Save hundreds in the next 30 Days with this 30 Day Money Saving Challenge!
As I’m writing this, the new year is almost upon us and many of us are trying to come up with creative ways to save more money this year- and many of us are looking for ways to save money on a tight budget (thanks Covid). If that’s you, read on for The 30 Day Money Saving Challenge!
I’ve created this challenge a little differently than many of the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest, etc. that just tell you to save X dollars on whatever day and then by the end of the month you’ll have Y saved up. The problem I have with those is that they don’t tell you HOW you’re going to find that money to save- and if you’re already on a tight budget, how to save money when things are tight is an important piece of a 30 Day Money Saving Challenge!
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Days 1-5 of the 30 Day Money Saving Challenge
So I’ve laid this out for you by day- one simple step for each of the 30 days- and not only told you to save money, but what to do to get those money savings! Ready?
Examine your spending. It’s time to take a good look at where your money actually goes! If you already have a budget, you may already know the answer to this, so this will be a relatively simple task. However, if you don’t have a budget, you’ll want to pull the last 2-3 months of bank statements and credit card statements and take a hard look at what categories you spent money on. The results may surprise you!
Set up your budget. If you already have a budget- good for you! Free pass for the day (unless of course, you need to start over…it’s good to start fresh with your budget sometimes!). My favorite style of budgeting is zero-based budgeting, and I love YNAB (You Need a Budget) to help me do this! What is zero-based budgeting? Here’s a little video about it:
Basically, you want to set up your budget so that every dollar has a job- so you are telling your money where to go and it’s working FOR YOU.
(If you need more help getting set up with a budget, be sure to check out my Personal Finance 101 course!)
Eliminate non-necessary subscriptions and auto-renewal services. Remember that gym membership you’ve been paying for but haven’t been in 6 months? Or that subscription service that you keep forgetting to cancel? Or the 3 movie-watching apps you’re paying for even though you really only use one?
Yep, it’s time to deal with those. Anything that’s not a necessity- trim it down! Note: it’s okay to define your necessities different than others, too! For one person the gym may be unnecessary and for someone else it’s crucial. Even though we’ve trimmed back a LOT lately, the one thing I’ve kept is a subscription to PBS Kids so that I have the option for decent TV for my kids when I need a break. Figure out what you can do without, then nix it!
Consider what else you can eliminate! So we’ve set you up for some money savings by eliminating those automatically drafted non-necessities; now it’s time to look at the other non-necessities!
Make a list of what you see in your budget or on your bank/credit card statements that you probably could have done without. Eating out was a big one for us- it’s so easy to drop a wad of cash on food for convenience, but the cost adds up quick!
You can also think through the things you’ve bought in the last month- is your grocery bill higher than it needs to be because you bought a lot of specialty or pre-made items? Consider eliminating some of those for the sake of saving some more money.
Communicate with your spouse/family/etc. This is a critical piece that we struggled with for nearly 10 years of our marriage (and really, we’re still figuring it out). It’s all well and good to have a budget laid out on paper, but if you aren’t on the same page with your spouse or others in your family about where what money needs to go (or not go), you’re going to end up with the same issues over and over again.
So for today’s day of the 30 day money saving challenge, sit down with your family and talk about ways you all are going to be saving more money. It will be worth it!
Days 6-10 of the 30 Day Savings Challenge
Automate your savings. One of the easiest ways to not spend money is to never see it. Consider setting up an auto-transfer or deposit so that whenever you get paid, a certain amount of it always goes toward your savings goals.
If you’re trying to save up an Emergency Fund, set up a transfer to put $50 (or whatever your amount is) into that account every time you get paid. By the end of the year you’ll already have $600! And if you never saw it, it’s much harder to spend it.
Automate your bills. Note: this one only works if you’re ahead enough that you can set the bills to be paid automatically without having to check your balance first (YNAB shows you exactly how to do this with their “Age Your Money” technique).
But assuming you are ahead enough that you know you have money in your account to pay your bills, go ahead and set up auto-pay for all your bills! It will save you time (no having to pay each one individually anymore), stress (no more having to remember when to pay what), and money (no interest charges from forgetting to pay a bill).
