Latest posts by R.J. Weiss, CFP®
- How (and Why) to Invest with Little Money Even When You Are Broke - January 16, 2018
- 8 Free Apps We Use to Save, Make, and Manage Money in 2018 - January 9, 2018
- How To Save $1,000 In A Month: A 30-Day Money Challenge - January 2, 2018
Wouldn’t it be nice to take massive action in 30-days and reap the rewards for years to come?
What if instead of trying harder to save money, you could set up systems that make savings automatic?
Well that’s exactly what you’re going to learn how to do.
30 Days. 30 Actions.
At the end, you’ll have a completely transformed mindset and systems in place to make saving money easier.
Let’s get started!
How To Save $1,000 In A Month: A 30-Day Money Challenge
Day # 1 – Change Your Mindset About Saving
Does saving money bring up thoughts of depriving yourself?
It doesn’t have to be.
Instead, reframe what saving means to you.
If you’re in debt…
…think about all the stuff you’re cheating yourself out of by paying interest. After all, every dollar in interest you pay is STEALING dollars away from you.
Not in debt?
Think about reallocating the $1,000 you can save to something you’ve always wanted.
Get excited because it’s time to take some action.
Day # 2 – Shop Your Insurance
Let’s start with a quick win. Shopping your insurance takes less than 10 minutes — yet can save you hundreds.
Whether it’s your auto, home, or renters insurance, it’s worth 10-minutes to shop around.
I recommended starting with Esurance, which makes it super-easy to get a quote in a few minutes.
Day # 3 – Make A List Of Free & Fun Activities
There will come a time in the days and weeks ahead you’ll be looking for something fun to do.
Be proactive and think about different experiences you can have without spending money.
Make them fun. Make a “No-Spend Bucket List” and work your way through your list.
Need help? Here’s 80+ no-spend activities for the Winter.
Day # 4 – Pay Off Your Debt With Cash
One mistake I often find people making is to save cash while still in high-interest debt. When I ask why, the underlying purpose is has something to do with security.
But let’s look at an example.
Say you have $5,000 cash in a savings account and $5,000 of credit card debt.
At a 15% interest rate, you’re paying $750 a year in interest on that debt.
If you decided to pay off $4,000 of that debt, you’ll save yourself $600 this year. Plus, still have a $1,000 safety net.
Just as important, you’ll still have the credit card in case a real emergency did come.
That’s why I don’t like to see others hoarding cash. It’s often what’s preventing them from getting ahead!
Note: I see this a lot with young higher income individuals with student loan debt. For example, they have $30,000 of cash in the bank but don’t want to use it to pay off their student or car loans.
Day # 5 – Increase Your Credit Score
Increasing your credit score won’t save you money today. However, can save you thousands down the road and maybe even this month.
Then, I recommend signing up for to see your score. The site I use and recommend, which is free and doesn’t harm your score is Credit Sesame.
What’s nice is you’ll get personalized tips from Credit Sesame on improving your score.
One tip to improve your score — call your credit card company and ask for a credit limit increase. This can bump up your score quick (which will come in handy soon).
Credit Sesame Quick Summary
- Get your credit score for free in under 90 seconds
- Get personalized tips on how to improve your score
- Highly rated app with a rating of 4.3 and 21,000+ votes
- No credit card needed & it won't impact your score
Day # 6 – Use The 30-Day Rule
Open up a notebook or notepad online (I use Evernote) and create a document called To Buy.
Whenever you feel the urge to buy something for the next 30-days, write it down on this list.
Once 30-days are up revisit this list and notice if feelings have passed. Then, give yourself to buy that the thing if you must (if you have the money).
The goal here is to not feel like you’re depriving yourself forever of a purchase. Anyone can delay a purchase for 30-days. And chances are you desire to buy that thing decline after 30-days.
Day # 7 – Track Your Progress
You’re now a week in and should be seeing some results.
But the goal here isn’t to have “some” results — it’s to save $1,000!
So, let’s track it.
Sign up for a personal finance tracking app to track your spending.
