The Seven Days to Financial Fitness Plan

If you’re ready to transform your financial future, we invite you to embark on our seven-day plan to radically improve your finances. Each day for a week, you’ll be taking small, concrete steps that will add-up over time. (Each of these steps takes about 30 minutes). With these steps, you won’t become a millionaire overnight, but you will set the foundation for a lifetime of financial peace-of-mind.

Are you ready to join the Five Ten Twenty Club and improve your finances for good? Great! Then, let’s get started:

DAY 1:

  • Take the Five Ten Twenty Club pledge :
    ” I commit to stop buying million dollar coffees and understand that a dollar spent today will end up costing me much more tomorrow. I resolve to own my future and my freedom by not being a slave to spending.”
  • Next, remember that even small purchases add up over time and rob you of financial freedom. Commit to reminding yourself of this fact every time you’re about to buy something unnecessary: Spending $5-a-day could cost me $500,000 at retirement, $10-a-day could cost me about $1 million, and $20-a-day today could cost me about $2 million.
  • Finally, sign-up for our newsletter to receive weekly savings tips, coupons and advice from financial experts to help you keep on track. We’ll start sending these emails out regularly in early July. Also, check our website often for new ways to save.

 Day 2:

  • Find out where your money is going. You can either do this on your own using your receipts, bank statements and credit card statements, or you can sign up for Mint.com, a free service that helps you track all your spending, bills, income, investments, credit cards and more all in one place. It’s absolutely free. They’re good friends of ours, and we use Mint to manage our own personal finances. You might be surprised to learn that you’re spending more than you think.

Day 3:

  • Make a budget. This is perhaps the most important step. Yesterday, you uncovered exactly where your money is going. Today, you need to try to recognize your spending habits and patterns to determine where you can start cutting expenses. First though, get a good estimate of how much you’ve been spending per month. (If you’re using Mint.com, the “Trends” section can help you to find out.)
  • Next, determine where you can cut — Create a budget (Mint.com’s “Budgets” tool works well) that reflects how much you can actually spend. If you need to save or pay down debt, try to find ways to cut back by at least $5, $10 or $20 per day. If you can reduce spending on big things like rent and car payments, you’re doing great! Don’t forget to find ways to reduce other, smaller recurring expenses, too, like daily lunches, coffees or expensive gym memberships. Remember, your goal is to cut spending by at least $5-a-day – or more if you can afford it. Our blog is full of tips and coupons to help you shave off that extra bit from your expenses.

Day 4:

  • Define your goal: Savings, Investing, or Paying Down Debt? No matter how much debt you have, if you’re lacking emergency savings, your priority should be to build an emergency fund first. If you already have emergency savings, then you can decide whether you’d like to tackle debt, save or invest. Ideally, your emergency savings fund should be enough to cover three months of your expenses. You never know when you will need it, but if you ever need it, you’ll be grateful that you set aside that money.
  • If your goal is to build an emergency savings fund, set up a high-yield savings account, such as those offered by local credit unions or Capital One Bank online and make sure to set up an automatic transfer into the savings account from your checking account each month. This is a common and very important personal finance tip: Pay yourself first. That way, you’ll never have an excuse not to save. Aim to save enough money to cover one full month of expenses at a minimum, but really you should save enough in your emergency fund to cover at least three months of your expenses.
  • If your goal is to pay down debt, set up automatic payments from your checking account to your credit cards. The automatic transfers prevent you from forgetting to pay your credit card bills. (Again, you want to eliminate the excuses.) Setting up automatic payments is easy. Most banks let you set up automatic payments through your account management page online. If yours doesn’t or if you do not want to manage your accounts online, you can set up automatic payments by calling your credit card company’s customer service line.

Day 5:

  • Keep tabs on your credit. By law, you have access to a free annual credit report in order to understand your credit score. You can also use sites such as Credit.com, which work much like Mint and give you a consolidated view of your entire credit life — including monthly credit score updates.
  • If your credit needs improvement, consider the reasons and recommendations for improvement offered on your credit report. Our blog is also full of tips to help you manage and improve your credit, including advice from credit experts.

Day 6:

  • Investing is at the heart of the Five Ten Twenty Club plan.The simplest thing you can do is sign-up for your employer’s 401K plan, if you haven’t already. You should do this even if you have lots of debt – a 401k is one of the best financial deals around, and if your employer offers a match, it’s basically free money.
  • You may not be ready for it today — maybe you need to build emergency savings, pay down debt, or it just plain confuses you — but you should get familiar with the principle of compound interest. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow because of the interest you can earn on investments. This is how you can turn $10-a-day in savings into over $1 million dollars by the time you’re ready to retire.
  • If you’ve already got a 401K, manageable debt levels and emergency savings, it’s time to invest. Many online brokerages offer free trades on ETFs, making them the simplest (and often cheapest) way to invest. More on this can be found in our blog.

Day 7:

  • Review your progress to date. Are you managing to save at least $5-a-day toward your goals? Have you found ways to cut your expenses in order to find the extra money you need? Did you follow the recommended steps for the first six days?
  • Join our community forum and hold yourself accountable to your goals. Our community is designed to help support you in your financial journey. Members share tips, coupons, and hold themselves accountable in savings journals. Financial experts also drop by to take your questions.
  • Congratulate yourself! Starting anything new is daunting, but if you’ve made it through the first seven days, you’ve created the basic framework that can help you build a comfortable financial future. Congrats – and welcome to the Club!

 

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