Another 52 Weeks?

Last year, I did the 52 Week Money Challenge, a popular personal savings method where you put aside an amount of money corresponding to the number of the week on the calendar. I invited a bunch of ladies I knew to join me — I think we were 15 in total, and we all aimed to end the year with a tidy bit of money for personal use. We named ourselves Kwachas & Sense, and the WhatsApp group we formed is still very active. For week one, I put away K10 (K meaning Kwacha because I live in Zambia).

I multiplied all the weeks by a factor of ten to increase the savings and also, it doesn’t really feel like you’re saving if you only put away K3, K4, K5 a week.

I was looking forward to ending the year with K13,780! Quite a decent chunk of money to receive on December 31 when the festivities are almost over and plans for the new year are kicking in.

This post might be a few weeks old when pegged against other ‘new year’ items, but for me the timing is right. The reality of the new year has set in — I’ve eliminated unrealistic resolutions (or rather, I couldn’t keep up with them), I’ve recovered from the Festive overspend, and the large expenditures of last year have been contained.

For the first seven months of The Challenge, I did fine, and the routine of putting something away every week became a habit I enjoyed. For me, saving is actually rewarding, I enjoy the feeling, it’s not punishment. Months eight and nine is when my resolve weakened a bit because of the demands in our home: primarily building a house. I buckled down again around October, looking forward to the end of the year, but by November the weekly savings were random and the amounts inconsistent. I felt I had let myself down, but at the same time I knew that the money I wasn’t saving was going towards something I (we) needed.

When December 31st came round, I had K8,320 in my kitty. Not the dream goal of K13, 780 but enough to spend on a couple of treats (and clear a few bills…!)Kwachas and sense

The lessons: it’s hard to save alone, it works better in a community, so the ladies were a real boost to my efforts. Also, it’s important to have a goal. Saving for saving’s sake is fine, but working towards something helps in achieving it. The greatest thing: once you build that habit, it’s hard to break. It’s true what they say about habit-forming. Now, I budget for that week’s saving in my weekly cash withdrawal.

I think the 52 Week Money Challenge is great for people in the early years of their earning lives — people who have just started working or are self-employed with a little cash to spare each month. It builds great personal finance habits and can help build up that reserve cash to go towards business capital, independent living arrangements, or other needs when starting up in life.

I look forward to another 52 Week Challenge and this year, that K13,780 is mine!

Part Two of this money series will be one I’m looking forward to: money habits I’ve learned from my husband.

Part Three of my money-related posts will be about personal money habits and hacks I’ve learned along the way.


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