The good ones like Personal Capital (my favorite) will pull your transactions from previous months to see what you spent.
Personal Capital Quick Summary
- Watch your expenses closely with Personal Capital's free cash flow tools
- Named best financial app by MacWorld
- Sign up in seconds
Day # 8 – Go Cash Only For Certain Categories
What’s the one budgeting category where you overspend?
Is it grocery shopping? Dining out? Transportation?
Take a look in the personal finance app you downloaded yesterday to see.
Now, for the rest of the month, set a reasonable budget for that category.
Now, commit to only spending cash in that category this month. Even better, go to an ATM today to withdraw that cash and put it in an envelope. Then, all expenses in this category must come from that envelope.
Related Reading from The Ways To Wealth
- The Ultimate Guide To The Cash Envelope System
- 100 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money In 2018
- Top Cash Back Apps For Groceries: Apps That Pay You For Your Receipts
Day # 9 – Go Out And Earn Something
What if instead of buying something you went out and earned it?
This is exactly what you’ll be doing on Day # 9.
Take a look at your To Buy list.
Then, pick an item around $50 to $100 on that list.
Now, let’s go out and earn that thing.
There are of course many ways to earn money and you’ll know what works best for you.
Here are some good suggestions:
- 10 Legit Get Paid To Sign Up Websites: Earn $50+ Fast!
- Legit Survey Sites That Pay Cash Through PayPal
- 100+ Ways You Can Make Money In Your Spare Time
Day # 10 – Delete Any Saved Credit Cards To Online Shopping Sites
The goal here is to make it as hard as possible to spend money.
So go in and delete and saved credit cards from popular online stores you shop or that auto fill in web browsers.
Day # 11 – Use Trim To Cut Subscriptions & Bills
If you’re a bit lazy (and aren’t we all), then you’ll love the app Trim.
Trim is essentially a robot that saves you money.
When you sign up, Trim will analyze your accounts to determine where you can save more money.
And if saving that money sounds like some work — Trim then will cancel your subscriptions, negotiate your bills, and more.
Sign up today, then let Trim discover more ways to save.
Trim Quick Summary
- A free service that saves you money by cutting unused subscriptions, negotiating bills & earning cash back
- Has saved users over $1,000,000 in the last month
- New York Times called Trim, "a good warning for consumers who hate not getting what they are paying for or paying for things that they are not getting."
Day # 12 – Refinance Your Student Loans
For any debt, you want to pay the lowest interest rate possible. Then, the idea is to pay that debt off as fast as possible.
One personal finance tip that many don’t take advantage of is finding a lower interest rate for any debt they do have. This includes credit card, auto, student loans, and a mortgage.
For each of these debts — you want to pay the lowest amount of interest possible. So, it makes sense to shop around for that low rate.
A great place to start your search is SoFi.
For any personal debt, SoFi has rates as low as 4.98%.
For student loans, SoFi has refinance rates as low as 2.35%.
If you’re eligible, this can be a BIG win (The average person who refinances their student loan with SoFi saves $288 a month).
If you’re a homeowner, check with LendingTree to make sure you’re paying the lowest rate.
Day # 13 – Make Your Purpose About Other People
It’s time to make your purpose even stronger.
Today think about how saving money and overall being better with your finances impacts other people.
How will it impact your kids (now or in the future)? How will it impact your friends and family. Your relationship?
Research shows thinking about how you positives actions influences others increases motivation.
Day # 14 – Use A 0% APR Credit Card
Another way to save money on interest payments is to use a 0% APR Card.
What’s extra important though is that you want to pay off the entire balance of the loan before the 0% rate expires. This is by no means a strategy that allows you to accumulate more debt!
One card I have myself and recommend to others is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. (That link is a referral link from my personal chase account, which helps support the blog).
This card has a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on balance transfers, with a 5% balance transfer fee.
Say you’re paying 15% interest on $5,000 of credit card debt or roughly $750 a year. You can then transfer the balance to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, paying $250 in balance transfer fees. You’ll save $500 this year in interest.