If you can responsibly use a credit card (i.e. pay your balance in full every month and not rack up debt), use a cash back card for your purchases. I really like the cash-back cards from Chase. This isn’t exactly saving money, but it’s free money as long as you pay it off every month!
Create budget categories for bigger upcoming expenses. When you make and stick to a budget, you’ll be able to save for bigger expenses. You may be able to pay cash for your cars and avoiding paying interest on a loan. If you are buying a house and can put down 20% you can also avoid paying expensive private mortgage insurance. Saving money will save you money!
See what bills you can save on if you pay annually or semi-annually instead of monthly. We save a bit of money each year by paying for our car insurance annually instead of monthly. When I do our budget, I set aside a certain amount each month so that by the time the insurance bill is due, I’ve already got that amount saved up- and it stayed in our pockets (without any extra fees) until it was time to pay that bill!
Days 11-15 of the 30 Day Money Challenge
Commit to having a healthy amount in your checking account so you avoid fees and overdraft fees. This one is as simple as it sounds. Know what you need to have in your account to avoid fees and keep your balance above that! Also, consider switching to edocs, as some banks will charge a fee for sending you paper statements.
Make sure your bank accounts are working for you! Not only is it important to avoid interest fees, but you want to let your money earn money if you can! Compare rates at different banks and see which ones have the best earning rates for the money you have. You’ll be looking for pages like this one that compare their current rates (these change all the time).
If your employer offers it, make sure you’re taking advantage of matching rates on a 401K! This is a great way to save for the future, and because it’ll be automatically pulled from your paycheck, you won’t see the money to be tempted to spend it.
Meal plan based on what you already have. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of meal planning to save money. Food is one of the biggest expenses for most people, but many don’t realize just how much money you can save in a few simple steps- the biggest of which is learning to meal plan based on what you already have!
I’ve written a step-by-step guide on how to meal plan on a budget for you, and you can go even more in-depth with my Master Your Menu Blueprint and my Meal Planning Boss course!
See if you can adjust your deductible on any of your insurances to give you a lower monthly or annual payment (if it’s worth the risk). We recently raised the deductible on our car insurance and it saved us some money on our yearly premium. We’ll also be setting aside some money in our budget in case we do have an accident, etc…but hopefully we won’t and we’ll save money in the end!
Days 16-20 of the 30 Day Money Saving Challenge
You’re halfway through the 30 day money saving challenge! Way to go!
Don’t waste food- freeze or plan to use leftovers. Remember, you spent good money on that food- don’t throw money away! If you think you won’t be able to use something in time, freeze it if you can. And plan leftovers days into your week! It means one less day to cook and you’ll save money by wasting less food.
Cook at home instead of eating out. It’s easy to think “oh we don’t spend that much on eating out! I can eat a full meal for $10!” etc. But let’s do some math. I spend about $100-125 each week on groceries, so let’s call that $500 a month for our family of 4. $500 divided by 30 days divided by 4 people divided by 4 meals a day (counting snacks as a meal)…total is $1.04 per meal per person.
That means even if you eat out pretty cheap, you’re still spending 10X what you could be saving by meal planning on a budget! Even if you spend two or three times that on groceries in a month, it’s still significant savings over eating out.
Learn to look for coupons! Good news: you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save a lot of money on a lot of things, just by using coupons! For example:
-Many stores have rewards programs and will send you coupons via email- so be sure to sign up for the email list of stores you go to regularly!
-Sites like Rabuktan will give you cash back for signing up and clicking their site before you shop online.
–Retailmenot.com has a great app that allows you to look up any store and see if there are current coupons. So when you’re out shopping, check the app before making your purchase!
–Honey is a service that will keep track of when prices drop on items you are looking for, plus let you know if that site is offering coupons on that item. And on top of that, they give points that can be turned in for prizes the more you shop through them!
Sign up for Paribus. Paribus is a free service that gets you a refund or credit if a store owes you a refund due to a price change or something like delayed shipping! It automatically gets the refund for you at some stores, and for others it sends you a message to copy and paste to the store to get a refund or credit.
Just a couple of days ago I got an email from Paribus letting me know one of my Amazon packages had arrived a day late (I hadn’t even noticed!) and gave me the text to submit to the Amazon chat box. I did, and Amazon gave me a $5 credit toward my next purchase. BOOM! I effectively earned $5 in about 3 minutes. It’s worth checking out!
