Finances and money, as well as the neverending flow of direct debits leaving your bank account is enough to make anyone weep, scream or completely tear their hair out. Each month I see my monetary obligations stream away to line the pockets of some other entity, before increasing year after year thanks to inflation, cost of living, and RPI.

Honestly, the idea of money is overwhelming, and even though I’d like to consider myself financially adept, getting on top of budgets and savings has always appeared like a daunting feat. So when a random tweet appeared on my X (Twitter) feed at the beginning of the year explaining how much you could save participating in Monzo’s 1p Saving Challenge, it seemed like a shallow pool I could dip my toe into.

Essentially, the 1p Saving Challenge involves saving a little money every day, starting with 1p. The next day you save 2p, the day after 3p. After a year, you’ll be setting aside £3.65 on the final day and have a total of £667.95. Of course this year I’ll save a minimum of £671.61 thanks to the leap year.

Setting up a Monzo pot is easy enough, but remembering to deposit those pennies in the pot everyday posed a hurdle. So I set up a daily reminder at 8pm to put in the funds, and although there’s been some days where I’ve deposited money twice in one day if I’ve forgotten, it’s probably the most dedication I’ve shown since binge watching all 16 seasons of Criminal Minds for the fourth time.

Three months have now passed, nigh on the 100th day of the challenge, and although the current total may not reflect a billionaire’s bank account - £47.87 - it’s a daily reminder of this little achievement ever increasing. Instead of keeping my savings in a regular Monzo pot, I swapped it for one of the neobank’s Instant Access Savings Pot, which has an AER (annual equivalent rate) of 4.10%. Since opening the pot in January I’ve earned 13p, which may seem small, but a little boost to the final total.

BRAZIL - 2023/06/26: In this photo illustration, the Monzo Bank logo is displayed on a smartphone mobile screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
After three months of saving, Ellen has racked up £47.87 into her Monzo Instant Access Savings Pot

Elsewhere in the app I’ve set up three other pots - Travel Pot, Car Fund, and a Coin Jar - whose deposits aren’t as regimented. Being able to visualise where my money is, is incredibly helpful for a visual learner, like myself. And if you’re ever tempted to dip in, there’s a handy lock you can turn on that means you can’t withdraw the funds.

Monzo’s 1p Saving Challenge starts little and often, making the idea of saving a significant amount far less nerve-wracking, and keeps you focused on achieving that end goal. With TikTok rife with money hacks, hints, tricks and tips, there are plenty of ideas being sold to us.

You don’t need to buy all of those envelopes or a new finance planner, but if that suits your style of saving, then find what works for you. Bank apps are often free to download, as is opening up a debit or credit card, or an ISA is free to open up, so all the power is at your fingertips. The Monzo 1p Saving Challenge suits me because my work requires me to be alert and chronically on my phone, and three months in, I actually see worth in putting those pennies away.

To help build the illusion that I’m a ‘functioning adult’, I’ve also set up an Excel Spreadsheet for my own annual personal budget (from a template, of course). This means I’m now perpetually noting down transactions if I forget to get a receipt, hoarding when I do get receipts, and obsessively looking at the ‘Cash short/extra’ total at the bottom of each month’s column. Last month, just by keeping my finances in check, I managed to save £277.79.

The ever-increasing cost of living is palpable no matter where you look, and with former cabinet minister George Freeman admitting he quit his role last year because he couldn’t afford his mortgage on a ministerial salary of £120,000, what hope is there for the rest of us? Owning a house or being able to buy anything with a considerably large price tag seems to be getting more unattainable as the months roll on for young people. As the wealth gap increases from generation to generation, money, bills and savings can become a source of well-justified stress and alarm.

I’m not saying the Monzo Savings Challenge will magically add a few zeros to my bank account - although it would be nice - but I know where that money is headed and what it’s intended for. After three months of dedication I may only have £50 saved, but now I’m getting into the big ol’ pounds, so hopefully the metaphorical coins will start piling up.

If you’re panicking about the lack of saving or feel a sense of crippling dread, read Monzo’s blog about the 1p Saving Challenge.