Then, it’s your job to pay off the entire balance in 15 months!
You’ll then earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. There’s also a $150 sign up bonus for spending $500 in the first three months.
Day # 15 – Read A Book (from the library) About Happiness
Day # 15 is one of my favorite hacks to saving…
…and that is to learn about happiness.
The natural impact of learning about happiness is you’ll want more of what’s important (which you’ll find cost much less then deriving temporary happiness from things).
Some of my favorite books are:
- Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
- The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living
- Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
If reading a book sounds like to much, here’s two articles on The Ways To Wealth to check out:
- Can Money Buy Happiness: 8 Scientifically Proven Ways It Can
- 5 Research-Backed Ways To Managing Money To Increase Happiness
Day # 16 – Automate Your Finances
The great thing about 401(k) contributions is that they’re automatic.
It doesn’t take any willpower on your end.
This begs the questions — where else can you automate your savings so you’re less likely to spend?
A few ideas:
- Betterment has a feature where anytime you accumulate over a certain amount of cash (which could be in a linked accout), they’ll automatically invest that.
- Qapital is an online bank that allows you to automate a lot of your savings with If Then, Then This features. For example, every time your paycheck hits, save 10% to your rainy day fund.
Day # 17 – Lower Your 401(k) Fees
Account maintenance fees, mutual fund fees, 12b-1 fees…the list of fees you’re paying in your 401(k) can get large.
Step # 1 is discovering those fees.
My recommendation is to get a free analysis from Blooom of your 401(k).
You have to enter your name, email, and link your 401(k). Then, Blooom helps you dig up your 401(k) fees and presents them in one easy to read page.
Blooom Quick Summary
- Optimize your investments and minimize hidden fees
- Check the health of your 401(k) with a free analysis
- Works with: 401(k), 457, 403(b), 401(a) and TSP
Day # 18 – Find A Lower Cost Cell Phone Provider
There’s no need to pay $60+ a month for a good cell phone plan anymore.
Look around for cheaper options.
If you haven’t, check out Google Fi, which has plans starting at $20 a month.
Day # 19 – Get Rid of Cable
Cut the chord. It’s one of the easiest ways to save A LOT of money.
There are too many cheap, affordable options to still be paying $70+ for cable each month.
NetFlix is of course one option.
Hulu now has live TV starting at $40 a month for those who like to watch sports.
YouTube has a similar package for $35 a month
If you want free — look into installing a HD Antenna.
Day # 20 – Visit Your Library
Most local libraries have much more than books these days. This includes video games, board games, DVDs, TV series, and more.
One of my browser extensions for Google Chrome is the Library Extension. This allows you to view a book on Amazon and see if it’s available at your local library. It also has a Kindle option which allows you to see which books are available on Kindle.
Day # 21 & 22- Increase Your Deductible & Check Your Limits
Today you’re going to kill two birds with one stone.
Chances are you’re paying for insurance you don’t need.
Step # 1 is look at your deductible on your home and auto insurance.
Now, if you suffered a loss, how would the deductible you’re paying impact your financial life? Could you cover your part of that loss?
If so, you’ll benefit from increasing your deductible.
My rule of thumb is to have a deductible large enough that it hurts to write the check but it won’t cause you financial distress.
Next, look at your limits. Are you paying for insurance you don’t need?
Two common coverages that people overpay for:
- Collision insurance on older cards
- Personal property insurance
As for the collision insurance, say your car is worth $4,000 and your premiums are $800 a year for collision. In other words, you’re paying 20% of your car’s value to cover yourself in a case of a total loss.
That’s a lot of coverage and money for a small amount of insurance. Especially, if you can afford to replace a $4,000 car.
Next is personal property insurance. For homeowners, insurance companies will usually give you a default amount of 50% of your home limit for personal property.
For example, if your home is insured for $400,000 your contents are insured for $200,000.
Most often, homeowners don’t pause and reflect about how much stuff they actually own.
But today — you will.
