Whether you want to stow away some cash to put toward your next summer getaway, or you are just looking to bulk up your rainy-day fund, a money-saving challenge can reveal how you spend and the areas you can cut back on.
Our challenge is simple: Deposit money into your savings account once a week for a month, each at varying amounts. Your biggest deposit occurs the first week of the month at $200 when your funds have the most room to breathe—you're less likely to miss that $200 if you start your highest deposit early on. Week two you'll deposit only half of that amount: $100. The savings will jump back up to $150 during week three to correlate with a biweekly paycheck. The last week of the month, when money tends to be tightest, you'll deposit the lowest amount: $50.
If you follow this pattern you'll have $500 by the end of the month. Repeat in month two, and you can have $1000 in eight weeks. These numbers can be adjusted, of course. Double them if you want more of a challenge, or cut it in half you'd rather take baby steps. Keep reading for a breakdown of each week, plus some simple tips to help you save during our money-saving challenge.
Week 1: $200
Week 2: $100
Week 3: $150
Week 4: $50
Week 5: $200
Week 6: $100
Week 7: $150
Week 8: $50
Ways to Save
Limit going out. Consistent nights out will make you feel like your checking account has sprung a leak. Food, drinks, and transportation from place to place add up rapidly. A social life is a necessity, but try to avoid going out during the week—save it for the weekends instead. When you do go out, use cash instead of a card. This will help you visualize how much you're spending.
Sell what you don't love. Cleaning out your closet, dresser, and cabinets around the house can turn up items you didn't know you had. Sell anything you don't love, and get rid of any household items you have multiples of. Whether you have a yard sale or trade with your friends, make every item count.
Build your recipe index—eat at home. The simple act of cooking during the week can save you a bundle. This isn't to say your recipes have to be Michelin-worthy—make cooking easy on yourself, especially if it's not a habit. Focus on simple meals you can master and whip up when you come home from work. Forego recipes with uncommon (and pricey) ingredients you won't make use of again.
Avoid convenience apps. Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Grubhub are all so easy to use—and that's exactly the challenge. Convenience at your fingertips is too tempting to pass up. Avoid it altogether by divesting your phone of these apps while you're seriously looking to save up.
Keep errands to a minimum. You know how it goes. You walk into Target to buy paper towels and a Mother's Day card and walk out with a new tea kettle, footsie pajamas, and a pack of Rolos. Condense how many times you go to the store, including grocery shopping, and limit those last-minute purchases.
Ready for even more money-saving tips? Keep reading for 13 simple ways you can save up to $3000 a month.