The 30 Day Money Cleanse: A Step-by-Step Detox Program for Your Financial Health


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Have you ever done a juice cleanse or a “Whole30” challenge?

While I haven’t ever gone to that extreme, I DO always feel better physically and mentally after even just a few days of clean eating.

So if a quick “cleanse” can work for our health, why not try it with our money?

To dive deeper into this, I’m joined by Rachel Jimenez from Money Hacking Mama, one of the most popular Side Hustle Show guests of all time.

Her episode on selling printables on Etsy has been downloaded almost 90,000 times.

Ready for the cleanse? Let’s do it!

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Day 1: Track Down Your Money

Make a list of all your financial institutions and your usernames and passwords to access them. Figure out how much you have in all your different accounts. 

When Bryn and I did this, it was almost embarrassing how many different accounts we had accumulated over the years.

Since then, we’ve been on a mission to simplify and consolidate our banking and have made some pretty good progress.

We’ve been able to close or merge half a dozen accounts, and I’m feeling much better about the situation. 

You might find you’ve got long-forgotten accounts or even a 401(k) from an old job that could be rolled over.

Day 2: Identify Your Financial Goals

What money goals do you have in mind?

  • “I will be debt free by the end of the year.”
  • “Our house will be paid off in 15 years.”
  • “I will be making $1000 a month on the side by the end of the year.”
  • “I will retire at 40.”

You’ll notice that each of these sample goals is specific and time-bound — not something vague like “I will spend less money.” 

Day 3: Discover Your Net Worth

Use a tool like Empower or Monarch Money to pull all my accounts into one place so I can figure out my net worth.

monarch money

What’s net worth?

Your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities, basically what you OWN minus what you OWE.

Here’s an example:

In this scenario, the person (or family — my wife and I always do this as a team sport) has $380,000 in assets and $227,000 in liabilities, leaving him or her with a net worth of $153,000.

What’s cool about your net worth is it doesn’t care about your income or expenses. It’s just a financial snapshot of where you’re at in one moment of time. It gives you a benchmark to work from. 

Day 4: Figure Out Your Actual Income

Do you know what your take home pay is?

You probably know your salary, but what’s leftover each month after taxes, insurance, and other deductions?

In this number, make sure to include your side hustle income as well.

You can look at this at an annual or monthly level, whichever makes the most sense to you. My wife’s income is pretty predictable, but my income tends to fluctuate month to month, so I need to zoom out a little to get a more accurate picture.

Day 5: Figure Out How Much You Actually Spend

Have you ever taken the time to itemize out your expenses — like ALL of them?

It’s a pain in the butt, but can be pretty eye opening. That’s one reason I put almost everything on credit cards — partially to get the rewards, but partially so I can have a detailed electronic record to review.

Don’t stress too much about cutting costs at this point, we just want to get a baseline of income and expenses right now.

Day 6: Calculate Your Personal Profitability

You’ve got your total income number from Day 4, and your total expense number from Day 5, and if you subtract the expenses from the income you’re left with your net profit.

Did you end up with a positive number or a negative number?

What percentage of your income is left over? For the sake of reference, the nationwide average savings rate is less than 5%. That means for every $100 the average family brings in, less than $5 is left over for savings.

It might be weird to think of yourself as being profitable or unprofitable but this really is a key mindset shift. No company can survive being unprofitable for long, and neither can we as individuals.

Naturally, the bigger the gap between your income and your expenses, the more profitable you can be

More than any other personal finance “metric”, this is the one to optimize for. When you’ve got margin in your live — some breathing room in your budget — everything else gets easier and you can fast-track your financial independence by investing your “profits.” (Work for the money, then put the money to work for you.)

Day 7: “Bucket” Your Spending

On Day 7, take a closer look at your itemized expenses from Day 5. You’re going to put everything you spent money on into one of 2 categories:

  1. Fixed
  2. Discretionary

In the Fixed column, you’ll have stuff like rent/mortgage, car payment and insurance, daycare, and groceries.

In the Discretionary column, you’ll have stuff like eating out, new clothes, travel, and Netflix.

