9 Saving Challenges to Save Money This Summer

Goals aren’t just for New Year’s — they’re for any time, including summer! 

With sunny days ahead, we’ve compiled nine money-saving challenges to help you reach your financial goals in just 13 weeks, no matter your budget. 

1. The Envelope Challenge 

When you search for “viral money challenges,” envelope savings challenges are among the top results. They’re a simple, tangible way to save money over time. 

100-Envelopes Savings Challenge 

The 100-Envelopes Challenge is one of the most popular. Simply number 100 envelopes from one to 100. On day one, put $1 in the first envelope. On the second day, put $2 in envelope #2. Continue increasing the amount to match the envelope number. 

If you complete this challenge, you’ll save $5,050 in just over three months. 

Summer Envelopes Challenge 

Summer lasts for 13 weeks, so I propose a 92-envelope challenge! I’ve created three versions to meet different budgets. 

  • Extreme savings: Same principle as the 100-envelopes challenge, except it lasts 92 days. At the end of summer, you’ll have $4,186. 
  • Moderate savings: Follow the 100-envelopes challenge for the first month, then start over at $1 for the next month. Increase the amount by a dollar a day throughout the second month, but restart once you hit the third month. At the end of week 13, you should have saved $1,426. 
  • Modest savings: Number your envelopes from one to 92. During the first week, put $1 in envelopes one to seven; for the second week, $2 in envelopes eight through 14. Increase the daily amount each week until you’re putting $13 in each envelope for the final week. With this modest, budget-friendly challenge, you’ll save $637 by the end of summer! 

If you prefer not to keep cash at home, use index cards and make online transfers to your savings account instead. 

>RELATED: Envelope Budget System 

2. The 13-week Savings Challenge 

Creating a weekly savings goal might work better if you’d rather not deal with stuffing envelopes every day. Choose a day to save a specific amount each week. Again, you can adjust this to fit a modest or more ambitious budget. 

Here are some weekly savings amounts and their 13-week totals: 

  • Saving $25/week = $325. 
  • Saving $50/week = $650. 
  • Saving $75/week = $975. 
  • Saving $100/week = $1,300. 

You can also create your own custom savings challenge. Start with a small weekly amount and gradually increase it at regular intervals. 

3. The Give-Up-Something-for-Summer Challenge 

If the previous savings challenges don’t appeal to you, try this: cancel or pause a subscription service, temporarily stop a non-essential purchase, or give up a spendy habit. Put the money you would have spent in savings. By the end of 13 weeks, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. 

Personally, I’ve challenged my husband to give up a $15 weekly habit. I’ll put the money he would have spent into a savings account he can access at the end of the summer. If he sticks to the challenge, he’ll have $195 saved to use however he likes (or more if he starts early)! 

4. Spare Change Challenge 

Group of friends having fun in a park

Piggy banks and change jars have been around for generations. The most common method is to empty your pockets of any change collected during the day and put it into a designated container.

Some people prefer to use “dollar jars,” where every $1 bill they get back in change goes into the jar. Others use “$5 jars,” collecting every $5 bill they get. The goal isn’t necessarily to save a certain dollar amount, but to develop the habit of saving. 

5. The Round-up Challenge 

With the rise of debit cards and tap-to-pay, physical change jars are less common. But many banks offer a round-up feature that acts like an online change jar. 

When you enable this feature, each debit card purchase is rounded up to the next dollar and the difference between your purchase amount and the rounded-up amount is deposited into your savings account. If your bank offers this, try it for the summer and see how much you can save. 

6. No-spend challenge 

In my household, we use this money-saving tactic several times a year, and we’re doing it for the entire summer. We’ve agreed to stop all non-essential purchases and make do with what we have until fall. My husband and I like to think of ourselves as “ninja-level budgeters,” so locking down our spending for months isn’t too hard for us. For most people, though, a 30-day no-spend challenge might be more realistic. 

If you can’t commit to zero non-essential spending, limit your no-spend to certain categories like restaurants, entertainment, clothing, or hobbies. You could also pick days of the week for no spending, such as challenging yourself to no-spend weekends. 

At the end of the month, add up the money you saved by skipping your usual spending. Compare your spending during the challenge to your normal spending and transfer the difference into savings. 

7. The Weather Challenge 

High summer temps make this one fun! Designate a certain day of the week for your Weather Savings Challenge, and whatever the high is for the day, transfer that dollar amount into savings. 

If you live in an area where the summer highs hit the 90s or 100s and that’s too much for your budget, choose another weather variable instead, like the low temp. Just stay consistent with your savings metric — and have fun with it! 

8. Credit Card Time-out 

I use this one a lot. My banking app has a feature that lets me lock the credit card I use for online shopping. Logging in, navigating screens, and then selecting the option to unlock the card takes enough effort to squash any impulse purchases that are wants, not needs. Since I’m keeping my card in “time-out” for the summer as part of my Summer Savings Challenge, I’ll unlock it again once summer ends! 

9. Energy-Saving Challenge 

I always like to compare our utility bills from the previous year to see if we can lower them this year.

Simple changes like drawing the blinds in the daytime, taking quick showers, and using ceiling fans strategically can save on cooling costs and water usage. Challenge yourself to lower your home’s utility expenses this summer! 

Build good money habits with a Summer Savings Challenge 

As we’ve explored, saving can happen in many ways. Like any good habit, learning to save happens through repetition. This summer is a perfect time to start building those money muscles! If things are tight for you this year, find an amount that works for your budget to save consistently, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. It can be a dollar (or less) a day. The amount you save is less important than making saving a habit. As your budget improves, you can bump up the amount you save in the future. 

For more summer budget tips, check out how to celebrate the 4th of July on a budget.

About the Author

Bree Ewers has contributed to Advance America since 2023. Writing from her home office in Portland, Oregon, she shares a relatable perspective on the financial triumphs and challenges many readers face.

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