Saving for Retirement by Taking the $1 A Day Savings Challenge

There’s no question that saving for retirement can be difficult. Even in a recovering economy I frequently hear people on TV or the radio talking about how difficult it is to set aside money for retirement and still pay the bills. The only problem is that now more than ever we all need to be saving as much as we can for retirement. With fewer workers receiving pensions, and spiraling national debt threatening the long-term health of programs like Social Security and Medicare, we are forced to be more self-reliant where retirement is concerned than we have had to be for generations.

While that probably sounds a little scary, it’s important to remember that even the smallest steps count if they’re taking you in the right direction. The dollar amount you may need to support yourself in retirement can be a mind-boggling number. For many people, that’s enough to paralyze them into inaction. Instead of focusing on a number that may seem overwhelming, I challenge you to focus on a number that’s underwhelming and work your way up.

I encourage you to challenge yourself to save $1 a day for 30 days in an effort to start saving.Let’s say you’re making $30,000 a year as a full-time worker. Could you begin by saving just 1% or an additional 1% if you’re already setting aside money for retirement? Here’s what that would look like: $30,000 X 0.01 = $300 annually. Initially that may sound like a stretch. But let’s break it down further. On a monthly basis, that means saving $25 a month or $12.50 from each paycheck if you are paid every two weeks. That’s equivalent to $6.25 a week or less than $1 a day. Think of it as one $0.89 candy bar per day or one less item on the dollar menu at your favorite fast food restaurant. On a weekly basis, it may mean cutting one large or two small lattes per week out of your budget. Bringing instead of buying lunch once or twice a week. Or it could simply mean reducing your gas consumption by two or three gallons a week by coordinating errands by location, carpooling or grocery shopping with a neighbor.

I’ve been bringing my lunch a couple of times a week – and I find I am not only saving money, I am making healthier choices by packing meals when I’m not starving! And we are eating in more often and using less prepared food – my husband has gotten interested in cooking now that he’s semi-retired and has turned into a very good cook (like his father), even trolling the internet for salmon recipes and spaghetti sauce.

Take the Dollar-a-Day Challenge

I used to keep cash in my wallet for smaller purchases, so I had a sense of how much I was spending for incidentals. But using my debit card instead of cash can disguise how much I am really spending on the little things, and I lose track of how much things add up until I look at my statement at the end of the month.

Opening your eyes to what you are really spending money on each month can force you to examine even the smallest purchases which have a sneaky way of eating up your budget. And I do believe that when there’s a will there’s usually a way to get to your goal. I encourage you to challenge yourself to save $1 a day for 30 days. Or even throw your change into a jar every night. The dollar-a-day challenge serves a real purpose. Awareness can lead to better spending and saving habits and best of all, to “found money” for savings that we didn’t even know we had in our budgets.

Will you take the challenge? If so, please leave your comments here on the progress you’re making or have made over a 30-day period.

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17 Responses to Saving for Retirement by Taking the $1 A Day Savings Challenge

  1. Jesse says:

    My family started throwing change in a jar years ago in an effort to stop the glut of after-Christmas bills. With no effort, we saved enough for Christmas shopping and much more. We still do this and spend only what is in the jar…. last year, we had almost $700. After guilt-free shopping, we put the rest in savings and started over. No more credit card debt ~ which is a great first step to saving money for retirement or whatever else is your long-term goal.

  2. Brad says:

    We have 2 jars – 1 for Christmas gifts and 1 for “travel&leisure” (dining out, day trips, etc). Each week I put $10 in each. It is a painless way to save. Also, 15% of my pay each week is invested in 401K plan at work along with a deposit to our savings account. What you don’t have you can’t spend!

  3. Ben Kofi says:

    Yeah it really helps. I kept tossing loose coins on the driver side of my car door, one time I felt it was too much there so I took them to the coins machine and I had $300.73. I tried again but my attention was so much on it so I couldn’t make a lot the second time. I am still trying to save my loose coins in a jar.