I’m not out to cut anything yet, but being honest with yourself and labeling some of your spending as “discretionary” or “optional” can be helpful in “finding” money.

groceries as a fixed expense

Day 8: Determine Your Bare Bones Budget

Nobody wants to live on a bare bones budget for long, but by adding up all your fixed expenses, you can see your minimum “cost of living.”

This number is important because it’s your baseline “Rat Race Freedom Number.” This is the income you’ll need to produce from non-job sources to be able to quit your job without dipping into savings or taking on new debt.

For some, it may only be $1,000 a month. For others, it might be $5,000 a month or more. But you’ll never know until you add up your baseline fixed spending.

Day 9: Rank the Discretionary Expenses

Of all the things you spent money on in the Discretionary column, which ones brought you the most joy?

For Day 9, go down that column and put a little smiley face :-) , neutral face :-| , or sad face :-( next to all those expenses:

  • Flights to Mexico — :-)
  • Dinner with friends — :-)
  • New shirt — :-|
  • Candy bar — :-(

For example, I’d rank a dinner out with friends over a new shirt. Your list might not have ANY sad faces, and that’s totally fine. After all, why spend discretionary money on something you didn’t really want?

Again, you don’t even have to cut anything right now. The mere act of doing this might influence future buying decisions. And that earns a :-)

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Day 10: Emergency Fund Check Up

Do you have 6 months of fixed living expenses in savings? Or 12 months if you’re really conservative?

For example, if you spend $4,000 a month on housing, insurance, groceries, and other fixed costs, that means maintaining an emergency fund of at least $24,000.

emergency fund

If you don’t, make a plan to get there.

Living on the brink of broke is no fun, so build yourself a little cushion.

Day 11: Savings Interest Check Up

Is your emergency fund sitting in your checking account earning ridiculously low interest? Consider moving that cash to a higher interest savings account.

Rates subject to change of course, but you can easily earn 4-5% risk-free on your cash right now.

Even if you don’t have substantial savings (yet!), it might be time to make the switch.

It’s not great, but it’s better than .01% my checking account gets.

If you have more than 6-12 months of expenses saved up and sitting in cash, that brings us to Day 12…

Day 12: Deploy Idle Cash

Yes, there is such thing as “too much” money.

Every year, the value of your savings gets whittled away by inflation. After your emergency fund is flush with cash, put the surplus to work for you!

That means investing in low cost index funds either on your own or through a service like M1 Finance or Betterment

One thing that’s helped me get over my market fears is dividend investing. I don’t necessarily care if the stock price falls; I’m just there to collect my quarterly dividend payments.

Caveat: If you think you will need the money in the next 2-5 years, like to buy a house or a business, ignore all of Day 12.

Day 13: Re-examine “Memberships” and Subscriptions

What recurring monthly or annual memberships or subscriptions do you pay for? Do you really use them enough to justify the cost?

In my case, it’s stuff like Dollar Shave Club, your cell phone bill, and Netflix.

And this goes for the business side too, with software like LeadPages, Ahrefs, Riverside, and GeniusLink.

You might find something you’re not using enough to pay for anymore, or you might find a lower priced alternative.

Day 14: Play the Substitution Game

I’ve been a Mint Mobile customer for years. It runs on the T-Mobile network, and when you pre-pay, it costs just $15 a month:

save money with mint mobile

Compared to my old provider, Ting, and my even older provider, Verizon, this represents savings of $180-500 a year.

Similarly, if it’s been more than 2 years since you last shopped for car insurance, you’re paying too much.

Check out Insurify for a quick and painless comparison on car and home insurance. It’ll take just a few minutes and users report saving an average of $489 per year!

reduce your insurance costs

What other recurring monthly costs could you cut by negotiating with your service provider or by shopping for a similar service?

Day 15: Max Out Your 401(k)

If your employer offers it, make sure you’re enrolled in your 401(k) plan. At the very least, contribute up the amount of any company match.

When I worked at Ford, this was 6% of my salary, meaning if I allocated 6% of my paycheck to my 401(k) retirement plan, the company would contribute an equal amount to my account, dollar for dollar. That’s like getting an extra 6% raise in free money!

