30 Days to Financial Excellence by Inge Natalie Hol subtitled, learn to master your money like a personal finance pro, is a book you need to read if you want to take care of your personal finances. This short book of just about 120 pages goes straight to the point and outlines steps we can all take in 30 days to clean up our finances.
The book is split into eight key parts with each part dealing with an important aspect of finance. These eights parts cover 30 day actions. Following are the eight parts with the daily actions
PART ONE – YOUR MONEY MINDSET
- Day 1: What’s your money mindset?
- Day 2: Create new money beliefs
PART TWO: YOUR EXPENSES
- Day 3: Track your expenses
- Day 4: Cut down your expenses
- Day 5: Create a spending plan
- Day 6: Set a spending goal
PART THREE: YOUR SAVINGS
- Day 7: Set your savings goals
- Day 8: Your savings rate
- Day 9: Automate your savings
- Day 10: Your net worth
PART FOUR: YOUR DEBTS
- Day 11: Gain clarity on your debts
- Day 12: Pay off your debts
- Day 13: Plan to become debt free
- Day 14: Build an emergency fund
PART FIVE: YOUR INCOME
- Day 15: Determine your income
- Day 16: Start a side hustle
- Day 17: Set your income goal
- Day 18: Your personal capital
PART SIX: YOUR RETIREMENT
- Day 19: Take stock of your retirement
- Day 20: Set retirement goals
- Day 21: Increase your contributions and close your retirement gap
- Day 22: Invest in your own portfolio
PART SEVEN: RISK MANAGEMENT
- Day 23: Audit your insurance
- Day 24: Set up a will
- Day 25: Don’t take your situation for granted
- Day 26: Pass it on
PART EIGHT: YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE
- Day 27: Visualize, track and celebrate your victories
- Day 28: Sort your paperwork
- Day 29: Make a long-term plan
- Day 30: Money mistakes to avoid
The last section in the book is titled, ‘What’s Next‘. This section reviews what you should have done in the last 30-days if you followed the plan and also we are encouraged to not give up. Even if things don’t look exactly how we want them to be, at least we have made a start and are now moving in the right direction.
The book also has an appendix that outlines actions for us to take in a tabular format. They are really the 30-day actions discussed in the book summarised into actionable items.
Below I have summarised one personal lesson from each of the eight sessions, so eight lessons in all.
- What’s your money mindset? This is the day 1 action and it’s not only a great action to start with but it is something we should all think about. I believe the challenge we mostly have with money has to do with how we think about it. There is a questionnaire provided in this session to help you gauge your money mindset. Examples of statements that you have got to respond to with either, ‘agree’, ‘neutral’ or ‘disagree’ are:
- I’ve never been good with money.
- Wanting more money is a sign of greed
- I never have enough money for my personal goals.
- Track your expenses: Probably next to your money mindset in importance is knowing how you actually spend the money you currently have. Inge put’s it this way, ‘To get started, you’ll need to find out more about your current expense patterns: Where does your money go each month? What percentage of your expenses is dedicated to groceries, dining, savings or car expenses?’ Here are some suggested steps for us to track our expenses:
- Get something to register your expenses. It can be a spreadsheet, notebook or app.
- Register your expenses at a set time: every evening as soon as you purchase something or right at the start of your lunch break.
- Check daily for expenses that come out of your bank account.
- Create logical categories in your expenses register once you have enough information from the records you have been collating. The categories can include, housing costs, car expenses, fun money and so on.
- Get at least one month’s worth of data if you can.
- Try and make this a habit you do forever.
- Saving goals: It is important to have your own saving goals so write down all your saving goals and dreams. Then divide your goals into short-term (less than 2-years), mid-term (2 – 5 years) and long-term (more than 5 years) goals. Then prioritize them by how important to you. Also, estimate how much money you need for the goals and how much you will need to set aside for each goal monthly. If you can also set up a separate account for each goal where you can save the money.
- Gain clarity on your debts: debt can come in different forms and a key aspect of gaining control of our finances is to gain clarity of our debts. Whether it’s a student loan, mortgage, car loan, credit card or personal loan, being clear about how much we owe is very important. Steps you can take to do this are,
- Collect statements for all the loans you have, whether paper or through accounts you need to log into.
- List all your debts and note down their outstanding balances, interest rates, remaining life spans and minimum monthly payments.
- Have a look at the list and allow how you feel about your level of debt to surface.
- Now you have a good idea of how much you owe.
- The seven income streams: Most of us want to have more than one income stream. We don’t want all our income eggs to be in just one basket. Here are seven income streams for you to examine and think of which ones you already have and which ones you can add to your income streams:
- Income from a job
- Profit from selling products and services
- Royalties from products you’ve made or other investments such as franchises.
- Interest income from lending out your money. For instance on things such as bonds.
- Dividend income from share investments.
- Capital gains: Any money you receive as a result of selling something you acquired at a cheaper price.
- Rental income: Income from renting out assets such as rental property.
- Set retirement goals: We all need to plan for our retirement so here are some key questions for us to answer:
- How much do you need on a monthly basis to support your retirement dreams?
- How far away are you from retirement target income goals?
- How much will you need to set aside each month now to meet those retirement income goals?
- What about risk management insurance? Don’t overlook risk management and insurance. They may not be the most exciting thing to look into but they are important. An insurance policy is financial protection you set up against the risks of possible loss. Check for what type of insurance you need and shop around for the best deals. There are different types of insurance policies which can include:
- life insurance
- health insurance
- disability insurance
- homeowner or renter’s insurance
- car insurance.
- Money mistakes to avoid: If you want to be in charge of your finances then there are some money mistakes to avoid. Some of them are:
- Not living below your means: spending more than you earn will put you in trouble. Don’t try to be what you are not.
- Giving into lifestyle inflation: Don’t get to the point where you stop appreciating what you currently have and you start increasing your expectations hence you spend more on things. For example, if your car, mobile phone or laptop is still perfectly safe and doing what it should be doing, then hold off replacing it until it is really needed.
- Being unaware of the impact of fees: Don’t ignore the impact of fees such as interest rates over the long term. These are not just fees you pay on things such as loans, mortgages and credit cards but also interest you earn on investments. Search around for the lowest fees on borrowing and the best interest on investments. In the present it may not seem like much but it adds up over the longer term.
- Not scheduling time regularly to maintain your financial life: You must schedule time regularly to keep up with your finances. Without regular check-in moments when you dedicate some focused time, it is hard to stay on top of this area.
So, those are eight summary lessons but in the book there are much more. I believe this book can help almost anyone get a good handle on their finances. Therefore, I definitely recommend it.