Why I think the “52 Week Money Challenge” isn’t the best idea out there…

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52 Week Money Challenge

Have you see this posted on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter?  Surely you’ve seen it by now, it seems everyone I know is sharing it like it’s a magic diet pill for your finances.  We all know diet pills don’t work and while this challenge may work, it’s just silly.

The premise is this…

Week 1 you deposit $1 into a jar
Week 2 you deposit $2 into the jar
Week 3 you deposit $3 into the jar
Week 4 you deposit $4 into the jar

…all the way until week 52 where you deposit $52 into the jar.  At this time you’ll have saved $1,378.00.

In case you care what my opinion is on the subject…

I think this is a bit silly for a myriad of reasons, but for starters how do you know come 11+ months from now you’ll have an extra $200/month to deposit into the jar?  If you have that much now, why not start saving the $52/week right right away?  This is way more complicated than it should be because each and every week will be a different amount.  My guess is that many people will fall off the wagon half way through the year.  This is a band-aid and not a solution for financial irresponsibility.  There I said it.  This is for people who can’t manage their money and find themselves broke at the end of the year.  Which isn’t YOU.  You are here because you know how to live frugally or you’re learning how – way to go!

If you budget money for all of your expenses on a monthly basis, you will have the money in place for all of life’s needs.  Christmas budget, car maintenance, back to school clothes, etc.   Think of budgeting (we suggest the envelop budget method) like stockpiling toothpaste – when you need it, it will be there.  When your radiator explodes (do they do that?) then you’ll have the money that has been building up in your car maintenance envelope to take care of the problem.

What do I suggest doing instead of the 52 Week Money Challenge?  

FIRST set aside a percentage of your income each and every month to be automatically drafted out of your bank account into your savings account.   When you have an emergency fund in place ($1000 minimum) and IF you are debt free then start investing your money.  But this $1, $2, $3 a week thing is for the birds in my opinion.  If your family makes $4000/month and you put 5% into savings that’s $200/month and at the end of 12 months you’d have $2400. Or if you’re stuck on the $1,378 number then you can depositing $26.50 per week into the jar (or savings account).  Either way you must ask yourself:  “What is the purpose I have intended for this money?”  That is a vital part to this equation.

HOWEVER like I mentioned briefly above, it all depends on what this money is for. Is it for an emergency fund or a Christmas budget?  If your money doesn’t have a purpose assigned to it there’s a much higher chance you’ll raid the funds when something unexpected comes up.  You need to have 2 different things in place:

  1. a budget that covers your day to day and month to month expenses and
  2. a savings plan that will cover emergencies.

That’s it for now until you’re debt free – then invest the extra, don’t stick it in a jar.

WHO I think this will work for would be someone who is learning to get in the habit of saving but even still I’d suggest starting with a flat weekly amount and not bothering with changing amounts each and every week.

I know this is a super popular savings method that popped up seemingly out of nowhere over the past couple of months so I’d like to hear what your thoughts are.  Do you disagree with my thoughts on this method?  Are you in the middle of this program, if so how is it working out?  I’m looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!


Leave a Comment


  1. I agree with those that said ‘Saving money is Saving money” my household including my 6yr old daughter is doing it and our little boxes that I made are by each other and she loves the idea of the FAMILY saving together, however when me and my husband do have extra left after the bills we do put a little more in the boxes….but the challenge is structured well and it also says for those that know they will have shorter funds towards the end to do it backwards starting with 52 to 1. Our Purpose is to do a least one or two FAMILY vacations every year

  2. I think this is a great idea for beginner savers. If you are not a saver normally, this is a good way to start you into the habit of saving, by the end if you find you can save 52 a week then the next year you should continue that.

  3. For the record, I invest $125 into my tax free savings account, $125 into my rrsp EVERY MONTH and my fiancée and I have TWO 52 week money challenge jars on the go…one is to put towards a house we are buying and the other jar is for our Christmas holiday next year. Don’t be so critical of ideas that are simple and work. We are not doing the 52 week challenge because we don’t know how to save ! We wouldn’t be buying a house, already own a brand new 2014 travel trailer and a brand new fully loaded pickup truck with all of the bells and whistles if we didn’t know how to pinch our pennies !!! Just sayin’……

  4. Jessica says:

    I save money weekly in addition to this money jar. The intended purposes are personal and I think it is judgmental to say people shouldn’t be doing this because they clearly are irresponsible with money. Maybe people want to do this to save for Christmas or put in their Roth IRA on Dec 31 or many other reasons. Even if this is the only way people are saving, what exactly is wrong with that?

  5. I have to agree with Chris on this one. If you’re starting out with saving- say coming out of college (not used to budgeting very tightly) then starting out with smaller amounts is a good place to start. It’s easy for the first few months and you don’t think about “missing” up to $15 per week. It’s the equivalent of a few coffees or a lunch out. Then, as the “newbie” progresses the amount gradually increases until suddenly a person is saving more money then they thought possible at the beginning of the year. I’m a personal trainer, and in fitness you don’t start training for a marathon by running a marathon on the first day of training. You gradually build up your tolerance. I think this is the same. By the end of the year that $50 a week could be money that you have pinched by making your own coffee everyday instead of buying one every day, eating in instead of going out and walking to the store instead of driving and spending the money on gas.

    It would be great if everyone was perfect at everything the first time they tried it, but that’s not usually how it works.

  6. My husband I are doing this while we are paying off debt and reaching goals. We started backwards – which means the first week we started paying $52, then next $51, etc. With our weekly budget, if we cannot make it that week due to our weekly income and expenses we pay it the next week. It’s a line item and it’s working for us to build our emergency fund and pay off debt. It may not be “the best” but it’s working and has for three months.

  7. Roquell says:

    Either way i’m broke and looking for anyway to save. I’m open to anything .

  8. We started doing this the way you suggested, starting with the $52 the first week of the year and working down, except that we are depositing the money to our Capital One 360 account where the interest is better. We save otherwise, but this has been a fun weekly reminder to choose the frugal option, and, with interest, we should have an extra and relatively painless chunk of change at the end of the year we never really missed. Plus, the saving gets easier every week, which is its own reward!

    • Marci Loehner says:

      I’m so glad that you are enjoying the 52 Week Money Challenge! I’ve heard of folks putting in the larger amounts when they have the extra funds so keep that in mind Kay!


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