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12-Month Savings Challenges to Tackle this Year (Six Types!)

Want to save more than you ever thought possible? Ditch your savings status quo with one of these 12-month savings challenges.

How much money do you think you could save over the next year if you were held accountable by a 12-month savings challenge?

woman writing out notes on lots of blue post it notes on wall, text overlay "12 month savings challenges to choose from"

A savings challenge is going to test you. It’s going to

Which is a great thing, because you’ll likely be able to save much more money by using one of these than if you continued saving on your own.

Hint: before you choose which challenge to go after below, go ahead and figure out your reason “why”. Knowing what savings goal you want to go after – whether that’s a trip to Disney World, to pay for Christmas in cash, or one of these cool things to save up for – will at least double your savings motivation.

12 Month Savings Challenges to Pick From

Ready to be challenged to save far more than you ever thought possible?

Dive into one of these 12-month saving challenges.

Psst: you’ll want to check out my article on how to start a money saving challenge, plus 9 savings challenge ideas to really rock your next one!

1. 12 Month Savings Challenge – Monthly Plan

Did you want to tackle something different every single month this year?

The Budget Mom came up with this specific 12-month challenge.

For the next 12 months, you’ll tackle:

  • Pack-A-Lunch January
  • No-Eating-Out February
  • $20 Fridays in March
  • $10 Cash Envelope Saving Challenge in April
  • Freezer and Pantry in May
  • $2-A-Day in June
  • Generic July
  • Sell Two Items in August
  • Decrease Your Bills in September
  • Make Your Own Coffee October
  • No-Spend November
  • Make-A-List December

2. 12-Month, Give-Up-Something Savings Challenge

We all have habits – spending habits, eating habits, bad habits, good habits, etc.

For the next 12 months, I challenge you to take one thing per month that you can stop spending money on, and actually do it.

Literally – at the beginning of each month, write down the one thing you’ll be giving up.

You can then save the money that you were going to spend on it. But to actually save the money? Try one of these two methods:

  • Your Baseline Spending: Look back through your checking account over the last three months, and average how much you spend on this thing per month. That’s the amount you’re challenged to set aside this month.
  • Impulse Tracking: Each time you feel the urge to buy the thing, don’t. Then, add a tick mark on a sheet of paper or in your weekly planner. At the end of the month, count up the number of tick marks, multiple it by the cost of the item, and that’s the amount you’re challenged to put into savings.

If I were doing this challenge (and I'm pretty tempted to give it a go…), then here's some things I would choose for us:

  • Poke bowl runs (I looooovvvveee poke bowls…though they're a bit expensive)
  • Meats (eating through our freezer meats instead – here's my pantry challenge tips)
  • Costco runs (I typically go once a month, but sometimes I splurge and go 2-3 times)
  • Travel (our long weekend road trips)
  • Starbucks runs (between the two of us, we'd probably save $100-$150/month here)
  • Etc.

3. 52-Week Savings Challenges

How much do you save in a year doing the 52-week savings challenge?

Well, that depends on:

  • Which 52-week challenge you choose
  • How closely you stick to the challenge

With the options I’m about to give you, you'll be saving anywhere from $676 – $1,378.

52-Card-Pickup Weekly Savings Challenge

The first one to consider is my own 52-Card-Pickup Weekly Savings Challenge.

You’ll need a deck of cards, and these free printables. Each card is “worth” a certain amount of money. You’ll shuffle the deck, and once a week for the next 52 weeks, draw a card. That’s the amount of money you have to save.

At the end, you’ll have a total of $676.

52-Week Christmas Savings Plan

The next one is a 52-week Christmas Savings Plan.

I mean, who wouldn’t love to know that this next holiday was in the bag (financially speaking, anyway)?

Random 52-Week Challenge

What if you want to do the 52-week savings challenge, but you need a lot of flexibility? The random 52-week challenge is a great variation for you – you get to pick which weeks you save a bit more, and which weeks you save a bit less.  

Reverse 52-Week Savings Challenge

I don’t know about you, but December is an incredibly expensive month of the year for me. Most 52-week challenges are set up so that December is the month that you have to save the most. Why not reverse your challenge, and pay out the most to your savings in January, and the least in December?

Hint: you’ll also earn more interest on the money, since more of it will be sitting in your bank account as the year goes along, than if you do the small amounts first!

$1,378, 52-Week Savings Challenge

A final version will challenge you to save $1,378 in a year by setting aside $1 more than the week before, for all 52 weeks of the year. The most you’ll need to save in a week with this version is $52.

4. Save $1,050 in 12 Months

This one challenges you to save $25/month the first month, and increases by $25 each month until it reaches a maximum of $150. Then, it descends each month by $25 until, December, you’re just asked to come up with $25 to save.

Which, works out well for most of us as December can be a pretty expensive time of year.

5. Bi-Weekly 12-Month Savings Challenge

Most of us get paid every other week (bi-weekly).

Which makes a bi-weekly, 12-month savings challenge a good option.

These types of savings challenge are 12 months long, but they break up the savings prompts from once-a-month to twice-a-month targets that coincide with your paychecks.

Here’s a free printable where you can either save $1,000 or $5,000 over 26 paychecks (the number of paychecks you get in one year, if you’re paid bi-weekly).

My husband and I need to sit down soon to discuss finances in a bigger-picture way. Choosing our next savings goal is the perfect financial topic for us at our next money meeting, and I think we’ll use one of these 12 month savings challenges to help us achieve whatever we come up with.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.