Now that Autumn is in full swing, and we’re all wearing our jumpers and boots again, it feels like the change in weather (and in our wardrobe) should also trigger changes in other things too. Including our spending.
Whatever the time of year, it’s always good to stay ahead of your finances by having a regular ‘detox’ but at this time of year, with the Big Christmas Spend looming; it’s an especially good idea to have a money cleanse.
Just like our health, a money cleanse can help us achieve short-term financial goals faster, change our habits and find the inspiration to form good money habits.
What is a Money Cleanse or Money Detox?
A money cleanse or detox is a way of digging deep into your spending habits, sticking with the good ones (or making them even better) and weeding out the bad ones. These are small and realistic goals you can make towards your financial goals.
You will be shocked at the success that comes from doing small things, even if you only manage to complete 7 or 8 of these tasks on the list. Let’s get started!
The 31-Day Money Cleanse
Day 1: Shout About It
Telling someone (or your whole Facebook feed) about your intentions is the best way to stick to them. It’s far easier to say, “really well thanks” when someone asks you how well your money detox is going than “umm, well, I didn’t stick to it”.
Day 2: Develop a Positive Mental Attitude
Tell yourself on a daily basis how good you are with money. Repeat after me “I am a good money manager and I manage my money effectively.
I am a good money manager and I manage my money effectively.” Keep it on repeat all day long!
Day 3: Set Realistic Goals
Make a cuppa and sit down to write some real financial goals that align with your values. Financial goals will help inspire you to direct your money to the things that matter most to you.
You might want to set up an emergency fund, or a pension or other investment. Or you might set a goal, like saving for a deposit for a house, or a car or a holiday of a lifetime.
Day 4: Hit Unsubscribe
All those tempting and enticing offers, voucher codes and VIP deals that hit your inbox every day from various companies could spell disaster for your savings plans.
Remember, a discount is only a good thing if you actually need the product in the first place… Sign up to Money Nuggets Weekly for a weekly dose of good financial nuggets instead!
Day 5: Say NO To Impulse Buying
Impulsive buyers never get ahead and over a lifetime, it’s the reason so many people retire poor or why some people never build wealth. If you see something you like, ask yourself, “do I need it, will I use it, can I afford it?”.
If the answer is no to any number of these, practice self-control and walk away. If you’re still thinking about it in a few days, then you may re-think, but if you’re not, then it was never meant to be yours.
Day 6: Be SMART With Your Financial Goals
Look at your goals and choose ONE to focus on this month. Make it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
Stick to these and your money management will start to fall into place. For example, have a goal of saving £1000 (specific and measurable) within a (timely) period that is achievable and realistic, say 12 months.
Day 7: Do The Easy Math
Take away your total debts (including your mortgage if you have one) from your total assets (including the value of your home if you own one). This equals your net worth.
It’s always grounding to realise your net worth and to work on increasing it year on year. Make growing your net worth your primary focus each day, month and year.
Day 8: Get It Together
Gather all of your bank and credit card statements, bills and monthly receipts from the last three months together. If you bank online, print them out or have them available on your screen. And then absorb all of that information.
How does it look? Are you constantly overdrawn or are you able to save something each month? It might sound simple, but have you ever really dug this deep into your spending before?
Day 9: Evaluate
If you’re always overdrawn, what can you do to come out of it? Or, how can you be even more in the savings zone? Review your incomings and outgoings and categorise your expenses into needs and wants.
Highlight the needs in green and the wants in red. Which group is bigger? Think about – can all those reds be minimised?
Day 10: Know Your Real Income
Does your real income cover your lifestyle? Do you take home less or more than you thought each month?
Day 11: Make It Happen
Sit down with another cuppa and write down all the ways you can think of to reach the SMART money goal you decided upon in Day 6.
Write it ALL down, how you can make cuts here, savings there and how you could increase your monthly income. Clearing out the loft and selling all that unloved stuff on eBay could be a great first step!
Day 12: Reduce Your Expense Starting Now
This month, find ways to pay less for everything on your bank statement. Buy the supermarket own brand cornflakes, don’t buy a coffee every day, bring your own lunch to work, spend less on birthday presents, colour your own hair, be more frugal with that expensive face moisturiser etc.
Ask yourself “how can I pay less, how can I buy this less often, can I cut this out completely” for every single purchase this month and then compare your hard work to last month’s bank statement.
Day 13: Find That Extra Cash
The best way to find that extra cash and give yourself a payrise is to become a mindful spender. Now that questioning each expense is no doubt second nature (it is, isn’t it?!) brainstorm other ways to save.
There are plenty of ways to pay less, even for essentials, with supermarket discounts and offers. Just remember to be strong – as my Grandad used to say, nothing’s cheap if you don’t want it.
Don’t buy three loaves of bread for the price of two if you know you’re not going to eat it all (or have the room to freeze it) before it goes mouldy. Shop around.
Even though it’s convenient, you don’t have to buy everything in one shop, or stick to the same one all the time. Change suppliers, or choose to pay bills annually rather than monthly if there’s discounts to be had.
Day 14: Switch and Save
Get yourself onto a comparison site such as Money Saving Expert or Money Supermarket. You can compare the prices of everything, including insurance (car, pet, life, home), phone and broadband, TV packages, mobile phone contracts, bank accounts, loans, credit cards and energy suppliers.
You can even find the best credit card balance transfer deals, which could save you money on interest. Don’t be put off by the ‘faff’ of switching, it really is simple these days with the likes of uSwitch to give you a hand.
Day 15: Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need!
Simple, huh? Then stop! Start with the unused gym membership or magazine subscription.
