In January of this year I decided to participate in the 52 week savings challenge. It was my desire to take an international trip during my 2 week break for the holidays like I had last year. This system would give me a perfect way to save $1378.00 progressively if I remained consistent with the plan. Given that I was able to visit Italy for 7 days for less than $1100 and Guatemala for 2 weeks for under $1500, I knew it was a feasible.
At the beginning of 2015 I did not have steady income. I was working part time and barely bringing in enough to pay my bills; as a result my savings was dwindling and I had no discretionary income. I was hoping this would not last long and despite my uncertainty as to when and how this situation would change. After a few months I was able to secure a better paying full time job that at least gave me enough to pay the bills and have a little breathing room.
The traditional 52 week savings as a descending deposit format, starting with $52 on week 1, $51 on week 2 etc. Given the inconsistent nature of my income, I needed an alternative saving plan. Luckily I found an alternative 52 week savings plan which allowed me to select my deposit each week. I liked this option because it allowed me to adjust for the variances in my income.
I will not say this was easy but I will say I DID IT! Man, there were times over this last year where I did not feel like I would be able to complete the challenge. Over the last year I have had 2 months where my pay was cut in half, an unexpected month off during the summer, various weeks without hours which meant I was without pay despite having financial obligations which could not be ignored. There were times when my mom had to buy me groceries so I could eat and put gas in my car to help me make it in between paychecks.
Despite all of these challenges when I did have a few extra coins and I made sure I prioritized my savings after paying my primary bills. I will be honest, I did not make my deposits weekly. I originally started by trying to make a deposit on each pay week. Sometimes I would make one monthly deposit instead. In those moments of time when the budget was too tight I would make adjustments and increase my latter deposits. The benefit to this alternative 52 Week Savings method is I had the flexibility to deposit what I could afford.
For example on April 3 I had $120 available to deposit so I selected the amounts which would add up to that amount and crossed them off the list.
I should have paid better attention to the disbursement of the lesser amounts because November and December were a bit rough when I had mostly larger amounts remaining. This is already a tight time of the year because given my profession; I was off a total of 3 weeks those two months which made for limited income. There was not much left after bills were paid but somehow, I figured a way to make it work.
As of January 1, 2016 I saved a total of $1378 during my 52 Week Savings challenge in 2015. Since my income this year was so inconsistent, I had to use my credit cards much more than I intended. So instead of using the deposits for an international trip, I decided to pay off one of my credit cards and continue my journey to eliminate all of my consumer debt. It’s not as exciting as a trip abroad but I am relieved to know that I have successfully eliminated one bill. Debt can be debilitating so by ridding myself of a piece of that headache, I am creating opportunities for my discretionary income to increase.
After being successful last year, I am definitely planning to complete the challenge again this year. I have not yet decided what I will do with the funds saved in 2016 but I have lots of great ideas.
Have you ever completed a savings challenge? If you had $1300 of discretionary income what would you do with it?