Ipon Challenge: 12 Best Saving Strategies for the Modern-Day Pinoy

Last Updated – Oct 31, 2023 @ 5:39 am

So you’ve just received your first bonus and you feel like the world is your oyster. You’re probably tempted to get the newest iPhone, book a ticket to Bali, or perhaps splurge on an expensive outfit you’ve been eyeing for a while. 

Don’t feel bad. Having an eternal battle between your long-term financial goals and instant gratification is completely normal. We’re not telling you to never splurge and reward yourself.

Instead, we’re letting you in on how important having “ipon” is.

In this guide, we’ll let you in on the most effective saving strategies to help you achieve your financial goals and still enjoy life’s little pleasures.

What is the Ipon Challenge?

Ipon challenges are popular saving challenges in which people commit to saving a certain amount of money over a period of time. These challenges are designed to help individuals build up their savings without feeling overwhelmed or deprived.

The goal of ipon challenges is to have a substantial amount of money saved up at the end of the challenge, which can be used to invest, pay off debts, or simply have emergency funds.

Because these are “challenges,” individuals who commit to them are motivated by the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with successfully completing the challenge they choose.

Related Guide: How to Save More Money


The Cultural Significance of “Ipon Challenges” to Today’s Generation

Despite knowing the importance of saving money, only 57.2% of Filipinos are able to save 10% or more of their monthly income.

This is where ipon challenges come into play – they provide a fun and engaging way to incentivize saving and help individuals develop a habit of saving regularly.

Ipon challenges deeply resonate with the values and financial habits of Filipinos in several ways, especially for Gen Zs and Millennials.

First, “ipon” challenges reinforce the culture of thriftiness and resourcefulness that are taught early on in Filipino households.

Many Filipinos are accustomed to making the most out of their resources, and these challenges encourage this frugal mindset by setting specific saving goals and restrictions on unnecessary expenses.

Additionally, these challenges align with the aspiration for financial security – something that is universal among Filipinos.

Whether it’s building an emergency fund or investing for the future, “ipon” challenges provide a structured approach to achieving these goals while reflecting the values of discipline and patience that are deeply rooted in Filipino financial culture.

Filipinos are very resilient and adaptable, and ipon challenges are a testament to this. Despite the challenges that come with economic uncertainty and financial instability, Filipinos continue to find ways to save and protect their financial well-being.


12 Best Ipon Challenge Saving Strategies

Here’s a roundup of the top 12 ipon challenge saving strategies to help you reach your financial goals.

Strategy 1: The Daily Incremental Savings Method

The Daily Incremental Savings Method is a simple but effective way for beginners to save money over time.

It involves setting aside a small amount of money each day, typically on a daily basis, and gradually increasing that amount over time.

As you continue to increase your daily savings with this method, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your savings can accumulate.

Pros:

  • Easy to track since it’s a daily habit
  • Can be done by everyone

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for those with irregular income
  • Requires a lot of discipline to stick to the daily habit
  • Many people need to cap their daily savings limit due to limited resources

How to do it:

  1. Set a starting point for your daily savings goal, such as Php20.
  2. Increase the amount every day by a small increment, such as Php5 or Php10. This will vary based on your personal financial situation and how much you can realistically afford to save each day.
  3. Keep track of your progress by recording your daily savings in a notebook or app.
  4. Celebrate your milestones and progress along the way to stay motivated. For example, if you reach your first P10,000, go out for a nice dinner or treat yourself to a small reward.

Strategy 2: The Coin/Money Jar Method

Do you have an “alkansya” or piggy bank at home? The Coin/Money Jar Method is a tried and tested saving strategy that can help you save money.

Your loose change or spare bills may seem small but it can compound over time. One tip you can follow to maximize this strategy is to set aside your spare or loose change or bills the moment you arrive home after a day out.

This way, you won’t be tempted to spend it on unnecessary things.

Pros:

  • Tangible so you can physically see your progress (if you’re not using your e-wallet)
  • Easy to start with minimal effort

Cons:

  • Requires discipline to resist spending the money 
  • May not be suitable for those who don’t carry cash often

How to do it:

  1. Find a container that you can use as a savings jar. It can be anything from a piggy bank to a mason jar.
  2. Every time you receive change or have spare cash, put it in the jar. 

