Plants growing from increasingly full jars of coins.

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Saving money often seems like hard work. But there are ways to make it simpler and more fun. The 52-week saving challenge is one of the best. With a new year starting, completing this challenge could be just the ticket to ending 2021 with extra money in the bank -- without a lot of sacrifice. 

How does the 52-week saving challenge work? 

The 52-week saving challenge is simple. It works like this: 

  • During the first week of the year, you save $1. 
  • During the second week, you save $2. 
  • During the third week you save $3. 

You can see where this is going. By increasing the amount you save by $1 per week, you work up to the final week of the year, when you save $52.

Coming up with this extra money doesn't usually feel difficult, since you start slow and build up to saving more. During the early weeks you're only saving a few dollars, so completing the challenge doesn't require big sacrifice or major lifestyle changes.

But while the amounts you save each week are small, the total amount you save isn't. If you follow this challenge through the year, you'll end up saving $1,378. That means you could be well over $1,000 richer by the end of 2021 if you take on the 52-week challenge. 

How to do the 52-week saving challenge

There are a few different approaches to successfully completing all 52 weeks. One of the easiest options is to open a high-yield savings account. You simply transfer the money over from your regular bank account at the start of each week, and watch your total grow. This also allows you to end up with a little bit more than $1,378, since you earn interest on your deposits over time.

You could also put your cash each week into a jar or envelope, then deposit it at the end of the year -- but that requires having cash on hand all the time so you don't miss a week. It also means you miss out on the interest the money would earn in an account. Plus, it may be more tempting to spend the money if it's just sitting around your house. 

You can, of course, tweak the challenge to meet your needs. If you're really excited to get started, but worry your focus will fade or that it'll become too hard to invest during the year-end holiday season, you may want to work backwards. To do that, start saving $52 in the first week, $51 in week two, and so on. With this approach, you only have to invest a few dollars by the time the holiday spending frenzy starts. 

Whichever approach you take, if you're consistent with saving the requisite amount every week, your efforts will pay off when you look at a savings account that's $1,378 bigger at the end of 2021.