1p challenge

How to save £667.95 in 2021 with the 1p Savings Challenge

The New Year's often a time many resolve to start regularly setting some cash aside – but it's not always easy to find a savings method that works for you.

To help, many of our Forumites regularly share their favourite saving methods on the MSE Forum – and one of the most popular is the 1p Savings Challenge. It's a clever, fun and relatively painless way to amass a surprising sum, and even if you don't follow the challenge to the letter, it's a great prompt to get you thinking about your savings and what you can afford to put aside. For help with the basics, see our Top Savings Accounts guide.

How it works in a nutshell

Illustration of a red piggy bank

Scores of people take part in the 1p Savings Challenge every year, and the idea's pretty straightforward.

You start by saving 1p on 1 January, then 2p on 2 January, then 3p on 3 January and so on – saving what you saved the day before, plus a penny more each day – right the way up to £3.65 saved on the last day of December. If you started on 1 January 2021, then by 31 December 2021 you'll have saved a grand total of £667.95.

What if I didn't start right at the beginning of the year?

You can simply catch up by adding together the totals of each day you missed – so if you begin on Wednesday 20 January you could add £2.10 on your first day, and then resume the challenge as normal on 21 January, when you'd save 21p.

How to save for this challenge

MSE Forumite elsiepac has set up this year's challenge on the forum. To make it even easier for people to join in – whether you're an experienced MoneySaver or a newbie to forum challenges – we've created our own version of the 1p Savings Challenge tracker. Simply download or print off the table, and tick off one box per day.

There are a few ways to play and watch your dough grow:

1. The literal approach – a jar. If you use cash, the challenge is traditionally done by putting loose change into a piggybank or sealed jar each day. However, we know many people will be using cash and coins far less now, especially since the start of the pandemic, so below are ways you can do this online.

2. The more realistic approach – transfer the cash. Manually transfer the cash into a savings account via online banking, in small amounts if your bank allows, or monthly amounts. You'll need to check first if your bank lets you transfer small amounts, eg, HSBC allows you to build up from 1p each day. To do it that way, you'd have to log in every day, which could be quite laborious. So while it might defeat the object of it being a daily challenge, you could put away the month's total in one go if you prefer. If so, we've totted up how much you'll need to save in that period:

January
 £4.96 July

£61.07

February  £12.74 August £70.68
March £23.25 September £75.55
April £31.65 October £89.59
May £42.16 November £95.85
June £49.95 December £108.50

Alternatively, you could split it equally over 12 months and set up a standing order if you wish. In this case, you'll need to set aside £55.67 a month (that's a rounded-up figure for 12 equal instalments, meaning you get an extra 9p during the challenge if you use this method – don't spend it all at once!).

3. Bank with Monzo? Set it up so it saves for you automatically. Monzo (which is a big advocate of the challenge) does all the hard work for you and allows you to transfer increasing amounts automatically into a separate virtual 'pot'. It does this on a daily basis and lets you transfer tiny amounts, using the free web service IFTTT, which stands for 'If This Then That'. See more on how Monzo lets you do this.

How to adapt the challenge if you're skint or flush

While the concept is simple, what's really important here is that you're thinking about saving and trying to set some money aside – so if the traditional structure of the challenge doesn't work for you, why not adapt it?

For some, starting in January may feel a bit tough after the expense of Christmas (and remember, it's usually best to pay off debts before you save – see our Repay Debts or Save? guide for full help). If so, you can join in later on in the year – our Forumites always welcome new members to challenges. Alternatively, you could reverse the order if you're feeling unexpectedly flush, so you start by saving £3.65 on 1 January, meaning you'll only have to put aside 1p on 31 December.

You could even just use it as a way of emptying loose change from your pockets and mark off that figure on the tracker in no particular order. Have a dig down the back of the sofa too.

Share with us how you get on – and help inspire others

You can find 2021's sheet to print and download below:

The 1p Savings Challenge

To take part with other Forumites, you can add your name to the forum thread. Some of us here at MSE Towers are giving it a go too, so please join us and let us know how you get on. You can keep us posted via our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – or leave a comment below.