Day 11 / 31 Start a Coins Jar

Day 11: Start a Coins Jar
Day 11: Start a Coins Jar
Day 11: Start a Coins Jar

A fun and effective way to speed up your savings efforts, whether that is for your emergency fund, to pay off debt or for your 3 months living fund, is by starting a coins jar.

Whilst you are unlikely to save up your entire 3 months living fund by just adding some loose change to a jar, every little bit helps and what is more important, each time you contribute something to your jar, you not only reinforce your goal and the fact that you can be in control of your money, it also works as a visual representation of your financial progress. It is always fun to see your money grow and what better way than having a coins jar that fills up a little more each time you add in another coin? Continue reading “Day 11 / 31 Start a Coins Jar”

Day 10 / 31 Build a 3 Months Living Fund

Day 10: Build a 3 Months Living Fund
Day 10: Build a 3 Months Living Fund
Day 10: Build a 3 Months Living Fund

Little by little you are improving the financially weak areas in your life: with an emergency fund building up you are taking away the risk of having to go into debt when an emergency expense comes up and by paying off your debts you are regaining control over your finances and reducing the amount of interest you are paying in the long run.

There is another very powerful safety net you can create for yourself: a 3 months living fund. Such a fund would have 3 months’ worth of expenses saved up in case you are without an income for a while. There can be many reasons you might find yourself without an income for an amount of time such as loss of a job, taking an upaid sabbatical to look after an elderly parent, or taking time off for yourself to name just a few. Continue reading “Day 10 / 31 Build a 3 Months Living Fund”

Day 6 / 31 – Automate your payments

Day 6: Automate your Payments
Day 6: Automate your Payments
Day 6: Automate your Payments

Every year people spend hours paying their bills, time that can easily be saved if these were paid automatically. If you are worried about not having a control over how much is taken out of your account, remember that since you are now tracking your expenses (see Day 1’s Challenge), this payment will sooner or later appear in your expense log anyway which will still give you an opportunity to check for errors.

Another strong argument to automate your payments is that it can potentially save you a substantial amount of money over the long run. Every time you are late paying a bill, you are charged a late payment fee and whilst you might have the intention to always pay your bills on time, the reality is that life happens and at one point or another you either forget, don’t have time or have much more pressing issues to deal with. Continue reading “Day 6 / 31 – Automate your payments”

Day 5 / 31 – Start an emergency Fund

Day 5: Start an Emergency Fund
Day 5: Start an Emergency Fund
Day 5: Start an Emergency Fund

Have you ever had to go into debt or eat into your savings because of an emergency expense coming up that couldn’t wait? Maybe your washing machine broke down and you needed to replace it? Or your car had to get a repair that you hadn’t counted on? Did you ever have a plumbing issues that really had to be fixed as soon as possible?

In most of these cases you often can’t NOT pay for the expense as that would only create more problems, damage or costs. But if you don’t have any money set aside that you can call upon for when these types of unexpected expenses come up, it can be almost impossible to find the money to deal with the problem in the moment without either taking on more debt or using money from your savings that was potentially already earmarked for something else.

The fifth challenge of our 31 Challenges this month is to therefore start putting together an emergency fund. In that way you will always have some money set aside to deal with emergencies such as described above. Aiming for roughly $1,000 is usually a good guideline, but of course adjust this as needed. Continue reading “Day 5 / 31 – Start an emergency Fund”

Day 4 / 31 – Limit one Expense

Day 4: Limit one Expense
Day 4: Limit one Expense
Day 4: Limit one Expense

Now that you have created a budget (Day 3) and started tracking your expenses (Day 1), I am sure that you are becoming aware of some expenses that you currently have that seem way bigger than you thought they would be.

Day 4’s challenge is to have a quick and stern look at your expenses and then pick one (and only 1!) that you are going to limit for the rest of the month.

