January is a great time to start saving up for a special treat, whether it’s a spanking new laptop or a family vacation at a nice beach resort. However, as we all know, the staying power for such resolutions tends to fall pitifully short (i.e., long before you’ve saved up the desired amount) especially when you don’t have a game plan.
Hence, some genius came up with something called the 52-Week Money Challenge to help things along. Typically, you’re supposed to set aside PHP50 (about AUD1.38) on the first week of the year, increasing this amount by PHP50 in every week that follows. Thus, you start out with PHP50 in a jar (or whatever Pinterest-y container you choose) on Jan. 1-7 and add PHP100, PHP150, PHP200, and so on in the following weeks.
It’s a great plan, and as with any long-term challenge, discipline and commitment is key. However, there are some hacks you can apply to increase your chances of success at the 52-Week Money Challenge:
1. Do it backwards.
Instead of starting out with PHP50 and increasing the amount you set aside every week, start with PHP2600 or AUD72 (the amount you’re supposed to set aside on the last week of the year), and then decrease that amount by PHP50 every week. This way, you get the hard stuff out of the way at the beginning and it gets easier to set aside money each week as the amount of your regular contributions gets less and less.
Also, expenses tend to increase during the end of the year because of the Christmas season. Doing the 52-Week Challenge in reverse means you’ll only need to squirrel away PHP200 and less every week in December, making it a lot easier for you to stick to the saving program amidst all that holiday spending.
You can even print a chart to help you stay on track and to help you remember how much to put away for the week. These are also a great way to keep you motivated since you’ll be able to see how much you’ve built up in the middle of the year.
2. Ditch the piggy bank (or the jar).
Sure, putting your money in a glittery jar or a cute piggy bank might seem pretty, but it also makes your savings all too accessible when you’re tempted to splurge on an impulse buy.
If you really want to commit to that amount you had in mind, put some distance between yourself and your savings. Open up a bank account, preferably one that you can’t access with an ATM card, and then transfer your weekly savings there once you have enough for the minimum required deposit (yet another reason to do this challenge backwards).
Check your bank account every week upon depositing your contributions to make sure that they’re up-to-date, but don’t touch it until the last week of the year.
3. Get competitive.
Make it a group activity; get one of your friends or significant other to do the challenge with you by coming up with a joint goal (e.g., going on a vacation abroad at the end of the year, purchasing matching phones or computers, etc.).
Sometimes, working on a challenge feels easier and perhaps even fun if you’re doing it alongside someone you love. Having an accountability partner also helps to fend off attrition or the temptation to quit midway.
If you do this right, you’ll end up with an extra PHP68,900 (AUD1,908) after twelve months, assuming you start off with a PHP50 base. (Some people even doubled the base amount to PHP100 (AUD2.77) to accumulate PHP137,800 or AUD3,817.) Not bad at all, eh?