How To Save $500 In Our 30-Day Money Challenge

This story was originally published on March 1, 2016.
There’s something I find both thrilling and terrifying about financial planning. I want to know more about it, but every time I try to do a little reading on the topic, I get overwhelmed and lose momentum. I should invest, I think. I should actually know how much money is in my 401(k). I should use my credit card points before they expire. I should know when they expire!
I’m very lucky, because at 34 I don’t have any student loans, and I have a healthy savings account (after 12-plus years of careful saving). But, I often wonder if I could be doing a whole lot better if I actually spent as much time thinking about my money as I do other things in my life. I prioritize exercise, my career, and spending time with friends and family (ahem, and watching TV), so why not prioritize money management?
I envy people who have their financial lives together, but I think they must be few and far between. I talked with a lot of different folks as I was writing this article, and every single person said, “Yes, I need that.” This includes some pretty high-powered women whom I tremendously admire. We’re all struggling to get this piece of our lives sorted out.
Where do you even begin? Well, you can start with this article. Before you even get into investing and saving and 401(k)s, you need to start at the very beginning: knowing what you’ve got and how you spend it each month. From there, we’ll build upon this 30-day series with more money challenges. If you can master the plank in 30 days, you can master your money in the same amount of time.
To help us along the way, I’ve called on the services of Priya Malani, a financial planner and founder of Stash Wealth, a financial-services start-up that aims to change the way millennials think about money. Priya helped develop this 30-day plan, has answered all my inane questions along the way, and will answer any of yours as well.
A few things to keep in mind as you navigate this plan:
1. Most of these tasks can be accomplished in 30 minutes or less.
2. We give you the weekends off! It’s a chance to catch up on any days you missed.
3. Some of these days might not apply to everyone. We tried to keep the topics broad, so skip days that don’t apply to you. Use the time to catch up on a day you missed (or just enjoy a day off — you deserve it).
4. We’ll be going deeper into topics like 401(k)s, investing, and savings goals in future challenges, so stay tuned if this post is too basic for your liking.
5. You can download a calendar of the plan here.
There’s also an amazing savings plan attached to this story that I’m really excited about — it was all Priya’s brilliant idea. Each day, you save the dollar amount of the date. So on the 1st, you save $1; on the 15th, you save $15, etc. At the end of the 30-day plan, you will have stocked away close to $500. You’ll be smarter and richer. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Ahead, a 30-day challenge for achieving total financial clarity. You can do this.
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a professional financial advisor for advice specific to your financial situation.

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