If you’ve ever checked out Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps, then you know the first step is to save $1,000 for a starter emergency fund.
Saving $1,000 in 30 days is a big goal, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish- and how fast you can accomplish it- when you have a plan and the desire to make it happen.
Case in point: Imagine with me for a minute that Chip and Joanna Gaines arrive at your doorstep and they have a very special offer. They will give you your dream home for only $1,000.
Whaaaat?! Sign me up!
The only catch is that you have to have the money in cash in 30 days. No big deal, it’s a HOUSE!
When we’re talking about a dream home by Chip and Jo, a thousand bucks feels like nothing! It’s too amazing of an opportunity to pass up! I’ll subsist on ramen noodles for a month! I’ll take the bus to work every day! I’ll deliver the morning newspaper! I’ll do just about anything to save up that money!
You see, saving $1,000 in 30 days has more to do with the emotional drive and focused intensity than the amount.
The emergency fund isn’t as exciting as getting a beautiful home, I know.
Unfortunately, the reality isn’t as pretty, either.
78% of U.S. households will experience a major financial event in any given 10-year period. That’s a 4 out of 5 chance that you will actually NEED your emergency fund. It could happen in two years, or tomorrow.
We simply don’t know and can’t predict when something requiring cash reserves will happen, which is why we need to allow that sense of urgency to sink in.
The smartest thing you can do when you’re about to save a big chunk of money is to write out a budget for the month. This is your game plan to save.
First, determine what your basic needs are: food, shelter and utilities, transportation, and basic clothing. How much of your paycheck do you really need to cover the essentials?
Next, figure out your monthly take-home pay. Just add up your household’s paychecks for the month, and that’s your number.
Now take your monthly take-home pay and subtract your basic expenses. The remaining balance is the amount you will be able to save in just 30 days simply by living on the basics for a month.
The next step is where we get creative. Everyone is going to have a different starting point. You may have $500 in your budget to spare, or maybe you’re barely able to cover minimum payments. That’s okay.
There are two ways to get money in that savings account: cut your expenses and increase your income.
Starting with the budget and cutting out non-essentials (remember, it’s only temporary!) is how you’re going to take control of that income outgo and have money at the end of the month to stash away.
Which brings us to the next step: figuring out creative ways to quickly earn extra money in 30 days or less. The $1000 Savings Guide with Resource Pack has an entire list of ways to earn more, ranging from fairly conventional to completely whacky, but all completely doable.
For example, your closet may be a treasure trove of clothes, shoes, purses, and accessories that you don’t use anymore but could help you earn some serious cash. And bonus, you get a clean closet!
Or maybe you have a talent for playing piano, or are really good at math. Try teaching music lessons or offering your tutoring services. At $20-$40 an hour, this is a lucrative opportunity if you are willing to market your services.
And don’t forget there are lots of opportunities to earn money instantly by taking online surveys, getting cash back for uploading receipts to Ibotta, using Ebates for online purchases, and testing websites for companies like usertesting.com (they pay $10 for a 20 minute commitment!)
The key to remember here is that every little bit adds up. Don’t ignore the cumulative power of a single dollar, or even 25 cents!
Now that you’re all set up with a plan, it’s time to put it into action. A budget is useless if it just sits on your desk collecting dust! But that’s unfortunately what happens with most plans. Strategizing how to implement your plan is the next step.
Here’s what to do: first, decide if you are going to commit to using cash envelopes. Cash envelopes are a great way to stay accountable to your budget because you can’t spend more than what’s in the envelope and it’s easy to track- you don’t even have to write down your purchases because you can see how much is left in the envelope.
The downside is this means no online spending, unless you go to the grocery store and buy an Amazon card with cash first. To me, this is an added hassle but it will definitely help if you have a hard time with overspending online. So either buy gift cards for Amazon with cash or avoid online shopping all together if you go the cash envelope route.
Another option is to use my favorite budget app, Every Dollar Plus. It connects to your bank so that purchases from your checking account and your auto-pay bills show up as expenses on the app that you then track by dragging it into a category.
It’s super easy and saves us a lot of time calculating expenses. We only use a debit card from one checking account to keep things simple and transparent. And we look at the app every day to track our spending and to the use the budget as a guide to see how we’re doing throughout the month.
Even if you enjoy earning credit card points, I recommend making this month a no-credit card month. Put it away in your personal safe or freeze it in a block of ice for the next 30 days.
Decide if you want to use cash or debit so that you really have to stick to your budget and make sure to track your spending as you go. This will help you hit your savings goal, and you won’t have to spend hours at the end of the month adding up receipts.
Yes, $1,000 is a big goal, but it is completely possible to conquer! If you’re ready to get started, be sure to grab your $1000 Savings Guide and Resource Pack. It has tons of ideas for saving and earning extra money, along with a savings tracker and a Budget Basics worksheet.
And if you ever get stuck along the way, I’m here for you. Email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, like the Facebook page @thedetermineddollar and follow me on Pinterest pinterest.com/determineddollar.
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