, personal finance geek and founder of PlanEasy.

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