What Is A 30 Day Money Challenge, Anyway?
The 30 Day Money Challenge is a personal finance exercise designed to help you save money and build better financial habits over the course of 30 days.
The challenge involves taking a small but consistent action each day to improve your financial situation.
Why Would I Take The Challenge?
Do you need to save $100, $500, $1,000 maybe even $5,000 dollars in 30 days? Well, depending on your current finances, saving 30% - 40% of your total take home income is completely possible.
How? You have to first start with a budget. Remember, if you can’t track it, you can’t manage it, so a budget is absolutely key here.
12 Things You Can Do Immediately To Help Hit Your Money Goal In 30 Days
Start A Budget
Once you have a budget in place and your finances categorized you can get to work on you plan of action (hint: it’s the 30 day money challenge!)
Automate Your Savings
Sounds like a foreign concept, I know, but it’s truly very simple. Every time you get paid, money is automatically allocated from your checking account into your savings account. While I’ll admit this is better for long-term savings goals, it’s still a great way to save over the course of 30 days.
Keep in mind. If money is in your savings account it makes it that much more difficult to impulsively spend it when using a debit card.
Cut Unnecessary Expenses
Cutting, or reducing your outgoing expenses is absolutely the best way to save. Here’s a quick list of common unnecessary expenses.
10 Common Unnecessary Purchases
- Gym memberships
- Eating out
- Impulse clothing purchases
- Regularly buying brand name products
- Buying non-essential items online
- Subscriptions to streaming services
- Excessive cell phone data plans
- Bottled water
- Bottled coffee/tea drinks
If you notice any of these line items in your monthly spend, see if you can reduce or cut them out completely. This is a money challenge after all, not a spending challenge!
Shop For Better Car Insurance Rates
Did you know the average car insurance rate for Americans is approximately $1,500 per year.
This is just ridiculously easy. I do this every 6 months and every year or so I find a better rate with another company.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily switch auto insurance providers every 6 months, but I definitely get quotes to see if I can find a better rate and in many cases I do.
Recently I saved over $1.200/yr switching from Progressive to Tesla’s in-house insurance, and in the past with other vehicles I’d manage to save $500+/term (6-months) by switching carriers.
So, seriously, please compare insurance rates. You can switch insurance companies anytime with no penalty, whether that’s auto, home or health. And in the case of this money challenge, if you already pre-paid your policy, you’d get a pro-rated refund (woohoo! money back!)
With insurance loyalty can cost you money, so go get some quotes!
Negotiate Lower Interest Rates On Credit Cards
The median rate of interest across all credit cards for February 2023 is 22.24%
Here’s how I look at this. You may not be able to call up a bank and negotiate your current rates, but you have a better tool at your disposal - balance transfers.
What you do is apply for a new credit card that’s offering a promotional rate (such as 0% for balance transfers), sign up, and then transfer the outstanding balance of one or more credit cards to this new card.
On average (depending on your debt level, of course) you can save anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars per month when using promotional balance transfers.
We make this easy at Savings Hackers. Simply go to our credit cards page and find a balance transfer promotion.
Create A Debt Repayment Plan
This is essentially the “debt repayment” portion of budgeting, and while it would technically be considered outgoing, not income, if you combine this with a debt consolidation loan, or in the case of credit cards, a promotional balance transfer, you have the opportunity to immediately lower your over all debt and monthly payment towards that debt.
To start, begin by writing down all of your debt – including credit cards, student loans, car loans, and any other debts you may have. Once you have a complete (and accurate!) list of your debts, you can then begin to prioritize which ones to pay off first.
Consider the interest rate of each debt, as well as the monthly payments associated with it. You may also want to consider the total amount you owe for each debt and any other factors that may affect your ability to pay it off.
The coolest part about this strategy is that not only can you save over a 30-day window, you’re setting yourself up for the future. Low/No debt is the way to go!
Track Your Credit Score
One of the things I do is use free services like WalletHub and CreditKarma to keep tabs on my credit score, accounts, credit pulls, .etc. Basically, I want to know what’s up with my credit at all times.
This also gives me everything I need at a glance in a slick little dashboard and email alerts. Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without those services.
However, there’s one big issue with the majority of credit monitoring services out there - they use the Vantage Score. Remember, only FICO scores matter, so there’s a cool little hack if you have certain bank accounts.
American Express, PenFed, Navy Federal Credit Union and a few others give you monthly access to your real FICO score!
So, if you enroll for those free services at your bank + enroll with a credit monitoring service you get the best of both worlds.
