The Whole "WALLET" 30, is a 30-day reset to your spending.
I met up with a friend the other day for coffee. She looked like she had lost weight so I congratulated her. She said she recently completed a 30-day food challenge, "the Whole30", and was thinking about doing another one. While she found the challenge hard, by the end, she started craving the new food regimen. She is eating healthier and feeling happier.
The Whole30 is a dieting program where for 30 days you restrict all grains and sugars, eating a diet of mainly vegetables and proteins. The goal is to reset your body and mind about the foods you consume and how they affect you.
This is what the Whole30 says about its 30-day program on its website: "Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long-term health, body composition, and feelings around food. The most important reason to keep reading? This will change your life." - https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/
Now, in the above quote, replace "food" with "money" and "eating" with "spending": "Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects..."money" may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with "money", and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the "money" choices you’ve been making. Learn how the "money" you’ve been "spending" is actually affecting your day-to-day life,...and feelings around "money". The most important reason to keep reading? This will change your life."
A diet for the benefit of your physical health is directly correlated to a diet for the benefit of your financial health. If you can or would do a 30-day food challenge, I propose a similar challenge, but for your budget.
HOW IS THIS SIMILAR TO A 30-DAY DIET CHALLENGE?:
I believe that health and wealth are 100% connected. The similarities in dieting and cutting back spending are exactly the same; motivation and commitment to making a conscious effort to change. That is all you need.
If you are like most people at the end of the month you don't even know where your money has gone. You look back at your credit card like, "How did I really spend this much?" "Where did all my money go?" In 30 days, you will gain awareness of your spending and be able to answer those questions for yourself.
Here is your Whole"WALLET"30 challenge:
WHAT YOU WILL FIND OUT DURING THIS CHALLENGE:
1. Your "baseline spending." What do you actually need to live on? This is very helpful if you are contemplating making a job change where you know you will take a pay-cut or have little-to-no pay for a period of time. This is a good exercise to see what you would be able to sacrifice in order to make your new budget work.
2. The confidence to know where your money is going each month. You will learn what types of purchases are keeping you from reaching your savings goals every month. This is especially helpful for those who know they have bad spending habits in certain areas like; food, alcohol, or clothing, to name a common few. You will be able to know what these habits cost you every month.
3. Accomplishing your financial goals does not mean deprivation. Just as my friend actually started to enjoy and crave her new diet, you might find you actually enjoy your new spending habits.
Here is the 30-day DO NOT BUY list:1. Clothing and Shoes (apparel and accessories of any kind) - I don't care if it’s a wedding, graduation or even your own birthday! Don't purchase any new clothing items - no excuses. Instead, see if you can borrow something from a friend or wear something you already have. I promise no one on Instagram but you will notice you repeated an outfit.
2. Food out (restaurants, bars, coffee shops or convenience stores) - Do all grocery shopping and eating at home. Refrain from purchasing coffee, after dinner ice cream and any meals out of the house. Make time to prep your meals and snacks.
3. Personal Maintenance - This covers everything; hair, nails, waxing, skin care products, eyelash extensions, spray tans, etc. Any service you normally leave the house to get is considered personal care. Try doing your personal care at home for one month.
4. Entertainment - Instead of going out to see a movie or spending money on entertainment, invite friends over to watch a TV show, go to a park, or explore your neighborhood by foot or bike. There are plenty of free activates to take advantage of.
Here is the 30-day BUY list: 1. Pay all your necessary bills including any debt obligations, housing, and food bills. 2. Purchase only the essentials.
BEFORE YOU START:
Gain clarity on your priorities. Evaluate what your goals are. What would you like to save for, given the extra money you will have after this 30-day challenge? Are you saving for a down payment on a house? Do you need a new car soon? An engagement ring for your girlfriend? Whatever it is, write it down and underline it...multiple times. Then, imagine it being reachable after 30 days of retraining your spending habits.
IF IT GETS HARD:
The challenge is only for a specified period of time. Remind yourself, this is just for 30 days. If you really want something on the DO NOT BUY list, you can buy it next month. Put it on your Amazon wishlist and it will not go anywhere. I bet, though, at the end of the 30 days, you won't go back and buy most of the things you told yourself you would wait to purchase.
WHY IT WORKS:
You are re-wiring your habits. That is why the food challenge picked 30 days. It is long enough for you to build new habits. Identify the "cues" that lead to your self-identified "bad habits" (overspending or mindless spending). Once you identify the cue, change the habit. Continue this process of conscious decision making until you subconsciously choose the better habit.
An example of a cue and money habit: you are driving home tired and stressed (the cue), so you decide to ask a friend if they want to meet you out for dinner (the habit). Dinner turns into drinks, food and then dessert. While you had fun, you likely spent at minimum $30 more than if you had invited your friend over to do the same thing at your house.
ON DAY 31:
Look at your spending from the month before Whole"WALLET"30 and compare it to the month of the challenge. You will have your answer to what you NEED and DON'T need to spend. Based on this information, build your new budget. Include a line item for discretionary (extra or out of the ordinary) expenses. The hope is that because of the challenge, you will have reset your perspective and identified where you can spend less and not feel deprived. You can go one step further and begin automatically transferring this new "found" money towards one of your savings goals.
A SHORTER CHALLENGE:
If you can't commit to a full, 30-day Wallet challenge, give "FREE days" a try. Its a one-day money challenge, Pick one day a week to spend no money (again, automatic withdrawals for necessities like utilities and debt re-payments are excluded). I suggest starting at one day a week and then working your way up to more days from there.
Happy saving, Alicia