I’m sure we’re all familiar with the no-spend challenge, but have you heard of the penny challenge? As George Herbert once said, “a penny spar’d is twice got.” In other words, a penny saved is a penny earned.
But what difference can a penny actually make? Not only is the penny challenge super fun to do with your kids, it’s a great way for them to find out!
It’s also a great way to save for the holidays, pay towards debt, build an emergency fund, or even just save for a vacation.
The penny challenge is super easy to get started and the most you’ll need to save in a single day is only $3.65.
In this post, we’ll discuss what the penny challenge is, the benefits of doing one, strategies to beat it, and much more.
What Is the Penny Challenge?
The concept of the penny challenge is super simple and it’s a fun money saving challenge that’s all about incremental saving.
On your first day of the challenge, start by saving just one penny. Each day that comes after, add one penny to the amount you saved the day before.
For example, on day two, you would save $0.02, $0.03 on day three, $0.04 on day four, and so on until you reach day 365, in which you would save $3.65. At the end of the challenge, you will have saved $667.95.
How Do You Do the Penny Challenge?
On day one of the challenge, you have to put 1 penny in a designated mason jar for your penny challenge. On day two, you have to put $0.02 into the same jar. On day three, you have to put $0.03 in the jar, and so on.
Note: You’re not just saving one penny every single day. If you did that, you would only have $3.65 at the end of the challenge, which wouldn’t be worth it.
Instead, as each day passes, you’ll be increasing the amount you save by one cent. For example, you’ll need to save 100 pennies on day 100, 200 pennies on day 200, 300 pennies on day 300, and 365 pennies on the last day of the challenge.
Penny Challenge Chart
Here’s a visual of what the 1 penny challenge looks like week by week. You can refer to it if you fall behind or get lost during the challenge.
Penny Challenge by Month
For a different perspective, here’s how much you would need to save each month to complete the challenge.
If you’re struggling to come up with the exact change for each day, you can hack the challenge by putting money aside once a month instead.
- January: $4.96
- February: $12.74
- March: $23.25
- April: $31.65
- May: $42.16
- June: $49.95
- July: $61.07
- August: $70.68
- September: $77.55
- October: $89.59
- November: $95.85
- December: $108.50
How to Beat the Penny Challenge
While the penny challenge may seem super easy, it’s actually quite difficult to stick with it for 365 days straight.
Here are a few strategies you can use to help you stick with the challenge:
- Put your pennies in a clear jar: Not only is watching your stash of pennies grow part of the fun, it’s more psychologically powerful than seeing it as a bank balance on a screen. This will help incentivize you to keep going.
- Use a calendar: To help you stay on track, you can put a calendar next to the jar you’re using for your pennies and mark off each day as you go. This will also help you keep track of your progress during the challenge.
- Set yourself a goal: You’re much more likely to succeed if you know why your doing the challenge. This could be paying down debt, adding to your emergency fund, doing a home renovation, or even saving for vacation. If you start getting annoyed with putting money away each day, remind yourself why you’re doing it.
Benefits of the Penny Challenge
Not only is the penny challenge fun, it has quite a few hidden benefits and lessons as well. For example, it teaches us the value of money, which is super important for children. Considering this, if you have kids, you should get them involved.
Here are a few benefits of doing the penny challenge:
- Developing the habit of saving: Developing a habit of saving can be difficult if you’ve never saved before. While the penny challenge won’t save you much, it will cultivate a money saving mindset.
- The importance of consistency: The penny challenge teaches us that even the smallest forms of consistency can add to huge progress.
- Building momentum: Even if you start out just saving pennies, your success with the penny challenge will breed future success and you will start saving even more money as you gain confidence.
Places to Save Your Pennies
The simplest place to start saving your pennies is in a mason jar or even a small bowl. While it doesn’t have to be fancy, you can create a label to put on the jar to add to the fun!
Here are a few places you can keep your pennies during the challenge:
- Mason jar
- Small bowl
- Piggy bank
- Ziploc bag
If you rarely have change because you don’t use cash to buy things, you can use a savings app to do the challenge instead. Using a savings app will also make it easier to keep track of your progress during the challenge.
Where to Exchange Your Pennies
There are several places you can exchange your pennies after you have the completed the challenge. Here are a few of the most common:
- Your local bank or credit union
- A Coinstar kiosk
- A casino
Variations of the Penny Challenge
With countless saving challenges and techniques on the internet, the hard part isn’t just finding one, the hard part is finding one that works best with your financial situation and savings goals.
Considering this, here are three other popular money saving challenges that are similar to the penny challenge but may be a better fit for you:
52-Week Saving Challenge
The 52-week saving challenge is very similar to the penny challenge but instead of saving pennies on a daily basis, you save $1 on week one, $2 on week two, $3 on week three, $4 on week four, and so on until you reach week 52.
If you stick with challenge for the full 52-weeks, you will have saved $1,378.
365-Day Nickle Challenge
If you want to save even more than $1,378 in one year, you can do the 365-day Nickle challenge. This challenge is also very similar to the penny challenge but instead of saving pennies on a daily basis, you save nickels on a daily basis.
You save $0.05 on day 1, $0.10 on day 2, $0.15 on day three, and so on for 365 days straight.
By the end of the 365th day, you will have saved a total of $3,300. If you’re up for a bigger challenge, you can double it each day instead and save even more!
$5 Bill Challenge
If you don’t want to save certain amounts on a fixed schedule, the $5 bill challenge is a great option. The concept is super simple – every time you receive a $5 bill as change, just put it away in a designated jar.
After 12 months, count it up and see how much you have saved! If you want to take it a step further, you can do it with $10 bills or even $20 bills.
Penny Challenge FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to the penny challenge.
Does the Penny Challenge Work?
Yes, the penny challenge definitely works. However, it’s not as easy as you may think. While it’s easy towards the beginning, you will have to save more than $105 during the last month.
With that said, saving money isn’t necessarily what the penny challenge is all about. As previously mentioned, it’s more about the habits and momentum you build along the way.
You should view the penny challenge as a way to gradually save more and more on a regular basis not just for the next several months, but for years to come.
How Much Is 1 Penny a Day for a Year?
If you saved just one penny every single day for a year straight, you would only have $3.65. However, if you do the penny challenge instead, you will have more than $164 in just 6 months and $667.95 in one full year.
How Much Money Would You Have if You Doubled a Penny Everyday for 30 Days?
Believe it or not, if you doubled a penny everyday for 30 days, you would have $5,368,709.
This is the direct result of compound interest. To put it in perspective, you would have $0.16 on day 5, $5.12 on day 10, $163.84 on day 15, $5,242.88 on day 20, $167,772.16 on day 25, and $5,368,709 on day 30.
Final Thoughts on the Penny Challenge
As demonstrated above, the penny challenge is super simple! The whole concept behind it is all about the difference a penny can make.
Not only is it a lot fun, it’s a great challenge if you’re struggling to save money. It’s also a great way to develop the habit of saving, build momentum, and even teach kids the value of money.
If you’re interested in a different money challenge, you can check out my article about the no-spend challenge.
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