Improving personal financial management is one of the most common New Years’ resolutions out there (aside from eating healthier and losing weight, perhaps). The problem with this resolution is that it’s extremely vague, which increases the likelihood that you won’t fulfill it because there’s no clear end goal for something like “save more money” ($1 more? $1,000 more?) or “manage money better.”
Don’t let another new year go by where you set resolutions and don’t follow through due to a lack of specificity for those goals. You can improve your goal-setting by coming up with SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) and participating in fun, results-driven money challenges throughout the new year.
New Year’s Money Challenges
If you’re ready to make your financial goals become reality in 2020, here are a few simple and fun challenges you should try this year:
$5 Savings Challenge
This is the easiest challenge on the list and it’s not limited to just one year if you want to keep going: whenever you come across a $5 bill, put it into savings. Whether you find it on the ground, receive it as a gift or simply get a $5 or two after breaking a larger bill at the store, put it into a dedicated savings account.
At the end of 2020, you could put that cash into a long-term savings account, continue growing your $5 fund or use that money towards a purchase you’ve been patiently waiting for all year (depending on how many $5 bills you managed to save over the course of 12 months).
Stockpiling Cash-Back Rewards
If you generally prefer using credit cards instead of cash, then this is the challenge for you. Instead of cashing in on your credit card rewards, begin saving them on January 1st and wait until the end of December to finally spend them (or get cash-back and put that money into retirement savings for exponentially higher long-term financial rewards).
Put $20.20 into Savings Each Week
This challenge may require more sacrifice on your part, but it’s a useful way to save up more than one thousand dollars by the end of the year. All you need to do is set up weekly deposits to your savings in the amount of $20.20 (or $40.40 biweekly or $80.80 monthly) and watch your savings grow over the course of 52 weeks. You can do this manually or through recurring auto-deposits (e.g., every Friday) and by the end of 2020, you should have around $1,050 saved up.
To increase your earning potential, set up weekly auto-deposits to an investment account (e.g., Acorns or Betterment) or your retirement fund to access substantially higher interest-earning opportunities than you would with a regular savings account.
52-Week Money Challenge
This popular money challenge grows more difficult over time, but it’s so subtle that you might not even notice you’re saving more money each week. Starting in the first week of the new year, you put $1.00 into savings. In the second week, you deposit $2, the third week you deposit $3, and so on. By the last week of 2020 (when you should be depositing $52 into savings), you should have around $1,378 saved up.
To make this more challenging, you could double your weekly deposits. By week 52, you would be depositing $104 and have more than $2,750 saved up by the end of the year.
Save Up $2,020 in 2020
How much would you have to save each week if you wanted to have $2,020 saved by up the end of the year? If math isn’t your strong suit, here’s the answer: $38.84 (with a final deposit of $39.16 in the 52nd week). This equates to just $155.36 per month, which is certainly attainable for most folks who are willing to cut back in some areas to make their savings goals possible.
Combine New Years’ Resolutions
If you want to save more money and improve your quality of life in 2020, then consider combining your New Years’ resolutions for maximum results. For example, quitting smoking or vaping could result in average weekly savings of $25-70 (depending on where you live, how much you smoke or vape, etc.). If you smoke 3 packs per week at a price of $7 per pack, you could save over $1,050 on cigarettes by the end of the year if you quit the habit.
Alternatively, you could accomplish health-related goals by cutting back on alcohol consumption, eating out less, and using more coupons at the grocery store to access healthier foods – all of which also help you save more money. You could even sign up for apps that pay you to get in shape or start a side hustle that will let you earn money while getting more physical exercise (e.g., walking dogs for Rover).
Recap: Fulfill Your New Years’ Resolutions in 2020
You don’t need to move mountains and completely revamp your approach to personal finance in order to experience the benefits of an incremental approach to savings. With the challenges we’ve discussed here, you’ll be able to save money throughout the year – almost without realizing it – and improve other aspects of your life while you’re at it, making these money challenges a win-win for anyone who stays on track to meet their resolutions.