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
Day #1: Change Your Mindset About Saving
Does saving money bring up thoughts of depriving yourself?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
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 into something you’ve always wanted.
Get excited, because it’s time to take some action.
Day #2: Shop For Your Insurance
Let’s start with a quick win. Shopping for your insurance takes less than 10 minutes — yet it can save you hundreds of dollars.
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 and Fun Activities
There will come a time in the days and weeks ahead when you’ll be looking for fun things 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.
Day #4: Pay Off Your Debt With Cash
One mistake people often make is saving cash while they’re still in high-interest debt. When I ask why, the answer always 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, you’ll still have a $1,000 safety net. Just as important, you’ll still have the credit card in case a real emergency does come up.
That’s why I don’t like to see people hoarding cash. It’s often what’s preventing them from getting ahead!
Day #5: Increase Your Credit Score
Increasing your credit score won’t save you money today. However, it can save you thousands down the road (and maybe even this month).
Then, I recommend signing up to see your score. The site I use and recommend — which is free and doesn’t harm your score — is Credit Karma.
What’s nice is you’ll get personalized tips from Credit Karma 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 quickly (which will come in handy soon).
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 over the next 30 days, write it down on this list.
Once the 30 days are up, revisit this list and see if the urge to spend has passed. If not, give yourself the right to buy that thing (if you have the money).
The goal here is not to feel like you’re depriving yourself of a purchase forever. Anyone can delay a purchase for 30 days, and chances are that your desire to buy that thing will decline over the course of that month.
Day #7: Track Your Progress
You’re now a week in, and you 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.
Good ones like Truebill will pull your transactions from previous months to see what you spent.
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.
For the rest of the month, set a reasonable budget for that category.
Next, 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.
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:
Day #10: Delete Any Saved Credit Cards at Online Shopping Sites
The goal here is to make it as hard as possible to spend money.
So go in and delete any saved credit cards from popular online stores you shop at (or that autofill in web browsers).
Day #11: Use Billcutterz to Negotiate Discounts
If you’re a bit lazy (and aren’t we all), then you’ll love BillCutterz.
Billcutterz is essentially a team of expert negotiators that work on your behalf to save you money on your monthly bills. They are extremely successful at saving you money on your cable/satellite TV bill, cell phone bill, and internet bill.
When you sign up, their savings experts will analyze your accounts to determine where you can save the most. Billcutterz’ team then will call each service provider on your behalf to negotiate your bills.
What’s great about Billcutterz is they only get paid when you save money.
You can start saving money on your monthly bills in less than 5 minutes.
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 valuable personal finance tip that many people fail to act on is finding a lower interest rate for any debt they do have. This includes credit cards, auto loans, 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 Credible, which has some incredibly low rates for both personal and student loan debt.
If you’re eligible, this can be a BIG win.
If you’re a homeowner, check with Credible 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 that thinking about how your positive actions influence others increases motivation.
Day #14: Batch Cook Meals
The goal for today to batch cook meals for the next five days for breakfast or lunch. Or, if time is limited, get the ingredients to batch cook meals. Then, set aside time in the next few days to prepare your meals.
Day #15: Read a Book 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 that you’ll want more of what’s important (which you’ll find costs much less than 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
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 question: where else can you automate your savings so that you’re less likely to spend?
A few ideas:
- Betterment has a feature where any time you accumulate over a certain amount of cash (which could be in a linked account), they’ll automatically invest that extra money.
- 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% in 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.
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 cord. 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 one option, of course.
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 an HD Antenna. (Yes, they still work.)
Day #20: Visit Your Library
Most local libraries offer 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 and #22: Increase Your Deductible and 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 to 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 which won’t cause me financial distress if I have to pay it.
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 cars
- Personal property insurance
As for the collision insurance, say your car is worth $4,000 and your premiums are $800 a year for collision insurance. In other words, you’re paying 20% of your car’s value to cover yourself in the 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 on how much stuff they actually own.
But today, you will.
Take a look at your limits and see if there’s potential to save.
If there is, call your insurer to ask what you can save by lowering your limits.
Day #23: Adjust Your Thermostat
The rule of thumb is that 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 three degrees to save 9% a month.
Cold out? Turn down your thermostat three degrees.
If you pay $1,000 a year to heat your home, this will save you $900 this year.
Day #24: 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 you want to know to use that card.
It’s estimated that credit card users miss out on $200 in rewards each year. So, today your goal is to evaluate which cards to use when. The quickest way to do this is to search for the current cards you have in Google. Then, go to the actual credit card issuer’s page to view the benefits.
Pro Tip: By far the best way to redeem points is through travel. Interested in learning how? Read my ultimate guide to travel hacking, which includes real-world examples of how to book your first trip.
Day #25: 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 with your 401(k).
A report by the independent investment advisory firm Financial Engines found that one in four 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 #26: Roll Over 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 access to 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 roll over 401(k)s to a low-cost provider.
One investment provider to checkout is Betterment. Betterment has low fees (starting at 0.25%) and is good for hands-off investors.
I actually rolled a 401(k) over to them and the process was pretty painless.
Day #27: 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 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 recommend signing up for both.
Day #28: Get Cash-Back for Price Drops
Stores change their prices all the time. It can be really frustrating seeing something you bought last month drop in price.
But monitoring price drops is a hassle.
To save time and still take advantage of price drops, sign up for Paribus.
Whenever you’re eligible for a price drop, Paribus helps you file a claim. You keep 100% of the savings.
Our Paribus review goes into detail about how the app works.
Day #29: Stop Paying Banking Fees
There’s no reason to pay banking fees. Whether that’s fees for checks, minimum balances, maintenance fees, or ATM fees.
I’ve 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 — they often have generous promotions.
Day #30: Set Financial Goals
With your new and improved frugality muscle, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
Use the free workbook below to discover the financial goals you should be going after.
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.