How can you save more money each month? It’s hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
The world we live in is based on consumption. Everyone needs something different, so companies offer various products with the promise to fulfill these needs. In addition to this, it’s fun to be a consumer! Buying things feels good and triggers happiness centers in the brain that boost mood and trigger a positive emotional response.
While buying feels good in the moment, it isn’t always good for our bank accounts. Especially if you are trying to save money for an emergency fund, pay off debt, or save up for a big purchase, trying to save money can feel like you’re fighting a war.
The 30-day rule can help you avoid buying things impulsively and regain control of your bank account.
What is the 30-day rule?
The 30-day rule is a simple rule that helps you control spending. While controlling spending seems easy, once your paycheck hits your bank account things may change.
For instance, let’s say you run to the store to pick up your weekly groceries, but see the newest tech gear or clothing item from the corner of your eye. Even though you already set a budget for the week and decided on an amount to spend, that’s not at the top of your mind. All you can think about is how much you want this item. So, there goes your budget—out the window.
Obviously, you have more self-discipline than that. But, another way to help you control these impulses and think purchases through more is by using the 30-day rule.
How it works. The 30-day rule pauses any impulse purchases you’re thinking about and gives you a chance to either decide you don’t need to buy it or fit it into your budget somehow.
In other words, when you see something you want to buy, wait 30 days. Put the money it would cost into a separate bank account and keep it in there for the duration of the month.
If you still decide you want it after 30 days has passed, go get it. You’ve waited long enough for it to not be an impulse decision, and you’ve seen what it would be like to not have the money in your checking account for a month. This means you’re free to go buy it if you still want to.
Why the 30-day rule works. The magic of the 30-day rule is that it isn’t really a rule. Well, okay it is a rule, but it’s only a temporary one! While budgeting for household expenses is necessary for managing your finances, sometimes it can feel like you’re denying yourself from having fun. You have to say no to a lot of things you may want to do or buy, which can be discouraging.
With the 30-day rule, however, you don’t say no. Instead, you simply tell yourself to wait. Wait for 30 days, and if you still want it, you can go buy it. This way, you aren’t denying yourself something you want right off the bat, which can lead to frustration and disappointment.
So, if you are simply postponing a purchase you’d make anyway, how does the 30-day rule end up saving you money in the long run? Let’s be honest here. Most things you use this rule with you will either forget about or realize you really don’t need them at all. This is a good sign as you haven’t wasted money or impulse bought anything, and you’ve shown yourself that you don’t always need everything you want.
Let’s put this into practical terms. For instance, say you see a pair of shoes at the store and use the 30-day rule to decide if you really want them. You write the potential purchase down on a piece of paper and set the money aside (either in cash or in your savings) and wait. But after a week, you aren’t even thinking about the shoes you wanted. Now, if you are, that’s fine! That’s what this rule is for.
But if you realize at the end of the month that you really don’t want or need the shoes anymore, well the 30-day rule has not only worked but has saved you money in the process.
Other benefits of the 30-day rule
On top of saving money and helping us to control spending, the 30-day rule has other benefits.
It’s always a win-win situation
When you use the 30-day rule to control your spending habits, it’s always a win. You either get to buy what you originally wanted to and exercise self-control in the process, or you decide you don’t actually want it or need it and you save money.
You don’t have to deny yourself permanently
A lot of money-spending rules are based on the idea of denial. You have to say no to certain things and deprive yourself of fun. Even with a budget, you end up having to say no to variable expenses to make room for fixed expenses and your savings fund.
The 30-day rule, however, operates differently. While having a budget is necessary, you can incorporate the 30-day rule to offer some freedom in your finances and spending decisions.
Instead of saying no to buying something permanently, this rule only postpones the decision. So, you have time to think about whether you really want to buy the item. But in the long run, you don’t have to deny yourself if you really want it.
You learn to manage your financial decisions
The goal of the 30-day rule is not to deprive or prohibit, but to teach you about your spending habits. Most of the time, we don’t think about impulse purchases after we make them. We just take our shopping bags to the car and drive home.
The only time you think about impulse purchases may be when you get your bank account statement or credit card bill at the end of the month. You may have forgotten about your purchases until now and be surprised when you have to pay off a bigger bill than expected.
The 30-day rule prevents impulsive buying, which helps you give careful thought to your purchases and pay attention to what you’re spending. In turn, this helps you keep track of your spending and stay on budget.
What to remember
When implementing the 30-day spending rule into your money habits, here are a few things to remember.
- Don’t set something aside if you don’t have the money for it. This can lead to debt if you can’t pay for it or pay off your credit card and can lead to compromising your budget to fit the purchase in, even if you don’t have room for it.
- It’s helpful to keep track of what you set aside with the 30-day rule. This helps you track your spending habits and learn what areas of your budget need work.
- If you use the 30-day rule to contemplate multiple items, be sure to keep track. Write start dates and end dates on all of them and set the money aside. This will also help you prioritize! If you want one item more than another, you can choose that one.
Set a budget to save money each month
Unfortunately, there’s no one rule that will fix all your money problems.
A household budget is a necessity for taking control of your money. One of the easiest ways to make a household budget is to use the 50/30/20 rule. This rule divides your total income in percentage form to fit into different categories of expenses.
The first category correlates to the “50” and represents 50% of your earned income to go to your fixed expenses. These are your necessities! Rent, insurance, utilities, groceries, internet, and anything else you need to do your job and live.
The second category represents 30% of your income. This is the amount of money you can spend on variable expenses, which include things you don’t need but want. For instance, clothing, entertainment, streaming platforms, and more.
The last category is how much money you should be putting in your savings account! Having a solid savings account is vital to protecting yourself in emergencies and making sure you have enough to live off of for at least 3 to 6 months if need be.