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$1000 In 30 Days Challenge & Resource Pack

This “$1000 In 30 Days Challenge and Resource Pack” is designed to help you find, cut and/or earn $1000 inside of 30 days so that you can: pay off debt with it, save it or invest it.

Used regularly throughout your personal finance journey, this resource will serve you well for many years to come... So, whether you’re paying off debt, saving for an emergency fund or saving/investing for your retirement, the principles of grabbing cash in “$1000 handfuls” will 

My strong recommendation would be to go ahead and download the PDF version of this post as it has all the printable forms you'll need to complete this exercise AND will help you to keep this process "top of mind" when you start to feel a little overwhelmed or challenged.

 

Here's the free downloadable/printable PDF version of this post.

This free PDF includes:

1) The contents of this entire blog post.

2) The all-important basic budgeting form.

3) The 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt list.

4) The progress tracker printable for you to plaster to your fridge and have a blast with.

 

Here Are The Steps

1. Complete the Basic Budget (see image below).

This will be a very basic, “shoot from the hip” budget. This basic budget will give you an idea of how much you can save this coming month by producing a snapshot of what you can reduce, substitute and outright cut out of the budget to help you achieve this $1000 goal. 

This is page 1 of 2.

 

As a side note, I would recommend doing a much more thorough monthly budget preceded by my pre-budgeting step but for now,  this is just a quick way to get you up and running and get $1000 as quickly as possible.

 

2. Read the 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt (list is also located further down this page).

Identify what you can implement from that list to find, save or earn additional cash.

Remember, the general strategy is three-fold. 

  • Sell some stuff (attic, garage, basement, storage unit(s)).
  • Reduce, substitute and/or cut things from the budget.
  • Get extra work, overtime and/or side-hustles.

The idea here is to find as much “leakage” in your budget as well as to monetize your “stuff” and your time/labor as much as is feasible. The combination of the above three ideas usually “finds” $1000 pretty quickly for most of our students.

 

3. Print out the savings tracker and plaster it to the fridge (see image below).

 

Print this out and put it on your fridge to help you keep track of your small & big wins!

 

As you save and earn extra cash, transfer that into your savings account (or envelope) and color in the corresponding amount on the chart. This visual aid will help you to track your progress and to celebrate every small win.

 

4. Deploy your budget either by using the cash envelope system and/or by printing it out and doing it on paper.

I highly recommend doing your budget on paper for the first 90 days instead of in a program or an app. Why? Because it dramatically reduces the overwhelm for most of our students having to learn two highly complex skills simultaneously: 1) budgeting as a brand new skill and 2) the ins and outs of a complicated budgeting app.

For a more in depth treatment on budgeting, see these two posts: 

Budgeting 101: How To Build A Budget (You Can Actually Stick To)

Budgeting 101: The First 90 Days (What To Expect)

 

The Playbook

A. After you get your basic budget started, immediately start looking for ways to reduce your spending over the next 30 days. 

B. After reading 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt, which ideas are you going to try? How much do you anticipate selling, saving or earning? Are there any other ideas that weren’t in that list?

C. Are you going to just use the budget printable or will you use cash envelopes as well? How are you going to stay on track? How are you going to be accountable for getting this $1000 together?

 

100 Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt 

This list is based on a much more thorough blog post I wrote, called 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt. The actual post goes into a lot more granular detail about the "why, what and how" behind the list, but this will be a solid way for you to get and keep this ball rolling.

1. Start practicing saying, ​“I can’t afford it”​. It’s probably true, at least for now. Just look at it like you’re practicing for when you can afford it, but you just don’t “want to” afford it. :)

2. As a general rule, always look for ​bargains/options that cost less than you can actually afford to buy.

3. Tell friends and family that you’re saving money and getting out of debt. They will more than likely try to find ways to support you in your efforts (hopefully). If not, stay the course and stick to your plan.

4. Stop all “autopay” bills for 6 months. You want to start actively paying your bills, even if it is online by calendaring and being more mindful of what is due and when it’s due. 

5. If you’re going to use online bill pay, do it manually for at least six months until you have more control over your money.

6. Cut cable TV. Use Youtube, Vimeo, Bitchute and other free online content delivery platforms for entertainment. There’s TONS of amazing free content out there.

7. Stop eating out for a month, including eating out at work.

8. Start a weekly meal plan (we’ve got a planner for that in our Free Products & Printables Library).

9. Stop buying books, CDs, DVDs and Magazines. Go to the library instead and do book-swaps with friends and your church.

10. Stop buying music. You can stream for free from YouTube and Pandora. 

11. Stop buying bottled water. Get a good water filtration system instead.

12. Cancel your gym membership. Get some used equipment form Goodwill or off of Craigslist.

13. Use coupons as often as you can, especially for name brands.

14. Switch to using generic or store brands.

15. Establish a home food pantry, compare prices and buy in bulk when reasonable.

16. Use the dollar store (Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Big Lots, etc.).  Try to substitute as many products as you can, where you would normally buy from Target, Walmart, etc.

