The 52-week savings plan works best for any type of emergencies. It is true that you will never know when an emergency will happen that is why it is important to save as soon as you can.
The Federal Reserve states that 46% of Americans can’t afford to pay at least $400 emergency expenses. At first, it will be very difficult to start saving, but you’ll gradually learn how to adjust and cope up with the emergency fund that you are targeting. You don’t have to start big at the beginning. Start small and make it manageable.
The 52-week savings plan is one of the most popular programs nowadays. It is never too late to start saving and you can actually do it now! Learn more about the 52-week savings plan here:
The 52-Week Savings Plan
The idea behind the 52-week savings plan is simple and very easy. On the first week of the year, you set aside one dollar for your savings. On the second week, you make it two dollars; thus you now have three dollars in your emergency fund.
As the last week of the year approaches, you need to put $52 in your emergency fund. You’ll be surprised that you can have a total of $1,378 at your fund at the end of the year! This is already a good amount to pay small emergency expenses especially if you don’t have other resources at all.
The 52-week savings plan is popular today because you will gradually work hard to save more each week. It inspires you to save more and look for other ways to put aside more money in your emergency fund.
Check out the Classic 52-Week Savings Plan below:
The Classic 52-Week Savings Plan
|Week No.||Deposit Amount||Total Balance|
Brief History of the 52-Week Savings Plan
The 52-Week Savings plan was popularized by Melanie Pinola under the Personal Finance portion of the Lifehacker blog in December 2013. It has been on the internet since 2012 without any idea who introduced the saving scheme to the public.
Melanie Pinola also searched up a post from January 2013 from Free Beer and Hot Wings. They also attributed the idea to Loose Wendy. Loose Wendy posted a photo on a Facebook page about the 52-week money challenge and it is a guide on how to save as much as $1,400 in 52 weeks. The challenge was easy, thus, it was shared several times in the social media and blogs.
Tips to Hack the 52-Week Savings Plan Challenge
The 52-week savings plan can be hard at first, thus, check out some of the tips below so you can successfully finish the challenge in one year.
Automate your Savings
Indeed, the hardest part about saving money is deciding between spending your dollars on leisure and travel or placing them instead on your emergency fund. Thus, automating your savings is the best option that you can make onwards better financial decisions without having second thoughts about it.
Nowadays, big banks have online and mobile banking options that will allow you to set up automatic deposits on the schedule that you want: for example, every Friday, Sunday, or every Payday. There are also banks that enable you to transfer via sending a text message which will help you stick to the challenge.
Another issue when saving money is when you put it in a coin bank/ piggy bank; you’ll have the cash on hand and it is sometimes hard to resist the urge to take it out and spend it after a couple of months. That’s why most experts would recommend setting up a savings account with high-interest online rather than a cash-based bank; so you can deduct your money automatically and stash it so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Monthly Savings Challenge
If you wish to establish some fiscal discipline and save $1,378 by the end of the year; then you can skip the option of saving weekly. You can have an automatic savings deposit of $100 each month. Thereafter, add $5 or $10 in the following months. For example, you can have $100 in January, $105 in February, $110 in March, and until you reach your desired total amount.
If you use a $10 increment, you can have up to $1,860 savings in your emergency fund by the end of the year.
The Skip Around Method
One tip to solve to make the 52-week savings plan challenge work is to print out the chart first and cross off the weeks that you have successfully deposited an amount.
You can start with large amounts in the first few weeks. With this, you can build your emergency fund faster and you can use the fund to pay for unexpected costs.
For example, if you have a big bonus received from your work, then you could put the $52 deposit on your emergency fund and cross out the amount on your chart. Next, you can put another $10, $20, or whatever amount you can in the following weeks and work upward from there. In this way, you can save the few low-dollars on those moments that you are short of cash later in the year. You will not fall off the wagon with this technique, especially during tough moments.
This is only the first option and there are more other ways to customize your 52-week savings plan to suit your needs and your lifestyle.
Upgrading the 52-Week Savings Plan
The 52-week challenge must not stop there. Check out some of the other options available to you.
Add a Dollar Every Week
Once year one is over, don’t stop putting money into your emergency fund and keep it going. On the first week of the following year, you can add $53 to your fund, $54 on the following week, and so on.
