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Money Done Right has created a 14-day money saving challenge with ridiculously simple steps that will help you put extra cash in your accounts.
When it comes to saving, the little steps are what make the biggest difference.
For maximum effect we recommend two things:
- Starting this 14-day challenge on payday, and
- Signing up for Personal Capital (it’s free, and you get a $20 bonus!) so you can track your progress.
These steps will help you track and monitor progress throughout the challenge.
To kick this challenge off correctly, the first couple of days need to focus on the basics of savings.
Paying yourself first might be the most commonly stated personal finance rule ever. But, it’s referenced often because it works, and it makes sense. If you’ve never heard of it before, paying yourself first means putting money into your savings account before you paying your monthly living expenses and making discretionary purchases.
According to Investopedia, an estimated 39% of Americans have no savings at all, and 57% have less than $1,000 in an emergency fund. The pay yourself first method aims to change our poor saving habits to prepare us for a financially stable future.
It’s day one, you’ve just been paid. Start the challenge off right, and pay yourself first.
Day 2: Start a savings account.
Now that you’ve paid yourself first, you need somewhere to put the funds.
For most of us, it doesn’t work to keep our savings in the same location as our checking account. Opening a savings account allows us to hide our money from ourselves. Out of sight, out of mind.
Take day two to arrange a spot to save your money.
We recommend signing up for the 100% free CapitalOne 360 Savings Account.
Currently, the CapitalOne 360 Savings Account is running a promotion that offers $25 to anyone opening a new account.
That’s a terrific way to start your money saving challenge.
By adding money to your savings account you’re setting your nest egg up for success.
Day 3: Set yourself up for online shopping success.
Day three is about preventative measures. If you know you’re someone who likes to shop online, set yourself up for success.
If you shop online, there are ways to do it “right”. And by right we mean, you’re saving money as you do it.
Honey is a simple browser that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout for thousands of online retailers.
When you shop with certain retailers, like Amazon, your purchases also earn “Honey Gold”, which is a percentage back on each of your purchases. This perk translates into real money.
These extensions allow you to both save and earn simultaneously.
If you’re going to online during this challenge, you might as well get some free cash!
Day 4: Revisit your credit card management skills.
Many personal finance blogs warn against credit card use.
And yes, if your spending is out of control, racking up a credit card balance paired with the inability to pay the bill off each month will crush your financial wellbeing.
But, if you’re wise with your money credit cards can be a great tool.
For example, many avid travelers love the Capital One Venture for its welcome bonus, and because it’s so easy to redeem points. If you open a new account, and spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months you can earn 50,000 miles, which equals about $500 in travel.
So, if you have a major purchase on the horizon, and are able to pay the debt off quickly, picking a card like this can be a great strategy and benefit.
Day 5: Do some quick math.
Now that you’ve focused on some of the savings basics, let’s tackle an assignment. Use day five to calculate your spending habits compared to your hours worked.
Let’s say you make minimum wage. Currently, the U.S.’s national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. (This can fluctuate by state, but we will stick with $7.25 for this example.) Let’s also assume that you have a major love for the Starbucks Ultra Caramel Frappuccino, which cost between $5.24 and $5.45. If you do the math, you’ll see that if you work for one hour, about 75% of your pay will go toward your coffee. And, if you drink a Frappuccino every day, you’re spending $38.15 a week on coffee.
When you start to think about spending in these terms, it makes it a little more difficult to swallow the cost of designer drinks.
Day 6: Switch to a lower interest rate.
Day six is going to require a bit of legwork, but it’s worth it.
If you’re a credit card user, when is the last time you took a look at your APR?
Depending on your credit, you may be able to switch your balance to a lower interest rate card which can save you a pretty penny.
As of 2017, the average cash back credit cards ran at about 20.90% APR.
Let’s say you have a credit card with 20.90% APR and make a $200 purchase. If you pay off this debt using credit terms like a minimum percentage of 3% and a minimum payment of $35, you will pay $12.52 in interest on that purchase. It will take seven payments to pay the due off entirely.
By lowering your APR slightly, let’s say to 15%, that same purchase will cost $8.80 in interest over the course of six payments.
These interest fees may seem low, but if your credit card balance is higher, say around $2,000, your total interest charges grow accordingly. Using the example above, a $2,000 charge at 20.90% APR means $1,747.84 in total interest charges and 93 months to pay it back.
Today, research balance transfer credit cards to see if you qualify. If you do, make the switch.
You can also apply the same logic toward car loans, mortgage payments, or anything that you can refinance or roll over to a new loan product.
For student loans, check out Credible.
From our research, Credible offers some of the student loan refinance interest rates we’ve seen.
Day 7: Practice discipline.
Today is exactly halfway through your money-saving challenge. Let’s apply your savings techniques into action for your personal life.
The challenge for day seven is to say ‘no’ to something you really want to do.
Saying ‘no’ is difficult to everyone. But, it’s smart, and exactly what makes a money saving challenge just that – a challenge.
Here is an extreme example. If all of your friends are on board for flying out to Coachella in 2019, but you know you can’t afford it without incurring debt, what will you do?
