Are You up to the 52 Week Savings Challenge?

I learned about the 52 Week Savings Challenge a few years ago and ever since then I've been hooked. This savings challenge is a great way to put aside some extra cash for certain goals, and if you struggle with saving consistently, it's a great way for you to get into the habit. The best part is that it can be started by pretty much anyone on any budget.

The challenge lasts for a period of one year (52 weeks) and helps you save money in small increments. The way it works is really simple: You contribute a dollar amount that is equivalent to a week number, so on week 1 you save $1, on week 2 you save $2, and so on. When you get to week 52 and save $52, you will have a total of $1,378 saved -- a nice chunk of change!

Designate a separate savings account for this challenge… a separate bank

When I first started this challenge, I set up my savings account at a credit union that was not easily accessible; when I thought about taking money out, it was so inconvenient that I didn't bother.

When it comes to saving money over the 52 weeks that this challenge will take you don't want to be tempted to make withdrawals. This money is meant to be saved, not spent.

Create a plan for your money

Having a plan for the money you are saving will keep you motivated to keep going. It could be saving to bulk up your emergency fund, to pay down debt, for a trip or splurge, a down payment on a car, etc.

The plan for my 52 week savings is usually trips and other splurges. Thinking about that fabulous Caribbean or European destination definitely keeps me motivated to keep saving!

Automate your transfers

The best way to ensure you don't skip transfers to your savings account is to automate your deposits through your payroll. If you don't have that option, set reminders on your calendar every week so you get an alert reminding you to make a transfer. If you get paid bi-weekly or monthly, total up the weekly challenge amounts and make your transfers according to when you get paid. Set it and forget it!

Challenge yourself even more

If the amounts you are saving while doing the 52 Week Savings Challenge seem way too easy, then challenge yourself to double or triple the amounts you transfer to your savings account each month. There's nothing wrong with exceeding your savings goal and putting some extra money in the bank.

Get accountable

Tell a friend of a group of friends and start the challenge together. Not only will you become accountable to other people, which will make you more likely to complete the challenge, there's nothing like some healthy competition to motivate you to save even more.

I've had several friends participate in this savings challenge with me and it was really great motivation to have them check in on me and to talk with them about my savings goals.

Remember, it's all about creating a savings routine, keeping your financial goals in mind and following through!