Check out what second-hand stores and consignment sales are available in your area. If shopping in person is more your style, check out local second-hand stores and consignment sales! I’ve bought a fancy dress for a wedding (that I knew I’d be wearing exactly once) for about $5 at a thrift store- that was a way better price than I would get buying it new!
My advice: when you go to shop, go in with a list of specific items to look for (so you’re not distracted by all the fun things you find) and go at a time when you can browse. Thrift store shopping is great for the budget, but it often takes a larger time investment because you’ll need to sort through more or try on more to find out if it works.
Days 21-25 of the 30 Day Money Saving Challenge
Find creative ways to do dates and show appreciation for those you love without spending a lot of money. I’ve got a whole post on ways you can do this!
Join your local Buy Nothing Group. The Buy Nothing Project has Facebook groups all over the world, and I love what they do! People offer up things they no longer need for free, and others can claim them. It’s very simple and we’ve gotten a lot of great items from our local group!
Search Facebook for your local Buy/Sell/Trade and Swap groups and use them! I save SO MUCH money buying our toys, clothes, and even gifts from others who don’t need them anymore. Second-hand doesn’t always mean lower quality, and it can help you save more money on a tight budget.
I even challenged myself to get most of our Christmas gifts on these groups this year and I’ve been able to get almost everything- I’ve saved us hundreds on that category alone! And bonus- many of the groups will allow for swaps/trades and not just money transactions- which means I end up clearing out things I don’t need or trading things I have extra of in exchange for things I DO need! It’s a win-win!
Unsubscribe from emails that are trying to get you to buy! Remove the temptation of that amazing deal or latest sale (unless of course, it’s deals you know you need, like on groceries!) by removing the email from in front of your face. And bonus: it’ll help clean up your inbox too!
If you prefer, I also love Unroll Me– instead of unsubscribing from everything, I just have it all delivered as one searchable email every day; that way if I want to see if there’s a sale at the store I’m looking at, I can search it, without having to see emails from the company in my inbox each day.
Ladies, consider switching to a menstrual cup and/or reusable pads and/or menstrual underwear. This one’s not for everyone, obviously. But there is significant evidence that they are better for you– and they’re cheaper, too! I bought my Diva Cup about 5 years ago for about $15 (I think they’re closer to $30 now). Think about how that compares to what you drop on feminine products in 5 years, and imagine what you can save over time!
Days 26-30 of the 30 Day Money Saving Challenge
Sell some stuff. You’ll make money and you’ll own less things to maintain! Those buy/sell/trade and swap groups aren’t just good for getting a good deal- they’re also good for selling things you don’t need. Fact: things cost money to maintain. So let go of some things and get some cash out of it, too!
Buy discounted gift cards at a discount (if you know you’ll use them). At Raise.com you can even set an alert to be emailed when a gift card to a brand you want comes in (and you can even set the discount percentage you want to know about)! I set up an alert for the two grocery stores I shop at since I know I’ll use them and I might as well get a bit more off!
DIY your own planner. Do you tend to spend money on planners (and maybe never use them)? Trying to get organized is an excellent goal- and being more organized and on top of things can save you quite a bit of money. You’ll avoid overdue fees and be able to snag deals because you’ll remember they’re there!
Sell some clothes on ThredUp! They’ll send you a clean out kit, you send them your clothes you don’t want anymore, and then they give you cash for them! I’ve done it a few times, and it’s not mega dollars, but it is easy money.
Program your thermostat. I know this is one that’s on a lot of these 30 Day Money Saving Challenge type of posts- and it makes sense. Programming your thermostat will automatically save you money on your heating and cooling bills, so if you have that option, do it!
What other ways do you save money?
Comment below and let me know what other strategies you have for saving money!
Want to use this 30 Day Money Saving Challenge?
Throw your email in the box below to get a free printable calendar to check off each strategy for saving money as you complete it! Or if you’re like me, download it and use it on your phone to keep track of where you are in the challenge!
If you enjoyed this article, we think you’d also like:
- How to Create a Frugal and Fun Christmas
- Saving Money by Meal Planning
- DIY your own Household Planner
- Our Personal Finance 101 Course
- The 30 Day Spring Clean Challenge