Strategy 3: The 52-Week Ipon Challenge

If you want something more structured, this challenge is perfect for you. The 52-Week Ipon Challenge involves saving a specific amount of money each week for a year.

For this challenge, the amount you save must increase incrementally each week. This will affect the total amount of money you’ll save by the end of the year.

For example, starting with Php5 on the first week and ending with Php260 on the last week will help you save Php6,890 in 52 weeks.

It’s important to note that there are many templates for this ipon challenge so if you want to save a higher amount, you can adjust the starting amount and increase the increments accordingly.

Pros:

  • Provides a clear and structured plan for saving a specific amount of money
  • Easy to follow and track progress
  • Has variations to accommodate different saving goals

Cons:

  • Savers may encounter difficulty saving larger amounts in later weeks
  • Requires discipline to stick to the plan for an entire year

How to do it:

  1. Download a template or create your own for the 52-Week Ipon Challenge.
  2. Set a reminder or schedule a time each week to deposit your savings into a separate account or envelope.

Strategy 4: The Color-Coded Envelope System

If you are saving for various things, the Color-Coded Envelope System can help you keep track of your progress and motivate you to reach your goals.

This method involves assigning a different envelope for each financial goal and setting aside a specific amount of money for each one on a regular basis.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to different colors. Simply labeling your envelopes with the specific goal will work just as well.

Some goal examples include:

  • Emergency fund
  • New phone
  • Christmas gift funds
  • Funds for your next beach trip

If you want to do this method digitally, Tonik is a great option since you can have various stashes for your goals. The stashes act similar to an envelope in dividing your money for different purposes.

Related: Best Savings Accounts in the Philippines

Once you finish saving for a certain goal, you can add a new one to your roster of goals. The trick is to be realistic with your goals so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Pros:

  • Helps you prioritize and allocate your savings for different financial goals
  • Provides a visual representation of progress towards each goal

Cons:

  • Requires discipline to allocate the correct amount to the intended goal
  • May be overwhelming for those with many savings goals

How to do it:

  1. Determine your financial goals and assign an envelope to each one.
  2. Assess how much money you need to save for each goal and set a specific amount to be saved regularly.
  3. Put money weekly or monthly into each envelope until you reach your goal.

Strategy 5: The Pay-Yourself-First Approach

The moment you receive your paycheck, set aside your savings first before allocating your funds to other expenses.

For example, if you earn Php30,000 a month and decide to save 20% of it, you must automatically save Php6,000 before allocating the remaining Php24,000 to your expenses.

Keep in mind that the percentage of your savings amount greatly depends on your income and expenses.

For instance, a 30-year-old breadwinner earning P40,000 per month may have a different savings behavior as someone of the same age and earning the same amount who’s not spending for anyone but herself.

To determine the best percentage for your savings, start by analyzing your monthly expenses and income. This may even involve a little bit of trial and error.

By the end of the month, you can then assess if you need to adjust your savings amount or not.

Pros:

  • Prioritizes savings and ensures you don’t forget to save
  • Easy to automate with automatic transfer options from your bank

Cons:

  • Requires discipline to stick to the percentage allocated for savings
  • May be difficult to adjust in case of unexpected expenses

How to do it:

  1. Know the percentage of your income that you want to allocate to your savings.
  2. Set up an automatic transfer from your main account to your savings account or envelope every time you receive your paycheck.
  3. Make sure to adjust your budget accordingly to ensure you have enough for your expenses after saving.

Strategy 6: The Monthly Goal-Oriented Challenge

The Monthly Goal-Oriented Challenge focuses on setting a specific savings goal each month.

This method allows for flexibility in the amount saved each month, making it a great option for those with fluctuating incomes or expenses such as freelancers.

For example, in January, your goal could be to save Php10,000 while in February, you can save Php15,000.

This method allows you to adjust your goals each month depending on your financial situation and can help you achieve multiple goals throughout the year.

