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What Is the 30 Day Rule for Personal Finance?

July 2, 2023


It can feel like a struggle to save money. Sometimes, getting creative with your strategies can help. If you’ve ever heard of the 30 day rule, you might be wondering just how it works. What is the 30 day rule, and how can you use it to your advantage?

What Is the 30 Day Savings Rule?

The 30 day rule is pretty simple. Here’s how it works. Any time you are about to make a non-essential purchase, you instead pause for 30 days. 

After the 30 day wait, you can reassess. Do you still want the item or service you were going to purchase? If so, you can buy it guilt-free, knowing that you took the time to think it through. If you no longer want or need to make the purchase, you can simply save that money instead — or use it for something that does align more with your current wants and needs. 

Example of the 30 Day Savings Rule

You head out for some back-to-school shopping for your children. You pick out all the essentials — new clothes, school supplies, and whatever else was on your list. And you spot a new pair of earbuds that would be perfect for your workouts. The problem is, new earbuds weren’t on your list. So, you’re looking at an unplanned purchase of a new item for yourself.

With the 30-day rule in mind, you can mindfully pause. You can move forward with the planned purchases for your children and put the optional purchase on the back burner. 

30 days later, if you still want the earbuds, you can return to the store to buy them. You could even set a reminder on your phone to check in after a month. 

Why Does the 30 Day Rule Work?

The 30 day rule enables you to spend with more intention. By inserting a pause into your optional spending decisions, you can take time to think about what you really want. 

It’s also a way to remove guilt from purchases. We all make unplanned purchases — and that’s totally okay. But if you find yourself feeling guilty after buying something, the 30 day rule might be a good option for you.

After all, if we can have the self-control to wait 30 days before buying something, and we still want it after that wait, then we can fully enjoy that purchase without guilt. 

How to Maximize Your Money Using the 30 Day Rule

The 30 day rule can help you improve your spending habits, which can result in more intentional purchases, more money saved, and less financial stress. But it’s not all about saving money. It’s really about being intentional, and thinking through your spending decisions. Here’s how to maximize your success with the 30 day rule. 

Know When — and Where — to Save

The 30 day rule can be a powerful boost to help you save more money. After pausing for 30 days, you’ll have had time to think about whether you truly want or need that purchase. And in many cases, the answer will be no.

If you decide not to make the purchase, what should you actually do with the money? Well, you have several options:

  • Use it to pay down debt or invest (see below)
  • Keep it in your checking account
  • Transfer it to a savings account
  • Open a high-yield savings account to earn more interest

You could choose to make small transfers to your savings every time you decide not to make a purchase. Or, you could transfer once a month based on your spending habits for the previous month. 

Consider Investing or Paying Down Debt

For an even bigger boost to your personal finances, consider using your new savings to invest or pay down debt. 

Paying off debt should generally be your top priority, particularly if it’s high-interest debt. This can help you save money on interest, lower your total debt, and even improve your credit score. 

Investing for the future should also be a top financial goal. You can start a brokerage account to buy stocks, or contribute money to your workplace retirement account. 

Enjoy Your Purchases Guilt-Free

Remember, money can’t buy happiness — so if you truly do want that purchase, and it might bring you joy or satisfaction, be sure to enjoy it guilt-free.

The 30 day rule isn’t about being a stickler and never spending money. It’s just about pausing to intentionally think about your purchases before making them. If after a month of waiting you still want the item or service, go ahead and buy it — and enjoy. 

Split the Difference

Spending decisions don’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can also choose to split the difference, so to speak. 

For instance, let’s say you are thinking about buying a new patio furniture set, but you decide to use the 30 day rule to wait it out. After 30 days, you decide that you really do want some outdoor furniture — but you realize that you really only need a few chairs to enjoy your porch. Instead of opting for the expensive set, you can choose to purchase some inexpensive chairs — and save the rest of the money for a rainy day. 

If you’re on the fence, you can simply keep the money in a sinking fund. You can later use the money to make the purchase, or repurpose it for one of your other financial goals (like paying off debt or saving for retirement).

See What the 30 Day Savings Rule can do for You

The 30 day rule is a unique approach to spending decisions that can encourage more intentional spending. It can help you develop a savings mindset, while also enjoying the purchases you do make with less guilt. Give it a try and see how it works for you.