For me, New Year’s resolutions are all about getting started right away. Every day I wait after January 1 to actually start what I've resolved to do, my resolutions lose a little bit of their power. By mid-January, all the "shine" of a brand new year has worn off, and I'm back to business-as-usual—resolutions all but forgotten. So this year I'm starting with support already in place. I’m starting early. And I'm starting small.
If you can relate to my New Year’s resolutions savings challenges, join me in following this new savings strategy!
Why your savings resolution will work this year!
According to Time magazine, the number of folks who make New Year’s resolutions is declining. And among those who do make resolutions, just 10% (1 in 10 people) stick to those resolutions for longer than 30 days.
Why is this good news?
- Because, according to a recent Fidelity survey, if you make a financial resolution, you’re much more likely to achieve your goal than if you’re making other types of resolutions (say, to lose weight or quit smoking).
- In fact, statistics show you are 29% likely to reach your goal in full, and 73% likely to reach it partway, if you make a financial resolution.
The moral here: If you make the resolution, you see positive progress towards your savings goals—you may even achieve your total goal!
Planning for 52 weeks of savings
My New Year’s savings resolution this year is weekly. In other words, I plan to save each week—for all 52 weeks of the year. I’m going to set up weekly alerts on my phone so I remember to save each week.
- The Plan: 52 Weeks of Savings (aka the "52 Week Money Challenge")
- The Challenge: Save by week number.
- The Goal: Save $1,378.00 by week 52!
Option 1: Save in increasing increments.
With this first option—perfect if you don't have much in the bank right now after the Christmas rush—you’ll save in increasing increments.
- What to do: Every Friday (starting today, January 2, 2015) you will make another deposit. On week 1, you will save $1. On week 2, you will save $2…and so forth, until you deposit $52 on week 52.
Option 2: Save in decreasing increments.
If you are feeling flush, or just want the encouragement of seeing your savings account grow faster up front, you could reverse the process.
- What to do: So on week 1, you save $52, on week 2 you save $51…and so forth, until you deposit $1 on week 52.
Option 3: Save in advance with online auto-drafts (either increasing or decreasing).
If you don't trust yourself, or you have a lot on your mind and tend to forget, or you just like to be super-organized, you can schedule auto-drafts into your savings account in advance.
- What to do: Set up auto drafts from your checking into your savings account in advance. You could do a month in advance (and set up a reminder alert at the end of each month to do the next set) or even set up a whole year of drafts!
Option 4: Make up your own version that works for you!
So long as you are saving every single week—so 52 acts of savings in the coming year—the actual amount is not as important. You may have a savings goal to build your emergency fund (Dave Ramsey recommends 3-6 months of living expenses). Or you may have a specific debt-reduction savings goal tied to a certain dollar amount. Whatever your goal, you can use this 52-week system to achieve it (and remember, Fidelity's survey says if you do make the resolution, some progress or total goal achievement is sure to follow!).
Other neat ideas for your 52-week savings plan:
- How to Be S.M.A.R.T. About Saving Money in the New Year
- How to Save Nearly $1,400 in a Year…One Week at a Time
- Start One of These 52-Week Savings Challenges on January 1st!
A helpful visual aid
There are various versions of the 52-Week savings chart available online. The one I like best includes encouraging messages written right on the paper itself! You can use this visual aid (available by free download) or use it as a template to create your own.
- 52 Weeks of Savings: A Printable Chart (scroll past the graphic and download the PDF)
Find group support
The 52-Week Money Challenge has become so popular there is a website where you can join (for free!) and find support from a group of your fellow savers.
P.S. Celebrate each week!
Oh, and be sure to build in encouragements and rewards as you continue to save towards your goal.
For instance, every so often, take yourself out for a creamy latte, pop in a favorite flick, initiate a group hug, do your high school cheer routine in your bedroom…whatever brings a happy grin of self-congratulation and sure success to your face!