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Tired of an empty bank account? Want to eliminate the fear of receiving bills? Wouldn’t it be great to be free of your debt once and for all? Improving your personal finances is just like dieting, exercising, and other kinds of habit-building goals: all you have to do is start small, start slow, and let the momentum build over time.
Building new habits is hard, though, and the lack of a routine, having too many goals, and having poorly defined goals make it harder. That’s why predefined, one-step-at-a-time challenges are so effective at building new habits. All you have to do is follow along.
If you decide to try only one 30-day personal finance challenge in your entire life, let it be this one. Not that it’s the be-all-end-all solution to all of your financial woes, but it’s arguably the best crash course we’ve ever seen and highly worth checking out yourself.
The creators of this challenge, Lindsey Stanberry and Priya Malani, have put a lot of effort into making it as informative, relatable, and easy-to-follow as possible. If you’re an absolute newbie to personal finance and have no idea what to do, this challenge is for you.
For each day, you get a single task to complete, the tools you’ll need to complete it, and the estimated amount of time it’ll take. But what’s especially nice is that each day comes with teachings on financial basics, examples from the writer’s own life, and some words of encouragement.
For example, Day 16 isn’t just about setting up an emergency fund, but reasons why such a fund is important and how to make the best use of one.
You’ll also be asked to save a little bit of money every day, culminating in just under $500 saved over the course of the month. Not only will you be equipped with a new financial attitude, but you’ll have a significant chunk of money to show for it!
Despite how you may or may not feel about the quality of content at Forbes these days, don’t overlook this awesome 30-day money crash course written and compiled by the site’s staff writers and contributors. It’s actually quite good, especially for apprehensive newbies.
The goal of this money challenge is simple: to train you to be more aware of your money situation, to build a healthier attitude towards money, and to help you rein in harmful spending habits. It’s all about taking control of your money instead of being controlled by your money.
At the start, you’ll learn the fundamental basics like how to read your paycheck, check your credit online, track your spending, and discover your money personality. These simple steps are designed to get your feet wet and you’ll start feeling comfortable in no time.
By the end, you’ll learn how to overcome emotional spending triggers, consolidate or refinance big debts, cut unnecessary expenses, and even make a bit of extra cash on the side to help you towards financial freedom.
The 30-Day No-Spend Challenge
Maybe you need something simpler. Maybe the course-like challenges above cover too much information and demand too much from you. Maybe you just want to focus on wasting less money. In that case, this challenge is for you.
The 30-Day No-Spend Challenge is exactly what it sounds like: eliminate all unnecessary spending for one month. For 30 straight days, you set aside your debit and credit cards, lock down your online accounts, and do everything possible to avoid impulse shopping.
What counts as unnecessary? If you can survive without it, it’s unnecessary. (That means Starbucks coffees, cinema tickets, Woot deals, etc.) If you do need it to survive but there are cheaper and less luxurious alternatives available, then it’s unnecessary. Fast food, restaurants, designer clothing, and other similar purchases are, therefore, considered unnecessary.
This challenge is much easier if you use a mobile finance app to track spending. When you can actually see how much you’re saving, you’ll gain even more motivation to keep going. It’s one of the most effective ways to break out of a bad spending habit.
30-Day Habit-Building Challenges
Once you’ve completed the 30-Day No-Spend Challenge — or if you feel like even that one is a bit too difficult for you — then you can try creating your own money-related 30-day challenge. What’s nice here is that these can be tailored to your individual needs.
For example, if you have a real problem with spending and you have absolutely no idea where all of your money goes, then you will benefit from a “Track Every Expense” challenge. For one whole month, record every single purchase you make, no matter how big or small.
Another challenge could be to “Read One Article” every day — not just any article on the web but one that’s related to personal finance, saving, budgeting, investing, or another financial topic. For this, we highly recommend starting with one of these amazing personal finance blogs.
Other ideas include the “Pack Lunch”, “No Online Shopping”, “Cash Purchases Only”, and “Bike to Work” daily challenges. You can turn anything into a 30-day challenge! (If you have a good one, share it in the comments below so others can tackle it as well.)
Habits are obviously hard to build. That’s why we also recommend supplementing these challenges with one of these habit-building Android apps or one of these apps that make habit-building actually fun. You’ll be surprised by how effective these can be in the long run.
The 52-Week Savings Challenge
If you’ve gotten this far and still think that all of the above challenges are too hard or too demanding, then here’s one that literally anybody can do no matter how impulsive or undisciplined you might be: the challenge to save a tiny bit of money once every week.
It’s really simple. Here’s how it works:
- Every Sunday, you transfer money to a savings account.
- On Week 1, you transfer $1.
- On Week 2, you transfer $2.
- Continue the pattern.
- On Week 52, you transfer $52.
By the end of one year, you’ll have effortlessly saved $1,378.
One temptation will be to withdraw your savings from an ATM before your 52 weeks are up, so we recommend opening a savings account at one of these safe and reputable online banks. The temptation is somewhat dampened when you realize that a transfer will take around three days.
Try One Now & Start Saving Money!
The ultimate goal with all of these challenges is to change your attitude towards money. Instead of being careless and throwing cash down the drain with every frivolous purchase, these challenges train you to think of money in a new and healthier way.
We hope that you’ll also gain a newfound interest in personal finance as a whole. If you do, consider checking out these wonderful personal finance resources and maybe even start thinking about ways to teach your kids about finance, too!
Which of these challenges will you take? What is your biggest weakness when it comes to money and spending? Tell us about it in the comments below!