We all know saving money is something we should do, but we often view it as a chore we’ll get around to doing someday.
It’s time to flip our perspective and think of saving money as a fun challenge instead.
Let’s push ourselves to beef up our emergency funds and stack our cash reserves. Let’s fight for better financial futures — one dollar at a time.
Need a game plan on your journey? Here are five money-saving challenges that can help you boost your bank account in 2021.
1. The Pantry Challenge
This money-saving challenge gives your wallet a break from your normal grocery shopping routine. Skip going to the store for a week, and get creative with the ingredients you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
When Penny Hoarder writer Tiffany Connors tried the pantry challenge, her family relied on wilted veggies, freezer-burned soy burgers and a random assortment of other forgotten pantry items. But they survived the week and saved about $150 in the process.
2. The No-Spend Challenge
The no-spend challenge is exactly what it sounds like. You freeze your spending (with the exception of bills and necessities) for a self-designated amount of time, saving all the money you would have blown.
The classic method is to cut out all unnecessary spending for a month, but you can execute a no-spend challenge in different ways. You could implement a certain number of no-spend days during the month. You could target a particular shopping weakness — like no new clothes for the next 90 days. Or you could choose to freeze spending during a special occasion, spending time with loved ones rather than exchanging gifts.
3. The Five Dollar Challenge
The five dollar challenge involves squirreling away every $5 bill you get as change. If you’re paying for something with cash and the cashier hands you a bill with Lincoln’s face on it, that currency goes right to your savings stash.
If you can put aside just two $5 bills a week, you’ll end up with $520 in savings by the end of the year. If more $5 bills come your way throughout the week, even better.
You can also alter this challenge by making $5 transfers to your savings account if you tend to shop with your debit or credit card rather than use cash.
4. The Penny Challenge
This money-saving challenge starts with saving just one penny (yes, just one cent) and increasing your savings contribution by an additional penny every day. On day two, you’ll add $0.02 to your savings. On day 200, you’ll throw $2.00 (aka 200 pennies) into the pot.
If you continue the penny challenge for a whole year, you’ll wind up with a total of $667.95. You can make this challenge more manageable by grouping your daily savings deposits by the month and transferring that amount from your checking account to your savings account rather than scrambling for spare change every day.
5. The 52-Week Money Challenge
The 52-week money challenge helps you put away $1,378 in one year by making weekly contributions. Traditionally, you’ll save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week and so on for 52 weeks.
This challenge starts off simply but gets increasingly harder as the months go on. If you don’t want to be stuck with saving over $200 in December when you’ve got a ton of holiday expenses, you can get creative with how you carry out this money-saving challenge.
Try one of our 52-week money challenge hacks, like selecting your weekly savings amount by random lottery rather than going in ascending numerical order.
No matter how you choose to save, making saving a priority will benefit your financial future.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.