This list of money saving challenge ideas will make it easy to kick-start your savings. When doing a challenge like this, try to visualize what your savings goal will go to, it will help motivate you to stick with the challenge.
1. No-spend savings challenge
Identify basic items that have to be paid every month and then cut everything else out. It is easy to save a lot of money, in a short period of time, with this challenge. The downside is a lot of discipline is needed to keep up the challenge. Another downside is that you may eventually start to associate saving money with suffering, which is not what you want going on in your subconscious mind. Saving at this high level could lead to savings burn out as well.
Identify the basics
The basics are items that you have to spend on and include the following:
- Mortgage and rent
- Car payments
- Loan payments
Identify nice to haves
These are the items that are going to get cut and save you money. It’s anything that you are not required to pay during the challenge timeframe. Some examples include:
- Restaurants, fast food, coffee shops
- New clothing
- Home decorations
- Hair and nail services
- Movies, concerts, sporting events, and other activities
Pick a timeframe
Common timeframes for this challenge are one day, one week or one month. The longer that you can do this challenge, the bigger the kick-start you are going to get. However, the danger of picking too long of a timeframe is that the odds of cracking and going on a spending spree increase. So you really need to be honest with yourself about your willpower when picking the timeframe.
2. 26-week savings challenge
For this type of challenge you save a certain amount of money every two weeks then add to it. For example, in Super Coupon Lady’s 26-week savings challenge you save $3 for the first 2 weeks then add $3 to the amount you save for each 2-week period. By the end you have $1,053 in the bank.
What’s great about this type of challenge is your start small, so it’s not overwhelming to get started. The small amount of money that gets added to the amount saved every two weeks also makes it an easy challenge to maintain. The only major issue is that this is a slow challenge, it takes a year to really see the payoff, which is a long time to wait.
26-week challenge bi-weekly guide
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3. 26-week backwards savings challenge
This challenge works the same as the 26-week money savings challenge, except you are doing the savings in reverse. In this case you start by saving $78 in the first period then subtract $3 for each period going forward.
One advantage of this method is a lot of money is saved right away. If you invest that money, you will start making money from your investments right away and will actually end up with more money by the end of the challenge. It can also be easier to have the motivation to skip stuff, like going out to eat, knowing that as the challenge goes on you will have to do less and less. The downside is that it more overwhelming to get started. For some people, finding $78 to save in the first 2-weeks is going to be hard.
26-week backward challenge bi-weekly guide
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4. Don’t eat out savings challenge
Is going out to eat your Achilles heel? Then this could be a great challenge for you. For this challenge you pick a timeframe between one and six months and do not go out to eat at restaurants or fast food joints. The amount of money that is wasted going out to eat is extreme, when compared to preparing your own food. You always need to eat, so it is a continuous drain on the finances.
5. Soccer mom 8-week vacation challenge
The soccer mom 8-week vacation spending challenge involves saving $1,000 for a vacation over an 8-week period. The savings schedule looks like this:
- Week 1: $10
- Week 2: $25
- Week 3: $75
- Week 4: $150
- Week 5: $150
- Week 6: $75
- Week 7: $25
- Week 8: $10
You create a separate bank account to help reduce the temptation of spending your savings early, and you pick a vacation that you will spend the money. You get the money from cutting back on things like coffee shops and restaurants.
A big plus, to this challenge, is that there is an end goal to help keep you motivated. It’s a lot easier to skip that coffee when you are able to visualize your future self sipping piña coladas on the beach! Having the savings peak in the middle of the plan is a plus as well, that helps you ease into the savings, but also prevents burn out by tapering down towards the end.
6. The $5 savings challenge
Everything you pay with cash and get a $5 bill back, you save it. If you don’t use cash then move $5 from your checking to your savings.
The benefits of this plan is that you can save a lot of money quickly without thinking about it. The downsides are that it’s hard to understand how much money will be saved, which can hurt motivation.
7. The 52-week savings challenge
This is similar to the 26-week challenge. You save $1 on the first week, then every week after that you add an additional dollar to the weekly savings amount. In the end you have $1,378 in your bank account.
52-week challenge weekly guide
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8. Finding extra money savings challenge
For this challenge you are going to try to find extra money around the house. Here are the steps:
- Search the house for spare change
- Sell items you don’t need in a tag sale or on eBay
- Eat foods from your pantry instead of going out to eat
Depending on what you have lying around the house, this could be a quick way to get some money without having to do a lot a work.
