Money saving challenges: trick your brain into saving money 

Written by
Jenni Hill
27 October 2021
4 min read
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Saving money can sometimes feel like climbing up a mountain with an elephant tied to your back. Whether you’re saving for something specific, or tired of going into your overdraft, it can be hard to motivate yourself to stick to your goals. 

This is where money-saving challenges come in. They can add a bit of fun to the process, give you a sense of direction, and make it easier to hold yourself accountable. 

With many people sharing their successes and struggles on social media, it’s also easy to find a community of like-minded people on a similar journey to you. 

With so many different challenges to choose from, it can take a bit of experimenting before finding the right one for you. 

Here we weigh up the pros and cons of some of the most common trends. 

The No Spend Challenge 

A No Spend Challenge involves giving up all non-essential purchases for a certain period. 

At the start of the challenge, you might lay ground rules , so you know what’s allowed and what isn’t. 

While No Spend weeks or months can be ideal for anyone who thrives in the face of a challenge, for some people, it might be a little too extreme. Its all-or-nothing approach won’t work for everyone. 

Think of saving money like changing your diet: extreme fad diets have a reputation for being difficult to stick to. Whereas if you introduce more realistic and gradual changes, such as eating an extra portion of fruit each day, this can be more sustainable. 

The all-or-nothing approach won’t work for everyone 

The 52-Week Challenge 

If you’re looking for a steadier option, The 52-Week Challenge could be for you. Here’s how it works: 

  • Week 1: Save £1 
  • Week 2: Save £2 
  • Week 3: Save £3 

Keep saving an extra pound each week until the final week, when you’ll be saving £52. In total, this challenge will save you a whopping £1,378. 

The Reverse 52-Week Challenge 

With the Reverse 52-Week Challenge, you start off saving £52 in week one, and lower it by £1 each week. 

This means in the final week you must only put away £1. This challenge can be more effective than the former because it gets easier as you go along rather than harder. 

While this challenge should result in £1,378 by the end, you might find yourself continuing to save at a higher level than necessary. If you managed to save £52 in week one, why not aim for the same in the second week? It’s only £1 difference. 

The £5 Savings Challenge 

If you tend to pay for your shopping in cash, the £5 Savings Challenge could be for you. It involves saving every £5 note you receive for a specified period. 

If you get a few months into the challenge and haven’t received many fivers at the checkout, you could add £2 coins to it as well. 

The 1p A Day Challenge 

The 1p A Day Challenge shows just how much can add up when you commit to saving an extra penny each day. 

It’s also a useful way to put the spare change in your wallet or purse to good use. If you have children, this challenge can be a smart way to teach them about saving. 

You could help them save change from their pocket money to buy themselves a treat at the end of the year. 

  • Day 1: Save 1p 
  • Day 2: Save 2p 
  • Day 3: Save 3p 

Completing this challenge will see you save a nice £667.95 by the end of the year. 

The verdict? 

So, are money-saving challenges worth your time? 

It depends on your relationship with money, and your existing attitude to saving. 

If you’re the type of person to automatically move a portion of your income into savings on payday, a money-saving challenge might not be worth your energy or brainpower. 

But if you struggle to motivate yourself, or you often forget to make saving a priority, turning the process into a game could trick your brain into putting your money towards bigger things. 

3 things to do right now...

Decide on an amount early doors. It’s a fact: people who set savings goals save faster than those who don’t. What’s more, figures from NS&I show that people who have a financial focus save up to £550 a year more than people who don’t. 

Once you have an idea of how much you want to save, keep yourself motivated by setting a timeline for your goal. 

Pay yourself automatically. Many of us don’t save because we don’t have any cash left at the end of the month, so always pay some money into your savings accounts and investment products by standing order at the beginning of each month, when you pay your bills. 

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.