The 52-Week Money Challenge idea is simple: You start by socking away just $1 in the first week of the year, and then gradually increase your savings by a dollar a week throughout the year. So you save $2 in Week 2, then $3 in Week 3, and so on, until you’re stashing away upwards of $50 a week next December.
By the end of the year, if you complete the challenge, you’ll have saved $1,378.
It’s a simple, effective way to build your first emergency fund or to save up for next year’s big winter vacation. And unlike so many financial endeavors, getting started isn’t at all intimidating — just about anyone can manage to save one dollar in a week. The problem? If you complete every weekly task as is, you’re stuck saving $50 or more per week in December, which is already a pretty expensive month for most of us. To optimize your saving potential and avoid saving mistakes, discover secrets that will supersize your savings quickly & easily below!
1. Print & Check
One way people get around that problem is by printing out the chart and crossing off the weeks in whatever order they fulfill them. For example, if you got a big year-end bonus or cash Christmas gift, you could start with a $52 contribution right off the bat, and cross that week off the list. Then you could put in $10 the next week, or $22, or whatever amount you can comfortably spare, and work upward from there. That way, you’ll save a few low-dollar “gimmes” for those inevitable cash-strapped weeks later in the year, ensuring you don’t fall off the wagon entirely during a tough stretch. (Insider’s Hack: I know a ton of people that complete the challenge in reverse, that way they look forward to depositing a little less every week while accomplishing the same goal.)
2. The Monthly Money Challenge
If your goal is simply to establish some fiscal discipline and save roughly $1,400, there’s no reason you have to do it weekly, Set up an automatic savings deposit for $100 a month. Then, each month, kick it up by $5 (or $10). For example, save $100 in January, $105 in February, $110 in March, and so on. By next December, you’ll be saving $155 a month and sitting on a balance of $1,530. (If you use $10 increments, you’ll have $1,860 saved up.)
3. Don’t Hate, Automate!
One of the hardest parts about saving money is making the conscious decision not to spend those dollars on fun, fleeting things, and instead to stick them in a jar or a savings account. Most big banks have sophisticated online and mobile banking platforms at this point that allow you to set up automatic deposits on whatever schedule you want — every Friday, or every payday, or whatever works for your schedule. Some of them even allow you to authorize transfers via text message, making it easy to stick to the challenge. There are plenty of amazing banking apps that make saving even easier, including Digit and Qapital. (Personally, I’ve saved almost $500 with Digit – sign up and begin hacking your way to automate your savings here!)
4. Double Your Savings, Double Your Fun!
If you’re really into challenging yourself, why not double your savings potential with this awesome 52-Week Money Savings hack. Start with $2 in the first week of the year, and then gradually increase your deposit by a $2 dollars a week throughout the year. So you save $6 in Week 2, then $12 in Week 3, and so on, until you’ve stashed up to $1,806 December. (Talk about a holiday shopping budget made easy!)
5. Get Competitive with your goals
It’s no doubt that completion is a great motivator for completing goals! Qapital ups the ante for savings and even has a 52-Week Money Challenge option built in. (And that’s not even the coolest thing you can do with the app.) Since Qapital plays well with other apps and devices — such as a FitBit, Foursquare, Instagram, or your phone’s GPS — you can set up almost any “savings rule” imaginable that will transfer money into your savings account based on your behavior. Qapital’s app also allows you to share a savings goal with someone. So, for example, if you and your bestie are saving up for a trip or you’re newlyweds saving for a down payment on a house, you can each contribute to the same goal – and egg each other on! Want a real 52-week challenge? Set up a shared goal together and see who can save the most money toward it this year. (Winner gets the window seat on your next big vacation.) At the very least, using an app or automatic savings schedule can make the 52-week challenge a whole lot less challenging.
Have you tried the 52-Week Money Challenge — or put your own spin on it? What are some savings rules that would get you to save more?
Shopping for deals and steals post-Thanksgiving has become a custom for many families and shopaholics alike, with shoppers frequenting their favorite stores with stacks of ads and coupons clutched to their chests. With the biggest holiday shopping sale moments away, like many Americans (your budget is limited…) but being the savvy shopper you are, you refuse to wait to plan your shopping strategy and that’s why you’re here! In addition to the latest Black Friday strategies and sale information, we’ve got that one tip that is sure to keep you out of long lines while getting the big savings on Black Friday below.
Black Friday Sales
From free toys to cheap electronics, find some of your tops wish list gifts on http://blackfriday.com. Looking for that 60″ VIZO television for $688? Walmart’s got it! What about 50% off top toy brands and $30 of stocking stuffers for the kids for FREE? Toys R Us has you covered!
TIP #1 MAKE A PLAN: Once you identify what you want to buy, which stores have the best sales on Black Friday and what time they open, make a decision about when and where you want to shop first. This year, many stores such as Macy’s & Kohl’s will be opening as early as midnight, but depending on your mall, the next batch of stores may not be open until 4am-6am. Plan accordingly so you’re not waiting in the cold for the next four hours!
DEAL FOR A STEAL: Looking for free money to add to your holiday spending? H&M is offering the first 100 customers in line scratch off cards with values of up to $300 for store spending! With sweaters & dresses just starting at $5 each, you can buy gifts for everyone, no matter if they’ve been naughty or nice this season! Most free-standing H&M stores will open up tonight at midnight, you better get in line early! (Check your local mall for correct Black Friday shopping hours.)
TIP #2 DON’T DRESS TO IMPRESS: Loose-fitting or comfy clothing (such as a jogging suit) and sneakers could possibly be the best Black Friday shopping outfit ever. Not only will you be spending a lot of time on your feet, but no one wants to wake up at 4am and get all gussied up. Do yourself a favor by keeping your outfit relaxed and nixing those heels!
SKIP THE LINES: Several stores (including Walmart) will let you put the Black Friday Sale items on Layaway today and get them out for the Black Friday price on Friday! If you want to avoid the lines and still get the deals, drop everything and shop now
#TIP #3 THERE’S POWER IN NUMBERS: Go with a team and attack separate stores or sections of the same store. Distributing the list by items (electronics, fashions, etc.) is also a good plan. Designate a meeting place and time to check out so you can find one another amongst all the craziness. The faster you can shop, the sooner you’ll be nursing a hot chocolate back in bed!
LESS-QUANTITY ITEMS ARE NOT WORTH YOUR QUALITY TIME: Be wary of Black Friday deals with quantity limits. If a store only has 10 items at that price, go elsewhere. Time is money and you don’t want to miss out on Black Friday sales that are actually worth waiting for!
TIP #4 HARNESS THE POWER OF YOUR SMARTPHONE: From following local stores via Twitter, double-checking ad sales via mobile internet or simply dialing a friend to lend a helping hand in carrying five flat-screen TVs home, smartphones are your BFF on Black Friday. Make sure yours is fully charged…and use it wisely!
USE TIMING WISELY: By 8am, many of those door-busting earlybirds who have been shopping since 4am have left to go home and crawl back into bed. Meanwhile, the later shoppers are just getting dressed and making waffles, preparing to hit the malls at 10am. If you wait until 8am or so, you can find empty parking lots of stores where there are still plenty of deals to be found, but nearly no lines!
TIP #5 BRING A SNACK: Only amateurs stop at the food court on Black Friday. If you think the lines are bad in the stores, you won’t believe the crowds around McDonald’s come noon! Keep granola bars or pre-packaged snacks in your bag to fight off those mid-shopping munchies. You’ll stay satisfied and can eat a healthier meal at home!
What do you think of these Tips for Black Friday success? Have you ever gone shopping on Black Friday? Will you be going this year? Where are you off to?