If you ask people if saving money is important, most of them will tell you yes. But if you ask those same people how much money they have saved, many of them would tell you “not much.” Saving money is challenging because we tend to enjoy instant gratification much more than putting money back for a rainy day or an unpleasant scenario that we’d rather not think about.
See where your savings stacks up compared to your peers from this article on CNBC.
But saving money is important. To help you get started, we’ve created the 52 Week Challenge that will help you save at least $3,500 over the next year.
How to Save At Least $3,500 in a Year
We’ve broken down starting your savings account and saving $3,500 in one-year into 5 simple steps.
Open a Savings Account
If you don’t have one already, you’ll want to open a savings account. The best savings account will be one with low fees and also a high yield.
Some of the best savings accounts in 2020 are from Citi bank and Marcus: by Goldman Sachs. Both accounts have a $0 minimum balance to earn the APY. Citi bank’s APY is 1.85%, and Marcus: by Goldman Sachs is 1.7%.
Other important factors you’ll want to consider when choosing an account is whether or not you’ll have ATM access or whether you can link the savings account to your checking account. These factors will determine how easily you can access the money in your account, which may directly impact your ability to leave the money in the account instead of spending it, and also how available the money is if you need it in an emergency.
Deposit the Minimum Amount Each Week
Once you have your savings account open, you’ll deposit the minimum amount each week. The weekly minimums range from $5 - $125. If you can afford to deposit more than the minimum one week, it may help you on a week where you may not be able to meet the minimum. It may also help you save more than $3,500 by the end of the challenge.
Track Your Progress on The Printable Money Saving Chart
As you save, you’ll want to keep track on your chart. This often helps people continue to feel motivated throughout the challenge.
Enjoy the $3,500+ You Saved
Once you’ve completed the year in savings, you’ll have $3,500+ in your savings account as well as an established routine for saving money. With that in place, you can perhaps spend some of your savings on a small vacation or appliance or choose to continue to save towards a larger goal, like a big vacation.
Whatever you choose to do with the money you’ve saved, you should be sure to maintain as much savings as you can, so you have it should an emergency arise. You should also continue to save when you can.
If you are beginning the challenge, and worry you are going to have trouble saving the money, we’ll give you some quick money-saving tricks to get started.
7 Easy Ways to Save Money
Cut Back on Your Cell Phone Service
If you’re like most Americans, your cell phone bill is one of your largest – especially when you consider that it isn’t really a necessity. There may be ways you can reduce your cell phone bill and put the amount you’re saving into your savings account.
For example, if you are currently “leasing” your phone, you might consider paying it off and putting the amount you save on your monthly bill (usually $15 - $50 per month) into your savings account.
Additionally, if you are not locked into a cell phone contract, you might consider shopping around for other cell phone service providers. They often provide steep discounts for new customers – which can save you hundreds.
Cut Back on Your Subscription Services
When we sit down and consider all of the services we subscribe to, it can be overwhelming. If you have Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Apple TV, Disney+, and others – there’s a good chance that you’re paying for services that you aren’t really using. Take a hard look at all of the subscription services you are paying for and cut the ones you don’t need.
Even though each service may only be about $10, that can still add up. If you cut back two services and put the money into savings instead, you would end up with $240.
Save Money on Groceries
Groceries are another large expense for most families – and it can fluctuate a lot depending on several factors. While there is a lot of advice on saving money on groceries out there, some of the best ways are to shop sale items, compare prices across stores, and look for markdowns at your local supermarket.
If you can get in the habit of cutting back on your weekly grocery expenses, you will likely be well on your way to hitting the weekly minimum savings amount of the challenge.
Pass on Little Luxuries
While many financial experts have said that simply skipping your daily latte won’t fix your finances, it can help you save a bit more. If you pick up a $5 coffee drink every morning, could you make your own at home 2 or 3 days a week? If you go out to lunch and pay $10 every single workday, could you bring leftovers for a day or two? Then you can put the money you would normally spend into your savings account. Little changes can make a big difference when it comes to saving money.
Pick Up a Side Job
If you’re still struggling to save enough, or you just want to meet your financial goals more quickly, you might consider taking on a side job. With more and more companies accepting remote workers, side jobs aren’t limited to restaurants or retail stores. Regardless of your skills, you could find part-time work as a copywriter, virtual assistant, or another type of freelancing work.
Implement a 24-Hour Rule
If one of your biggest spending challenges is impulse-buying, you might consider limiting yourself with a 24-hour rule. This is where you keep yourself from buying anything that you don’t “need” for at least 24-hours after you begin wanting it.
By spending less on impulse purchases, you may be able to save a significant amount of money that you can stash away in your savings account.
Reduce Your Utility Bill
There are multiple ways you can reduce the amount you owe on some of your monthly utilities. For example, you could raise or lower your thermostat temperature by a few degrees (depending on the season.)
You can also lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. Every 10 degrees you reduce your water heater temperature can save you up to 5 percent on your water bill.
Saving isn’t easy – but we can help. We created the 52-week challenge to make it a little simpler to save. Keep in mind that it is always a bit more motivating to save if you have a specific savings goal in mind. We also included 7 tips for helping you to boost your savings amount if that is an area you struggle with.
About the Author
Melinda Pettijohn is an expert personal financial writer with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. She covers topics ranging from budgeting, additional ways to make money, credit cards, managing debt, paying for college, and more. As a mom of three kids, she especially loves sharing insights on how to make the most of your money while raising a family.