lear piggy bank full of coins in front of yellow background.
Clear piggy bank full of coins in front of yellow background.

short-term goals lead to big savings: the 12-week savings challenge

A savings challenge is a great way to work on your budgeting skills while saving money along the way. This 12-week savings challenge is easy, fun, and effective.

Do you want to save more money for a big trip, to reduce your stress, or just for a rainy day? What if we told you that a savings challenge that lasts just three months can jumpstart your progress to your goals. This 12-week savings challenge ends just in time for the holidays, and there’s two levels so you can pick the challenge that’s right for you.

We’ve put together two different options for a short, 12-week, savings challenge. The first option, Super Saver, starts with $20 saved in week one and ends with a total of $570 at the end of the 12 weeks. Already an experienced saver? The Premium Saver option two doubles the amount saved each week to end with a total of $1140 saved.

Did you know it takes 59-70 days to create a habit? So it’s no coincidence this challenge runs for 84 days. Smart saving skills begin with making saving money a habit to help take control of your finances. By the end of this challenge, you’ll have honed the skills you need to make saving money second nature, without needing to bruise your fingers pinching pennies.


Super Saver starts with $20 saved in week one and ends with a total of $570 at the end of the 12 weeks.



Premium Saver doubles the amount saved each week to end with a total of $1140 saved.


Even if you’ve never made a budget before or tried time and time again to stick to your budget but never saw results, we can help change the way you think about money.

Ready to take the challenge? Don’t miss these 7 tips:

1. Make a budget and stick to it

There’s no way to avoid it, to achieve your savings goals, you need a budget. There are a few methods out there, but we are big fans of the 50/30/20 method. Here’s how it works:

Needs = 50% of your income should go to the necessities you can’t live without. Your housing, food, transportation, insurance, and utilities are all examples of necessities.

Wants = 30% of your income goes towards things you want. This 30% is the type of lifestyle you live. Make sure you know the difference between wants and needs when managing this part of your budget. Things like monthly subscriptions and eating out are wants, not needs.

Savings = the final 20% of your income should go towards saving money for your future. These savings should also include building an emergency fund if you don’t have one.

2. Use apps to help

There are a variety of apps out there that help you manage your budget and track your spending. Let’s be realistic, nobody has time to track every penny they spend on a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet. Using an app allows you to automatically categorize expenses and shows you a visual representation of where your money is going.

A great example of an app you can use to manage your money is our Insights tool. The best part? Insights comes free with all of our checking and savings accounts and is found within our banking app. You can create a budget or upload a version of your current budget and sort your spending by category and even set up goals to track your progress. Tracking goals is perfect for a savings challenge like this. Don’t forget to link any other accounts you may have at another bank or credit union including your loans and credit cards to Insights so you can get a complete view of all your finances in one place.

3. Meal plan with store brands

Prices at the grocery store are high right now, but there are still a few ways you can save some money without skimping on quality food. The best way to avoid buying unnecessary or extra food is to come up with a meal plan each week. You are more likely to overspend when you don’t have a list. When you are coming up with a list, don’t forget to shop around for sales and coupons. When you have a well thought out list, shopping is a breeze because you already know exactly what you need to get.

Don’t sleep on store brands either. Most stores have their own version of popular products at a much lower price. These store brands are a great way to get high quality food at a price that’s easier on your wallet.

Buying in bulk is a strong way to save money on non-perishable items. You’ll buy more than you need up-front, but at a lower price per item. Things like toothpaste, toilet paper, and canned food are good things to buy this way.

4. Subscriptions the smart way

Here are some numbers on subscription services like gyms, streaming services, and apps.

  • 12 – the average number of subscription services an American has.1
  • 42 – the percentage of people that forgot they were being charged for a service they’ve quit using.
  • 54 – the percentage of people that underestimate their subscription costs by more than $100.2

Subscriptions make it easy to access media and tools we want, but they also make it easier to waste your money when you forget to cancel or subscribe to too many services. It’s easy to forget about subscriptions because you usually provide your debit or credit card once and you are automatically charged each month. We recommend ditching the subscriptions you don’t use at least once a week.

5. A night in doesn't mean skipping the fun

It’s important to leave room in your budget to treat yourself, or you will have a tough time sticking with it. Replacing just one happy hour will save you a chunk of change, but that doesn't mean you can’t still have fun. Inviting your friends over for a potluck dinner is just one example of how you can still get social time without overspending on expensive food and drinks.

6. Shop around for necessary bills

There’s more value than you think in giving your phone or cable provider a call. You may dread waiting to talk to a service representative but this is a great way to ensure you aren’t paying for any extras you don’t need.

It also pays to shop around for new insurance, phone, and cable providers when your current contract is up. Many companies offer incentives for new customers to leave their old provider. A little bit of time investment on your end can lead to big savings.

7. Use the 24-hour rule

Retail therapy is a popular way de-stress after a long week at work, but the price of these therapy sessions can really add up. Instead of getting on your favorite shopping website, check out a new park, hiking trail, or just unwind in one of your favorite free places.

Try the 24-hour rule if your retail spending is hard to manage. Put whatever item you are thinking about buying in your online cart, but wait 24 hours to hit buy now. You’ll find that in 24 hours, you may not still feel the urge to spend that money.

Budgeting and savings challenges aren’t about restricting yourself. They are about developing lifelong skills to give you more financial freedom, not less. Whether you try the Super Savers or Premium Savers challenge, one thing is certain: you’ll have more money saved at the end than when you started.

If you think you’ll need help meeting your weekly goals, ask someone else to take the challenge with you! The more people in your life working on developing the same skills, the easier it’ll be to hold each other accountable.

Going it alone? We have free, online budgeting classes that you can take at your own pace to jumpstart the saving process. Build your skills, flex your financial fitness, and enjoy the challenge of trying something new.