Saving Money Challenges
We often hear about them at the beginning of the year when friends are creating New Year’s resolutions, but you can do a money saving challenge at ANY TIME of the year. It’s always worthwhile to build the habit and discipline to save money.
I know it can be hard just to GET STARTED saving, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or have a seemingly untouchable, dream goal of saving for a house. Just thinking about the act of saving money – it can make you feel…
Anxiety. Tension. Fear. Boredom.
That’s where saving challenges come in!
A money saving challenge is fun! It can provide accountability and motivation to get the savings rolling. If you do it with a friend, it can be even more fun and motivating!
Here are 18 unique and easy saving money challenges that can work with any income, budget, lifestyle or timeline. They’ll help kick-start your goals to the financial future you want!
Let’s jump right in…
1. No Spend Money Challenge
What is it: No spending over a set period.
Example: No spending money over a weekend, 1 week, 1 month or 1 year. This might seem like an impossible task, but you can give yourself allowances of needs you can spend money on (e.g. toiletries) for flexibility.
Who is this for: People looking to change their “consumer” habits and lifestyle. No spend challenges are brilliant for opening your mind up to savings opportunities you never thought would be possible!
Related article: No buy challenge guide including how to successfully complete one
2. 52 week savings challenge
What is it: Save an increasing amount each week.
Example: Save $1 the first week, $2 the second week etc. By the end of the 52 weeks, you’ll have $1378!
Who is this for: People who want to slowly ease themselves into building the habit of saving.
Note: If $1 is too much to start with, save $0.50 in your first week. It’s still savings!
3. Reverse 52 week savings challenge
What is it: Save a decreasing amount each week.
Example: Save $52 the first week, $51 the second week etc. By the end of the 52 weeks, you also get $1378.
Who is this for: People who want to jump into savings quickly because they like getting the hard stuff out of the way and are motivated by larger savings. If you put your savings in a savings account or another investment, you’ll earn more money in interest overall with the reverse vs. the regular 52 week savings challenge.
4. Saving Coins Challenge
What is it: Save only your change!
Example: Save coins/change when you get it.
Who is this for: People who don’t want to feel locked into saving regularly. If you just so happen to get some spare change, you can put it straight into the piggy bank and feel like you’ve done your part! You might not save very much, but it’s a good baby step to your next money saving challenge!
5. No Take Out Money Challenge
What is it: Don’t eat take out over a set period.
Example: No eating restaurant meals or take out for a month. This means you have to meal plan for 30 days!
Who is this for: People who know that take out eats a huge chunk of their pay! They recognize they’ve developed a habit of eating out regularly and are motivated to stop.
Related article: How to save money on groceries
6. Bad Habits Money Jar
What is it: Is there a habit you want to change like swearing, smoking, being late to an appointment etc.? Put money into a jar every time you do that habit.
Example: Put $1 into a jar every time you do your bad habit.
Who is this for: People who have a bad habit they want to change. This is a tricky one because if you are motivated to change, it’ll most likely result in little to no savings in the jar. This is more of an additional challenge to add to another primary money challenge.
7. No Name Brand Money Challenge
What is it: Don’t buy any name brand goods for a set time period and instead buy generic as it’s usually cheaper!
Example: Only buy generic or store brand products like “Great Value” at Walmart, “No Name” at Loblaws stores, or “Selection” at Food Basics for a month. Examples of name brand products include Heinz, Green Giant, and Philadelphia (cream cheese).
Who is this for: People who are willing to try similar substitutes of foods. It’s always good to step outside of your comfort zone and try new food!
8. Sell Your Stuff Challenge
What is it: Sell 5 things from around the house. You will reach a point where you can’t cut or change any more of your expenses to save money. The only way you can increase your savings is to make more money. This doesn’t have to mean getting a pay raise or a new job. You can start small and sell a few things from around the house.