Once you have that data, here are 2 things you can do to improve your score. And btw, improving your score is going to make getting things like lower APR loans (personal, auto, mortgage, .etc) a WHOLE lot easier!
1.) Pay down your debt, highest interest accounts first.
2.) Dispute any inaccurate line items with the 3 credit bureaus.
See, it’s that easy.
Oh, and if you want to know where to dispute inaccuracies on your credit report, here’s that information as well.
Experian URL: https://www.experian.com/
Credit Dispute URL: https://www.experian.com/disputes/credit-dispute/
Contact Information: Phone: 1-888-397-3742
Mailing Address: Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax URL: https://www.equifax.com/
Credit Dispute URL: https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes/
Contact Information: Phone: 1-866-349-5191
Mailing Address: Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
TransUnion URL: https://www.transunion.com/
Credit Dispute URL: https://dispute.transunion.com/dp/dispute/landingPage.jsp
Contact Information: Phone: 1-800-916-8800
Mailing Address: TransUnion LLC, Consumer Dispute Center, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Sell Unwanted Items
We’ve all been there. A little less money in our bank account than we'd like. So, sometimes you have to make the tough call. If you really want to make quick cash you need to sell items that you have and no longer want or need. So,
Now let's see 18 things you can sell at 18 different places.
Here are 18 unwanted items you can sell for quick cash
- Unused gift cards
- Old electronics
- Used furniture
- Unused cosmetics
- Used books
- DVDs and CDs
- Unwanted jewelry
- Power tools
- Baby items
- Computers and laptops
- Sporting goods
- Mobile phones and tablets
- Video games and consoles
Here are 18 places to sell unwanted items for money
- eBay: Dude, it's eBay.
- Amazon: Jeff Bezos' pet project.
- Facebook Marketplace: Zuck's playhouse.
- Craigslist: Craig's extremely outdated yet amazingly helpful list of classified posts.
- OfferUp: You probably already have an account here ;)
- Letgo: Another mobile app for buying and selling locally.
- Depop: Sell clothing and fashion items.
- Poshmark: Sell higher-end used clothing and fashion items.
- Mercari: Sell anything from clothing to electronics.
- Yard sales or garage sales: Just like Grandma used to drag you to.
- The RealReal: Sell high-end designer clothing, accessories, and home goods.
- Tradesy: Sell secondhand fashion and accessories.
- Etsy: Stack that money selling your handmade, vintage, and unique goods.
- Rebagg: Got some LV, Gucci, Celine, Hermes or other high-end designer handbags collecting dust...bam, sell it here.
- StockX: If you've got high-end shoes, or basically anything from Supreme, this is the place to list it.
- Gazelle: A company that buys used electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
- NextWorth: Another company that buys used electronics, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
- Decluttr: Sell your old Mariah Carey CDs and Call Of Duty video games.
Refinance Student Loans
Refinancing student loans typically involves taking out a new loan (such as a personal loan) to pay off one or more existing student loans.
Not every personal loan can be used for student loans, though, so it might make the most sense to work with a lender that specializes in refinancing student loans.
You can find all types of personal loan lenders here if you’d like to learn more about refinancing your student loan(s).
The typical qualifications for refinancing student loans with a personal loan includes...
- Good to excellent credit score: Most lenders require a credit score of 670 or higher to refinance student loans.
- Stable income: Lenders want to see that you have a steady source of income to repay the loan.
- Low debt-to-income ratio: Lenders want to see that you have enough disposable income to comfortably repay the loan while still meeting your other financial obligations.
- Employment history: Lenders may require you to have been employed for a certain period of time before they will consider you for a loan.
- Loan repayment history: Lenders want to see that you have a history of making timely loan payments.
If you don’t quite have the credit, or you’re self-employed, there are still lending options so I wouldn’t completely count yourself out. It pays to shop around, so head on over to the loans section of this site (at the top of the page) to check out our lending partners.
Avoid Impulse Buying and Extra Shopping
Ahhhh, man, this is the worst! OK, I can curb impulse buying (kind of), but it’s the shopping that gets me. I absolutely love buying things.
…yet, I know it’s not conducive to my budget. See, I have spending issues, too!
Anyway, even if we don’t all take this advice, if you’re doing the 30 day money challenge, this is something you’re going to have to get onboard with.
We all love buying things. I get that, but you’re going to have to limit those unnecessary charges, at least for this month.
Bonus points if you can keep the streak going, stick to a budget and continue making wiser choices. I know. It’s hard. You got this!
Negotiate A Raise
Did you know this is one of my favorite things to do? Yes. I’m a total nerd. I love negotiation. I actually teach salary negotiation on the side and for some reason, I guess I’m pretty dang good at it.
