How to Do the 52-Week Money Challenge

Quick Answer

You can complete the 52-week money challenge in three simple steps:

  1. Start by depositing $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three and so on.
  2. Stash your cash in a high-yield savings account.
  3. Keep up the momentum by automating future savings.
Father and daughter are smiling on the couch while they are putting a coin in a pink piggybank.

The 52-week money challenge is a savings plan that has you set aside money a week at a time, increasing the amount saved by $1 every week.

Making a habit out of saving money is key for building a cash reserve that can cover you in an emergency and for achieving future financial goals. Finding the money to save can be tricky, however, especially if money's tight. Completing the money challenge will leave you with $1,378 in your savings account—plus the confidence that will help you keep hitting your money goals.

What Is the 52-Week Money Challenge?

The 52-week money challenge is a fun and effective way to stash money away to start or bolster your savings. The most common way to complete the challenge is to start by saving just $1 in week one and increasing what you save by $1 each week, saving $2 in week two and $3 in week three, all the way up to $52 in week 52.

By starting small and gradually increasing what you save, you'll make great strides and save a total of $1,378 in a year.

Challenging yourself to save more is an excellent money resolution to start any time of year. Many opt to start the 52-week savings challenge at the start of the new year or the beginning of the month, but you can begin whenever you like by following the weekly schedule below:

Complete the 52-Week Money Challenge
Week Deposit Total Balance
Week 1 $1 $1
Week 2 $2 $3
Week 3 $3 $6
Week 4 $4 $10
Week 5 $5 $15
Week 6 $6 $21
Week 7 $7 $28
Week 8 $8 $36
Week 9 $9 $45
Week 10 $10 $55
Week 11 $11 $66
Week 12 $12 $78
Week 13 $13 $91
Week 14 $14 $105
Week 15 $15 $120
Week 16 $16 $136
Week 17 $17 $153
Week 18 $18 $171
Week 19 $19 $190
Week 20 $20 $210
Week 21 $21 $231
Week 22 $22 $253
Week 23 $23 $276
Week 24 $24 $300
Week 25 $25 $325
Week 26 $26 $351
Week 27 $27 $378
Week 28 $28 $406
Week 29 $29 $435
Week 30 $30 $465
Week 31 $31 $496
Week 32 $32 $528
Week 33 $33 $561
Week 34 $34 $595
Week 35 $35 $630
Week 36 $36 $666
Week 37 $37 $703
Week 38 $38 $741
Week 39 $39 $780
Week 40 $40 $820
Week 41 $41 $861
Week 42 $42 $903
Week 43 $43 $946
Week 44 $44 $990
Week 45 $45 $1,035
Week 46 $46 $1,081
Week 47 $47 $1,128
Week 48 $48 $1,176
Week 49 $49 $1,225
Week 50 $50 $1,275
Week 51 $51 $1,326
Week 52 $52 $1,378

Benefits of the 52-Week Money Challenge

The 52-week money challenge will help you save more than $1,000—a clear financial benefit, especially if you're struggling to find the funds to save. On top of more money, there are a number of other benefits to completing the 52-week money challenge:

  • An increase in financial confidence: Completing this money challenge can help you shake up your attitude about saving and allow you to see first-hand how habitually saving at least a little each week can help you meet a savings goal. Once you finish the challenge, you can channel your momentum to complete another money challenge or start automatically saving a portion of each paycheck.
  • Practice with budgeting: If you aren't used to working your expenses around savings each week, it may take a bit of learning to adjust your spending to meet your goals. Learning to budget your money to prioritize saving first is a lifelong financial skill that's key for achieving major financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a home and achieving financial freedom in retirement.
  • Customize it: You can tweak the challenge to meet your needs. For example, you may up the ante by increasing your saving amount by $5 per week, rather than $1. Or, if you're nervous that changing your deposits each week is a lot to keep track of, you can fully automate the challenge by saving $26.50 each week for a year. You'll still end up with $1,378 in the bank.
  • Buddy up for accountability: You can do the 52-week challenge alone, but challenging a friend or joining a group to save alongside you can make the challenge more fun. Plus, you'll be less tempted to bail if you've committed to saving with a team.

Where to Stash Your Savings

Keep the money you save separate from your checking by stashing your savings in a high-yield savings account as you go.

A high-yield saving account is just like a typical savings account, but you'll earn a slightly higher interest rate on your money. It's easy to open up a high-interest savings account through most major online banks.

Once you stash your money in the account, avoid the temptation to tap into it for a purchase. Not only do some savings accounts charge small fees for tapping into your savings too often, but building up a healthy savings account can help you avoid relying on borrowing in the event of an emergency.

Experts recommend aiming to keep three to six months' expenses in an emergency fund, and the 52-week money challenge is a strong way to start. Continue buffering your savings to build an emergency fund that can cover you when you need it.

If you've already built a hefty emergency fund, you can use the 52-week challenge to set aside a large sum of cash for a future purchase or invest it towards retirement in a traditional or Roth IRA.

Keep Saving to Meet Your Goals

The 52-week challenge is a great way to build up your savings and end the year with a hefty cash reserve. As you complete the challenge, channel the good money habits you're learning by ticking off other major financial to-dos like tackling high-interest debt and automating your retirement savings.

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