Example: There are a few different ways you can sell your possessions. You can:
- Post things online for sale on community marketplaces like Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, eBay and VarageSale
- Host a yard sale and probably sell more than just the 5 things
Who is this for: People who are motivated to declutter and make a little money from it. Starting off with 5 things first gives you a small taste for how to do it. You can increase to 10 things as you get more comfortable.
9. Make extra money challenge
What is it: Make an additional $100/month from taking on a side hustle. At some point, you’re going to run out of things to sell around the house and be ready for another challenge.
Example: There are many ways you can make an extra $100. Here are just a few options:
- Become a Lyft Driver or deliver food with Uber Eats (You don’t even need a car in some cities. Push bikes and scooters will do!). When you sign up to drive with Lyft, you can earn a $300 bonus after your first 100 rides.
- Become an Airbnb host. Depending on where you live, you could make $100 in just one night’s stay.
- Sell your skills through Fiverr. You could sell many different things. I’ve seen people sell photos of their kid holding a sign that says Happy Birthday for $5 and it sells! Digital services like graphic design do really well on this platform.
- Walk or pet sit dogs through Rover. While you could post an ad on Craigslist and do this yourself, the advantage of going through Rover is that you get access to clients and get the “Rover Guarantee”, which is insurance for certain injuries or damages occurring during the visit.
- Become a mystery shopper with BestMark and get paid shopping in person, over the phone or online. What I like about BestMark is that some of their mystery shops involve activities you normally do like getting your car’s oil changed or having a meal at a restaurant.
- Take a survey with Swagbucks, Survey Club or Survey Junkie (only in US, Canada and Australia). Taking surveys pays little money, but it’s an easy way to make money if you’re watching television or waiting for a bus.
The more options you take on, the faster you’ll get to $100!
Who is this for: People who want to get a side income. A side income is a great way to make more money and be less dependent on your full-time job. It can often be easier to get a side hustle than it is to ask for a raise or get a better paid full-time job.
10. Swap Savings Challenge
What is it: Trade 5 of your possessions for 5 different things you need. It’s a great way to trade your stuff that’s just collecting dust into necessities you would have to pay for anyways.
Example: Host or attend a swap party. A swap party is when a group of friends get together to trade items. Since you know where the goods are coming from, you can feel comfortable knowing you’re getting things in good condition. Here are tips on how to host a successful swap party including the rules.
Who is this for: People who want to trade for new things they need without spending money!
11. Regular bills money challenge
What is it: Lower 1 of your regular bills. You might be surprised to find out that many of your bills are negotiable, even if the companies have rates on their websites. It never hurts just to ask.
Example: This could be your cable bill, mobile bill, insurance etc.
Here’s one way I’ve been able to negotiate my mobile bill:
- Look up your mobile company online and see if they have any promotions you can switch to.
- Look up competitor rates and see if there’s anything appealing.
- Then call the mobile company’s customer retention department (it might be called a different name – it’s basically the department that exists to try to keep customers) and tell them you’re interested in this promotion at their company or moving to their competitor (because they have x promotion happening).
- Often, they’ll give you a discounted offer that’s cheaper than what you’re paying.
It’s important that you call them at the right time, which is around 2 months before your contract ends. That’s when you have the most bargaining power.
Who is this for: People who feel comfortable negotiating or want to grow through trying to negotiate. It can be scary the first time you do this. Regardless of if you’re successful or can’t negotiate your bill down, you should feel proud just for trying!
12. Utilities savings challenge
What is it: Focus on lowering your electricity, gas and water bills. These types of bills are less negotiable, but you can still lower your costs through other methods.
Example: Here are some strategies to lower your utility bills:
- Get a smart thermostat like the Nest and ensure you’re always setting efficient temperatures in your home. This has reduced our energy bill by at least 10%!
- Use portable fans like this high performance fan and heaters to cool down or warm up only the room you’re occupying (as opposed to using the thermostat and changing the temperature for the entire house)
- Use LED Iight bulbs as they use less electricity than incandescent bulbs
- Use the toaster, microwave or Instant Pot instead of the oven or stove as they’re faster, more energy efficient and save time
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water and hang dry on an indoor rack near a sunny window or outside (instead of using the dryer). If you have to use a dryer, add a dry towel or a wool dryer ball to the dryer to help absorb the moisture and reduce drying time.
