Many Britons have managed to squirrel away extra cash during lockdown, perhaps saving on commuting costs, going out and memberships they no longer needed, according to numerous reports in recent months.
But now that pubs, restaurants and cinemas are opening up once more, households may find it difficult to stick away the same amount of money they were before.
However, money challenges, a series of unique ways to save extra cash, claim to help people continue to save long after lockdown has ended.
While they have sceptics, an army of novice savers are involved and some choose to share updates on social media to show how they’re doing.
There are a number of money saving challenges designed to help households after lockdown
From the wacky to the more practical options, the challenges encourage households to put as much cash aside as possible each month by testing themselves to follow certain rules.
This ‘gamifcation’ of savings could help those who don’t use put away money rise up to the challenge and do so.
Andrew Hagger, a personal finance expert at Moneycomms, said: ‘The daily and weekly savings challenge may appeal to some people, but realistically how long will they keep it up?’
He adds: ‘There’s no substitute for regular saving, ideally by standing order each month, the same day that your wages get credited, as that way it simply becomes a habit and you haven’t got to mess around with saving pence on a daily basis – life’s too short.
‘The spare change challenge is worth doing too – either get yourself a big jar if you’re a cash spender or if you use your debit card, many banks will give you the option of rounding up your purchase to the nearest pound with the extra being automatically syphoned off into a separate savings account.
‘If you save every time you get paid and watch your balance start to grow, hopefully this will give you the encouragement to keep plugging away – starting to save is easy – it’s maintaining it that’s the struggle for many people.’
Anna Bowes, of Savings Champions, said: ‘It’s always great to think of ways to encourage you to save but some of these ideas may be too easy to fall by the wayside.
‘Regular savings accounts are a really good idea as not only do they really encourage putting money away on a regular basis and leaving it there but they also pay some of the best rates of interest on the market.
‘If you really are interested in saving you need to try and be committed although for some people trying to make it fun may help. A good suggestion is to set up a direct debt the day you are paid, so that it becomes another bill, but one that you can benefit from in the future.’
This is Money, with the help of Enjoy Stevie, a discount website, delves into some of the popular money challenges to reveal whether they will actually help build your savings up – or simply leave you baffled.
1. Weather saving challenge
The weather saving challenge is one of the more unique tasks savers can utilise. It is aimed towards households who get bored with simple saving strategies and want to ‘randomise’ their saving routine.
It works by aligning how much you save with the temperature and can be adapted in a number of ways.
For example, savers could monitor the highest temperature of the week – or perhaps take the highest temperature from the same day each week – with the reading equating to how much you have to transfer to your savings account.
This would mean in recent times, when temperatures soared to over 30 degrees, households would put aside £30 one week, if the hottest temperature of the week were 30 degrees.
Other more random approaches include basing your savings on the scores of your favourite sports team or how long your commute takes on a particular day.
Verdict: Perhaps one of the most ridiculous ones on the list, the weather saving challenge is unlikely to help households who are genuinely looking to save a decent amount each month.
With temperatures generally sitting quite low in the autumn and winter months, meaning even the warmest day might only see weekly savings of £15, it might not mean a huge pot by the end.
It’s also not clear what happens if the mercury goes into minus figures.
Even if people decided to try other random challenges, it could be difficult to stick to and could leave you with very little money in the bank.
Recent hot weather has led to thousands of Britons hitting the beaches around the UK
2. 365-day challenge
The premise of the 365-day money challenge is about starting small and ending large.
The amount you save during this challenge will gradually increase day-by-day, but as you will have started with such a small amount, these savings will seem more manageable.
To try out this challenge, start by saving 5p on day one and add 5p more to the amount you save every day, so 10p on day two, 15p on day three, etc.
These amounts may sound minuscule but by the end of one year, you will have saved £3,339. This is one of the more popular, mainstream challenges on the list.
Verdict: This is definitely a more manageable challenge and although it will seem silly at first, if you can stick with it, you will have saved thousands of pounds.
The amount will increase to quite a large number each day – at one point, you will be saving £20 plus per day, but this will be towards the end of your saving goal.
