Saving a penny a day doesn’t sound like much. After a year you’d have just $3.65. That doesn’t even buy you a drink at Starbucks let alone help you in any type of emergency.
But if you join the penny a day challenge, you’ll save one penny for each day of the year. By the end of the year, you’re saving 365 pennies in a day (it doesn’t literally have to be pennies).
It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly. If you don’t have great savings habits, it’s a great place to start.
Check out the penny a day savings challenge to see how it could help you.
What Is the Penny Challenge?
The penny challenge is just like it sounds – a challenge to save pennies a day. It sounds like it wouldn’t amount to much, so why try, right? There’s a lot more to it than you think. It’s all about setting up the habit of saving. If you start with a penny a day challenge, you’ll find it easier to increase your savings, and before you know it, reach your financial goals.
Here are the most common penny challenges.
365 Day Penny Challenge
This is the traditional penny challenge. With the 365-day penny challenge, you start by saving a penny on January 1st. On January 2nd, you save 2 pennies, the 3rd 3 pennies, and so on. By the end of the year, you’ll save $3.65, for a grand total of $667 just by saving pennies.
52 Week Penny Challenge
If you get paid weekly or just don’t want to search for pennies every day, consider the 52-week penny challenge. Rather than saving daily, you save weekly. In your first week, you’d save $0.28, the second week. $1.05, the third week $2.31, and so on. Essentially, you’re saving a penny for each day but adding up the total at the end of the week.
26 Week Penny Challenge
If you get paid biweekly, you can divide your challenge into 26 weeks. Instead of the 365-day penny challenge, you’d put aside the equivalent of saving a penny a day but deposit the entire amount every two weeks when you get paid.
This means the second week of January, you’d save $1.33, and in the fourth week, you’d save $6.37. You’d keep doing this every two weeks until the end of the year when you’d have $667 saved.
Reverse Penny Challenge
As the name suggests, the reverse penny challenge works opposite the penny challenge. Instead of saving $0.01 on January 1, you save $3.65 (what you would have saved on December 31). You then work backward, saving $3.64 on January 2, and $3.63 on January 3. You keep working backward until you’re on the last day of the year, saving $0.01
While this seems odd, you save the same amount of money, but you’re not trying to save $25 or more a week during the holidays. November and December are usually more expensive months, so having smaller savings requirements during those times makes you more likely to save.
How Does the Penny Challenge Work?
The penny challenge is easy. Whether you use a penny jar and literally put a penny in the jar for every day of the year or you add up the amounts and transfer the funds to your savings account weekly or bi-weekly, the end result is the same – you save around $667 saving pennies.
You can do it with change or electronically. The idea behind it is that you’ll get in the habit of saving (even if it’s a small amount), and the savings habit will catch on. With new habits, you may have a better chance of saving even more moving forward.
Problems With the Penny Saving Challenge
Like any challenge, there are good sides and bad. Here are some issues with the penny a day savings:
- It gets harder to save the higher dollar amounts. To start, you’re saving a couple of pennies a day, but by the end of the year, you’re saving $3.00+ a day or $25+ a week.
- The penny-saving challenge sounds like you’ll save a lot of money, but at the end of the year, it’s only $667 which isn’t enough for most emergencies. You’ll need to save a lot more if you want to make a difference.
- It can be hard to remember to make your deposits. Before you know it, you could be out of the habit of saving. Even if you use a penny jar, it only takes a few days of ‘forgetting’ to get out of the habit of saving.
- If you don’t put the money somewhere that you can’t access, you may dip into the funds and promise to ‘pay yourself back,’ although most people don’t. Skip the penny jar and put the money somewhere less accessible.
Save a Penny a Day Chart
Here’s what saving a penny a day will look like in the long run. It’s hard to visualize how a single penny could turn into $667 at the end of the year, but this printable illustrates it for you.
Where to Save Your Pennies
Where you save your pennies is important especially if you’re easily tempted to spend money that’s in front of your face. Here are a few places to save it.
If you can handle a jar of change sitting in front of your face, set up a penny jar and add to it each day. This is especially fun if you have small children. They’ll love seeing the jar grow with pennies, and you get the satisfaction of teaching them how to save at a young age.
Open a Savings Account
If you can’t trust yourself not to spend the pennies, or you hate change (some people do), open a savings account and electronically transfer the funds each week. Don’t try to do this daily, it’s too tedious, but set a reminder on your calendar every Sunday to transfer that week’s savings. The funds will be out of sight, and they’ll even learn a little interest.
Acorns App for the Penny a Day Challenge
The Acorns app rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change. This makes saving penny money automatic and easy. You just link your debit or credit card to the Acorns app, and it does the rest for you. As a bonus, your money gets invested, rather than sitting there collecting meager interest like it would in a savings account. Check out the Acorns app here.
Why a Money Saving Challenge Works
Again, saving pennies seems like it wouldn’t do much. What’s the point if you’ll only have $0.28 at the end of the first week?
It’s not just about the money, although, having $667 at the end of the year is nice too. It’s about setting up habits. You’ll see how easy it is to save – even when you thought you didn’t have a penny to spare. The penny a day challenge shows you that you can save.
It also shows you the value of a penny. How many times have you thought ‘oh it’s just a penny’? Whether you didn’t stoop down to pick it up or you left spare change sitting out – not putting it in your wallet. The penny savings challenge shows you that every penny adds up and can make a difference in your finances.
At the end of the challenge, the hope is that you learn how valuable every penny is and how you can make your money work for you. Whether you’re saving it in a penny jar, your savings account, or you invest it using an app like Acorns.
The Penny Saving Challenge Can Be Fun
Let the penny saving challenge make saving fun again. We’ve all been stuck in a funk since the pandemic started and wiped everyone’s savings clean. Why let it get you down?
Instead, join the penny challenge and make saving fun again. While this shouldn’t be the only way you save, if you aren’t in the habit of saving right now, this is the perfect place to start or pick back up. Just remember, always pay yourself first by putting your savings away before you spend. Otherwise, you’ll forget to save and won’t master the challenge.
Are you going to participate in the penny challenge? Let us know in the comments!
Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others control their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur, freelancing coach, and blogger.