Unfortunately, they paused the matching program shortly after I joined the company. Womp womp.

In any case, the 401(k) plan allows you to reduce your taxable income this year, and force yourself to save for retirement.

If you’re self-employed, you can defer even more cash through the company match … which is nice when you own the company. This is something we talked about on a recent tax-saving episode of The Side Hustle Show.

Day 16: Find Something to Sell in Your Garage or Attic

I’m pretty confident you’ve got something collecting dust that someone else would pay for. Put it up for sale on Facebook Marketplace or ebay.

I’ve sold bobblehead dolls, model cars, bikes, appliances, books, furniture, Magic cards, electronics, and tons more.

You’d be surprised what people will buy! We even had someone buy the leftover flooring from our remodel project. 

Day 17: Gift Card Round Up!

Another fun way to find “free money” is to take stock of any gift cards you’ve received but never got around to using. Thankfully my wife is very organized and keeps a stash of these in a little folder. 

In the past, we’ve gotten free lunch at Chipotle, free Christmas lights at Home Depot, and even a fancy dinner out from gift cards we’d forgotten about.

Make a plan to use those up! After all, it’s what the gift-giver would have wanted.

And if you don’t think you’ll use them, you can turn them into cash by selling them online.

Day 18: Get Some Free Money From a Bank

Over the last decade, I’ve earned thousands of dollars in free money from banks in the form of credit card sign-up bonuses.

Now if you don’t trust yourself to only spend what you can pay off each month, absolutely don’t do this. But if you use credit cards only with money you already have to buy stuff you would have bought anyway, I think it makes sense to get the maximum bang for your buck.

Credit cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offer a $200 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months — with no annual fee. That's up to 40% cash back!

capital one quicksilver

Learn more here.

If you know you’re gonna spend $500 in the next 3 months, that’s #freemoney. This card also gives you one of the highest cash back rates, with unlimited 1.5% back on every dollar you spend.

1% cash back is boring, but 20-50% cash back in the form of free travel? That’s what I’m talking about in applying for new credit cards and earning big sign-up bonuses.

(If you don’t have a business credit card for your side hustle, that could be a good place to start!)

Day 19: What Could You “Waste” Money On (To Improve Your Life)?

Tim Ferriss asks, “How can I waste money to improve my quality of life?”

The word ‘waste’ is important because it acknowledges that this is non-essential spending, but that after a certain level of income or financial comfort, it still might make sense to spend it.

In our household, it’s translated into things like hiring an occasional cleaning service; splurging for direct flights, extra legroom, or more convenient hotels; or ordering meal kit deliveries.

It’s even helped us justify a large-scale kitchen remodel — yes, it was expensive, but it got rid of all those little frustrations and definitely improved our quality of life and daily happiness in our home.

There’s a lot of pushback in the FIRE community against “lifestyle inflation” … but isn’t a better lifestyle kind of the whole point?

Day 20: Create Your Worst-Case-Scenario Binder

This could be a physical binder kept in a safe place, or a shared digital folder, but it’s basically a one-stop repository for your important documents and passwords if you get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Will your family or partner know how to access your accounts? Have you set up your will and trust? A medical power of attorney? Have you named beneficiaries on your accounts?

This is something I’ve procrastinated on for years. Thankfully, my friend Chelsea sells a digital Family Emergency Binder that makes it a little easier.

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Grab the Free Printable Money Cleanse Checklist

Print it at home and tackle at your own pace.

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Where should I send the printable Money Cleanse checklist?

I'll also send you my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter.
Opt-out anytime.

Day 21: Subscribe to The Side Hustle Show

Have you subscribed to the award-winning Side Hustle Show yet? If not, you’re missing out. 

Each week my guests and I will fill your earbuds with all sorts of part-time business ideas and actionable advice toward building job-free income streams.

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The award-winning Side Hustle Show is a
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Listen in your favorite podcast app or directly in your browser.

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You can even build yourself a personalized playlist by answering a few short questions here.

Day 22: Find a FIRE Friend for Accountability

The old Jim Rohn line that “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” is true. That’s why you need to surround yourself with at least ONE other person on a similar path. 

