Do you want to save more money this year? Make saving a habit. The best way to form a money-saving habit is to save tiny amounts every single day of the year-365 days.
A penny challenge is an easy, foolproof way to help yourself build a savings mind set.
Bonus: at the end of the year, you’ll have saved $670--a penny at a time.
Penny Challenge 2020
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My Experience with the Penny Challenge
I started doing the penny challenge several years ago after hearing about it in a social media site about personal finance.
I'd been saving money in a retirement plan since I started my career but I was surprised at how the seemingly simple penny challenge affected my mindset about saving.
The act of paying myself first every single day of the year, affected how I looked at and handled money in other parts of my life.
Saving the change reinforced in my mind how much small amounts added up over time.
Eventually, it became nearly impossible for me to buy something without first searching high and low for a discount code or delaying the purchase until there was a sale or seeing if I could borrow whatever it was from someone I knew or buy it used.
I began poring over my bank statements to make sure I understood every last expenditure (hello, .99 cent Apple tax) or to discover if I was being charged for a service I no longer used.
This could be you too!
How Does the 365 Penny Challenge Work?
You save however many pennies correspond to that day of the year.
- On Day 1, you save a penny.
- On Day 2, you save two pennies.
- On Day 100, you save 100 pennies or a dollar or ten dimes or four quarters or 20 nickels.
- On Day 365, you save 365 pennies.
If you save all of the pennies you're supposed to, you’ll have saved over $670 by Dec. 31.
How Do I Get Started with the Penny Challenge?
Get a jar to hold your change and put it somewhere you'll see it everyday but try to keep it out of sight of family members, if they're anything like mine.
Print out the free spreadsheet of how much to save each day of the 365-day Penny Challenge. Link below.
Tips for the 365 Day Penny Challenge
At the end of each month, deposit the change you've accumulated into a savings account.
The change jar gets super heavy, especially once you're into the later months of the year.
Plus you want that change in a bank earning interest.
I do it on the last business day or the first business day after the last day of that prior month.
Safeguard the Jar
Put the jar or container somewhere where it’s out of sight of family members.
You don't want family members reaching into the jar when they're short on cash for tipping the pizza guy and throwing you off course.
Once spouse and teenagers realize where you've moved the jar, move it again. 🙂
Make the Chart Visible
However, take the penny challenge spreadsheet somewhere you’re going to see it daily.
I have mine hanging from a shelf in my closet so I see it first thing in the morning when I grab an outfit.
Keep a pen right there so you can cross off that day's box after you save change.
Crossing off is important so you if you can't remember whether you have made that day's deposit or not, you can check the chart.
Choose a Time
Decide when you’re going to put your change in the jar every day so it becomes a habit.
I recommend first thing in the morning when you’re getting ready for the day.
I do it right after brushing my teeth. You want it to become automatic so you don’t have to think about it.
Do you meditate in the morning? You could put change in the jar before you sit down.
Keep it Simple
To make it easier for you to do this quickly and efficiently every day, put a bunch of change for each month in a coin purse or a Ziploc next to your penny jar.
That way you can just grab money for your deposit from your coin purse instead of hunting through your purse or coat pockets or the sofa for change.
Until you get in the habit, put the exact change in the jar needed for that day.
It helps you to be precise with your money and pay attention to details.
That attention you form will carry forward through other parts of your finances--paying attention to your investment fees, unrecognizable charges, etcetera.
Penny Challenge Benefits
You’ll find yourself automatically looking for ways to save money before making a purchase.
You’ll also find yourself delaying purchases or trying to get around making the purchase.
You’ll stop spending money on things that you don’t value.
Are You Earning Minimum Wage?
If you’re in a lower income bracket, I would encourage you to try the penny challenge.
It can be difficult to save money if you’re supporting yourself on minimum wage or if you're supporting a family on any salary!
As my parents would tell me when I was younger, inch by inch, life’s a cinch, yard by yard, life gets hard.
Saving money pennies at a time is one of those inch by inch things.
Saving $670 is a good start to an emergency fund. Or for a particular goal. The past couple years, I’ve done the penny challenge specifically for back to school shopping.
Want to make more money? Sign up for the Personal Capital app. If you sign up through my link and connect an investment account, we will each get $20.
The app is free and if you link all your accounts as well as your mortgage and investments, you get a snapshot of what your net worth is at any time.
What's the last money challenge you participated in? Have you ever done the penny challenge? How'd it go?