Managing one’s money
The 30-day money cleanse
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley
The book 30-day money cleanse is an informative book about the spending of money and how we can minimize bad habits when it comes to managing our money. The book is split into 4 separate sections with each section targeting a week of doing this program. Each week had interesting topics and points about what kind of things we look for when we are buying things, and each section had some interesting tools about how we can track and manage our money. I personally started trying out the program and only got through the first week so far, but I am keen on completing all the weeks.
The book as mentioned before is laid out like a program, designed for anyone to pick it up and follow the steps in it. The book itself was written in a format that is easy to understand and is simple to follow.
The introductory chapter talks about how we should try and be more open about our money and how we use it. In our society today there is a taboo of talking about money as it can be a sensitive topic for some people. In this chapter however the author recommends the reader to be more openminded about their habits and how they use their money in order to gain the full potential advantage that this book offers.
The first week starts by challenging the reader by becoming the devil’s advocate on why it is not impossible to stop spending money on things you do not necessarily need. The idea of this is to make the reader think that the saving of money is actually possible. The book goes on to explain a method or an exercise that the reader can do in order to make their own goals when it comes to spending their money. This exercise was called I want … So that … The task was to fill in the blanks so that the reader would get an idea of what kind of long-term goals they would want to set themselves. An example of this would be, I want to be wealthy so that I can have financial freedom and do more things. The first tool that the book recommended to make is a money journal and in this journal the reader would need to record everything they spend money on so that they can gather data on what kind of spending habits they have and start spotting patterns that they can then change. I personally tried this task and it gave me great insight on where my money was actually going. The gathering of data is important as the reader can then move on the next chapters of the book.
The second stage of the book talks about the second week of the 30-day money cleanse where the focus is on the creation and identification of things that makes a person happy. In the section there is a great bit of talk about frivolous joys that a person has. These are joys that cost nothing or next to nothing. The author encourages the reader to think about the small things in life that can make them happy. She provides a list of things that we do not necessarily think about as giving us joy in the moment as they occur almost on a daily scale. Some examples of these things are exploring a new neighbourhood, having a picnic with friends, meditate, have a good cup of coffee, volunteer, take a free online class. These are just a few of the examples mentioned and whilst reading through the list personally I could reflect on my life and things that made me happy without unnecessary spending. The next topic that the book goes into is the concept of an expense onion. In the expense onion there are layers like in a normal onion, but the layers represent expenses and the outer layers represent the small things that we spend money on. An example of this would be the buying of a Latte in the morning from one’s favourite café. The deeper one goes into the onion the more meaningful things become and the more value they give to the individual. The idea of the expense onion is to peel off the outer layers until you get to the core. Once this has been achieved a person will firstly become aware of all the unnecessary spending, they do but also it allows the person to realise what things are really important to them which can allow for them to grow.
In the third week of the program the concentration is aimed at value-based spending. This means that we should try and find meaning in the things that we buy. At the start of the chapter there is an exercise where the reader should go through a list of words and circle 5-10 of these words that speaks out to them the most. It is also pointed out that during the exercise one should not pick out words that they think they “should” pick but those words that really do correlate with their emotions.
In the same chapter another tool was presented where the reader would then connect these emotions to the things that they buy. After this realisation the author recommends picking the things that the reader buys that make them the happiest. After this they should consider the cost of these products or services which then allows the reader to think about how to substitute those current products with cheaper options.
The author then goes into explaining what she calls opportunity costs. These costs are cheaper options for achieving the same level of happiness that was previously recognised. To utilise this term and tool the author recommends adding a column to the readers money journal that tracks how much that certain things costs per month and then a year so that the reader can compare different prices and see which is the most economically viable for them. Chapter 3 goes on to explain how to make things cheaper in one’s life. This is done by making things frugal.
The steps of making things frugal are as follows:
Choose an activity or an item
Write down what you love about that item or activity
Write down things that you do NOT love about the item or activity
Then using opportunity costs, choose an alternative that will give you the same satisfaction as what the previous item was but cheaper.
In the final week of the book describes that last stage of the program which is creating a dream team. This meant that you should surround yourself with your friends and family who you have shared your financial dream with. The book recommends you work out your social life so that you include your friends with the program and for example talk to them about eating out only once per month rather than once per week. Having people around you who support you and are the most important to you can be a huge motivator when it comes to tough decisions in your life. This Is the final week and final chapter that the book talks about and when all of the methods have been combined the reader can start to save money and re-evaluate where they invest their money.
Money can be a very sensitive and taboo topic to talk about. Even though the concept is pretty abstract when one thinks about what money actually is, over the thousands of years of existence the concept has created a tremendous amount of power and has constructed our whole society and the western ideology of capitalism. Never the less, this book helps the reader to think about money in a totally different way and I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in saving money and wanting to learn how to manage it better, to read it.