Keep it growing and your emergency fund will become bigger in due time. With this, you will become better prepared for whatever emergency that could happen in the future.
Don’t just stop at week 52. The point of the challenge really is to develop the habit of saving. Keep putting some money on your fund and by next year, you can have $4,082 or about $5,500 total over two years.
Advanced savers of those who earn high that have already saved a substantial amount of emergency fund may laugh at the notion of saving another few dollars a week in the following year. Thus, if you are an accomplished saver or have a big target to achieve, you can start at $100 each week and increase it in $2 per week increments.
For young Americans who have little savings or money source, the 52-week savings plan offers a straightforward game plan and an inspiration to help them start saving. However, this is not the only way to do it.
In sum, whether you are saving for your first emergency fund, saving for a payment on house, car, or other necessities; it doesn’t really matter what kind of saving method you’re using. What’s important is that you started a routine of building your own fund for your future and you make every effort to stick to it.
Upgrade your 52-Week Challenge Amount
If you are in the second year of your 52-week savings challenge and you want to do it again, then you might want to increase its amount. Instead of staring with $1 only, you can start with $2. You can opt to add $2 to your weekly savings until you see bigger results in the end. This also works for $5, $6, $7, or any amount that you decide to have.
For example, if you wish to start the year with $5 and go up with $5 every week, and you can have $6,890 by the end of one year.
Indeed, it takes courage and more than planning to encourage yourself to save $5 on the first week, then $10, $15, and so forth. With this, you will be forced to evaluate your priorities and upgrade your savings.
Never forget your other savings
The 52-week savings plan challenge is a good way to start your emergency funds, however, it is not practical if you are planning to have a long-term source of income or wealth. With this, you need to increase your returns through a tax-advantaged retirement account.
You can use the 52-week savings plan as part of your efforts onwards better finances but don’t replace it with a plan for retirement.
Pros and Cons of the 52-Week Savings Plan
There are pros and cons of the 52-week savings plan.
First, some people say that this emergency savings plan is a bit gimmicky, like a sort of fad. It could be followed by people who don’t have any discipline in spending their money and are thinking of the best method to help them solve their issues.
The challenge will encourage you to keep your money in a coin bank, piggy bank, or a jar. However, if you just keep the cash at your home and you need an amount to pay for your school project or office work; you’ll realize that you need to withdraw your supposed to be emergency funds. This happens every single time you need money.
Second, the plan also requires one to put the highest amount of money in December and this month is also the month where spendings are high due to holiday and other obligations at home and at work.
However, there are indeed more pros than cons in saving through the help of the 52-week savings plan. It is a great method for those who are new to budgeting and planning of their hard-earned money. This is helpful for those with tight financial constraints but expects money at a later time like a job promotion, salary increase, and others.
The reality is that we had moments where we live from check to check and at times were setting an extra cash is not an option anymore. Thus, this scheme can at least get you recover by starting with a very small commitment.
The bottom line is, there is no major downside in setting aside your money no matter how you started your savings plan.
Final Words Regarding the 52-Week Savings Plan
People say that the 52-week savings plan challenge is all about trying to save $1,378 or more in one year. While it is true that this is the direct result of the challenge, however, you also miss the bigger point. The 52-week savings plan’s true goal is to get you to build a habit of saving money each week no matter the situation is.
It forces someone to save every week, even if all that you can put in your emergency fund is few pennies, and that is indeed brilliant. It builds a habit for people to find ways to save something no matter how small it is each week in one year.
For those who will try to complete the 52-week savings plan challenge next year, the important lesson is not to complete it, but rather, to continue to do it even after one year. The amounts you save for every single week are arbitrary. You can push the classic 52-week challenge or the customized 52-week challenge.
With that, consider creating your own version of the 52-week savings plan challenge which aims to save the amount you desire, but make sure you don’t stop even if you didn’t make your goal for one week.
Once you have established the habit, you can choose any amount to save at any time you want. Ultimately, you will make it a part of your regular life and you can do this year by year. In some weeks, it will be little and in some weeks it will be more.
This habit will gradually lead you to a debt-free life and the attitude to save money for the future. Just remember to do your best to finish the challenge and share the good news with your friends and family members too!