They can be local or online. The ChooseFI community has local branches around the country with informal meetups. 

There’s a taboo about talking about money, but it’s a lonely road to walk alone. Bring your partner or friends along for the ride.

Day 23: Remove Your Personal Information from the Internet

This won’t make you money, but will probably help you sleep better and may help prevent identity theft.

Unfortunately there are dozens of sites that post your name and address online. I share a lot of my data and things about my life, but there are still some things I’d prefer not to have be super-easily-publicly accessible. 

Each of these sites usually has a manual removal request process but it’s probably easier to hire a service like DeleteMe or Optery to do it for you.

Day 24: Shop Smarter

If you’re not already a Rakuten member, you should be. Basically you earn cash back for shopping online as you normally would.

get cash back with rakuten

They’ll even give you $30 just for signing up.

Day 25: Make it Automatic

A few years ago, I had my first-ever late payment fee and interest charge on a credit card. Somehow I missed the statement reminder email and it happened.

Embarrassing!

(I sent the bank a note asking for forgiveness and they actually waived the fees.)

But after that I immediately set the card up on auto-pay so it wouldn’t happen again.

All our utilities get paid automatically. So do our mortgage, our insurance, our monthly investments, the kid’s college funds. Set it up once and don’t think about it.

It’s one less thing to clutter your brain with and you never have to worry about being late. 

Day 26: Take Inventory of Your Skills (and Salary)

Write down all of your skills, even the ones no one has ever paid you for. If you don’t think you have any skills, ask your friends or co-workers what you’re good at. You might be surprised!

I’ll admit, I have a hard time with this too, and I think it’s because once you know something, it’s hard to imagine not knowing it.

For inspiration, it might help to browse some of the categories on Fiverr.com or Upwork.

It also might make sense to review your current salary? Check out sites like Glassdoor to make sure you’re being compensated fairly for your skills and experience.

Day 27: Brainstorm Business Ideas

Side Hustle Nation is filled with side hustle ideas, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all be particularly exciting or doable for you.

One exercise to consider: “What Sucks?”

Think of all the little annoying things in your day or your week. What do you find yourself complaining about? What do your peers or coworkers complain about? On the other side of those annoyances might be a business idea in providing the solution.

After all, that’s what led to side hustles like these:

Sometimes constraint breeds creativity: If you had to make $1,000 in the next 7 days, what would you do?

Day 28: Start Rolling Your Side Hustle Snowball

The Side Hustle Snowball is a way to reframe that journey to Rat Race Freedom by looking for ways to cover your expenses with new non-job income streams, starting with the smallest and working your way up.

Check out this post for a more detailed explanation and how I’ve gone about “erasing” some of my actual expenses with various side hustles.

Day 29: Set Monthly & Quarterly Check-ins

Make a calendar reminder to check your account balances monthly, and check your net worth quarterly.

It’s not something you need to track day to day, but over time, you’ll start to get a picture of how it (hopefully) grows in response to your efforts.

Every 6-12 months, review your investment allocations and rebalance if necessary. 

Day 30: Make a Donation to Charity

Make a donation to the charity of your choice. Living well is about being able to give back.

Bonus points if you set it up as a recurring donation.

Day 31: Treat Yourself

Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of the cleanse!

via GIPHY

Take a moment or two for some (inexpensive) celebration, and recognize that figuring out this whole “money thing” isn’t easy.

I definitely won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m confident that in going through these steps you’re better off than you were before (and you’re miles ahead of most of your peers).

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Grab the Free Printable Money Cleanse Checklist

Print it at home and tackle at your own pace.

Sweet!
Where should I send the printable Money Cleanse checklist?

I'll also send you my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter.
Opt-out anytime.

Your Turn

What do you think? Was this money cleanse helpful?

Anything you’d add or change? Let me know in the comments below!

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Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. Comments are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

28 thoughts on “The 30 Day Money Cleanse: A Step-by-Step Detox Program for Your Financial Health”

  1. Love this.. and very timely. Been meaning to get a better handle on my wallet. You mention some great resources too. A few that I’ve heard of but haven’t had the chance to jump on. No better time.