Opt for pay as you go options for things you don’t use regularly like mobile phones and don’t pay extra for large allowances of data or calls. Ask yourself if that thing you’re about to buy is really necessary.
Day 16: Be Proud
No matter how many things you’ve crossed off this list so far, be proud. However small the savings you’ve made or the new habit you are developing, you’ve made them.
Pat yourself on the back and repeat your mantra “I am a good money manager and I manage my money effectively”.
Day 17: Boost Your Income
Look at your job, are you in a position to ask for a pay rise? Or a promotion? Or to switch jobs entirely? Even if you’re not, there are still ways to increase the amount of money coming in each month. Can you squeeze in a part time job?
Local gardening, or ironing or babysitting? Or are you good at a craft you could sell on Etsy, or at local fairs? Could you do some web design, or copywriting in your spare time, on websites such as Upwork or Fiverr?
Day 18: Create a Spending Plan and Factor in Your Goal and Some Fun
Have a financial plan for each month; allocate something to your goal and once all the essentials are taken care of, of course its ok to have some ‘fun money’.– all work and no play is never going to last forever.
Going to the cinema or eating out is pleasurable and if you work hard, then some play time is good. You just don’t have to play hard! Stick to your savings plan, and have fun with the leftovers.
Day 19: Know Your Credit Score
It’s a good idea to check this on a regular basis with a company such as Experian, and to compare your score each year.
Day 20: Fix Credit Errors
If you spot an error in your credit score, fix it. Fixing it now might seem like a chore, but you’ll benefit in the long run and there won’t be anything haunting you later on in life.
Day 21: Get Your Insurance Right
Don’t be over insured, this is costly. Only buy insurance for thing you cannot replace, do without or pay for without anguish.
Insure for the correct value of your car, home, contents and mortgage. You might have life insurance as part of your work contract, don’t pay unnecessarily for what you don’t need.
Day 22: Have an Emergency Fund
Don’t let unexpected expenses or events ruin your finances. You never know when disaster will hit. If you don’t have one, now is the best time to start.
Set up an account, with as little as £1 and keep topping it up until you have build-up 3 months of expenses. Here’s our 25 reasons to have an emergency fund and learn how to build your emergency fund quickly here.
Day 23: Contribute or Review Your Pension
If you already have an emergency fund, well done you! Next, you might want to think about your company pension or a private pension if you don’t have a company one.
Saving for your future when you’re not working might seem years off, but you’ll really thank the younger you if you start your pension pot now. Check out our handy guide on the 10 Tips for a Financially Secure Retirement.
Day 24: Get the Best Interest Rate on Your Savings Account
Is cash languishing in low-interest accounts earning little interest? There’s no excuse for letting your savings languish in very low-interest accounts. Don’t settle for the same bank account you’ve had since being a teenager.
Move your money around and open accounts offering the best rates of interest. Look out for cash incentives for opening up accounts too. Find a high interest savings account to put your savings into and keep an eye on the interest rate compared to other accounts on the market.
Day 25: Give Your Savings Account An Empowering Name!
Set up an account today for that one goal you have chosen and give it a name or feel free to have more than one. You can have one for that holiday, one for that car or one for that rainy day fund – just name them all.
You could also have an account which is your Get the Hell Out of Here fund for when your boss REALLY annoys you and you’re off! Give each account an empowering name and feel that power each month as you see it getting bigger.
Day 26: Go Automatic and Save Effortlessly
Set up a standing order from your current account to your savings account so that your savings are put aside as soon as you get paid. Automatic saving is the best way and easiest way to save money.
That way, you won’t need to remember to do it, nor will you be tempted to spend your money that should be set aside for your goal. You could also use an app to see your savings grow and grow.
Day 27: Make Your Money Work As Hard As You
Sign up with Nutmeg or MoneyFarm and start building wealth little by little. Companies such as Nutmeg and Money Farm allow you to open an investing account with a small sum of money, save regularly as well as reinvest your profits for you.
Smart saving initiatives, with minimal risk like these make your money work harder for you, allowing you to reap the rewards. Read our handy guide on How Do I Start Investing (And Stay Invested).
Day 28: Look After the Pennies
……And the pounds will look after themselves, as the saying goes. And the same can be said for investing with companies such as Moneybox.
Think of them as your online penny jar, making investing pennies a breeze, and they’ll soon add up. Moneybox makes it easy for you to start investing a little at a time.
Day 29: Keep On Learning
Our Resources page is full of books to keep you inspired. To save and earn more you need to learn more. Commit to learning something new each month and apply one thing you’ve learned.
Time to mediate and relax is key too, quiet reflection time on your lifestyle, hopes and dreams is crucial. And learning doesn’t have to be about money management, learn something that makes you happy, too!
Day 30: Develop Good Money Habits
All of this doesn’t come overnight. Be gentle with yourself, and don’t be too down if you slip up and buy those ‘perfect’ shoes that you don’t need.
It’s a learning curve and you’ll be amazed how having good money habits will empower you. Those goals are within your reach!
Day 31: Make a Will
This is the final step in making your money secure and you absolutely don’t need to be mega-rich to have one. And if you don’t have one, the law will determine who gets your assets when you die.
If you don’t like the idea that your money will be decided by someone else, it’s time to make a start on your will today. There are plenty of free will templates and companies that can help.
Financial education matters and it certainly doesn’t stop here. Stay money savvy and sign up to our Money Nuggets Weekly email if you haven’t done so already.
We’ll send you weekly information, tips and advice on how to save more, spend smartly and increase your personal wealth.
But for now, give yourself a huge clap. You’re taking important steps to taking control of your finances just by being here. And once it all becomes a habit, you’ll be a financial success before you know it.
Have you ever had a money cleanse or detox?