Among life goals like foam rolling regularly after workouts, learning to love being single, or landing your first job as a manager, saving more money is a priority for a lot of us. We talked with Ashley Feinstein Gerstley of The Fiscal Femme to put together the perfect 10-step money cleanse that’ll flush out all of your bad financial habits and keep you on track all year long. Read on to cash in and start saving like never before.
1. Find your motivation. Gerstley tells us that the first and (most important!) step to kicking off your money cleanse is to identify your motivation for getting financially fit. “What will you get out of it? Why do you want to do this?” she asks. It could range from not wanting to live paycheck to paycheck anymore (the stress!) or saving for a down payment on a house. Your answers will drive the positive steps you’ll take to your financial wellness.
2. Make the time to budget weekly. Gerstley says, “One of the most common reasons people tell me they don’t make progress with their money goals is that they don’t have time.” She agrees that time is limited but reminded us that it’s all about *what* we pick as priorities. “Think back to your motivation,” she instructs. “Is it worth making the time for a money cleanse? If it is, put aside time in your calendar each week to give your money some love.”
3. Share your money goals (however awkward at first) with your dream team. Everything is more fun when you do it with the people you love! “I highly recommend doing your money cleanse with buddies,”Gerstley suggests. “At the very least, enlist your friends, family, and colleagues for support. Money is something we don’t talk about enough because it can feel awkward. When that happens, the people we love most aren’t in on our money goals and can’t support us.” She tells us that building a dream team means sharing what you’re doing with the people you spend the most time with. Strategizing with them can totally help you meet your goals.
4. Keep a money journal or excel sheet to become more aware of your money. Gerstley tells us that while technology has improved our lives in a ton of ways, it can still be tough on our wallets. “Swiping credit cards, hitting the ‘buy’ button when online shopping, and hopping in and out of an Uber or Lyft without paying [in cash] might have separated you from where your cash is going,” she wisely notes. Ready to reconnect with your cash? Gerstley says that one of the most effective ways to do it is to keep a money journal, where you write down (or type out) everything you spend and earn. “No item is too small!” she proclaims.
5. Go on a cash diet. Since credit cards and debit cards make it hard to really feel the implications of spending, Gerstley suggests considering a cash diet, which means taking out a set amount of money for different things in your budget and paying for them in cash. ”It’s a very different feeling to buy something with a credit card than to pay for it in cash,” she swears. “Just THINK about handing over all of those $20 bills.”
7. Consider your everyday spending triggers. “Environmental toxins are the people, places, and things that get the best of our spending,” Gerstley explains. “There could be a certain store that you leave spending much more than you intended or a friend that seems to cause you to drop extra cash.” What to do? Plan for each event and reward yourself when you stick to it. And seriously consider avoiding Target when you just need toilet paper. Their colorful, organized products get us every time.
8. Notice what truly treats you. While you definitely deserve to treat yourself, it’s also super important to do it in a way that truly brings you joy, instead of mistakenly moving you further away from what you want most. “If your biggest goal is to save for a vacation or get out of credit card debt, that’s the true treat. If you end up buying yourself ‘treats’ throughout the year at the expense of what you really want, that’s not really a treat at all,”Gerstley cautions.
9. Face the numbers. Hopefully, your money journal and cash diet will have you clear on where your money is going. Now you’re ready to take an annual view. Ashley says, “The annual view is all about what’s coming in, what you want to put toward your money goals, and how much is left over to spend on your lifestyle. Things don’t line up quite yet? No worries! Gerstley promises, “Even if this equation doesn’t work right now, it’s MUCH more important and powerful to face the numbers and know what’s happening with your money than to avoid it entirely. This way, you can do something about it early.”
10. Track and celebrate your success. Measuring your success is ultra-important when it comes to completing your money cleanse. Gerstley says to ask yourself how much you’ve saved, how much closer you are to your goals, and how you’ll celebrate mini-milestones along the way. “Rewarding yourself might feel silly or sound trivial but it really works,” she says. “Don’t skimp on this last step. You’re worth it.”
Will you try a money cleanse? Let us know how it goes on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)