Last week I posted a chart on Facebook that showed how to save $1378 between now and the end of December 2013. This chart spurred a variety of conversation, both on and off my Facebook pages, and I want to expand upon it a bit. The chart is a 52 week Money Challenge, and personally, I think it’s an AWESOME idea. I didn’t come up with it on my own, but I really like it, and it seems like many of you do too!
The chart above shows that if you put away the dollar amount that corresponds to the week of the year, each week, you will have saved $1378 by the end of 2013. A lot of readers responded that they love the idea (and by the way, we are only starting week 2 right now, so it’s not too late to catch up!).
But many also expressed the following concerns:
- I know I won’t be able to make it through the year without dipping into the fund.
- I live on a fixed income or I live paycheck to paycheck and I can’t squeeze out the higher amounts as the year goes on.
- I only get paid bi-weekly so I can’t add money each week.
- Once I get to week X I can’t afford to increase the amount
Can you relate to any of these issues, or are they just excuses? If you are serious about saving a little money during the year, whether it’s to offset the holidays next year, to save for something that you’re going to want, or even to begin a college fund for your kids, here are a few ideas:
- If NOT dipping into the fund is going to be a challenge for you, don’t keep the money where you can get to it. Don’t keep it in a physical envelope in your house. Instead open a specific account either at your own bank or with PayPal or Serve, where you can transfer money into the account each week. Also, if you are keeping it in a physical envelope, write on the outside what you are saving for. Maybe if you go to dip into it and you see the reminder, you’ll think twice.
- Do the chart in a different order. Either start at the end now and go backwards, or just do a completely random order. You can print the chart out and cross off the weeks as you do them. So, if next week you’ve saved a lot on groceries and can afford to put in $52, you can cross that off. But in 3 weeks when you are closer to your budget, you can put in week 5′s $5.
- Find other small sources of income or savings that you can add to the pot. I’ve started putting all of my Iobatta App savings into our envelope. Just in the past week I’ve redeemed $6 from purchases. That may not sound like a lot right now, but add an additional $6 each week and you’ve increased your savings by $312 at the end of the year! There are also a lot of easy online survey sites where you can pick up $5 here and $5 there. Again, it’s not a ton of money all at once, but it adds up!
- If you know that when you get to a certain point in the year, you just aren’t going to be able to swing the additional money each week, start adding it in earlier. If you put aside $26.50 per week ALL YEAR, you come out in the same place. If you can only swing $10 per week, you have still set aside $520 at the end of the year.
The bottom line is, no matter how you do it, you are saving money! One thing I’ve learned in our family’s financial journey is that it’s not easy. It’s not easy to change bad habits and it’s not easy to dig out of a hole if you’ve created one. BUT, it’s definitely doable! You just need a plan and a way to hold yourself to that plan.
Are you planning to take the 52 week challenge? How can you tweak it to meet your family’s financial needs? Is there anything you can cut from your weekly budget to put aside some money for your nest egg? We have decided to set up 4 different funds. 1 for each of our kids as an additional college fund, and 1 for a family fund. Our eldest is in Kindergarten. If we do this for her every year through 12th grade, we will have over $17,000 put away for her (plus interest) to help pay for college. This is an easy way to start teaching our kids, even though they are young, about the importance of saving.
Wouldn’t it be nice to start 2014 off with some extra cash? Leave a comment and let us know how you’re planning to implement this into your family. I’ll keep you updated on our progress AND hopefully give you more ways to add some money to your savings fund.