You want to do the 52 Week Savings Plan. You’ve printed out the chart, posted it somewhere you can’t help seeing it every day, and have a jar ready to hold your money (including a picture of your goal on it). But you are paid bi-weekly, need to see a bigger / faster initial payoff, never have much free cash in December, etc.
What to do?
Here are some options to customize the plan for yourself.
1. Feel free to jump from week to week, according to how much money you have to save. How is this custom? If you have a week where you find an extra $20 in some old jeans, you might be able to do $40 even though it’s only the $20 week, so you cross off week 40 instead of week 20, or just cross of Week 20 with that twenty dollar bill.
This simply makes it easier to keep track of how much you have already saved, and how many of the “smaller” weeks you still have left.
On the other hand, you could simply let that extra money be a “bonus” so you have more at the end of the year. (And this is technically a bonus tip – making it 11 ways to make the plan work for you!)
2. Instead of setting aside money every week (especially if you get paid every two weeks), set aside $53 every two weeks. The first week is $1, and the second is $52. You can either continue with this amount, or change it every two weeks so the second set of two weeks it is $2 and then $51, etc. But if a non-fluctuating amount (and smaller amount the week you don’t get paid) works better for you, then stick with that. You’ll still get to the same place at the end of the year.
3. If seeing $10 at the end of a month of savings isn’t enough to keep you motivated, start with $52 the first week, and work your way backward. You’ll have over $200 at the end of the first month, and only need $5, $4, $3, $2, and $1 during the next Christmas shopping season.
4. Freeze it – literally – if you are afraid you won’t stick to your goal. Put a picture of what you are saving on the outside of a freezable container. Every week, add your money, then some water to cover it, and put it back in the freezer. Mid-year you may need to thaw, consolidate, and refreeze to make some more room. If so, make sure you do it on a day your resolve is strong.
Stores and banks will be happy to take your previously-wet-but-now-dry cash!
5. Or just use a kids bank that you have to break or use a specialty tool to get into. Then you won’t be as tempted to get into it.
6. If even $1 is too much, save the change you get back when you break a $1 bill at the store. Whenever you do find an extra $1 or more, hide it in your wallet (behind a photo maybe?) until you can get it home and into your jar. It’s incredible how much money can be saved in a year just by accumulating spare change.
7. Hide the real money you are saving somewhere no one else will find it. (Bank accounts count.) Have the kids put in game money instead to get them involved and to represent what you are doing.
8. Not sure you’ll remember every week? Set up an auto-transfer and keep your savings in an actual savings account – which also keeps it off the kitchen counter and out of sight. This also works great if your income is automatically transferred to your checking account by your employer or another organization like Social Security or a retirement fund.
9. If you are likely to break down and grab “a few dollars” for a quick delivery meal, keep more ready-made meals on hand. There is no shame in feeding the kids frozen chicken nuggets (store bought or homemade is up to you), and it will help keep your savings plan on track.
10. If all of the above is still not likely to keep you from feeling the temptation, try putting an extra dollar (or whatever you can afford) a week in another jar. Every three months, take that money and give yourself / your family a smaller treat. Even buying a new DVD for the family or ice cream with all the fixings from the grocery store can be a fun little splurge to help keep you motivated.
BONUS: If you tend to be forgetful, add “52 Weeks Savings!” as a reminder on your smartphone, calendar, or any other reminder system.
Hopefully you are now feeling more motivated and ready to tackle this challenge!
What ideas do you have to make this plan your own?