There’s a money saving plan that’s circulated quite widely around the start of every new year. You might variously have seen it called the “52 Week Money Challenge” or the “52 Week Savings Plan”, or some variation of those. The idea of this savings plan is that you will save increasing amounts every week. You’ll start in week one by saving €1, and increase your weekly savings amount by €1 each subsequent week. So, you get to week 29, you’ll be saving away €29, and so on. The theory is that you make up a savings chart where you’d tick off each weeks savings, and put the money in a jar kept somewhere you’ll always be reminded to make your weekly deposit.
By the end of the year, you’ll end up saving €1378 – which would be quite nice to have in your pocket over the Christmas.
A plan with difficulties
This plan, while seeming nice, and starting off nice and easy, has two key difficulties that I can see. Firstly, coming towards the end of the year, you’re going to be expected to save away around €200 per month to keep to the plan. That’s a whole lot harder at that time of year compared to having to put away €10 to €25 per month at the start of the year.
Additionally, having the money visible and easily accessible somewhere means there’ll always be the temptation to dip in to the pot when money is tight – after an expensive weekend, or if you’re running out for messages with no cash in your pocket.
Savings Plans are still a good idea
Yet, it’d still be nice to be able to do something during the year (possibly even over and above your existing savings efforts) to give you a nice pot of cash for the Christmas, or to get you through January.
So, how about trying something slightly different – a variation on the original 52 week money saving challenges, but designed to make things a little bit easier through the year – particularly in November and December – and hopefully done in such a way as to ensure you don’t make withdrawals as easily as you’re supposed to make the deposits.
Take 6 minutes to check it out
Instead of saving €1, then €2, and so on, and ending the year on €51 followed by €52, how about saving in rising increments of €2 per week, getting to June 25th where you’d deposit €52, and then start decreasing the increments by €2 per week until your last deposit at Christmas is a simple €2 again? Actually, you’d need to have 2 weeks in the middle of the year – June 25th and July 2nd – where you’d be saving the maximum €52. Your saving plan would look something like the image below.
So, the start and end of the year are easier, and the tougher times are in the middle of the year where you’ve time to plan for them if necessary.
I’d also suggest finding a way – via your online banking if at all possible – to move the money to a savings account that’s not as easily accessible as jar on the counter in the kitchen. You could transfer the money to a credit union account, for example, or you could bulk up the savings over certain weeks and buy prize bonds. You could even simply spend a couple of quid in one of those thrift stores and buy yourself a savings tin that takes a tin-opener to access. Anything, really, so that you can’t easily spend the cash as you’re saving it.
Building a Savings Habit
If nothing else, trying to start a plan like this – particularly if you’re not the best saver anyway – would help greatly to build up your savings habit. The version of plan that I’m suggesting above should make it a little bit easier to stick to throughout the year – particularly towards the end of the year when you might be getting a little bored, and the temptation to spend the money grows, or even the availability of spare cash diminishes.
Putting the money out of reach should help with that as well.
Oh, and because of the slight change in schedule, if you were able to stick to this plan over the 52 weeks, you’d end up saving a little bit more as well – €1404 by the end of the year.