52 Week Savings Challenge (2024 Edition)

By Kelly Boyer Sagert · January 02, 2024 · 7 minute read

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52 Week Savings Challenge (2024 Edition)

Many experts recommend having an emergency savings fund. The money is intended to cover bills or living expenses due to a job loss, medical issue, or unexpected repairs. But finding money to put aside on a regular basis can be challenging. The 52-week Savings Challenge will get you there in the simplest way possible.

Learn how this savings challenge works and who will benefit the most from it.

What Is the 52 Week Money Challenge?

The 52-week Savings Challenge is a straightforward way to set aside a little money every week. The plan can help you save more than you might expect over the course of a year. The goal is to have a healthy emergency fund that you can dip into to cover unexpected expenses — like car repairs or a trip to the ER — without blowing your monthly budget.

Although some people like to start these types of challenges on Jan. 1, you can start today, or the first week of next month, or anytime you like. The result will be the same.

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How Much You’ll Save After Completing the Challenge

Follow our basic guidelines, and you’ll save $1,378 in a year’s time. If you deposit the money in a high-interest savings account, interest will accumulate, increasing the amount you’ve saved.

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How the 52-Week Money Challenge Works

The challenge’s structure is simple. In week one, put $1 in savings. Week two, $2. Week three, $3, and so forth for 52 weeks in a row. You can tuck the money into an envelope or put it in a piggy bank — but only if you won’t be tempted to withdraw cash before the challenge ends.

Temptation and interest are two good reasons to deposit the money into a bank account. Or you can set up automatic transfers so that your financial institution will move the money to the savings account that you designated for this challenge.

52 Week Savings Schedule

Week Number

Weekly Deposit

Total Saved

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

Enhancing the Challenge

Perhaps you’re looking ahead to Christmas or another time of year when you know that money will be especially tight. You can decide to pay ahead so that, if needed, you can skip saving during the weeks in December. That’s the beauty of this challenge: You can customize it to meet your needs.

When December rolls around, if you don’t have extra cash, no worries. You’ve already made those deposits (which are earning interest more quickly). If you can keep depositing money throughout December, do so, and you’ll reap even more benefits at the end of 52 weeks.

Here’s another possibility. As you start to save money in this way, you might find that you can save even more. If so, up the ante, perhaps by doubling the amount you’ll deposit each week, so that you can save money fast.

Pros and Cons of the 52-Week Money Challenge

First, the benefits:

•   You’ll be saving money. That, all by itself, is a good thing.

•   You can gain confidence in your ability to budget, and to “pay yourself first.” For extra help, here is a budget planner app that’s easy to use.

•   As the dollars add up, use the momentum to continue the challenge into 2023.

•   Let this challenge motivate you to focus more on your financial goals — and improve your financial situation in new ways.

•   You can participate in this challenge with friends and family members, which can motivate you to keep going.

•   As your savings muscles get stronger, you can create a plan to save for other goals: a new car, for example, or a trip with your family.

Next, the challenges:

•   If the money is too easy to access, it can be tempting to use the funds before the year is up. To prevent this from happening, it may help to put the money in a bank account where you don’t have a debit card.

•   Because the deposit amounts are relatively small, it can be easy to forget to make your deposit or lose track of which week you’re on. Try marking amounts on a calendar, or use a buddy system where you and a friend remind each other.

•   If you start this challenge at the beginning of the year, the biggest deposits will be scheduled for the holiday season when you may have more expenses. In that case, start with $52 on Jan. 1, when the challenge is fresh and new, and then deposit a dollar less each week. This has the added benefit of getting more money into the account more quickly, which gives you more motivation early on. Plus, you’ll benefit from more interest more quickly.

•   If you find that you can’t make the deposit during one week, don’t get too down about it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You can catch up.

Who the 52 Week Money Challenge Is Best For

First, if you’re enthusiastic about the idea, then it’s definitely for you. This idea can be adjusted for all ages, too. If, for example, you have young children and want to teach them good saving habits, start them with cents instead of dollars.

If you’d like to turn the savings process into a game, then this challenge is tailor made. You can, for example, make a chart that contains all of the dollar amounts that will be saved ($1-$52) and then cut the page into 52 individual squares — one dollar amount per square.

Put the slips of paper in a hat or box, and select a square each week. That’s the amount you’ll save this week. If you need more advance notice of your savings target, pull the slips out of the container at the beginning of the challenge, one by one, and mark them on a calendar. The first slip drawn goes on week one, the second on week two and so forth.

Search for “52-week savings challenge printable,” and you’ll find plenty of other ways to keep track of and enjoy participating in the challenge.

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The Takeaway

The 52-week Savings Challenge is a straightforward way of saving a relatively small amount of money each week to build up an emergency savings fund. In Week One, you save $1. Week Two, save $2. The most you’ll have to save in a week is $52, at the end of the challenge. Simple as it is, it’s also quite flexible and easy to customize in whatever way will work best for you.

SoFi’s free money tracker app can help you manage your savings and spending all in one place. Plus you get credit score monitoring, financial insights, and more — at no cost.

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Is the 52 week savings challenge worth it?

If you stick with the plan for a year, you’ll save $1,378 — plus interest if you deposit the funds into an interest-bearing account. This challenge can help you strengthen your savings skills and serve as a springboard for accomplishing other financial goals.

What is the $10,000 challenge?

This challenge is structured in the same way as the 52-week one. In week one, though, you’ll start with $125. Each week, you’ll add another $25 to the amount you save. The result: $10,000 plus any interest earned.

What is the no-spend challenge?

In this challenge, you’ll commit to spend money only on essentials, such as housing, gas, groceries, and utilities. You can set a timeframe for this challenge to build up your savings account. And you can customize the rules however you like — perhaps limiting the challenge to no-spend weekends.

Photo credit: iStock/Jose carlos Cerdeno

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