By Lisa Rowan, Forbes Advisor Staff
June 10, 2022
There’s something about the task of saving money that just doesn’t seem fun.
Sure, everyone wants to have more money available for their needs and wants, but the process of actually doing it? It brings up images of depriving yourself of activities you enjoy, or eating the same meal over and over to save a few bucks.
Changing your approach to saving money could motivate you to develop better habits as you watch your nest egg grow. Turning saving into a game—even a brief one—might invigorate your money-saving efforts.
And though many money-saving games take place over a long period of time, like an entire year, there’s good news for those of you who have resolved to save long after January 1 has passed: you can start a saving challenge any time you please.
Try one or more of these eight money saving challenges to make your endeavor a bit more fun. Whether you prefer to manage your money digitally or have cash on hand, you can make any of these games work for you.
1. 52-Week Challenge
So what if it’s already mid-January or beyond? It’s easy to catch up in the early stages of this challenge. Increase your savings over time from $1 on week one, $2 on week two, and so on, until you reach the final week: on week 52, you put away $52.
Complete an entire year and you’ll have $1,378 in the bank, a tidy sum to put toward a large purchase you’ve been saving for or an unexpected expense down the road. Local Government Federal Credit Union has a printable chart to help keep you organized along the way.
2. Dollar Savings Challenge
Save one dollar a day. That’s it! Do so for the entire year to kickstart your savings fund in a way that feels manageable. While this challenge only nets a maximum of $365, it can go a long way toward helping you build a habit of saving consistently—and show you how small amounts add up over time.
3. $20 Savings Challenge
Does saving $1 a day feel too easy for you? Try multiplying the savings. Try saving $20 each week of the year. At the end, you’ll have $1,040—those $20s add up fast!
4. The 26-Week Challenge
Get paid every other week? Try the 26-week challenge highlighted by Redwood Credit Union instead of the 52-week savings challenge. You’ll save the same amount over the course of the year, but with set amounts adjusted for each of your biweekly pay periods. You can also choose whether you save more at the beginning of the year or the end.
5. Roll the Dice Savings Challenge
Take a six-sided die and roll it each day. Worst case scenario: You tuck away $6 each day for a total of just over $2,000 in a year. But this is a situation where your “worst” case scenario is great news for your savings account.
6. The 33.3 Challenge
Want to save a lot of money fast? Try saving $1,000 in just 30 days. This may feel more attainable if you think about it as $33.33 per day. This challenge is best for someone who has ample disposable income but needs a nudge to stop frivolous spending.
7. Bowl-Grab Challenge
Grab 30 scraps of paper (or 31, for those special months), and write an amount on each. Maybe you do a mix of $1 and $5 slips, with a $20 written down on a few to keep things interesting.
Put all the scraps in a bowl or mug and take one out each day for a month. Put the amount written on the paper aside and revel in your savings at the end of the month.
This challenge is fun to do with roommates or if you have kids at home. Not only does it make saving a group project—you could choose rotating days so everyone has a chance to pull amounts and contribute—but it also gets everyone talking about the process of saving in modest amounts.
8. No-Spend Challenge
Instead of focusing on the amount you can save over a certain period, how about testing yourself to see how little you can spend?
A no-spend challenge can take place during a single day, over a month or even longer. While the challenge is on, you can’t spend any money beyond routine bills and any other regular expenses you’ve already planned for (say, gas for your commute or getting a prescription refill from the pharmacy). At the end of the challenge, take the “extra” money you’ve discovered out of your checking account and move it to a savings account.
The longer your no-spend challenge lasts, the more you’ll need to plan ahead for success.
4 Tips for Savings Challenge Success
Before you start a savings challenge, plan for the following to help ensure your success.
1. Name a Goal
Before you start a savings challenge, think about what you want from it.
That goal goes beyond the amount you’ll have at the end. Are you saving because you want to take a vacation this summer? Are you saving to create a habit so you can eventually end your reliance on your credit card? Whatever’s motivating you to follow the rules of a savings game for a month or more, write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see it often.
2. Visualize Your Progress
Ever seen a fundraiser where a thermometer graphic is used to visualize how much has been raised? As the total creeps toward the top line, it’s hard to resist getting excited about meeting the goal.
Bring that same energy to your savings challenge. Whether you put an X on the calendar for each day you complete your savings task, color in part of an image each time you set aside cash, or write down a running tally of what you’ve saved, having a visual reminder of your progress can keep you motivated alongside reminding yourself about your goal.
3. Choose an Accountability Buddy
Saving money is more fun when you’re doing it with someone else.
An accountability buddy doesn’t need to be someone with the same exact saving goal as you. They may not even need to participate in a challenge with you. Your accountability partner only needs to be someone who is counting on you to follow through with your plans—and will call you out if you start slipping.
If you’re doing a challenge with others at home, you may have accountability partners built in. But don’t be afraid to call on a friend or relative to keep you on task.
4. Keep your Savings Safe—and Don’t Spend It
If you’re saving cash, choose a safe space at home to add to your pool; for digital saving, transfer money to a new savings account or one that’s hard to access on a whim.
It’s good financial hygiene to keep your money organized and keeping your money out of sight can also quell the temptation of dipping into your savings too soon. Yes, it’s possible an emergency could crop up and derail your plan in the middle of a savings game. But while true emergencies get a pass in savings challenges, impulse purchases don’t.
© 2022 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved
This Forbes article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.