It's that time of year to prepare for 2018. That means working on my planner, getting my stuff for taxes together as well as making sure I'm ready for the 52 Week Money/Savings Challenge. This will be my fifth year doing this. If you'd like to read about my past experiences:

The savings habit does get easier each year, but as usual, we ran into budgeting issues when unexpected expenses cropped up. That seems to be the norm around here. Some people use a bank account for their savings instead of a jar which keeps them from using the cash if they needed, but once again as in years past, having this jar on hand was a lifesaver at times, so I'm sticking with my jar.

I managed to save 52 weeks worth of money, but I also raided my jar throughout the year. I wasn't good paying it back, either, but I still ended up with enough for us to have a very nice Christmas!

Today, I made my 2018 jar. My cat Spirit gave up helping me and decided to nap instead!

If you take a look at the chart I keep inside the jar, you'll see Xs. That's because I don't use this copy of the chart to track amounts, only weeks that I put in an amount. My royalties arrive monthly (or quarterly or every six months) and aren't consistent, so I don't go in order—I skip around based on the extra money I have each month—but this second sheet lets me see how many weeks I'm ahead or behind for the year. Some months I am able to check off several boxes, but other times just one or occasionally none. My goal is to be finished with the savings challenge by Black Friday. I don't have extra money to save once December arrives!

There are many variations as to how to do this savings challenge—little amounts to start, bigger ones, jump around, etc.—so if you're interested in trying this, figure out what works best for you and the way you get paid. Search on “savings jar” or “52 week money or savings challenge” if you want to see how others do this. The past posts that I linked to above also have links to a few blogs about this.

If you're on a fixed income or don't have much extra to save, consider using a jar for spare change. That adds up after a while. The real goal of these savings challenge isn't the amount that's put into a jar it's to get people in the habit of saving, so any amount put away is good!

I'll be using the same chart I found a few years ago on this blog post that explains how this works and got me started (use this link if you just want to print out the chart.) I'll continue to save monthly due to the way I get paid, but this year, as with last, I'm going to call my savings jar a “rainy day fund” because that's really what it's become and I'm so grateful to have that cash around when we need it!

Who's ready to save money in 2018?