  4. Douglas Hicks says:

    I actually started doing that last month and have talked my spouse into doing the same – So that would add up to 365×2 Yearly.

  5. Jeff says:

    I started saving $1 per hour worked. I have the money direct deposited into a credit union. I don’t miss the money and it gives me a tremendous peace of mind in this uncertain time.

  6. Michelle says:

    Every time I get a raise, I also raise my 401K contribution, by the amount it takes to keep my take home pay the same. If you never see it, you don’t spend it. It’s not hard to find things to cut out to keep living on the same pay, like a lottery ticket, latte or new lipstick

    • Brad says:

      I do the same thing when I get a raise and it is a great way to raise your contribution. This past year our company introduced Roth 401K also so now I split my contributions between the traditional and Roth 401K. As we all know, the more you save now the better the retirement – 10 more years for me!!

  7. John M says:

    I started this a few years ago and now have over $6000 in a jug I cannot open easily. Every time I had a dollar bill on me I put them in the jug. I only used 5,10 and twenties to pay for stuff. If I buy something for $2 and give the clerk a 20 the 5 and 10 stay in my wallet and the dollars go into the jug. I am going to buy an RV with the cash when I retire

  8. PJ says:

    I love your idea of starting to save at $1 a day. That is so do-able for most of us.

  9. kathy says:

    When I’m done shopping, I look at my discounts (typically 10%) and put that amount of money aside in an interest savings account, then keep cuff notes of “money ahead” – which is right now $712. I got started with this after paying down copay for surgery bills which came out of my savings. Instead of paying 7% interest on my credit card, I don’t pay me any interest, but I do save that 7% as I pay myself back. (Yes, surgery bills are paid off, as while I set a modest repayment schedule, when I got some extra cash, I put most of it toward the “self pay”. When I finished doing that, I realized I could “save ahead” in a slush fund (in addition to my 10% monthly regular savings) and I have a goal of $2000 ahead to start! 40% there!

  10. NichelleRae says:

    I am going to start today. I’ve never done this, just read about it.
    Thank you for encouraging me to do this.
    I’ll keep you posted.

  11. jeanne says:

    I also love this idea! I’m starting today! $1 plus loose change everyday going forward!

  12. Tanzie Walden says:

    I really want to try this out. I am a single mother of 2 wonderful young men but I believe that this is something I can try. Alot of times I will hear financial advisors offer (to a single parent) what I feel is an outlandish savings plan i.e $50.00 bi weekly. However I believe this is something small that I can start with and work my way up. Thank You!

  13. cassandra outlaw says:

    I also started a coin jar-Every pay day I tossed the coins from each paycheck and I also went to the Laundromat to get 10.00 worth of coins to put in the jar.
    In the end I lost everything when I moved – I took a cab to a friends house during a move from one building to the next and left the jar on the sidewalk upon leaving the cab.

  14. Tina says:

    I am going to do this. I just finished a “Faith and Finance” class at my church that started me to thinking a lot more seriously about saving money. I wanted to, but with the small amount I make, I didn’t see it as a current possibility. Now, I have cut cable and purchased Roku. Already paying for Netflix so this works perfectly. Started investing $20 per pay period through my employer about 2 years ago. I also have $10 taken out of each check into a savings account but I keep using it for emergency bills. I am a widowed parent and things are tough but I was glad to happen upon all the previous ideas I read. My Mother used to save all the change I laid around (including $1, $5 and $10) on my dresser and when she passed away, she had jars of money that totaled nearly $1000. What a blessing in a time of need. I’m going to start doing that and the most important thing to me is to teach my children NOW how to budget and save for the future! Thanks!

  15. Kimberly says:

    I want to save so I can get a car.

  16. Karina says:

    Thanks for this idea… I will start to save a $1 a day. We have 3 kids and sometimes is tough.

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