Welcome to the first week of the Take Back Your Finances 52-Week Challenge. We wanted to start with something that everyone can do and should do: Start a savings account, or rather an additional one to be used for all sorts of needs/wants in the future.
It is important to have a regular savings account, but this often comes after you have paid your consumer debts off and is separate from an emergency fund. However, we wanted to share this 52-week money saving plan that will go right along with our Take Back Your Finances Challenge while not taking away from the emergency fund, regular savings accounts, or paying off debts or other financial goals.
With this money-saving plan, it is progressive and should be attainable and doable throughout the year, even as you are improving your financial situation each week on this 52-week challenge.
This week’s task: Set up and start your 52-week progressive savings account or jar and place your first dollar in it (see post with download here).
So, let’s start a progressive savings account that is separate from your emergency fund or other savings to use for special purposes or goals down the road.
We have shared this before and you may have seen versions of this all around, but it is really a matter of getting this going and actually doing it. So that is what this first week’s challenge is all about.
Why start with this challenge?
We wanted to explain why we are starting here. We LOVE baby steps. This is one way in life that we have been able to accomplish our goals. We have tried many approaches and methods to many things – but the wonderful thing about starting something like this is that it teaches you that small goals and steps that are very achievable and help you work towards a progressive goal, your results and ability to finish literally roll in! This savings plan follows those principles and gets you in that baby step mode. Not only that, baby steps also ease you into a life of it; meaning that this becomes your lifestyle as it will be second nature while the consistency turns into a habit. It will become second nature to “save a little” instead of thinking that you really need a lot to save but either never start that process or make very little progress – all because in your mind you are telling yourself that “you can’t afford to save right now.”
One of our goals for our readers is to not “sacrifice it all to reach the next goal” only to reach that goal and go right back into the old lifestyle. Many methods to money and debt that we have seen are a “jump all in, slash your budget by 80% and sacrifice until you mean your goals!” While many can do this for a time, one of two things happen.
- Often many cannot reach their goals, become easily frustrated, fall of the bandwagon and soon fail and get back into old habits, patterns and problems. Our past experiences are testimony to that!
- Even those that succeed are soon going back to their old spending habits. We have heard from many that they have successfully completed their goal, but can’t sustain it or stay there because of what they sacrificed to get there – that didn’t learn to make can’t make a life of it. How many times have you heard someone say they were paying their debt off for their third or fourth time?
We don’t want those stories here – we want real change, real success, real life to be in a better place. Not a temporary situation. Is that what you desire too?
Its all about Baby Steps!
Well, this first task is not only practical, it is fun, easy, doable and sustainable – especially at first! What this task will do is not only help you save money, but start getting you into the mindset of baby steps that you can easily accomplish. Our goal is that you can look at each week you save that money and know that you are actually saving money – no matter how little. That you are doing it!
No matter what you are saving for in other accounts and ways or goals you are trying to reach – do this every year and have an extra $1,378 at the end of the year for whatever purpose.
Think about it. What if you come to the end of the year and you decide that you want to visit family for the holidays. You don’t have the money saved – you can’t! But something like this opens that possibility. What if you had an emergency that your emergency fund covered, only to find yourself quickly in another one? What if you just simply want to have fun at the end of the year. What if you decide that you want to make a lump sum payment on a debt at the end of the year. Any of those things can be possible all because of this savings!
So you may asking “Well why not just save for those things or apply this amount directly to debts now.” You could, but with the baby steps in place – it is easier to sacrifice something small each week for a small goal like forego a coffee drink out that week and put that $4 in your account instead. This is mentally much more doable than looking at “I have a $500 credit card balance, $4 won’t make a difference right now, I just want a coffee.” It’s a matter of perspective and small steps that make a HUGE step.
It is a mental thing. Trust us!
Now don’t worry, we have tasks in place to work towards our debts, but we really want to start by encouraging this task to be a separate baby step project that will bring much more freedom in the near future!
Tips on how to implement this challenge
So now that we have discussed the “why” part of this first task, let’s get on the road to some practical application.
1. Get something in place to actually put the money in
Spend this week getting a jar ready (you can see our example of shrinking the free printable and laminating and tying onto a jar and check off your progress) or any other jar at home. As you see in the next step, we’re actually going to encourage you to place this money into the bank. But why are we encouraging the jar at this point? Because how likely are you to go to the bank once a week and deposit $1, then $2, then $3, etc? Or if you do online banking, you will probably won’t can’t make these deposits for less than $5. But you can probably muster up the cash easily over the next 10 weeks or so, store it in a jar and make one deposit the next time you go to the bank. As the amounts get bigger, you might go more often or transfer with online banking, but you need to get a place set-up to get you motivated and on track.
Finally, although we ultimately recommend a savings account, an actual jar is a visual reminder of your baby steps that you are making towards accomplishing this financial goal.
2. Set-up a separate savings account to also store it in
We really encourage you to have both at this point. Why? For the savings accounts, we recommend checking out these savings accounts options as many do offer no fee, no minimum balance, higher interest yielding savings accounts – along with checking your local bank where you currently bank.
Our jar is ready with it’s first dollar in it on our bookshelf in our bedroom
3. Encourage others to join you on this goal
You know that if you set a goal privately that its easier to give up. But if you set a goal with a friend, a family member, or someone you work with you will be more accountable and will be less likely to quit. Even encourage any of your children that are making their own money to join you in setting up their own jar; this could be a great teaching tool and way to discuss finances in your home. Not to mention, an extra $1,378 for a teen at the end of the year could provide some amazing opportunities.
4. Be creative
Think of a creative way in which you can make a small sacrifice that week to fill your savings account jar. As we get into the higher amounts after about weeks 15-20, we are also going to share ideas on what you can do to find the amounts for those weeks. These first several weeks, simply collecting your change, foregoing a candy bar, foregoing a coffee out, skipping that extra purchase at the grocery store, using a coupon or two and placing the value instead in your jar, skipping the dollar store (as this is a money pit before you know it! Several week’s savings are tied up in the dollar store purchases :)), getting a cheaper meal out, skipping the drink at the restaurant, digging through change in your couches and junk drawer, etc.
5. Check out other ideas to implement this for your home
Finally, we have shared this idea before, but we want to actually make this a part of the challenge – so check out the previous posts and ideas to make this work for you, including inconsistent income ideas:
- How the 52-Week Money Saving Plan Works with Free Download to Track Progress
- 7 Modifications to the 52-week Money Saving Plan to Be Successful No Matter Income Source
Okay – well get to this week’s task and get your jar and account set-up and put your first dollar in! We will see you next week with the next task to Take Back Your Finances in 52-Weeks Challenge!
Are you new to our Take Back Your Finances Challenge? You can receive the tasks from the very beginning via email and work at this at your own pace. We encourage you to check out all the information about this challenge here, sign up for our email (link in that post) and get started!