30 Day Money-Saving Challenge
By John Boitnott
If you find yourself facing an expensive car repair, a move, or any other unexpected expense, you’ll need to be able to save money fast to cover those expenses. There are multiple ways to save money in 30 days, so you’ll start to see results quickly.
When you get in the habit of regularly saving money every month, it becomes easier and even more enjoyable. Start the year off right
with these money-saving tips.
Start with a budget
There are lots of ways to save, but most of them start by first understanding how much money you spend. Creating a budget can help you analyze how you’re spending money and identify ways that you can save money, instead. It also helps you identify extra money you could add to your savings account.
To create a household budget
, start by outlining all of your necessary expenses, like your rent or mortgage payment, car insurance, and utility bills. Next, focus on luxuries you like to buy, like dinners out, gym memberships or entertainment expenses.
You can track your spending using a spreadsheet or even pencil and paper, but there are also many apps and programs that can walk you through the process. The Mint App
is particularly helpful, since you can monitor your finances, your budget, your credit ratings and more, all in one place.
Ideally, you should be able to put 10% of your monthly income
into savings and still have your monthly spending be less than your monthly income. If this doesn’t work, or if you can’t yet put 10% of your income into savings, it’s time to make some changes so that you can save more money each month.
Set a realistic goal
Sticking to a 10% savings rate might be a ways off, so focus on choosing a specific amount of money for your savings goal over the next 30 days, instead. For now, just focus on your short-term goals for your money.
If you haven’t saved much money before and decide that this month you’re going to save $1,000, chances are you’re not going to meet that goal. Instead, start with a more realistic goal. Maybe you want to save $50 or $100 per month, and then repeat that for the next three months before you reassess your savings goals.
Remember, the money you save each month will add up over time, so your initial goal doesn’t have to be big to make a difference in your life. It’s more important to stay consistent in your saving, and to control your habits in spending money.
Create a plan
Thinking about how you’re going to use the money you save can help you to be more excited about and stick to your financial goals.
Do you want to put the money into an emergency fund
to help your family deal with unexpected expenses? Are you working to pay down credit card debt
and boost your credit rating?
Write down your goal and put it somewhere you can see it during the day to remind you why you’re working to save money quickly.
Cut out unnecessary daily spending
One of the easiest ways to save money quickly is to cut any unnecessary spending habits and expenses. With this strategy, you’ll immediately start saving, but you may have to make some lifestyle and habit changes.
Start by looking at your budget and your spending habits. If you have time, track all of your spending during the course of a month to determine just where your money is going. Or, use an app that does that tracking for you. YNAB
(which stands for “You Need a Budget”) tracks your monthly spending for you, and you can try it for free for 34 days.
Tracking your monthly spending can be revealing. That cup of coffee at the drive-through on your way to work, the trip to the movies on Friday night, and the dinner out with friends can all add up to be surprisingly expensive. Eliminating some or all of these expenses could add up to hundreds of dollars in 30 days.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dinner out or your favorite coffee before work. Focus on enjoying these extras less often, and see if you can cut that extra spending in half during your first month. If you keep this process up in the future, you may be able to cut things down even more.
Trim high bills
While you might not have much bargaining power to bring down your mortgage or rent payments, some service providers will negotiate with you and may offer you lower monthly rates.
By eliminating subscriptions that you don’t use and by cutting down your phone, internet, and cable bills, you can spend less this month and in future months, too.
Personal finance influencer Ramit Sethi advocates for this strategy on his blog
, and he even has some useful money-saving tips and scripts to help you negotiate for lower rates and discounts with service providers.
Make a list of all of the bills you pay each month (or refer to the budget you created earlier), and start calling service providers to see what you can save. Take a hard look at your current subscriptions, like Netflix, cable, Amazon Prime or your gym membership and consider canceling any that you don’t use often enough to justify the expense.
Protect the money you’ve saved
As you save money, continuously put it into a special savings account, rather than a checking account, so you don’t accidentally spend it. Investing your money in a high-yield savings account will put that saved money to work for you.
This type of account is ideal if you want to create an emergency fund
, since the savings account interest can help to make that money grow over time.
Saving money may seem difficult at first, but as you develop these habits and an awareness of your spending, you’ll probably find that it gets easier from month to month. Focus on meeting your goal for the first month, then evaluate what worked and what didn’t so you can continue to save money every month in the future.
About the author
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist who covers technology trends, startups, entrepreneurship and personal finance for Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, USA Today and other major publications.