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52-Week Savings Challenge Guide

52 Week Savings Challenge
Jennifer Calonia
Jennifer CaloniaUpdated January 30, 2023
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Seems like most people are saving up for something. Maybe it’s for a specific purchase, or to feel more financially secure and prepared for an emergency. But saving is easier said than done, right? That’s where the 52-week Savings Challenge comes in.Whether you’re starting from zero or already have some cash tucked away, the challenge can help you make real progress toward your goals. We’ll show you how it works, explain how to avoid common pitfalls, and offer tips for staying on track.

What Is the 52-Week Savings Challenge?

The 52-week Money Saving Challenge is a one-year savings plan that encourages you to make savings a habit, but does so incrementally. As its name suggests, the challenge asks you to set aside a specific amount of money each week. The first week’s contribution is the smallest. One year later, in week 52, you’ll make your largest deposit just before closing out the challenge. Recommended: Money Saving Games and Financial Gamification

How Does the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge Work?

To start the 52-week Savings Challenge, make a weekly deposit into a dedicated savings account, envelope, cookie jar, or other fund. Each week’s deposit amount correlates with the week number you’re in. For week 1, you’ll deposit $1. In week 2, you’ll deposit $2, and so on. In the last week of the challenge, you’ll reach your maximum and final deposit amount of $52.Below is a 52-week money-saving chart, so you know what to expect: 
WeekAmountTotal saved
Week 1$1$1
Week 2$2$3
Week 3$3$6
Week 4$4$10
Week 5$5$15
Week 6$6$21
Week 7$7$28
Week 8$8$36
Week 9$9$45
Week 10$10$55
Week 11$11$66
Week 12$12$78
Week 13$13$91
Week 14$14$105
Week 15$15$120
Week 16$16$136
Week 17$17$153
Week 18$18$171
Week 19$19$190
Week 20$20$210
Week 21$21$231
Week 22$22$253
Week 23$23$276
Week 24$24$300
Week 25$25$325
Week 26$26$351
Week 27$27$378
Week 28$28$406
Week 29$29$435
Week 30$30$465
Week 31$31$496
Week 32$32$528
Week 33$33$561
Week 34$34$595
Week 35$35$630
Week 36$36$666
Week 37$37$703
Week 38$38$741
Week 39$39$780
Week 40$40$820
Week 41$41$861
Week 42$42$903
Week 43$43$946
Week 44$44$990
Week 45$45$1,035
Week 46$46$1,081
Week 47$47$1,128
Week 48$48$1,176
Week 49$49$1,225
Week 50$50$1,275
Week 51$51$1,326
Week 52$52$1,378
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How Much Money Can You Save With the Challenge?

When following the traditional 52-week Money Saving Challenge — starting with $1 during week 1 — you’ll save a total of $1,378. However, if you chose to modify the challenge by altering the weekly deposit amounts, you could save much more. (And check this out if you’re curious how much the average American has in savings.)

Pros and Cons of the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge

Although the 52-week savings challenge is effective for some, it’s not the right savings plan for everyone.


  • It starts small. The plan asks you to commit only $1 to start the challenge. This micro-level of savings at the beginning helps you gain momentum without feeling overwhelmed. 
  • It has an end goal. There’s a clear finish line you’re working toward. For those who like to check off tasks on a to-do list or visually track progress toward a goal, this challenge helps you stay focused.
  • It’s easy to remember. The conventional 52-week money-saving challenge uses deposit amounts that mirror the week you’re in. This makes remembering how much to deposit in any given week simple.
  • It’s customizable. If you have a higher savings goal and the budget to accommodate it, you can easily adapt the plan by increasing your weekly deposit amounts. You can also shorten or extend the timeline until you reach your personal savings goal.
  • It builds a habit. The regular deposit intervals make saving money part of your routine. The more practice you have at saving money, the easier it is to stick to the plan long-term.


  • It takes a long time. Maintaining a savings challenge consistently for an entire year can be difficult, with some participants fizzling out partway through.
  • It can be hard to automate. Since the weekly deposit amounts don’t remain the same, it’s not as easy to set up automatic deposits into your savings account. This means you’ll have to rely on your dedication to the challenge. 
  • Its largest deposits are during the holidays. Based on the 52-week money-saving chart, the last eight weeks have the highest deposit amounts, totaling $388. This period coincides with the holiday shopping season. If you don’t have good cash flow, this part of the plan can be difficult.
Recommended: How to Avoid Impulse Purchases

When To Start the Challenge

Starting the 52-week savings plan is simplest at the start of the year, during the first week of January. But you can start it at any time. The advantage of starting the challenge during the first week of the year is that it’s easier to remember where you are in the savings timeline. For example, if you start at the beginning of January, and it’s now February 1, you’ll know you’re on week five. The start of the New Year is also a popular time to begin because we’re naturally geared to start over and try new things.

Tips for Staying on Track

  • Assess your budget before starting. Make sure you can financially manage making the weekly deposits for the challenge. Review how much you spent on both nonnegotiable expenses and discretionary spending in the past two months. 
  • Don’t let a missed deposit derail you. Life can get in the way, and you might miss your routine deposit in a given week. Don’t let this derail your motivation! Simply make the deposit as soon as you remember, or add it to the following week’s deposit if that date is near.
  • Adjust the plan to meet your needs. The best part of this challenge is its flexibility. Change your deposit amounts so they realistically fit your budget. Or modify the timeframe if you have a goal you’d like to save for, like a trip. (Our guide to saving money on road trips might help too.)
  • Invite a friend to join you. There’s no better motivation than accountability. Ask a friend or a group of friends or family members to join you on the 52-week money-saving challenge for external accountability and mutual encouragement.
Recommended: How To Save Money on Gas

Why Is Saving Money Important?

Saving money offers a financial safety net if you are faced with an emergency, like a medical bill or temporary job loss. Not only does a savings fund help you pay immediate expenses, but it can also offer a cushion as you sort out the next steps in the aftermath of a life change.And, of course, it’s nice when your savings is making a little interest.

Where to Keep Your Savings

It’s a good idea to keep your savings in a secure place where you and others won’t be tempted to access it. Banks, credit unions, and online financial institutions all offer savings deposit accounts. You can open a separate account at the same bank you do business with, or at a new bank and simply transfer money between banksBefore opening a savings account, ensure that the institution is FDIC or NCUA insured. That way, your money is protected if the bank or institution goes under.

The Takeaway

Taking on the 52-week savings plan helps you establish a long-term savings habit one baby step at a time. Set the money aside in a place that’s secure and separate from your everyday spending money. If you forget to make a deposit on your regular day, don’t stress about it: Just catch up as soon as you can. By week 52, you’ll have a health fund — and a new talent for savings.A high-yield savings account allows you to earn interest on your deposits. Lantern lets you compare savings accounts from a variety of financial institutions offering high interest rates and no monthly fee.Compare Lantern’s high-interest savings accounts now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do you save in the 52-week challenge?
How much is $5 a week for a year?
How can I save $5,000 in a 3-month challenge?
Photo credit: iStock/zenstock

About the Author

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia is a Los Angeles-based finance writer who has covered the gamut, including student loans, credit card rewards, consumer loans, and debt. Her work has been featured in outlets like Bankrate, NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.
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