So, rather than explain what it is, because we all know what a raise is, I’ll briefly explain how I teach it.
There are 3 primary components I teach.
1.) Evaluation & Confidence.
For #1 you want to evaluate your career and current role. What have you done for your current employer? What is your current role worth on the open market (use levels.fyi) Take notes, hit the highlights, and then, once you’ve done all of this you can have the confidence that you’re worth X salary.
For #2, it’s about getting that leverage.
- Apply for positions at other companies.
- Interview as much as possible.
- Have a list of things you’ve done for your current company that contributed to the bottom line, or special initiatives.
What you want here is not a bidding war, but the power to say “Look, I’m worth $100,000 and you’re paying me $65,000. I have 2 companies interested in working with me, and while I’d love to stay here, I absolutely need a bump in compensation to that level” - except you don’t need to say that just yet ;)
For #3, it’s all about the negotiation strategy.
- Line up outside offers (leverage)
- Get your list of accomplishments together (leverage)
- Request a salary increase meeting with your boss.
It can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You can do this via email, or Zoom or in-person and the results are basically the same.
Your job is to make a case for an increase in total compensation, their job is to listen and evaluate. If you do this correctly, you’ve made your case and get the raise, if they balk - you should have lined up alternative offers, or have a very clear path towards when you can expect a raise at your current company.
Salary negotiation does not have to be an all-or-nothing event. You can still lose the ask and set yourself up for a future raise when salary reviews come back around again, or negotiate for better benefits or leave for a competition now, or at a later date.
It’s about giving yourself the best possible options and if you can close that out this month, you just smashed your 30 day money goal! If not, maybe you’ll get that raise or a new role soon!
Stay tuned for a more in-depth article on salary negotiation if you’re interested in learning more.
Take Advantage Of Employer Discounts
Here are 10 common employer discounts or employee benefits
- Healthcare: This may include discounts on health insurance, dental insurance, or vision insurance. I think we all know how expensive paying for any of these services out of pocket is!
- Fitness: It’s not uncommon for some employers to offer gym memberships or fitness classes. You can take advantage of this instead of paying for a gym membership yourself!
- Technology: Some employers, especially tech companies, offer free or partial reimbursement for computers (hellloooo, MacBook Pro!), SaaS subscriptions and other software. Why buy a brand new Mac if you can get one for free? Or, if you have a Mac you can now consider selling it…even better!
- Travel: This is less common, but still available for some. While I don’t expect you to consider traveling heavily during your 30 day money challenge, if you happened to have been squirreling away money for a trip there might be an alternative at your employer.
- Retail: This is two-fold. You may work in retail and get a discount through your employer, or your employer may offer discounts at certain retail stores. If you have this benefit available to you and you regularly shop at those retail stores, this is a no-brainer.
- Food: OK, so we don’t all work at Google and get 3 meals catered for free by a 3 star chef, but surprisingly there are many employers that offer free food in some capacity. Whether through discounts or by providing it directly during in-person work hours. I mean, why buy lunch if you can get it free? Exactly.
- Transportation: In the Bay Area a lot of employers offer transportation discounts (such as for BART) and while you may or may not live in the Bay, there are many employers that help employees offset the cost of transportation (and parking!) Plus, it’s a very responsible thing to do. If you have the ability to get a free public transportation ride to-and-from work, why waste the fuel with your car? Savings are adding up already!
- Financial services: A lot of employers have 401k matches, but did you know some employers have special partnerships with banks that offer discounts to their employees? You should check with your employer to see if they offer this perk as it’s a great way to get lower rates on loans and products like free checking.
- Education: This one is a game changer. Some employers help cover the cost of higher education, including total reimbursement in some cases! In addition, there are also some companies that offer stipends or specific amounts (i.e. $1,000 or $5,000) towards specialized education each year! If you were considering leveling-up your skills (you should!) then see if your employer offers this. It’s a total win-win.
- Home services: This is rarer among employer benefits, but it is offered at some companies, especially if they’re smaller and local. Some employers have special arrangements with home service contractors that offer discounts for employees to use their services. Think gutters, roofing, solar, .etc.
And speaking of home services, if you’re looking at renovation, solar, just about anything you can do to home - we’ve partnered with an awesome company that can help you find local contractors and get the best deal. Check it out!
...so, are you motivated, yet?
Start Your 30 Day Money Challenge Today!
1.) Set a financial goal
2.) Create a budget
3.) Follow the tips in this article!
Wishing you the best of luck and I know you can do it!