According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, approximately 80 percent of adults report that they feel enormous stress when it comes to finances—young people and those with lower incomes report even higher levels of stress over money.
Finance experts suggest building savings to serve as a buffer for when unexpected expenses arise, but many people struggle to save even a little money for emergencies. In fact, 60 percent of Americans indicated they would not be able to cover a $1,000 emergency expense, according to a 2019 survey conducted by Bankrate.com.
For those who want to build their savings, it can seem like an uphill battle. Everyday expenses and financial goals can make saving a lot of amount of money feel impossible. However, one of the easiest ways to fast track your savings is to participate in a money-saving challenge. These challenges are schedule-based, making them easy to tailor to your specific needs. Keep reading to find out about the most popular money challenges and how they can help you fast track your savings.
Biweekly Savings Challenge
For people who get paid on a regular schedule, a weekly or biweekly savings challenge may be the answer. Saving is a lot simpler when it coincides with your paycheck; it also helps you get in the habit of regularly saving money, even in small amounts.
One of the best challenges for saving on a schedule is the 52-week challenge. Although this is a weekly challenge, it can be easily adapted to a biweekly pay schedule. A quick Internet search will reveal various charts that you can follow along week-by-week to jumpstart your savings and develop good savings habits. Don’t be discouraged if the weekly/biweekly amounts are a bit high; feel free to tweak the amounts to something you can handle. Starting small is still a step in the right direction.
Spare Change Challenge
When it comes to saving money, people often wonder how they can make savings as stress free as possible. The spare change challenge makes saving money practically effortless, even for those who rarely carry cash. The basic premise of this challenge is to save all of your spare change for one year. If you carry cash and frequently get change back, you can simply put the coins in a jar or a piggy bank. If you use a debit card for purchases, several spare change mobile apps work by automatically rounding up everyday purchases and depositing the difference in a savings account.
Save $1,000 in 30 Days
For most people, saving fast means sacrificing and being extremely frugal. While denying yourself everything you love seems doable initially, many people find it hard to deprive themselves over a long period. One challenge is specifically designed to help people save faster than ever, reducing the stress of delayed gratification.
Saving money becomes easier for one of two reasons: an increase in income or a decrease in expenses. The $1,000 in 30 days challenge goes against the traditional slow-and-steady savings advice that focuses on behavioral changes. Instead, this challenge focuses on making changes that are realistic for most people. By cutting costs in the following categories, you have the potential to save nearly $1,000 in monthly expenses. This is money you can use right now. To save up to $1,000 this month, try the following:
- Audit your subscriptions
The creator of the $1,000 challenge asserts that you could save $240 or more by reviewing your monthly subscriptions and making some cuts. For example, any membership you don’t regularly use (e.g., gym memberships, music or streaming services, etc.) should be cut. Once you cancel your unused subscriptions, you should notice immediate savings.
- Call your cable/Internet provider
Take up to 20 minutes to call your cable and/or Internet provider to see if a better monthly rate is available. Sometimes, the company will offer you a lower rate that can save you money instantly. If you are leasing an Internet modem from them, return it and purchase a modem outright. This alone can save you $60-$120 annually.
- Reduce your insurance and phone bills
When it comes to monthly expenses, insurance and cellular service are two must-haves. However, even these expenses can be lowered. When it comes to car insurance, contacting your insurance company and asking the right questions can result in a much lower rate. Review all available discounts and discuss options for changing your deductible as well as affiliation and paid in full discounts. Ask your cell phone provider about lower options or consider switching providers.
- Cashback and discounts
Instead of cutting out all discretionary spending, do your best to save on things you were going to buy anyway. For online items, compare prices and sign up for cashback sites that partner with your favorite retailers. Save up to 50 percent on items by taking just a few minutes to comparison shop.
- Quality vs. generic items
For items you use often, opt to spend more upfront for quality, which saves you money in the long run as these items won’t need to be replaced as frequently. For disposable items or basics, it’s okay to buy generic.
Use these money-saving tips to supercharge your savings without the stress of deprivation.