If you dream of having a baller bank account and the freedom to kick back without a financial worry in the world, it’s possible to hack your spending habits until you’re sitting on a comfy cushion of cash. And since studies show most of us can adopt new, long-lasting behaviors after just three weeks, you could be well on your way to a richer life by the end of the month.
Let go of any worries about your bank account balance, and start living your best life today. We challenge you to take the next 21 days to establish new spending habits! Which of these money-saving ideas will YOU commit to?
WEEK 1 – Establish a Baseline
Start the 21-Day Challenge by figuring out where you stand financially and which expenses you can temporarily trim without shocking your system.
Identify what’s dragging you down
Take a good look at last month’s expenses to get an idea of how much you spent and what you bought. Budgeting apps like Mint can help you by importing and categorizing your electronic transactions in minutes, making it easy to spot areas where you’re overspending.
- Identify Unnecessary Expenses: Keep an eye out for businesses you regularly spend small sums of money with and put them on a blacklist. Keep that list on your phone or in your wallet.
- Don’t Tempt Fate: Avoid temptation by not carrying cash or taking a different route to work.
Buy needs, not wants
It’s no secret that the best way to save money is to cut out impulse shopping, and only buy absolute necessities.
- Feast Affordably: Go food shopping once a week and stick to the list you brought with you. Eat breakfast at home, pack your lunch for work and prepare dinner in your own oven.
- Pass on Premium Products: From clothing to electronics to the type of gas you put in your tank, skip the top-shelf items in favor of their more-affordable alternatives.
Use what you’ve got
Another great way to cut expenses is to be resourceful about what you’ve got lying around the house. You don’t need to start making your own soap like you’re the newest member of Fight Club, but you’ve likely got some stuff you could be putting to good use.
- Expand Your Recipe Repertoire: Make homemade meals using sites like MyFridgeFood.com that let you to plug in the ingredients you have before telling you what recipes you’re equipped to cook.
- Pay in Other Ways: Don’t eat out anywhere without a coupon or gift card.
- Enjoy Entertainment You Own: Skip the theater this week and dust off an old DVD instead. Or start reading a new book if it’s been a while since you cracked one open.
WEEK 2 – Cut Off Some Companies
Making a few quick phone calls during the second week of this 21-Day Challenge might save hundreds on recurring expenses, and save you a mountain of money over the years.
Explore your options
Odds are that a talking gecko and an aproned brunette have been jockeying for your insurance dollars for quite some time. Maybe one of them can save you some scratch?
- Inquire about Insurance: Collect quotes from competing insurance companies to see if another company offers you a better deal.
- Channel Your Inner De Niro: Test your acting skills by threatening to cancel your cable or cell service because your bill’s too high. Most companies will cut you a deal before letting you leave.
- Chat up Creditors: Got credit card debt? Call up your card issuer and ask for a reduced rate, or transfer your balance if it means long-term savings.
Break up with brands
Why buy the paper towels with the highest thread count or use the same sandwich bags as the Kardashians, when brand XYZ does the same job? Choosing store-brand products is an effective cost-cutting method that can save you a bundle at checkout.
- Focus on Price, Not Packaging: From paper towels and cleaning supplies to painkillers, opt for more affordable off-brand products on your next trip to the store.
Ditch some subscriptions
Now that you’ve watched Beyoncé’s Lemonade, do you still need that subscription to Tidal? Canceling your underused memberships could supercharge your savings.
- List Your Memberships: Make a list of any subscriptions or memberships that renew on a monthly or annual basis. Only keep the ones you can’t live without.
- Flex for Free: Instead of renewing your gym membership, exercise outdoors, or take advantage of free or donation-based classes offered by many yoga studios and gyms.
- Opt Out of Annual Fees: If you have a lengthy credit history and not a lot of debt, consider canceling any credit cards with an obligatory annual fee.
WEEK 3 – Hone New Habits
The home stretch of our 21-Day Challenge is all about the little things. Making small, subtle changes in your daily life and routine can lead to big savings over time.
Slay some vampires
Cut your electricity bill by unplugging “vampire appliances” that suck up power even when they’re not being used.
- Stop Paying for “Standby”: If you only use your printer, stereo, or video game console a few times a week, don’t leave those bad boys plugged in day and night. The same goes for any appliance with a digital clock or standby mode.
- Unplug Your Internet: No one at home surfing the web while you’re at work? Wireless routers rack up kilowatt hours faster than just about any other appliance. Turn off or unplug your modem and router before leaving home and you could save a chunk of change.
- Adjust Your Temps: Turn off your heater’s pilot light during warmer months, and learn to use your thermostat’s built-in timer to reduce your bill. Raising your refrigerator temp a few degrees can also make a measureable difference in your electricity usage.
Go swapping, not shopping
Itching for something new in your life? Instead of whipping out your wallet, tap into your network of friends, family and coworkers to find a slew of items you can breathe new life into.
- Exchange Entertainment: See if any of your friends are open to trading books, DVDs or video games.
- Purge, Not Splurge: Take items you haven’t worn in a year to a thrift store or consignment shop, some of which offer store credit for something new to you.
- Trade Your Threads: Rather than hitting up the mall, organize a clothing swap to trade outfits and accessories with your friends.
Financial freedom starts today
Start Mint’s 21-Day Challenge today and see how much of a difference you can make on your bank account’s bottom line. Tweet or comment about your cost-reduction strategies this month, and stay tuned for our recap.