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9 Savings Challenge Ideas (Rock Your Next Savings Challenge)

Love a good savings challenge? Here are the best ones, plus 9 savings challenge ideas to increase your results.

Fishing for some savings challenges ideas that’ll get your butt self in gear to save a ton of money over the coming months?

woman on couch with glasses writing our savings goals, text overlay "saving challenge ideas for better results"

Awesome.

You’ll first want to check out my article on how to start a money saving challenge. Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Then, let me show you some killer ideas to make saving money:

  • More fun
  • More lucrative
  • Easier to do

Ready?

Let’s go.

Savings Challenge Ideas

You won’t truly understand the benefits of saving money until you actually start saving more money than you ever thought possible.

These savings challenge ideas will help you do just that!

1. Pick a Savings Challenge Duration One Step Further than Your Comfort Level

The whole point of a challenge is to, you know, challenge yourself to go beyond what you thought you were capable of doing, right?

So, I suggest you look at this list of awesome savings challenges below, and choose a length of time that is one step past what you are “comfortable” with doing.

One step past the one your mind tells you “I’ve got that in the bag”.

(And if you’re just starting out? There’s no shame in starting from the beginning, with a daily saving money challenge).

Savings Challenges to Choose from:

2. Get Accountability with a Free App

It is sooooo easy to get off track with a savings challenge. In fact, I’ve heard from lots of people that once they have one misstep (like, one drive-thru trip, or one Frappuccino) along the way…they just give up on the whole thing.

I don’t want this to be you!

Accountability with another person, especially your family/partner, is best.

But if you can’t get that?

You can get accountable to a tracker.

My new favorite accountability app that would work great with a savings challenge is the free Done app.

You can choose whether to build a habit, or quit a habit, and then you can actually choose which tasks to check off each day, and for however long you’d like.

Let’s say you want to do a 52-week savings challenge. You would name your “habit” as your savings goal, and then set the duration for yearly.

You choose which days of the week to track your action steps, and what the label would be.

This means you’ll need to brainstorm the action steps that are most critical for you meeting your savings goal.

For example, you could have labels for:

  • $: you can simply record the amount you would’ve spent, but ended up saving, or the amount you put into your savings account/money jar.
  • Checked My Savings Account: Staying more aware of your savings account balance might be helpful in reaching your savings challenge goal, so you might set a task to check your savings account once or twice a week.
  • No Spend Days: Set a label for “day”, and mark off each day where you spend no money at all.

It’s really quite customizable to whichever savings challenge you choose!

3. Audit One Category in each Savings Challenge You Do

As you go through one of the savings challenges you chose from above, pick one spending category to audit.

When you audit something, you figure out how much you’ve spent there in the past (past 3 months or so), what you need to feel “satisfied” in this category, and how to get it while paying a significant amount less.

This will not only help you to meet your savings challenge, but it will also save you money long after the challenge is over.

For example, you could choose to:

  • Makeover Your Latte Habit: I did this. And it not only made my breakfast healthier, but saved us over $2,000 in the last year (not kidding). You can read all about me making this over in my daily frugal habits article, #1.
  • Audit Your Summer Camp Situation: Summer camps are super cool, and summer childcare is a necessity for many of us working families. But there are probably ways you could spend less than you did last summer, if you put some effort into it.
  • Audit Your Electricity Bill: You can call finding ways to save on our electricity bill sort of a pastime of mine. If this interests you as well, then definitely check out how to lower electric bill in apartments, how to lower electric bill in old houses, and how to switch electric companies.  

4. Line Up Your Saving Challenge with a Specific Deadline

Set a deadline.

And the best deadline to set? Is for the date when you want to buy something or do something that costs money.

Work backwards from the date when you need to have $XX amount of money saved up, and then start your savings challenge right around that time.

Nothing like a little time pressure to kick your savings prowess up a few notches!

5. Use Percentage of Money Saved to “Invest” in Future Non-Spending

Want to guarantee you’ll continue spending less (and saving more) for months and years to come?

After you complete a savings challenge, dedicate a portion of the money you saved to go towards money-saving products.

Products you can use over, over, and over again to replace one-use type products that keep siphoning money from your life.

Things like:

6. Take the Opportunity to Spring-Clean Your Savings

While you’re working on saving extra money anyway during a savings challenge, you might as well spring-clean your overall savings up.

This means:

  • Rate Chase: Take 10 minutes one lunch hour to research the top interest rates on savings accounts (online and in-person – though online savings accounts will likely always have a better interest rate since there’s much less overhead). Decide to switch your savings account if the difference in interest is high enough (how to decide if it’s high enough? That’s up to you).
  • Chase a Savings Account Bonus: Sometimes you can find a bank bonus offer where it makes sense to switch accounts (especially if their interest rate, after the promotional offer is over, is still higher than what you’ve got now). Here’s how to figure out if a bank account bonus offer is worth it or not.
  • Open Up a Goal-Specific Savings Account: When you’ve got a savings goal, it can be motivating to open a new savings account and name the actual account something to do with the goal (like “bathroom reno”). This also helps you to see the exact money you’re funneling into something that you want, which can keep you motivated when saving money.
  • Check in on Your Emergency Savings: You want to make sure you’ve got a full emergency fund. Here are emergency fund example amounts for help with this. Does your emergency fund support your current lifestyle?
  • Consider Automatic Withdrawals to Savings: You can check with your HR department and see if they allow split deposits – part of the direct deposit would go to checking and the other to your savings. You could also review the amount you’re saving automatically in your 401(k), and consider increasing it by a percentage point. This can make a big difference over the next decades!

7. Create a Set of Milestone Envelopes

Take this list of 365 ways to reward yourself for less than $5 (many are free), and choose 3-5 that you really like.

These are your carrots.

Now, break down some milestones in your savings challenge.

Example milestones for savings challenges include:

  • Sticking to the challenge for one whole week, then two whole weeks, etc.
  • Not buying anything from a particular store/brand that you’re usually weak around, for XX number of days/weeks
  • Saving a certain threshold amount, like $50, or $500
  • Etc.

For each milestone, create an envelope with the words Unlocked: Milestone on the outside, and with a slip of paper with the reward written on it, in the inside.

When you achieve that, you get to open the envelope and enjoy whatever is inside!

8. Research Savings Match Options

Did you know there are programs out there that will actually match your savings efforts?

We’re talking things like:

  • Nonprofit and Government Matched Savings Accounts (example: IDA savings programs and matched college savings programs)
  • Bank/Organization Matched Savings
  • IRS Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings
  • Employer Matched Savings

Learn more about savings match programs, here.

9. Get Rewarded for Your Savings Challenge

Have you ever heard of SaverLife? You can join and get credit (by points) for your savings challenge, for free.

You can then use those points for cash reward entries and more.

Here’s my full SaverLife review.

Which one of these savings challenge ideas are you most excited to try? For that matter, which savings challenge are you going to pick? I’d love to hear the combination you choose, and how these ideas help you to increase your savings so much faster!

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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.

John Carter

Friday 13th of May 2022

Nice Blog Amanda L Grossman! I like the way you explained these saving challenges. A money-saving challenge can help you put money aside for an emergency fund, a vacation, or a down payment on a new house. To get started, all you need is a little financial incentive.

Amanda L Grossman

Saturday 14th of May 2022

Thanks, John!