I’ve come to the end of the 30-day money cleanse – a chance to hit the “reset” button on my finances and look at them from a fresh perspective. This final week is all about locking in the progress made during the cleanse. I love this, because you can’t necessarily rely on “willpower” or remembering to keep up your financial goals: you need actual systems in place.
Want to do the money cleanse as well? You can follow along on Personal Capital’s blog, or in the game version I made in Habitica (complete with gold rewards amd XP!).
Previously on the 30-Day Money Cleanse…
And now, for the dramatic conclusion…
Day 23 – Rollover Old 401k’s
All old 401(k)s should be rolled to an IRA or a Roth IRA (depending on if they are traditional or Roth 401k’s). Each rollover call should take 10 minutes, and some can even be done online.
My paperwork to roll over my 401(k) came! But… I’m still not sure that I should. As I mentioned in Week 2, my old 401(k) comes with the rare benefit of free financial advising. And, though the fees on the account are not Vanguard-low, they are pretty low.
I have 90 days to fill out the rollover paperwork (before I have to request new paperwork again). So I think I’ll sit on it for a little while yet.
Day 24 – Revisit Expenses
Take another look over all expenses and explore ways to cut them back even further if need be. The goal is to ensure you are spending NO MORE than 80% of your paycheck.
We spent a little bit on baby stuff this week, in that desperate new parent haze of “maybe this will get you to sleep on your own!” But other than a few baby accessories and some planned purchases, we’re still keeping expenses tight. Still, I looked at my recent transactions in Personal Capital just to be sure that we’re staying on track.
Day 25 – Use Only Cash for One Week
Now that you know your weekly discretionary budget, go to the ATM and take out exactly that amount of cash and only use cash for the week. Using cash makes you more aware of money going out the door.
I’ll be honest – I skipped this one. Yes, it’s a good exercise… if you’re a person who ever leaves their house to spend money in person! But being a one-car household and having a young baby at home, I hardly shop “offline” at all these days. I even get our groceries from Amazon! Getting the car from my husband, having him take care of the baby for a while so that I can go to the ATM and then to several stores to use the cash? That would be a huge time commitment. Time that could be better spent making money.
Day 26 – Tell Your Friends and Family
Telling others about your financial belt-tightening helps you stay on track! So when going out, suggest inexpensive activities like hikes, picnics, or free activities in your city so that they can join you and hold you accountable.
Does this blog post count? Honestly, I’ve found that my friends think I’m more frugal than I really am, thanks to this site.
Day 27 – Set Weekly Calendar Reminders
Once per week take a look at how much you’ve spent. Check that all your bills have been paid and that you are meeting your spending, saving and investing goals.
Hint: Set up a Habitica daily for this! Just pick the day of the week you want to check in, and set up a daily that repeats on that day each week.
I could be a lot better about this. Not that I don’t stay on top of things, but I do it kinda willy-nilly, whenever I think about it. That’s a waste of time, really, because I end up checking in more often than I need to. If I sat down once a week (or heck, once every two weeks!) and just knocked out everything all at once, it would probably take up less of my time. The way I was doing it resulted in me triple checking things that were already taken care of!
Day 28 – Check Out Hidden Fees
Check out how much you’re paying in credit card fees. If you aren’t getting rewards that correspond with the fees on the card, pay off the card and close it.
Hint: If it’s your oldest credit card that has the fees, you may not want to close it (in order to preserve your credit history). Simply call up your credit card company and ask them to waive the annual fee. Most companies will do this for a long-time customer, or they can switch you to a no-fee card while still preserving your credit history. It just takes one phone call! (You can even try Live Chat or the secure message system in your card’s online account!)
Last month I closed several credit cards with annual fees, and I did it all online using Live Chat or secure messaging. No phone calls required! I still have one card with an annual fee, though it may be worth it, depending on how much I spend on travel and dining next year. I set up a calendar reminder for before the fee will be charged, to email me and remind me to reevaluate.
My oldest credit card has no annual fee, thankfully!
Day 29 – Set up Monthly & Quarterly Check-ins
Each month, see how you’re doing in your short term goals (paying down credit card debt/building an emergency fund). For quarterly check-ins look at your investment portfolio and rebalance if needed.
Hint: use Dailies on Habitica to remind yourself! Just set the “Repeat” to “Every 30 days” for short term goal check-ins, and 90 days for portfolio rebalancing.
My net worth updates serve as a good monthly check-in, but good to have the reminder about rebalancing!
Day 30 – Treat Yourself
Congrats, you’ve made huge strides towards financial wellness! Treat yourself, you’ve earned it. Now keep it up!
Looks like I’ve got to arrange for a babysitter!
And that’s it for the 30-day money cleanse! What did you think? Did you play along with me? How much did you learn about yourself and your money from this process? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo credit: Arto Marttinen