Tips like these helped us pay off $127K in debt. You can read our story in Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.
Holy cow, another month has flown by. You find yourself standing in between the busy of last month and the calendar for the weeks ahead. It would be simple to let the new month swallow you whole, diving right into the hurry and the scurry. But at the beginning of the month, it is a good idea to pause and do these five things. You’ll be better prepared to handle the next 30 days and won’t regret these time and money saving measures.
Clean Out Your Coffee Pot
So this first task is nice and simple. Once a month, it’s a good idea to clean your coffee pot. It will keep it running more efficiently and actually make your morning joe taste much better. Simply measure 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts of water and run it through the usual brew cycle (you could add more vinegar to the mix if you’ve never cleaned your coffee pot or it’s been awhile). After it finishes, let the mixture sit for at least fifteen minutes. Then, pour it down the drain and run at least 1 cycle of just water through the machine (more if needed). Good news! The hot water and white vinegar actually makes a decent drain cleaner so pour it down your slowest sink.
For more on saving on coffee, check out 4 Great Ways to Save Money on Coffee.
Clean Out Your Refrigerator
Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to do a major deep cleaning. Instead, just take fifteen minutes to quickly clear through your fridge. I actually like to do this at the beginning of each week, but at the beginning of the month I give both the refrigerator and the freezer a little extra love. Toss out those items that are expired and trash that mystery meat hiding in the back corner. You’ll be able to get a good handle on what you need and even be able to plan your meals more effectively using what you already have. Want to earn some bonus points? Go ahead and clear through your cabinets/pantry, too.
For more on meal planning, check out How to Meal Plan Effectively and ALDI Meal Plan: 7 Dinners for Less than $50.
Check Your Gauges
I am the worst at ignoring regular, routine car maintenance. At the beginning of every month, it’s a good idea to take a quick evaluation of your vehicles. Check the tire pressure and quickly check the oil and fluids. Have a light on your dash and you don’t know what it means? Make a quick stop at an auto parts store and they can run a free, quick code scan to see what’s wrong. Not only will doing all of the above keep you from being stranded on the side of the road, but you’ll also get better gas mileage and save more money in that category of spending.
For more on car maintenance, read 31 Debt Free Missions: Regular Car Maintenance.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t suggest you take a fresh look at your budget each and every month (or start if you’ve never budgeted before). There’s an entire chapter in Slaying the Debt Dragon about budgeting because if you want to pay off debt and be successful in your finances you MUST budget. Even if you’re an old pro, a quick look before the month begins will provide peace of mind and needed focus.
Don’t know where to begin? Read How to Organize Your Monthly Finances.
Pick Out a Book or Set a Fitness Goal
Each month, you have to be intentional about investing in yourself. So it’s a good idea to choose an inspirational book. I just launched into reading Jen Hatmaker's For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Scan the library’s online catalog or head find a good read online. We read so many books while paying off $127K in debt that I included a several paged reading list in the back of my book to share some of the reads that inspired and encouraged us. If you’re not a reader (or are still finishing last month’s book), then set a physical fitness goal. Plan to run a set number of miles or attend a specific number of classes or designate a specific schedule of working out at home for FREE (I LOVE Fitness Blender). Moving will always help you feel better and be more focused so you better use your time and resources.
For more on how reading can transform your finances, check out 31 Ways to Kick Debt in the Teeth: Read a Book.
These simple five tasks can be done in a couple of hours. Take a few minutes today to kick your month off with gusto. You won’t regret spending your time in a way that helps you spend less money.