17. If you have recurring prescriptions, call your insurance company and ask for prices for “RX by mail”.

18. Stop paying for lawn care. Get a used mower and start cutting it yourself or put those teens to work. :)

19. Don’t pay for credit reports. Go to ​annualcreditreport.com instead. It’s free.

20. Stop paying for hair care. Cuts, color, etc. Someone in the household can at least cut all the males’ hair with some clippers.  

21. Dye your hair or do your own highlights at home.

22. Stop paying for manicures and pedicures. DIY instead.

23. Bank/ATM fees. If your bank still charges for those, you might want to look around for another bank.

24. Cell phone insurance. Instead invest a few bucks in a hard case like an Otterbox.

25. Smartphone apps. This can add to budget “leakage” rather quickly. There are TONS of free apps that will likely substitute.

26. New Cars/Leased Cars/Financed Cars. If you have to borrow money, just eliminate it from your thought process.

27. Say no to home warranties. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone say anything good about them.

28. Don’t pay for computer antivirus software.

29. Utilize discount grocers like Aldi. We switched from Kroger to Aldi and it’s meant about $100+ reduction in our monthly grocery spending.

30. Avoid membership clubs like, Costco, Sam’s and BJ’s. I’ve run the numbers and they don’t really work for us. Caveat emptor (buyer beware). 

31. If you’re looking to buy a home or to rent a different place, always try to keep your rent/mortgage under 25% of your monthly take home pay. Always go for the least expensive option, except for if it involves living in a war zone.

32. Buy discount ​Greeting cards at Dollar Tree has 2 for $1 and have some of the funniest cards I’ve ever seen.

33. Christmas gifts. Talk with family about setting spending limits, particularly while you’re eliminating debt. As minimalists, we do a lot of “regifting” as well.

34. Skip the $10+ per person skating or ice skating fee this season and go for a family hike in a state park.

35. Stop paying retail for jeans. This is a great opportunity to try out thrift store shopping. Jeans are very resilient and thrift stores typically have a TON of them.

36. Implement quarterly spending freezes for two weeks. Don’t purchase anything unless it’s absolutely necessary.

37. Look into refinancing your home mortgage to a lower interest rate and moving from a 30 year fixed to a 15 year fixed. Yes, the monthly payment will be higher, but it could save you tens to hundreds of thousands in interest charges over the life of the loan.

38. If you have a car payment, sell your car and look for a cheaper alternative. If you get a tax refund, this is a potentially great use of that money.

39. If you’re a two car household, consider paring down to one car. Consider the overall expense of: payment, gas, insurance and maintenance and see if it warrants the conveniences it provides.

40. Try batch or freezer cooking. You can save a ton on your grocery bill as well as time in the kitchen. 

41. Only buy produce that is in season.

42. Visit farmers markets right before closing to grab discounts on produce.

43. Stretch your ground beef with oatmeal or beans.

44. Plant a small garden. Tomatoes and herbs are a great starting point.

45. Look into buying a share of a cow to reduce the cost of high quality beef.

46. Don’t waste food. Freeze leftovers for easy meals later.

47. Cancel your landline phone and use cell phones only.

48. Turn your thermostat up 2-3 degrees down in the winter and 2-3 degrees up in the summer.

49. Switch to an alternative, lower cost cell phone carrier like: Mint, Ting, FreedomPop.

50. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, washing your hair, shaving, etc. Take “navy showers”. That is, turn off the water except when you’re wetting or rinsing. 

 

Do you "get down" with Pinterest? Would you consider pinning this to your favorite board?

 

51. Switch to cloth diapers.

52. Cover drafts in the house with a door snake or other protective coverings.

53. Put infrequently used appliances on a power strip to easily unplug.

54. Shop your insurance and switch carriers if the prices are lower and the coverages are comparable.

55. Quit paper towels and start using hand towels and cleaning rags.

56. Change your own oil. There are tons of car-specific YouTube videos for this.

57. Purchase your own parts for car repairs. YouTube some basic repairs and try DIY, at least for the minor stuff.

58. Preventive maintenance on your car and home can save you TONS on the back end. Make a list of the preventives and see what you can DIY.

59. Try ditching the dishwasher. Wash dishes by hand.

60. Use cloth baby wipes cut out of old white t-shirts.

61. If you plan on having more than one child, buy neutral baby stuff so they’re transferable.

62. Buy gift wrap, tags and tape at the dollar store.

63. Use this opportunity to become debt free and promise to never borrow money ever again for any reason whatsoever.

64. Eliminate processed snacks, cookies, chips, goodies.

65. Get a large water bottle and carry it with you instead of paying over $1 for bottled water.

66. Search through weekly ads and, when you see a good price, stock up on staples.

67. When you find yourself in need of a certain product, go to this list to learn the optimal yearly time to buy: Lifehacker's "Best Time To Buy" List.

68. Also, always check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay to see if you can find a used/discounted version of what you need.