Pros:

  • Works great for freelancers and business owners who have fluctuating incomes
  • Provides flexibility in the amount saved each month
  • Allows for multiple savings goals throughout the year

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for those who prefer a more structured savings plan
  • Not suitable for those with stable incomes and expenses

How to do it:

  1. Determine your saving goals for the year.
  2. Break down your goals into monthly targets.
  3. Set a specific savings goal for each month and allocate a portion of your income towards achieving it.
  4. Adjust your goals each month based on your financial situation and progress towards your overall goals.
  5. Track your progress and adjust your savings plan as needed.

Strategy 7: The No Spend Day/Week Challenge

This ipon challenge is a favorite among Gen Zs and Millennials because it’s so simple. When you participate in the no spend day/week challenge, you commit to not spending any money for an entire day or week.

This can be a great way to break bad spending habits and save money in the process.

To make this challenge more effective, you can set specific rules for what counts as spending.

For example, you may allow yourself to purchase groceries or other essential items, but not buy anything unnecessary like clothes or gadgets, eat out, or go to the movies.

Alternatively, you can schedule your grocery and market run before your no-spend week/day to ensure that you have all the essentials that you need.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy to implement
  • Can help you break bad spending habits
  • Can save you money in the long run
  • Encourages mindfulness in spending

Cons:

  • Not sustainable for long periods of time (particularly the weekly no-spend challenge)
  • Requires discipline to stick to the commitment

How to do it:

  1. Decide the length of time for your no-spend challenge, whether it’s a day or a week.
  2. Set clear rules for what counts as spending and what doesn’t.
  3. Plan ahead and make sure you have all the essentials you need before starting the challenge.
  4. Keep yourself accountable by tracking your progress and reminding yourself of the benefits of the challenge.
  5. Find alternative activities that don’t require spending money, such as going for a walk or having a movie night at home.

Strategy 8: The Round-Up Method

The Round-Up Method can help you save money without even realizing it. With this method, you round up your purchases and save the difference.

If you do it manually, it could be this way – imagine you buy a coffee for Php 156.50. You can round up the cost to Php200, Php160, or Php157 and save the difference.

Or perhaps you purchased a new appliance for Php12,200, you can round it up to Php13,000 and save Php700 or P12,500 to save P12,300. 

By now, you’re probably thinking that this method only works best with cash, or that it’s too troublesome to follow. Thankfully, you can easily automate this.

There are now roundup apps that connect to your bank account and automatically round up your purchases to the nearest peso and transfer the difference to your savings account. This way, you won’t even have to think about it.

Pros:

  • Easy to implement if automated
  • Can help you save money without feeling like you’re making significant sacrifices

Cons:

  • Savings may not be significant enough to make a significant impact on your overall finances
  • Not for those who prefer more structured savings plans 

How to do it:

  1. Set the percentage or amount you want to round up your purchases to.
  2. If you don’t want to do it manually, set up an automatic round-up feature through your bank or a roundup app. Don’t forget to link to your savings account where the rounded-up amounts will be transferred.

Strategy 9: The Seasonal Savings Approach

Expecting a huge bonus this Christmas?

The Seasonal Savings Approach is a strategy that involves saving a large portion of your income during certain seasons or periods of the year when you know you will be receiving extra money.

For example, if you know you will be receiving a bonus at the end of the year, you can allocate a portion of it toward your savings.

Similarly, if you inherit money or win a prize money, you can use this approach to save all or a portion of that money.

Following this method can be extremely frustrating since it requires a lot of patience and discipline. However, the reward is worth it in the end as it can help you achieve your financial goals faster.

Pros:

  • Helps you save a large amount of money in a short period
  • Works well for those who receive large sums of money periodically
  • Can help you achieve big financial goals quickly

Cons:

  • Not sustainable or realistic for those with stable incomes
  • Requires discipline to resist the temptation to spend the extra money

How to do it:

  1. Identify the seasons or periods of the year when you know you will be receiving extra money.
  2. Estimate the amount of extra money you will be receiving and allocate a portion of it towards your savings.
  3. Set a specific savings goal for each season or period and work towards achieving it.