9. SavingsAdvice.com nickle savings challenge
The SavingsAdvice.com nickle savings challenge involves saving a nickle on day 1 then adding a nickle to what is saved for each day after that. At the end of the year you should have $3,300 saved.
10. Penny savings challenge
On day one, save a penny. For each day after that, save an additional penny for one year. At the end of that year you will have $668.
11. The one dollar change savings challenge
For this challenge, every time you get dollars in change, you put that money into your savings account. This way you are automatically saving money with each transaction, on autopilot.
12. No Starbucks challenge
If you love going to coffee shops, then this is a great challenge. Your Grande sized coffee is going to cost you $1,400 a year. Making coffee at home on the other hand is only going to cost 16 cents a cup. Why not put that money into your pocket instead of giving it to the local coffee shop?
13. Philip Taylor’s 31 day savings challenge
For Philip Taylor’s 31-day savings challenge, each day is an action that will lead you to a better financial situation.
- Day 1: Save a $1,000 emergency fund.
- Day 2: Sell your excess stuff
- Day 3: Start putting more into your 401k
- Day 4: Review your credit report
- Day 5: Learn your monthly expense
- Day 6: Start paying off debts
- Day 7: Learn your net worth
- Day 8: Start reading financial books
- Day 9: Start an 3 to 6 month emergency fund
- Day 10: Create financial goals for yourself
- Day 11: Talk with your significant other about money goals
- Day 12: Get life insurance
- Day 13: Cut back on expenses
- Day 14: Create a simple budget
- Day 15: Organize your financial records and put them in a safe place
- Day 16: Try to reduce your loan interest rates
- Day 17: Start creating grocery lists and cutting coupons
- Day 18: Start a Roth IRA
- Day 19: Make a will
- Day 20: Improve your online presence
- Day 21: Start saving for your kids college
- Day 22: Stop getting junk mail
- Day 23: Improve your credit score
- Day 24: Get a part-time job to bring in more money
- Day 25: Pay less for your auto insurance
- Day 26: Give to others
- Day 27: Teach your kids finance
- Day 28: Get spending reward, like credit card cash back
- Day 29: Cut back on what you owe in taxes
- Day 30: Save on health care expenses
- Day 31: Align your money with your values
14. The money faceoff
Challenge a friend to see who can save more money. If you are a type A personality then you might find the competition to be a big motivator, and it’s always nice to know someone is doing through the same stuff that you are.
15. Water only challange
Give up alcohol, coffee, juice and soda and only drink water. All of these things cost money, and you can realize quite a lot of saving by cutting them out. However, they are all very addictive, so this might be one of the harder challenges to make it through.
16. Save with the weather
See what the hottest temperature is in your state and save that amount. For example, if the highest temperature was 80 degrees then you save $80 that week. If you live in a state like California, that has Death Valley, then be prepared to save more.
17. Cancel it all savings challenge
Go through all of your monthly subscriptions and cancel as many of them as you can. Put that money directly in savings.
18. The round up challenge
Round every purchase up to the dollar and put the money into savings. Apps, like Acorns make it easy to do this automatically.
19. The 401k savings challenge
Every 2 months increase your 401k by 1%. The money goes in before taxes are taken out so it will not actually be a full 1% of your take home money and if the company matches then you will be saving even more. If you can keep your 401k investment percentage high then you will be on your way to becoming a 401k millionaire.
20. Spare change savings challenge
At the end of your day take your spare change and put it into a jar. At the end of the year, cash your spare change in.
21. The $100 envelope savings challenge
Label envelopes with values from $1 to $100. Mix them up and pick them from a jar. The number that is picked is what must be saved for the week. If you evenly distribute the numbers then you will have $1378 by the end of the year
22. The pantry challange
Try to eat all the food in your pantry before you buy more food. You should save money on groceries and save money when it is tight.
23. Generic brand challenge
Only buy generic brands for a month. Once you see how much you are saving and how little difference there is, then you might never go back to name brands again!
24. Six step savings challenge
After studying every savings challenge I could find, I decided to come up with my own savings challenge that took the best of each of the previous challenges.
The six-step savings challenge was meant to be more than a temporary challenge. The goal is to change your behavior going forward and as a result change the trajectory of your life. I hope you enjoy it!