69. Check around the outside of your home for any leaks to make sure you’re not “leaking” any heating or cooling.

70. Call all the companies you get bills from and see if there’s any way you can lower your bill.

71. When your regular light bulbs expire, replace them with CFLs or LEDs. WAY more energy efficient.

72. Switch to a low flow shower head.

73. Stop buying and drinking soft drinks. It’s better for your money and your health.

74. Make your own coffee at home instead of buying at a coffee shop.

75. Don’t eat out except for VERY special occasions.

76. Try doing your own home maintenance using YouTube as a resource.

77. Try doing a “staycation” instead of traveling and spending tons of cash.

78. When you’re “out and about”, pack your own snacks so you’re not tempted to buy overpriced ones.

79. If possible, stop buying clothing that requires dry cleaning.

80. Stop buying and drinking alcohol. If you can’t, that might be an issue to look into. :)

81. Stop using credit and debit cards and use the cash envelope system instead. It hurts more to spend cash, so hopefully you reduce your spend.

82. Stop spending money on entertainment (at least temporarily). Utilize (free) local, state and national parks and other types of free entertainment.

83. Shop for back to school bargains. Sometimes these happen after the actual season, so start trying to think a year ahead.

84. Build a written budget​, on paper for the first 90 days. This is Step 1 in our “8 Steps” system. Reach out for help if/when you get stuck.

85. Have money directly transferred out of your paycheck into a separate, more difficult to access, savings account.

86. At the end of every shopping trip, remove 2-3 items from the cart that you know you can live without.

87. Limit your kids’ extracurricular activities. These can be a major (not so) hidden expense. And, even when they’re free, they cost you time, gas and stress. Give your family the gift of a little less stress.

88. I’m a huge fan of and wrote a post about ​HSAs (Health Savings Accounts)​. They lower your health insurance premiums and offer an attached savings account that can actually be a phenomenal retirement savings vehicle down the road.

89. Once you’ve passed ​Step 4 (your fully funded 3-6 month emergency fund) raise the deductibles on all of your insurance policies. This will reduce your premium payments.

90. Do free trials of apps, services or programs before you purchase. Set a calendar reminder so that you remember to cancel before it hits your debit card, so you don’t make an “accidental” purchase. 

91. Call your creditors and ask for a reduction in interest rate.

92. Always go grocery shopping with a list.

93. Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

94. Get your ​free credit report annually and review to make sure there are no surprises.

95. Make sure your tires have the appropriate amount of air in them. This will improve your gas mileage.

96. Use your crock pot for inexpensive meals.

97. If you don’t have a pet already, really consider the financial aspect of feeding, caring for and potentially boarding them before you adopt one.

98. Scale down birthday parties. Have them at home with snacks and games. The dollar store is a great resource for getting creative here.

90. Make a filing system for your receipts and categorize them for tax deductible items.

100. Come up with a plan for any and every purchase, especially over $10. Whether it’s decorating your home, buying clothes or food, it will greatly accelerate your time to the “debt-freedom” finish line.

 

Again, my strong recommendation would be to go ahead and download the PDF version of this post as it has all the printable forms you'll need to complete this exercise AND will help you to keep this process "top of mind" when you start to feel a little overwhelmed or challenged.

 

Here's the free downloadable/printable PDF version of this post.

This free PDF includes:

1) The contents of this entire blog post.

2) The all-important basic budgeting form.

3) The 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt list.

4) The progress tracker printable for you to plaster to your fridge and have a blast with.

 

What To Do Next

Now that you have that as a basic framework for budgeting, the next step is to get as granular as possible with the rest of your financial life. I want to offer you another completely free resource that will help you map out your money with even more confidence.

Ready to get total control over your money? Introducing My FREE 8 Steps To Erase Debt Guide

These are the steps I personally followed to obliterate $43,000+ of debt in 2.5 years

Maybe your number is bigger, maybe it’s smaller. Either way the principles are the same and I want you to have them.

  1. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)
  2. Build A Budget
  3. Starter Emergency Fund of $1000
  4. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)
  5. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses
  6. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)
  7. College Funding (if applicable)
  8. Pay Off The Home Mortgage
  9. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!

I’ve created a simple, easy to follow “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide that you can use as your foundation as you navigate the absolute annihilation of your debt forever. 

 

Here are some additional options to help you accomplish your personal finance goals:

  1. Check out our YouTube Channel for "how to" video guides.
  2. Join our Zero Debt Tribe Community on Facebook, a group of friendly, like-minded personal finance enthusiasts, budgeting nerds, debt-eliminators and “FI-ers” who are there to help each other succeed? Click here to request to join for support and encouragement!
  3. Our library of Free Products & Printables.

 

What do you need help with the most right now?

And finally, I want to encourage you and challenge you to get started in this process. You can do this by downloading this blogpost as your guide. The downloadable pdf contains all the printable forms and instructions you need to get this process started.

So, I’d LOVE to hear from you. The biggest compliment you can give me as your coach is to share your progress and your takeaways in the comments below.

I wish you nothing but great success in your personal finance endeavors and please let me know how I can help you accomplish your goals.

To your freedom,

Brad

Your Virtual Money Coach

[email protected]

 
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click & make a purchase, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps keep Zero Debt Coach up and running. Read my full disclosure policy.

 

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