    … to be continued.

    Reply
  2. Great post! Gonna use this as a guideline to win back my freedom. Wait a sec… Really, have I ever been free?

    Okay, gonna use this to help earn my freedom.

    Reply
  3. My wife just started Whole30 for the second time. She loves how much better her body feels during the cleanse.

    Not a lot to disagree with from my perspective. You have to know your spending habits and set goals if you want to make changes. Side note – I’m a huge fan of Personal Capital. I’ve been using it for about a year now and love how easy it is to track everything.

    Reply
  4. A great set of ideas. Some of them I already use. Even though I am debt free and already retired, there’s still lots to learn. I certainly saved money when I went through my direct debits, and also checked all the renewal premiums for insurance / cable / energy as they came through. I certainly no longer automatically renew anything!
    Strangely enough I posted on the benefits of a budget only a few hours ago, then I got this in a Rockstar Finance email….

    Reply
  5. Well, that looks downright exhausting!

    Fortunately, I’ve done most of these things in recent months or years, or have good rationale for not following all the recommendations. Great advice for beginners and novices who are looking for a place to get started with personal finance.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    Reply
  6. Although I love this post, SoFi advertises a lot lower interest rates, than they actually offer. They wanted to give us a 6.7 on. Credit score average of 754. I wonder if you have used this site personally.

    Reply
  7. Ebates is a life saver!!! I go there for everything and kept track of the money I’ve saved. It made me want to become one of those crazy coupon-ers who spend four cents on two weeks of groceries. Great list!

    Reply
  8. Am I really the only one who has no clue what my salary is but can tell you to the penny how much I bring home? Day four is a common exercise in the PF blogs and it always boggles my mind that people don’t know what gets deposited in the bank each payday but can tell you what their annual salary is. I must just be backwards…
    :-)

    Reply
  9. This post should be on a chart somewhere. This would be a great starter for those who want to take control of their finances.

    If someone can follow this cleanse for 30 days, it only means they are ready to commit to getting their financial freedom

    Reply
  10. Thank you!!!! I just finished working my way through this – I also did a 28 day spending freeze concurrently. This 30 Day Detox and Money Cleanse was amazing. The spending freeze was also an amazing challenge. Together …. powerful learning. Thank you!!!!

    Reply
  11. Man, you jam packed this post with so much valuable info!
    Thank you for reminding me about Mint. I’ve heard of it, but haven’t had the chance to research it. So I look forward to looking into it and the other you mentioned.

    You just gave me a LOT of homework that I’m oddly excited to jump into. Again, thanks for this loaded post.

    Reply
  12. Two months later I have made some progress! In addition to getting our finances in order, this post has inspired me to start writing (which I suck at) and commit to building a successful side hustle (link in my name). Not sure what that side hustle will be, but I think writing will help flesh that out.

    I’m looking forward to days 20-23 when we’re challenged to put our skills into the marker.

    Thanks again, Nick – love what you do. And good luck to all the hustlers here.

    Reply
  13. Great round-up here, Nick! It’s so important for everyone to take control of their money, and that begins with knowing exactly where they’re at right now. I do things slightly differently but with the same core principles, because the core principles are so on the mark. Have you read the The Richest Man in Babylon? I think you’d like it.

    Reply
  14. Wow that’s a detailed post! I’ve been looking around for something like this since leaving paid employment to work for myself. It’s pretty stressful… the main stress being the feeling that I am no longer in control of money (ironically).

    I had a look at my monthly expenses and was shocked I’ve paying pet insurance for a cat I haven’t had for 6 months… I thought I’d cancelled it!

    This outlined for me the need to understand precisely personal income and expenses, which before I’d been pretty casual about to be honest. I don’t even want to think about some of the money I’ve wasted in the past through my relaxed approach.

    Time to tighten up!

    Reply
  15. So helpful Nick! I’d only add: When time means money, weed out your social life too. Keeping only those aligned with your core values. And helping each other get to your goals. With a sense of humor etc! Frees up time to get more work done. I finally took the plunge, and now being more productive.

    Reply

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