Who is this for: People who are motivated to reduce utilities bills. If you implement 1 strategy, while the savings might be small initially, it’s important to think about the total savings over time.
Related article: 60+ Easy Tips to Lower Your Electric Bills
13. Reusable products money challenge
What is it: There are many products we buy that are a one-time use and then we never use it again. This is a money challenge to find 1 disposable item you can switch out for a reusable item.
Example: Here are a few things you can get reusable versions of to save money in the long-term:
- Disposable razors: Switch this for an electric shaver. If you want to increase your savings further, share that shaver with your partner!
- Hair cuts: Get clippers so you can help cut your partner’s hair or he can cut it himself! Hair cuts can cost $20/visit. A good quality pair of clippers can cost less than $50. Getting clippers can result in hundreds of savings each year!
- Fitness classes: Instead of spending $50+/month on fitness classes at your local gym, check out fitness classes on YouTube. I like playing Just Dance on the Wii and I’m usually sweating buckets by the 3rd song!
- Paper towels: Use microfiber cloths instead. They don’t scratch surfaces and they absorb quicker.
Who is this for: People who are willing to try reusable substitutes. It can take some time to learn new products and change your habits, but stay the course – it can result in huge savings!
Related article: 18 things I stopped buying to save money every day
14. No Car Challenge
What is it: Maintaining a car and purchasing gas regularly can be a huge expense! While It can be difficult to get around to do your errands and get to work if you live far from amenities and in a colder climate, if you can, try not to use your car for a set period.
Example: You don’t have to commit to not using a car for a whole week or month.
You can start with 1 errand like grocery shopping. Take a bus, bike, walk or carpool where you need to go.
If you can’t use alternative transportation, change your frequency for that regular errand. For example, instead of going to the grocery store every day, only go once a week. Buy all your groceries in one visit and freeze what you can’t use right away.
Who is this for: People who are open to being car-free for a certain period or appreciate environmentally-friendly initiatives.
15. Money Diary Challenge
What is it: Record your financial activity.
It can be an eye-opening experience writing down what you spent during a week. You can see what’s an impulse purchase, what you commonly purchase as a habit, understand the motivation for why you make certain purchases etc. This reflection process can help you become more aware of where you’re spending money and help pinpoint areas to save!
Example: Record your fixed and regular monthly expenses (e.g. mortgage, property taxes, insurance etc.) and a week’s worth of activities (noting expenses) and reflect. This concept was made popular by Refinery29. Here’s an example of how people have participated in Refinery29’s money diary entries.
I have to say – when I first found out about their money diaries, I was addicted! I was reading entry upon entry. It was so entertaining and educational taking a deep look into different people’s lives and what they spend on a daily basis. Their money diaries were so well received, they actually made a book about it.
Forewarning: The book doesn’t just include money diaries – it also includes money advice. If you’re looking for a book just about money diaries, this isn’t it. There are some money diaries sprinkled throughout, but the meat of the book is financial advice.
Who is this for: People who regularly create a budget and review their expenses or are open to doing this.
Going over your expenses and receipts can be a task you dread even though you know there’s value in it. Creating a money diary can be a fun way to switch things up or ease yourself into the world of budgeting!
16. Water Only Savings Challenge
What is it: Drink water only for a week. Water is not only good for you, it’s also a cheap way to quench your thirst depending on where you live in the world.
Example: Try not to drink soda, coffee, tea, alcohol or other non-water beverages for a week. If you don’t already have access to drinkable water, get a filter. There’s a higher upfront cost, but it’ll save you money in the long run!
If drinking just water is too bland for you, add a lemon, berries or cucumber slices. I love the taste of plain water, but adding a punch of fruit is refreshing!
