“This year I’m going to save more money!”
Sound familiar? An extremely common New Year’s resolution, yet more often than not it gets dismissed by the time the first unexpected bill comes.
While the sentiment is admirable, the biggest problem with this resolution is that it’s much too broad. It is very difficult to measure how much progress you’re making without a specific goal in mind.
Previously, we discussed how to save an extra $1,300 a year by taking the 52-Week Money Challenge. The best part about this challenge is that it breaks down the common New Year’s resolution of “wanting to save more money” into much more manageable and measurable steps. It’s much less daunting to focus on one week’s goal at a time, instead of the entire year as a whole. This post is designed to provide some easy hacks to the 52-Week Money Challenge, to make it even more effective:
1. Make Your Own Schedule
It’s great that the challenge is so simple, but why not get more creative? Print out the savings plan and cross off the weeks as you go, skipping around as your budget allows. One of the biggest criticisms of this savings plan is that it’s very imbalanced, with only $351 being saved in the first half of the year while $1,027 is saved in the second half of the year. Also, considering most people already have very stretched budgets during the holidays, putting off the bulk of the savings to those months can cause increased stress. By making your own schedule, you can better avoid these potential problems by saving more during the weeks your budget allows.
2. Automate Your Savings
If you choose to forego the mason jar technique, consider opening an online savings account. Then, set up automatic deposits to be added to this account. You can make these deposits occur each month, every two weeks when your paycheck rolls in, or weekly. You can set all this up in a matter of minutes and not have to continually think about it while watching the money grow. You can also use an app such as Acorns or Digit to stash money away before you can even miss it.
Related Post: This is Why Saving Money in Your 20s is Essential
3. Increase the Challenge
Small progress is better than nothing, but after you’ve mastered the basics of saving, why not up to the ante? Try extending the challenge to 104 weeks, or doubling the amount saved.
4. Have a “Why”
We’ve mentioned how important it is to create goals that are specific and measurable. Another key element to a successful goal is to remember why you decided to make it in the first place. Why do you want to save more money? Is it to save up for a down payment on a house, buying a car, taking a vacation? By figuring out the “why,” your motivation will be fueled by keeping your goal in perspective, especially when the going gets tough.
5. Find Accountability
Trying to implement changes to your life can be difficult, and it’s even tougher by yourself. Find a friend or family member to help encourage you. They can be someone who has the same goal of saving more money, or a different goal entirely. The important aspect is to have someone walking alongside you to aid in your struggle and help celebrate your success, while you return the favor.
This challenge works well because it’s straightforward and planned out. However you decide to go about saving more money in the New Year, whether it’s by the standard 52-Week Money Challenge, using one of these strategies, or something different entirely, the biggest key is to start early and remain consistent. In this way, you’ll be able to stick to your New Year’s resolution and make 2016 your best year yet!