How to save $20,000 in a year
10 simple ways to spend less and save more. Choose a weekly challenge and track your progress with our free template.
Saving more money can be hard, especially with the cost of living skyrocketing. But a savings challenge makes it easier by breaking this goal down into smaller steps, with a printable colouring sheet so you can see your progress and stay on track.
These challenges have become so popular that there are whole books dedicated to them. So if saving $20,000 in a year is a stretch right now, you can pick a goal that's more within your reach.
The $20,000 one year savings challenge
The key to saving any amount of money in a year is to break it down into smaller savings goals. If you want to save $20,000 over 12 months, that breaks down to $1,666 a month.
This sheet breaks down that amount even more and factors in more or less expensive weeks. You just pick a number to save and colour in that circle. Colour a different circle each week for the whole year and you'll end up with $20,000 in savings.
5 tips on how to spend less
1. Look at your spending
A simple and effective first step is to see exactly where all your money is going.
You can use a budgeting app that automatically puts your spending into categories – making it easier to see where you can spend less. Or, take a look at your transaction history for the last 1-2 months and find opportunities that way.
2. Cancel some subscriptions
Subscriptions are easy to set and forget, which often means we won't get our money's worth out of them.
Take gym memberships as an example: In 2022, Finder research has found Australians are overspending $5.4 million based on how often we work out.
But even cancelling a $10 to $20 streaming subscription that doesn't get used much could save you $120 to $240 per year. So take a look at your regular debits and see what can go.
3. Plan your supermarket shop
There are a few ways planning ahead can help you spend less on groceries:
- Sticking to a list cuts back on impulse buys and things you don't really need.
- Choosing what you'll eat for the week means you can buy food for a few different meals to make it go further and reduce waste.
- You can check what fresh fruit and vegetables are in season and plan meals with them, rather than the typically more expensive out-of-season options.
- Plan the time that you'll go shopping so you're not walking through the aisles on an empty stomach – which can make it harder to resist tempting treats.
4. Know your spending weaknesses (and avoid them)
It's important to have some money for fun stuff, but this tip is about finding the weak spots in your spending habits. Having a good budget helps.
Maybe going to a particular store always leaves you with a hole in your wallet, or maybe the promise of free shipping tempts you to add a bit more to your virtual shopping cart. There are so many marketing tactics designed to tempt us into parting with more money, so noticing the ones that get you can help you avoid them when you want to spend a bit less.
5. Mix up social events
Having a big savings goal doesn't mean you need to become a hermit. While going out for dinners, drinks and brunches can add up to hundreds (or thousands) of dollars over a year, there are also social events that cost a lot less – or even nothing.
Here are a few ideas you could add to your social calendar to help spend a bit less:
- Picnics or potluck dinners where everyone brings a dish
- Clothes swap nights where you can update your wardrobe without spending anything
- Wander through a park or botanical gardens
- Outdoor adventures like hiking, cycling or surfing
5 tips on how to save more
1. Set up an automatic transfer
This is a "set and forget" way to save, where you schedule a recurring transfer to your savings account.
The key is to choose an amount that's affordable even in more expensive weeks. It could be $20, $100 or some other amount but it means you'll have a regular stream of money going into your savings.
It can also help towards your weekly goal in a saving challenge: If you know you're automatically transferring say, $50 and you want to save $250 in that week, you'll only need to transfer an extra $200 to reach that goal.
2. Share the challenge with someone
Accountability is the "secret sauce" for your savings, with research showing you're more likely to achieve goals when you share them with someone you respect so that they can ask you about your progress and cheer you on.
With a saving challenge, you might even find someone who wants to do it with you – meaning you can be each other's "accountability buddies".
3. Get a side-hustle
If you've got the time and motivation, a side-hustle is a great way to earn some extra cash. To make it fun, think about what you'd enjoy doing.
Some classic options include dog-walking, housesitting and selling furniture, clothes or other items online. Some people also make money from baking or cleaning – and there are whole sites dedicated to paying people for odd jobs.
4. Shop around for better deals
If there's something you need to pay for, there's a good chance you can get a deal – especially with prices rising for pretty much everything right now.
Let's take energy as an example: you can save between $180 and $300 a year if you switch from a standing market offer, according to research from the Australian Energy Regulator.
Shopping around can also save you money on everything from utility bills, health insurance, home loans, petrol and even groceries.
5. Make the most of interest on your savings
Putting your money into a high interest savings account gives you a way to earn interest on the balance, with some bonus rates as high as 3%.
This is also compound interest, which means you'll earn interest on your interest over time. Combined with a saving challenge, this really boosts your balance.
But be aware that some bonus saving rates only last for the first few months, and others have conditions you need to meet each month. So picking an account that has conditions you like will help you get the highest rate on offer.
What if I miss a week?
Life happens and if you miss a week of the challenge, don't sweat it. Just pinpoint what happened and how you can deal with it, then keep going.
If you've already coloured in a goal on the challenge sheet, transfer that amount to your savings for the following week. You could also pick a smaller goal for that week to catch up, or make extra transfers when you can to balance it out.
This saving challenge gives you a clear target and a plan to achieve it, with the flexibility to save a bit more or less based on the type of week you have. And at the end of the challenge, you may even have some new savings habits to help you build a bigger balance or invest some of your wealth.
Ready to start saving? Get the $20,000 saving challenge sheet and open your savings account now.
Compare savings accounts
- $20,000 Saving Challenge book by Jonathan Whitmore on Amazon
- Ohio State University article "Share your goals but be careful with whom" 2019
- Michigan State University article "Achieving your goals: An evidence-based approach" 2014
- University of Northern Carolina Learning Center "Accountability Strategies"
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