Also Read: Profitable Side Hustles to Make More Extra Money


Strategy 10: The Challenge-A-Friend Mode

The Challenge-A-Friend Mode is a savings strategy that involves teaming up with a friend or family member to challenge each other to save a certain amount of money within a specific timeframe.

This method works best when both parties share similar financial goals and are committed to achieving them.

For example, if you’re saving up for a vacation with your best friend, you can challenge each other to save for your pocket money or airfare.

To make this strategy more effective, set specific rules for accountability. For example, you may agree to check in with each other weekly and share what you’ve saved so far.

Additionally, you can make consequences for not meeting the challenge, such as having to treat the other person to a meal.

Pros:

  • Provides accountability and motivation through teamwork
  • Can make saving fun and social
  • Encourages healthy financial habits
  • Allows for healthy competition and incentivizes progress

Cons:

  • Requires finding a partner who is committed to the challenge
  • May not work for those who prefer to save alone
  • Not for everyone’s personality or financial situation

How to do it:

  1. Find a friend or family member who is willing to participate in the challenge with you.
  2. Set a specific savings goal and timeframe for the challenge.
  3. Determine the consequences for not meeting the challenge and make sure they are agreed upon by both parties.
  4. Check in with each other regularly to share progress and provide accountability.
  5. Celebrate your success once you’ve both met the challenge.

Strategy 11: Invisible Ipon Challenge

This is a fun way to save money. The invisible ipon challenge means you treat a particular bill or coin as invisible so as soon as you receive this bill, it automatically goes into your savings. 

For example, you can choose to treat all Php50 bills as invisible and immediately put them in your piggy bank.

Pros:

  • Easy to implement and doesn’t require much effort
  • Savings happen automatically without you even noticing it
  • Can accumulate a significant amount of savings over time

Cons:

  • May not work for those who prefer to have control over their spending
  • May not be a substantial amount of savings if only one bill or coin is treated as invisible

How to do it:

  1. Choose a specific bill or coin denomination to treat as “invisible”.
  2. When you receive that bill or coin, immediately put it in your piggy bank or money jar without thinking about it.
  3. Keep doing this every time you receive the chosen denomination.
  4. Adjust the denomination as needed if you want to increase your savings rate.

Strategy 12: Coffee Break Ipon Challenge

Don’t panic yet – this ipon challenge won’t require you to quit your caffeine addiction. After all, there’s nothing quite like a good cup of coffee to kickstart your day.

However, instead of buying coffee every day from expensive coffee shops, you can challenge yourself to limit your coffee breaks and redirect the money you save towards your savings.

For example, if you usually buy coffee every day for Php200, you can limit yourself to buying coffee only twice a week and make your own coffee for the rest of the week at home. For the days you made your coffee at home, put P200 on your savings.

Keep in mind that this ipon challenge is versatile. Aside from coffee, you can also apply it to milk tea, cigarettes, vape, takeout food, snacks, or any other daily expense that you can cut back on.

Pros:

  • Easy to implement and doesn’t require significant lifestyle changes
  • Savings happen automatically
  • Helps reduce unnecessary expenses and redirect the money toward savings
  • Can accumulate a substantial amount of money over time

Cons:

  • Requires willpower to resist the temptation to buy coffee every day
  • May not work for someone who doesn’t know how to make their favorite coffee at home

How to do it:

  1. Determine how much money you spend on coffee each week or month.
  2. Set a goal for how much you want to save by limiting your coffee breaks.
  3. Decide on the number of coffee breaks per week you will allow yourself, as well as how many days you will make your own coffee at home.
  4. Redirect the money you save from buying coffee towards your savings.

About MJ de Castro

MJ de Castro is the lead personal finance columnist at Grit PH.

MJ started her career as a writer for her local government’s City Information Office. Later on, she became a news anchor on PTV Davao del Norte.

Wanting to break free from the shackles of her 9-to-5 career to live by the beach, she pursued remote work. Over the years, she has developed a wide specialization on health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, branding, and travel.

Now, she juggles writing professionally, her business centering on women’s menstrual health, and surfing.

Education: Ateneo de Davao University (AB Mass Communication)
Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, Entrepreneurship, & Marketing

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