Here’s How The 52-Week Money Challenge Can Effortlessly Save You $1400

Ahh, the beginning of a new year. The gyms are full, your co-workers are unusually chirpy and you can smell the promise of new opportunities in the air.

Chances are, you’ve already made a list of your goals for 2018 and at least one or two are financial – whether it’s saving for a new car or putting a deposit down for a home. But unlike those eight-week fitness challenges spruiked by peppy gym instructors, reaching your financial goals is a long game.

It’s not just something you can simply tick off in a few months. Unless, of course, you happen to win the lotto, in which case you’ll be too busy buying 1000 puppies to worry about your goals list (or maybe that’s just me?).

The point is that achieving your money goals is a long-term commitment. Which is exactly what makes a 52-week money challenge the perfect way to stay on track.

“52 weeks?! Sounds tedious!” you may say. But actually, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, it’s so easy you’ll barely even notice you’re doing it. Here’s the lowdown:

How it works

Start the challenge by putting away just $1 in the first week. Yes, just one dollar. Easy, right? Then you gradually increase this by another dollar every week. So, the next week you would save $2, then $3 and so forth. The most you ever put away is $52 a week — but by the end of the year, you’ve saved $1378 almost effortlessly.

If that doesn’t feel like enough, there are a few ways you can supercharge your savings. Some people like to start with $2 and go up in increments of two, which would give you $2756 by week 52. Or if you really like a challenge, you could shoot for $5 per week, which would put an extra $6890 in your bank account by the end of the year!

If you’re someone who likes to dive into the deep end, you could also do the reverse 52-week money challenge — where you start with $52 in the first week and work your way down. This is great for people who find themselves with an extra flurry of motivation at the beginning of the year, but quickly lose enthusiasm. Plus, there’s something satisfying about only having to part with $1 in the final week of the challenge.

No matter which method you choose, the easiest way to ensure it feels effortless is by setting up a direct debit for each week of the year. You could also just even it out into equal increments (ie. $26.50 per week if you’re doing the basic challenge, or $53 per week if you’re doing double) – but hey, where’s the fun in that?

Of course, half the battle with a challenge like this is keeping yourself accountable so that you don’t sneakily cancel your direct debit when you feel like treating yourself to a new pair of shoes.

Alex Jones, a corrections officer in Victoria who started the challenge this year, has got this bit down pat: “I printed the challenge out on paper and have stuck it to my wall, so I can keep track of it and cross each week off as I go,” he says. 

Does it work?

Rachelle Scott, who owns a co-working space in Sydney, completed the challenge last year. She managed to save $1800, as the challenge inspired her to put extra cash away here and there, as well as her set amounts.

“I put the money in a high interest savings account that I could only access online, so I kind of just set it and forget it,” says Rachelle. “At the end, it was like finding $50 in a ski jacket you haven’t used for many seasons. It’s exciting because it feels like you’ve found cash, even though it was yours to begin with!”

So yes, the 52-week money challenge does work, so long as you’re consistent and have an effective system set up for yourself. To take your savings further, read about how to hack your bank account.

Emma Norris is a Sydney-based freelance writer and the owner of copywriting business, Content in the City. When she’s not playing with words, she’s either doing pushups or stuffing her face with pizza. You can follow her on Instagram @emmajanenorris.

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