Who is this for: People who have a preference for drinks other than water. If you get a regular coffee or tea in the morning, this can be a difficult challenge. Take it slowly. Do a water only money challenge for just 1 day to start and go from there!
17. DIY Coffee or Tea Savings Challenge
What is it: If a water-only challenge is too much of a leap, start with making your own coffee or tea. While going to the coffee shop and having someone else prepare your hot beverage is a nice treat, it can get expensive over time. A $5 coffee 3x per week = $780/year!
Example: Use your coffee maker at home or get an instant coffee and tea maker like a Keurig. It’s just as easy and fast to get the hot beverage you need in the morning.
When you buy your own coffee grounds and use refillable K-cups, you’re saving even more money and being environmentally friendly.
Who is this for: People who need that coffee or tea in the morning, but want to save money!
18. Free Entertainment Challenge
What is it: Don’t spend any money on entertainment for a week.
Example: Don’t spend money on movies, music, or games. Use what you have. For example, use your Netflix subscription, play the board game that’s collecting dust in your closet, read that book you’ve been putting off. If you don’t have anything you’re interested in, go to the library and rent a book or a movie.
You can also check out free events in your community or go to the park.
Who is this for: People who are up for the challenge of finding free entertainment in their home and community.
Recap of the Saving Money Challenges
- No Spend Money Challenge
- 52 week savings challenge
- Reverse 52 week savings challenge
- Saving Coins Challenge
- No Take Out Money Challenge
- Bad Habits Money Jar
- No Name Brand Money Challenge
- Sell Your Stuff Challenge
- Make extra money challenge
- Swap Savings Challenge
- Regular bills money challenge
- Utilities savings challenge
- Reusable products money challenge
- No Car Challenge
- Money Diary Challenge
- Water Only Savings Challenge
- DIY Coffee or Tea Savings Challenge
- Free Entertainment Challenge
Final Thoughts on Saving Money Challenges
Have fun with your saving money challenge! You can do this!
If you’re at all overwhelmed by the number of different money challenges, start with 1. The saving coins challenge is an easy one to start building the routine of saving money. As you get more comfortable, you can tackle the more difficult challenges like the no spend challenge.
Favorite Resources for Saving Money
Looking for other ideas to save money?
Here are my favorite money saving resources:
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is great because you can get up to 40% back for shopping online at over 2500 stores – many of which you would normally shop at like Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart etc. It’s FREE to sign up.
For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more. For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up. You can read more about how to use Rakuten here!
Honey is an application that looks at the items in your cart and helps you search for coupon codes. If it finds relevant codes, it enters them automatically! You never have to search for coupon codes online again!
It also has other money saving features like cash back, price drop notifications, and a price history. It’s also FREE to use.
Checkout51 is an app that gives you cash back for your groceries!
If you purchase any groceries on their list (which sometimes includes everyday essentials like bananas), you can snap a picture of your receipt on your app (they make it super easy). The approval takes roughly a few days and then cha-ching – you’ll get money in your Checkout51 account!
If you spend hours meal planning every week only to stress out some days and eat out, you might be interested in the $5 meal plan. For $5/month, they send you a weekly meal plan where every meal will cost approximately $2/person! They save you time and money so that you can focus on doing things you enjoy like hanging with your kid!
They offer a 14 day FREE trial (approximately 40 recipes) – regular or gluten-free – that you can cancel at any time with no questions asked.
This membership has 2 great benefits: free 2 day shipping and free access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services. You can also get 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.
Get the Amazon 30 day FREE trial here. You can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.
Related money saving articles
- 49 Birthday Freebies on Your Special Day
- No Spend Challenge: How to Not Spend Money for 30 days or More
- Honey Review: How to get the Best Prices Available
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates) Review: How to Make and Save Money Fast
- Best Money Saving Tips to Save You $1000’s
- What to Stop Buying to Save Money Every Day – My Personal Experience
- 11 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- How to Budget: Simple Tips Anyone Can Follow
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