We will all have our chance to experience the amazing things this world has to offer, but patience is a virtue. It’s much less stressful to go on a trip knowing you’re doing so with a wise financial strategy and money in the bank.
Rather than going into the red to see Queen Bey perform, save your money for the next six months. Then, if your goal is to experience the queen in concert, start planning out a path.
When you finally achieve it, you’ll experience the show in confidence – without worrying about debt or where your next rent check is coming from.
Day 8: Do a subscription check-up.
What bills and subscription memberships do you have on auto pay? Are you still using all them?
Day eight is about eliminating out-of-date subscriptions. To do this easily, we recommend signing up for the bot Cushion.
Cushion is great for giving you a reminder of what’s coming out of your pocket each month.
Not only can a tool like this inform you of subscriptions you forgot about long ago, it can also help you visualize how much you’re spending each month.
As a bonus, Cushion also offers something called the Bill Negotiation Tool to help you talk down the pesky cable and internet bill with the notoriously difficult customer service team.
These services mean dollars off of your monthly bills – not just subscriptions.
Day 9: Give yourself a goal.
OK, now that we’re more than halfway through the challenge, you’re beginning to reap the rewards of your hard work. You might even feel like jumping ship and spending your hard work.
Not so fast. Let’s realign.
Ask yourself, what are you using the money saving challenge to save for? To be blunt, if you aren’t working toward saving for anything specific, you’re likely to stop the challenge, or eventually spend more than you should. Here are common financial goals:
- Buying A house
- Starting a family
- Giving gifts to friends and family
- Preparing for your children’s education
Whatever your personal goal is, take day nine to write it down.
Put a post-it note on your desk at work, or on your mirror in the bathroom. Remind yourself why your discipline is going to pay off. Soon, saving becomes less of an annoyance and more of a tool for empowerment.
Day 10: Spend zilch.
Can you go all of day 10 without spending a dime? This is both a fun game and a wake-up call.
You may not realize how many small purchases you make throughout the day that can really add up. This means not going on a coffee run with co-workers, no after-work drinks, and cooking food you’ve already purchased as opposed to calling food delivery.
Keep pushing yourself. If it’s not difficult for you to go one day without spending, try to go two days. Still not hard enough? Find how many days in a row you can go without spending anything.
Day 11: Ditch your car.
Today’s challenge is to find a different way to get around town. If you drive a car, can you use the bus or ride a bike?
It’s easy to chalk our gas bill us as just another expense. But, what exactly is the cost of filling up your tank?
According to Bloomberg, in the United States, the average driver uses 429.19 gallons a year, which eats up 2.07% of the typical salary. Additionally, with an average daily income of $170.28, it takes 1.76% of a day’s wages to afford a gallon of gas.
By finding an alternative, and less expensive ways to commute, you could be adding money to your bank account. In this example, $170.28 translates to a salary of about $44,273, annually.
2.07% of $44,273 equates to around $920 on gas each year. What would you do with an extra $900 in your bank account?
Day 12: Revisit your insurance policies.
Depending on where you are in your financial journey, you may be missing out on insurance savings. Today’s challenge is to look at your insurance obligations and do some price comparison.
Do any of the other insurance companies offer a better deal? Can you find a new provider and bundle your policies?
Most providers offer deals for those who purchase home and auto insurance together. In fact, on average, you can save 15.97% by bundling homeowners and auto insurance policies in the U.S. overall.
Take another look at your current insurance obligations and see what you can do to bundle them.
Day 13: Try Couponing.
Now that you’ve realized the value in eating at home versus eating out, let’s start focusing on smart grocery shopping habits. Yep, we’re talking about couponing.
Today’s challenge is to download Ibotta.
Ibotta is a free mobile app that helps you earn cash every time you shop for groceries. After opening the app, you:
- Select a store to shop at.
- Browse the product gallery
- Select the items you want to buy from the list
In order to cash in, take a picture of your receipt and submit to Ibotta.
A bit of preparation and legwork can save you money at the check stand.
Day 14: Start the calendar method.
OK, we’ve reached the end of the challenge, but don’t let your progress go to waste. For day 14, we challenge you to a new month of savings.
Here’s the gist: For one month, every date on the calendar represents the amount of money you need to add to your savings account.
So, on the 1st, you place one dollar into your savings account, on the 2nd you save two dollars, on the 3rd three dollars, etc. On the 31st, you’ll be just shy of $500.
Feeling extreme? By increasing this challenge to 52 days, you’ll save $1,378.
If the calendar method is too difficult for you, try adding just one dollar every day – it still adds up.
Once the year is over, you’ll be just shy of $400. And as a complement to other savings practices, this can really solidify the effectiveness of your money saving challenge.
Start studying for continued success
For many people, personal finance isn’t the most enjoyable subject to read about. But, to get serious about your finances means equipping yourself with knowledge.
Pick a handful of personal finance blogs and make a habit of reading them each day. You’ll be surprised at how many innovative tips and tricks you’ll learn. The more you study personal finance, the more equipped you’ll be to handle and manage money challenges as they come your way.
While there may not be a specific dollar figure to assign to this skill, there is certainly no denying the value of money management.
Earn. Save. Grow.
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