If you find that the closer to the end, the harder it is to save, try and put a manageable amount aside each day so you don’t stop completely.
Giving up your daily takeaway coffee each day could lead to savings of hundreds of pounds
3. The budget treats challenge
This challenge works on the logic that there is always a money-saving alternative or a cheaper way to do something if you do a little research.
Within this saving challenge, you can go out and enjoy yourself but only if you find a deal or a discount to do so. You can then bank the savings.
There are many restaurant discounts, happy hours and two for one cinema deals out there at the moment so for those following this challenge, you can only go out if you manage to shave a little off the cost.
Verdict: A slightly more vague challenge, it works on the principle that savers will find a good deal before splashing out on dinner, drinks or entertainment.
With Eat out to Help Out finishing next week, households will no doubt be looking for more offers before they venture out for a meal again.
If savers can stick to this, they will save some money but probably not hundreds and hundreds.
4. The little vices challenge
This challenge relies on households giving up their ‘vices’. This could include a daily coffee from a Starbucks, a shoe addiction or getting your nails done every other week.
Depending on what your vice is will depend on how much you save, for example, if it is a coffee, that is likely a £3 a day saving which comes to £1,095 a year – a substantial amount.
Verdict: This challenge is one of the most common and overdone challenges. It will rely on savers having good willpower and also being able to remember to put aside the money they would have spent on a vice into their savings.
Households taking up this challenge must be resolute in their decision and ensure they put any savings aside regularly.
However, it is likely that many people attempting this will forget or slip up at some point.
5. The 52-week savings challenge
The 52-week savings challenge works in a similar way to the 365-day challenge, but the amount you save with this one increases week-by-week rather than day-by-day.
For example, on week one, you save £1, on week two, you save £2 and so on.
By the end of the year, you’ll have to save £52 in one week, so it certainly gets more difficult – especially if you start in the New Year, and the end comes up in the run-up to Christmas. However, by the end of the year you will have saved £1,378.
Verdict: This challenge is definitely a more simple one to follow and is easily doable.
It doesn’t save you the most amount compared to other challenges but is a sure-fire way to get over a thousand pounds in the bank.
It may be worth combining this challenge with another if you want to save even more cash.
One of the most popular money challenges is to save your spare change when buying items
6. The spare change challenge
This one is as simple as it sounds — each time you make a purchase, save the change.
With many people switching to contactless payments and rarely carrying cash anymore, the spare change challenge might seem tricky.
However, there are a number of apps such as Acorns, Monzo, and Qoins, which can automatically round-up your spending and build up a separate pot of money.
Verdict: This one only really works if you still pay in cash often. However, due to the coronavirus, we are all being encouraged to use contactless where possible instead.
While there are apps you can use to put aside the spare change, you may lose sight of how much you are actually managing to keep.
7. The 1p challenge
Another challenge that involves saving an increasing amount. Households can start with saving with 1p on day one, add 2p on day two, 3p on day three, and so on.
Do this until you reach day 365 when you will add the final £3.65 taking you to your £667.95 total.
Verdict: This is another challenge that is more achievable than most. It may seem like you are making very little difference at first but it soon can and will add up to a substantial sum.
This one of the more popular challenges on the list, and easily accessible for those without a huge income.
Some of the money challenges will help households save but others may not stick to the rules
8. The 12-month challenge
Take your month as a number and multiply it by 10 to figure out how much you need to save.
For example, save £10 in January, £20 in February and so on until you save £120 in December.
By the end you’ll have tucked away £780. You can also do this challenge in reverse.
Verdict: This is another very simple challenge – anyone looking to take part should set themselves a reminder on their phone to do so.
Again, the savings aren’t reaching into the thousands so if you want to save more, you can choose to put in extra if you’re able to.
9. The fiver challenge
Save every £5 note you get throughout the year and count your savings on December 31.
Verdict: Again, with cash being limited at the moment due to the spread of coronavirus, this challenge may not be achievable.
However, if households decide to save £5 a week, that will equate to £260 in a year.