Take a look at your limits and see if there is potential to save.
If there is, call your insurer to ask what you can save by lowering your limits.
Day # 24 – Adjust your Thermostat
The rule of thumb is you’ll save about 3% per month for every one degree you adjust your thermostat.
So, if it’s hot outside, increase your thermostat by 3 degrees to save 9% a month.
Cold out? Turn down your thermostat 3 degrees.
If you pay $1,000 a year to heat your home — this will save you $900 this year.
Day # 25 – Stop Paying Banking Fees
There’s no reason today to pay banking fees. Whether that’s fees for checks, minimum balances, maintenance fees, or ATM fees.
I have been banking with Capital One 360 (since the days of ING Direct) and enjoy their no-fee approach.
I also like Qapital.
You can check around with a local bank too, which often has generous promotions.
Day # 26 – Max Out Your 401(k) Up To Your Employer Match
If you’re taking action — you should be seeing results.
If your high interest debt is all paid off — that means you may want to start investing.
The best place to start is your 401(k).
A report by the independent investment advisory firm Financial Engines found 1 in 4 employees are not taking full advantage of their employer match. By not maximizing their match, employees are leaving an estimated $24 billion on the table.
Don’t leave money on the table. Contribute at least up to your employer match in your 401(k).
Day # 27 – Rollover Your Old 401(k)s
It’s not uncommon to have a few old 401(k)s lying around. By rolling over your 401(k), you can reduce your fees and have available a wider range of investments.
The ICI reports that the average person pays 1.29% in fees to invest in their 401(k).
For smaller businesses, the news is even worse. Plans with less than $2 million in assets averaged 2.22% in fees.
That’s why it’s important to rollover 401(k)s to a low-cost provider. .
One investment provider to checkout is Betterment. Betterment has low fees (starting at .25%) and is good for hands off investors.
I actually rolled a 401(k) over to them and the process was pretty painless.
Day # 28 – Use Coupon Apps To Shop In Store or Online
Take advantage of coupon apps and cash back websites when you shop in-store and online.
For in-store purchases, I use the iBotta app which allows me to save on my favorite brands and my preferred stores.
All you do is start your search at their website — then proceed as normal (usually to Amazon).
As payouts between the two sites differ, I reccomend signing up for both.
Day # 29 – Get Cash Back For Price Drops
Stores change their prices all the time. It can be really frusturating seeing something you bought last month, drop in price.
But one little known secret is that credit card companies provide purchase protection. Therefore, if something were to drop in price in a certain amount of time, say 90 days, your credit card company will refund you the difference.
But monitoring price drops is a hassle.
To save time and still take advantage of this little known benefit sign up for Paribus.
Whenever you’re eligible for a price drop, Paribus files price adjustment claims on your behalf and you keep 100% of the savings.
Paribus Quick Summary
- Paribus is FREE to use and let's you keep 100% of your savings!
- Paribus then works in the background to monitor for opportunities to get money back
- When you’re eligible, Paribus files price adjustment claims on your behalf and you keep 100% of the savings
Day # 30 – Maximize Your Cash Back
To maximize the amount of cash back you receive from your credit cards, it’s important to know what card to use when.
If a certain card earns you 5% at a certain store (such as the Chase Freedom) you want to know to use that card.
If you’re not an experienced points hacker, I recommend download the free app Birch Finance.
Birch helps you learn how to use the reward earning credit cards you own. This way you can maximize the cash back you receive.
Learn more about Birch Finance.
Day # 31 – Set Financial Goals
With your new and improved frugality muscle, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
Use the free workbook to discover the financial goals you should be going after.
HOW TO SET FINANCIAL GOALS
A step-by-step process for setting financial goals that connect the dots between your money and your happiness. Simply opt-in below to have it sent straight to your inbox!
Related Reading from The Ways to Wealth
- 9 Simple Ways To Save Money On Groceries + Eat Healthy
- Betterment vs Vanguard: A Financial Planner’s Comparison
- 8 Insanely Useful & Free Money Management Worksheets & Tools