How to Successfully Complete the 52-Week Money Challenge: February Edition

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Last month I challenged you to not do the popular 52-week money challenge. At least, don’t do it the way that many suggest. Common advice says you can save $1,378 in a year’s time if you:

  1. Save increasing amounts each week. Start with $1 during week one. Then, increase your savings by $1 each subsequent week. That means in week 37 you save $37 and on week 52 you sock away $52.
  2. Put the money in a jar. Paste a savings chart to a jar, then put it on your kitchen counter so you’ll never forget to put a week’s savings in it.

What Is Our 52-Week Money Challenge?

I suggested that you kick that wisdom to the curb. Yes, let’s work to save $1,378 in one year’s time, but instead do these two things:

  1. Save decreasing amounts each week. Get the heavy lifting done right now while your motivation is highest.
  2. Put the money in the bank. I recommended a free Capital One 360 savings account as a great way to automate the money going in and make it a little difficult to get the money out (withdrawals take 3-4 days to process)

(Read this initial article to learn all the reasons I suggest you don’t do the 52-week money challenge, at least not their way.)

February Update

Accomplishments

We are five weeks into the New Year and I am on track with our 52-week money challenge.

  1. I made $202 in deposits. I put $202 into my Capital One 360 Savings account in January. That’s 14.65% of the $1,378 year-long goal. Yahoo! I did it via four deposits:
    • Week 1: $52
    • Week 2: $51
    • Week 3: $50
    • Week 4: $49
  2. I’m 55% of the way to my larger goal. My 52-week money challenge deposits are earmarked toward my family’s $2,000 health insurance deductible. (I like to save my insurance deductible separate from our 3-month emergency fund.)
    • I started January with $907.82 already in my Capital One 360 Savings account earmarked toward our deductible
    • Adding in $202, plus a teeny bit of interest, my total balance is now$1,109.82. That’s 55.5% of my $2,000 goal. It feels good!

Next Steps

With one month under my belt, I’m ready to tackle February. We’ve got three things to do:

  1. Schedule deposits. I scheduled four weekly deposits, totaling $186, for February. (This printable chart is a great way to track all the deposit amounts):
    • Week 5: $48
    • Week 6: $47
    • Week 7: $46
    • Week 8: $45
  2. Identify potential obstacles. To successfully reach any goal you will have to overcome obstacles. Think about this 52-week money challenge: what obstacles did you face in January that made it hard to keep going? What challenges do you foresee in February?
  3. Plan to overcome the obstacles. Temptations, setbacks and curve balls come. But, instead of letting them fuel worry, fear and discouragement, plan to overcome them. Make yourself do this: think of three ways you can continue putting money in the bank every. single. week even with the challenge(s) you are facing. Then do it. (If you are out of creative solutions, then leave your challenge in the comments and let this community help you brainstorm ways to overcome)

Maintain Your Motivation

Whether you saved $202 or $2.02 in January doesn’t really matter to me. Much more important than your bank account balance is your motivation.

I believe your motivation is the most important asset you have in your journey to a better financial life. If you have sufficient motivation, then you’ll eventually have sufficient finances.

I’m committed this year to helping you successfully complete the 52-week money challenge.

Overcome Excuses

Every month we’ll find solutions to an obstacle that could keep you from successfully completing this challenge. (Yet another reason to share your obstacles and struggles in the comments, because I may anonymously feature yours in a future month)

“I Can’t Save This Much”

Maybe you’ve thought this in the first 4 weeks of this challenge: “Ugh. I can’t save this much. $52, then $51, then $50, then $49 each week. It’s impossible for me.”  Now you hear me talk about saving another $186 in February and you’re like, “Yeah right, Carrie. Wishful thinking.”

Solutions

There’s always multiple solutions to a single problem. I like to explore at least three. Forcing myself to get creative and brainstorm fuels my motivation, plus leads to great practical ideas. Let’s consider three potential solutions to this month’s problem:

  • Quit. “Hey, if you can’t, then you can’t. You might as well throw in the towel now, right?” Quitting is an option, and often the first one we jump to. Thankfully, it isn’t the only option.
  • Save a quarter each week instead. If saving $1 per week, starting with $52 in week 1, is too much, then save $0.25 per week instead. Your week 1 savings amount will be $13, then you’ll decrease weekly it by $0.25. If that’s still too much, then save a dime per week or a penny. At year’s end you will see yourself as a successful saver. That, friend, is worth much more than the money in the bank. (It’s worth more because once you see yourself differently, then you will act differently)
  • Save in random order. If your income is irregular, seasonal or you expect a windfall in a few weeks (ahem…tax refunds, anyone?) then save the 52 weekly amounts in random order almost like playing Bingo. For instance, if you can set aside $25 this week, then cross off weeks 34 ($19) and 47 ($6) since you have made a deposit in those amounts; use this printable chart to track your progress. (Plus, who wouldn’t love to shout “Bingo!” when they cross off the last week’s deposit?)

Successes? Challenges?

I’ve said it already, but it bears repeating. Please, leave a comment after this article that articulates any challenges you are having as you work to set aside money this year. But also, brag up your successes. What has worked? How has setting aside money every week helped you? Let’s work through as a community to see each one of us reach our potential.

As always, I welcome your ideas on how else I can help you succeed.

All the best,
–Carrie

(PS – This month I am going to write up an investment challenge for those who are interested in that. Stay tuned.)

Comments

  1. says

    I love your approach to the 52-Week Money Challenge! I’m not participating, but putting a jar in a common spot like the kitchen… I feel like I would grab it quickly when I’m in a pinch for cash!

    I love the idea of throwing it into an account where you can earn interest and you won’t be tempted to touch it :)

  2. Michelle says

    I started the 52 week challenge…and I initially decided to go backwards (before I even read your post). BUT…by week three I made a change. I am going to really strive for putting $50/week the entire time. Then, when I can’t I will put in less. My brother is currently in Rome for work so we’re saving $$ for our family of three to visit him in October. In one year, I will have $2600…and that will be 2 of our 3 tickets!!

  3. carol says

    I, too, have an Orange Ing Direct savings account (now Capital One), but have been doing just the opposite with it since it’s been earning less interest than my new checking account. I’m not the least bit interested in drawing down the principal I transferred from the former to the latter, even though I have multiple financial needs currently (new glasses, attic insulation, replacing a dead washer, and eventually replacing my car). Since I have automatic deposit, I have less cash on hand to spend, & the larger amounts in the account encourage me to watch it grow (if only life would stop trying to take it away!).

  4. SW says

    We are also doing the Money Challenge, but on a monthly basis vs. weekly. So far, so good on our savings goal this year. I’m VERY excited that the money is harder to reach in my Capital One account, and I actually have not thought about it once I’ve sent it there. Out of sight, out of mind. Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration, ideas and updates.

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