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How to Save a Bunch of Money Easily With This Simple Challenge

How to Save a Bunch of Money Easily With This Simple Challenge
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Do you find it hard to save money? If so, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 62% of Americans have under $1000 in savings.[1] This can be disconcerting when we think about the future – buying a house, car, or even much-needed holidays – our desire to be successful in saving money is important to our peace of mind and security. But could there be a simple and easy way to encourage our saving habits?

Video Summary

What is the 52-Week Money Challenge?

A new concept has become increasingly popular that does just that – the 52-week money challenge.

The idea is to focus on each week, starting small, and gradually building up the amount of money you save. It’s not only consistent, but it takes away the pressure of taking big chunks of income each month which, let’s face it, never feels great. Intrigued? This is how it works.

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You start by saving just $1 in week 1. The next week it’s $2, the third week it’s $3 and so on. The idea is that by week 52 when you’ve saved $52 in that weekly period, you will have amassed $1,378.

What Are the Pros and Cons?

The best thing about this 52-week money challenge is anyone can do it. It’s doable and you can adapt it to your needs.

For example, you can reverse the process by saving $52 in week 1 and working backwards. This is particularly beneficial for people worried about having to put away $52 during the end of the year holidays.

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You could even mix the amounts up according to how much or how little you have each week, making smaller contributions when the purse strings are tighter or choose a higher amount when you can afford more. Either way, it’s a solid, simple way to save up a sizeable chunk.

There are potential cons to this challenge. One is that it can be hard if you’re used to handing over your debit card instead of using cash. But setting up a bank transfer could help here.

Want to Try the 52-Week Money Challenge? Here’s How to Get Started

Whether it’s saving for a holiday, putting more towards your mortgage or other monthly or yearly bills, starting this challenge will get you motivated to putting aside those all-important dollars.

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Write It Out

Write out (or print out) a list of each week and the amount to save. Having it as a reference will allow you to see your progress. Cross off each week or each amount you’ve managed to achieve.

Set Up Reminders

Once you’ve reached a few weeks it can be easy to start forgetting to put your money aside. Make sure you set up a weekly reminder on your phone or desktop to help you keep on top of it. Keep the cash jar in a place where you can see it and will serve as a reminder. Alternatively, set up an automatic bank transfer so you don’t have to think about it at all.

Make a List of Ways You Can Save

There are literally hundreds of ways you can save dollars here and there. The first weeks will be easy but as it progresses, finding ways to tuck away $40 or more can get tricky but it’s not impossible.

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Think of ways to cut back or generate money – these could include:

  • Selling unwanted items
  • Making gifts for people instead of buying
  • Switching off your heating for longer periods
  • Car sharing to save petrol
  • Walking instead of driving
  • Negotiating a better contract for your phone, heating or water supply
  • Switching off unneeded lights
  • Cooking big meals and freezing them for future meals
  • Looking for deals or discounts at your grocery store
  • Choosing shop brands over big brands
  • Making your lunch instead of buying it

Once you have a list of practical ways you can save, estimate how much money could could potentially save for each one. For example, buying lunch every day could cost $5-10 so ultimately saving you around $30 a week if you made your lunch instead.

Be Competitive

Why not turn this challenge into one with your friends or spouse? Having someone there to motivate you will spur you on and keep you on track. Have an incentive going like the person who saves the most money gets to choose the next big vacation.

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Every Little Helps

The main importance of the 52-week money challenge is that it’s encouraging you to save. If 62% of Americans are not regularly saving then it shows that anything that’s getting you to put a few dollars aside every week is better than not saving at all.

Remember, it’s the small steps that lead to the big progression. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t fulfil an amount in a particular week, just know that your willingness to put a strategy in place is good enough. Keep a positive mindset and see how it’ll reflect the money you’ll ultimately save in a year.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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