Look at the budget you made yesterday as well as your expenses up to now, and pick one expense to reduce. Make a rough estimation of how much you might be spending on it each month, then set yourself a goal of how much you can save during the next 4 weeks. Remind yourself of this goal every day, as at first I am sure you will get tempted to go back to your old habit! Continue reading “Day 4 / 31 – Limit one Expense”

Day 3 / 31 – Start a Budget

Day 3: Start a Budget
Day 3: Start a Budget
Day 3: Start a Budget

The challenge for day 3 is to start a budget and plan on how you are going to spend your money this month. A budget not only ensures that you have enough money assigned for all of your expenses (and avoid running out of money at the end of the month), it also guarantees that you plan ahead and start setting aside some money to pay down debt or to add to your savings. Without putting in a plan, these long-term goals are unlikely to get prioritized and are therefore often forgotten about.

As you start your budget, think about the various expense categories that you have (such as utilities, car payments) and the individual expenses you have within each category (electricity, gas, water) that are likely to come up this month, both ones that are relatively predictable each month (such as rent / mortgage, groceries, utilities) as well as any less regular expenses such as birthday presents, clothes or meals out in restaurants.

Once you have a list of all expenses you expect to have, look at your expected income for the month and start assigning your money to each category, being careful not to budget any more than you have coming in. You can do this again on paper, in a digital spreadsheet or in a budgeting app or online program. Continue reading “Day 3 / 31 – Start a Budget”

Day 2 / 31 – Calculate your Net Worth

Day 2: Calculate your Net Worth
Day 2 of the 31 Day Challenge to Financial Excellence
Day 2: Calculate your Net Worth

Hello again and great to have you back for the second day of the 31 Days Challenge to Financial Excellence! Today we are going to calculate our net worth to see how healthy (or unhealthy) our current financial situation is.

Your net worth is a sum of all your possessions (also called assets) minus the total of all your debts. You can either have a positive net worth, which means that you have more possessions than debt, or you can have a negative net worth, indicating the exact opposite: you owe more than that you own.

Examples of assets include: real estate, any money in savings or checking accounts, investments and valuables such as antique (don’t bother including your electronics or small jewelry though as these are unlikely to add that much value). Continue reading “Day 2 / 31 – Calculate your Net Worth”

Day 1 / 31- Track your Expenses

Day 1 - Track your Expenses
Day 1 - Track your Expenses
Day 1 – Track your Expenses

Hello and Welcome to Day 1 of the 31 Day Challenge to Financial Excellence! We are going to dive straight in and start with the first Challenge of this month: Track your Expenses.

When you start keeping track of everything that you spend, you gain valuable insight not just in where your money goes each month, but also where you might be able to save some money as well as taking steps to aligning your expenses with your long-term goals.

If one of your goals is to start your own business at some point in the next 3 years, and if you only have $500 of the $10,000 that you calculate you need as start-up capital saved up, then you clearly need to up your monthly savings. Continue reading “Day 1 / 31- Track your Expenses”

Get ready for the 31 Day Challenge to Financial Excellence

31 Day Challenge To Financial Excellence
31 Day Challenge To Financial Excellence
31 Day Challenge To Financial Excellence

In just 10 days from today, on October 1st we will be starting the 31 Day Challenge to Financial Excellence. During these 31 Days many different financial topics will be covered, including expenses, debt, savings, pensions, income, investing, financial security and many more! If you haven’t signed up yet, make sure to do so here.

Whilst you will be sent all the necessary information and challenges at the start of each day, I recommend you do the following before October 1st to be as prepared as you can be for when we start the 31 Day Challenge:

* Join the Facebook Group dedicated to this mission and connect with other people during the 31 Day Challenge to see how they are doing and to find motivation. This is also where you can go as soon as you finish your challenge and let us know you have completed it or put any specific details or questions regarding that day’s challenge.

* Follow 100 Steps Mission on Twitter for more tips and ideas every day. During the 31 Days, we will be using the hashtag #31DaysChallengetoFE so feel free to send out a tweet at the end of each challenge to let the rest of the world know about your progress!

* If you know of anybody else who could do with a financial make over, let them know about this challenge so they can join too. Or find a friend, colleague or family member willing to do this challenge with you so you have an accountability partner!

* I recommend you find an old notebook to take notes in every day, either regarding the challenge you are doing or to jot down important information or ideas. Alternatively you can of use a digital file for this depending on your preferences of course.

That’s all you need to do for now! Not long now 😀