15 Money Saving Challenges to Try in 2022

These creative saving challenges can help you spend less and save more.

With inflation running high and gas prices soaring, saving money is a top priority for consumers. And although it may be a struggle to save money right now, finding creative ways to cut back can help – including gamifying savings with a money-saving challenge.

Found everywhere from Pinterest to personal finance blogs, money-saving challenges encourage spenders to become savers by economizing in creative ways. “The primary problem that keeps people from starting to save money is not that they don’t know where to find money to save. Rather, it’s their mindset around money. It is having thoughts like, ‘I’m never going to be able to save enough money or earn enough to make a difference,'” says Nev Harris, a financial coach in Pittsburgh.

But every little bit can make a difference. If you’re looking for new ways to save, consider these 15 money-saving challenges:

  • The 52-week savings challenge.
  • The “no spend” challenge.
  • The pantry challenge.
  • The “keep all the change” challenge.
  • The holiday gift challenge.
  • The “pay yourself when you make a money mistake” challenge.
  • 365-day nickel-saving challenge.
  • The “no eating out for a month” challenge.
  • Weather Wednesday money challenge.
  • The “save money at a different grocery store” challenge.
  • The “trim 1% of your salary” challenge.
  • The “roll the dice” money challenge.
  • The 33.3 challenge.
  • The “No Swear” money challenge.
  • The “kick a bad habit” money challenge.

52-Week Savings Challenge

This classic savings challenge existed long before people were posting money-saving challenges on social media. It’s simple: Decide that you’re going to save $1 a week or $2 or $5. A manageable amount is key. If you save $10 a week, for example, you’ll have an extra $520 at the end of the year.

You can get more creative with the 52-week savings challenge, too. Some people will save $1 a week during the first week, $2 a week the second, $3 the third week, and by the 52nd week, they’re putting away $52 a week. If you did that, you’d have $1,378 by the end of the year.

The ‘No Spend’ Challenge

For the no-spend challenge, pick a weekend or a week – whatever seems challenging and doable for you – and spend no money except on necessities. Rent or the electric bill would be a necessity; a burger and fries, assuming you have food at home, would not.

The idea is to save some money by not spending. And it can be fun. You might be forced to come up with creative workarounds because you suddenly can’t buy a tool that you need – or maybe you’ll dig deeper in your closet instead of buying new clothes.

The Pantry Challenge

This is a good money-saving challenge for the times, and it’s a subset of the no-spend challenge. The pantry challenge is a contest in which you commit to not buying any food until you’ve exhausted all the possibilities from your refrigerator and pantry. You bought those artichoke hearts and that coconut oil for a reason, even if you can’t remember the reason, right? As long as the food is not expired, this is your chance to consume what you’ve already bought and save money for a few days or weeks.

The ‘Keep All the Change’ Challenge

A lot of people do this anyway, but this challenge formalizes it. Any time you receive change from a purchase or stumble upon loose coins in your house, put them in a jar. Do this for a year, and see how much you have at the end – by taking it all to a coin-counting and collection machine or your bank.

You could also do this spare-change challenge in a more modern way and download an app like Acorns. Any time you make a purchase, Acorns will round up the total, take that money and invest the spare change into a diversified investment portfolio. Acorns charges fees that start at $3 a month.

The Holiday Gift Challenge

This idea has been around for decades. Many credit unions offer holiday interest-bearing savings accounts, to which you contribute $5 or $10 or another amount each week, every week, and then when December arrives, you have money for the holidays.

It’s simple and smart. Think about how much you spent on the holidays last December, or better yet, look at your bank account or credit card statements and tally it up. Assume that you’ll spend that much, or more, this December. Then take however many weeks are left and figure out how much you need to put away every week to reach your target amount for holiday gifts.

The ‘Pay Yourself When You Make a Money Mistake’ Challenge

This doesn’t seem to be much of a national thing, but it could be, and it makes a lot of sense. You promise yourself that whenever you do something financially foolish, you’ll put $5 – or another amount – in a piggy bank or savings account. For example, if you pay a bill late, receive an overdraft fee at the bank or make impulse purchases, you punish yourself with a fee.

By the end of a year, you win either way. If you have a lot of money, you’ll be thankful – but chastened by all of your financial errors throughout the year. If you have almost nothing in the account, you can feel great about how financially responsible you are.

The 365-Day Nickel-Saving Challenge

This is a clever challenge that seems to have originated on SavingAdvice.com. Those who can stick it out for a full year will be rewarded handsomely.

In this challenge, you save money in 5-cent increments. Most checking accounts won’t allow you to transfer 5 cents from one account to another, and so it’s likely going to be a savings challenge that involves cash. But on the first day, you put a nickel in a jar or some sort of container, and you are done.

The next day, you’d put 10 cents into your jar. On the third day, 15 cents goes into the jar. See how this works?

By day 365, you’ll be depositing $18.40 into that jar (and presumably throughout the year, you’ve been taking the money from the jar and putting it into a savings account). By the end of the year, you’ll have $3,339.75 in your savings account – without ever having to put aside more than a $20 bill.

The ‘No Eating Out for a Month’ Challenge

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spent $2,375 on dining out in 2020 – considerably less than the year before when Americans spent $3,526 eating out, with the pandemic likely affecting the numbers.

Using that logic and math ($2,375 divided by 12), if you don’t eat out in any given month, your household might save around $200.

Granted, with the cost of groceries and everything else higher these days, you may not be able to cut back that much. But given that it’s generally cheaper to prepare food yourself rather than dine out or order takeout – and that you may have a pantry full of ingredients you’re not utilizing – you should end up spending less if you cut out restaurants and delivery for a month.

Weather Wednesday Money Challenge

When a money challenge takes off on the internet, it’s sometimes hard to know where it began. This one seems to have originated with the personal finance site TrendyMoney.com.

Here’s how it works: Every Wednesday, you put money in your bank account, and you tie it to whatever the highest temperature is in your state or town. This means in the summer you will probably be saving more than in the winter. So if in August the mercury is pushing 110 degrees on a Wednesday, you put $110 into your savings account. If it’s the dead of winter and only 17 degrees, you only have to save $17.