The 30-Day Money Cleanse – In-Depth Book Review

The 30-Day Money Cleanse – In-Depth Book Review

The “The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take control of your finances, manage your spending, and de-stress your money for good,” shortened to ‘30-day money cleanse’ is an easy to follow money guide. Written by financial expert Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, the book is a month-long exercise for achieving financial freedom. The book is primarily written for the youth and is based on Gerstley’s financial struggles, despite having a business degree from Wharton Business School. As a result, she wrote a 30-day financial detox to help everyone benefit from her knowledge and experience. Like food, money is something we struggle with and find hard to acknowledge. This book sets out a methodic way of taking charge of financial freedom.

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The book is divided into three portions. The first is the introductory three chapters which focus on the purpose of a money cleanse, its inner working, and how it supports your objectives. Then starts a four-week exercise that is to be read accordingly. Each week has an overview and then special instructions on what needs to be done. The third part congratulates the reader on the new-money lifestyle, ‘money parties,’ and what’s in the future. The easy language and simplistic manner provide useful guidance to everyone and you don’t need a calculator or MS Excel course before starting the money cleanse.

Gerstley acknowledges the lessons taught by her financial struggles, whether it’s bad investment advice or misusing credit cards. She acknowledges that her personal journey allowed her to recognize the issues people face while looking for financial guidance. This enabled her to design a 30-day money cleanse course focusing on one-on-one guidance. She claims annual savings of $950 or 20% of pre-tax income for her course participants. The lessons in this book are derived from her personal story and the experience gained during coaching people on financial freedom.

In Depth Summary/Review

In chapter 1, Gerstley explains how the thousands of people she met experienced recurring problems like not saving enough and the inability to control expenses. A common refrain she heard was, “It’s not like I’m only buying high-end products or going on tons of shopping sprees… I really don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but for some reason, there’s never enough money left over to save.” Gerstley explains that money can help us achieve many things in life, but personal finance is simply not a topic of discussion in education or academia. This stigma extends to friends, newlywed couples and even colleagues. Gerstley explains how factors like happiness, technology, financial instruments and gender-based studies decide our use of money. Looking at Gerstley’s explanation of each factor and its correlation with money, you can’t help agreeing what the real problem is.

Chapter 2 describes why the 30-day cleanse actually works. It effectively debunks myths like earning twice the amount of money will lead to a happy life. According to her, the problem is a ‘scarcity mindset,’ which the average person faces on a daily basis. In this mode, the available financial resources will never seem enough and hence saving is a far-fetched possibility. The author discusses our relationship with money how we can redefine it in a meaningful way that also makes us happy. The constant references/allusion to food will clarify the concepts further as the author guides us on a journey of discovery.

Chapter 3 is the kick-off point, before Week 1 commences. This is the time when the reader learns how to plan his/her 30-day money cleanse. As with most diets, the time take for planning should strike a balance between effective planning and submerging in lethargy. The author provides guidance regarding ‘creating’ time and the tools required for launching a successful financial detox program. The contents are focused but not highly restrictive, therefore your core objectives will not be compromised.

Chapter 4 provides an overview about the first week. Since it’s a practical guide, the writer expects readers to embark on the journey and read each week at the appropriate time. This is expected to derive the optimum benefit from the whole exercise. Considering the reward mechanism, Gerstley explains its importance in deciding adequate reward for undergoing the 3-day cleanse. The chapter goes on to explain how money mantras drive the process and how discussing money cleanse with practitioners will support your effort.

Chapter 5 provides practical tools like the ‘Money Journal’ and ‘Expense list.’ In order to take charge of your financial journey, the writer wants you to first maintain a ‘handwritten’ money journal. The recall factor involved in this exercise is expected to reconnect you with actual spending. The ‘Expense list’ is an attempt to categorize expenses in certain terms and then understand their relevance to daily life. The usage of hard cash provides the program participant to realize digital spending and rationalize them.

In chapter 6, the author starts Week 2, whereby the first step is to fill out a ‘reflection list,’ that analyzes the experience of Week 1. The next part is really important as the author wants us to jot down what we like and then analyze the reason behind this want. The next step is a 100 point list of ‘Frugal joys,’ wherein different ways to achieve satisfaction are listed. Gerstley wants us to explore how we can accomplish our goals in a cost-effective manner.

The 7th chapter talks about annual income and expenses and where exactly we are spending. The author acknowledges that getting this information in one place is hard and that viewing the actual picture might be intimidating. At this point, she talks about the ‘happiness allocation,’ and how this concept positively affects our financial spending. A 9-step process to improve our spending habits is provided, which benefits from our previous learnings from the 30-day cleanse.

The 30-day money cleanse is also available in Audiobook.

Chapter 8 concludes Week 2 by providing guidance on common money language like ‘I can’t afford this…’ Instead, the author wants us to embrace money mantras and choose which expenses are worth committing. This departs from the usual restrictive money saving strategy that we usually adopt in life. The ‘expense onion’ is a beautiful phenomenon that explains how most expenses work. The outer layer describes expenses that are easy to forgo and as you peel back each layer, you start the journey towards basic expenses. This journey is explained in a methodical manner to enable the reader in identifying meaningful expenses, based on solid rationale.

Chapter 9 sheds light on Week three’s overview wherein Gerstley first tackles the problem of leaving the Money-cleanse bandwagon. She shared powerful tools that enable us to keep on track to financial freedom and even motivate others to follow the same. She also focuses on reviewing the performance of the previous two weeks and lessons learned while comparing to expenses during the Pre-30 day cleanse life.

Chapter 10 talks about ‘value-based spending’ by brainstorming a list of words that we want to define our life. This is a vision-based exercise and builds upon our hope for life. The author then asks us to select 5-10 of the most important words and then prepare sentences that showcase our objectives. Since money and time are interrelated, this exercise will eventually portray how we want to live our existence. Prioritizing this list of 10 expenses will further streamline financial spending.

Chapter 11 introduces the concept of ‘opportunity cost’ and how it affects our spending decisions. The author explains that whenever we make an expense, we are forgoing something else. That opportunity cost might resemble one of our core objectives or be a necessary indulgence. Good financial management that we consider opportunity cost along with actual cost. It also means we value experiences and decide what the really important part about them is. Sometimes, the really important things in life don’t require money. A 5-step process explains these decisions. This is also the conclusion of Week 3 and the reader can review his/her performance till date.

Chapter 12 starts with an overview of Week 4, whereby the reader is combining values with financial spending. Also, the reader is introduced to a SMART goal-based approach that helps him/her achieve their mid to long-term objectives. This might include a long-overdue family vacation but the devil is in the details presented by Gerstley.

Chapter 13 is a reminder that without valuable support, the best plans end up in the drain. The writer focuses on what she calls the ‘Dream team.’ This is a selected group of people that are crucial to the reader’s financial journey. The author describes their criteria of selection and how the reader should collaborate with them to achieve major objectives. Brainstorming sessions with members of the ‘Dream team’ help to focus efforts and enroll their support in consistently attaining your objectives.

Chapter 14 describes the adverse concept to a dream team i.e. environmental toxins. This can be a costly friend or impulse buying that adversely affects your money goals. A structured process explained by the writer assists readers in identifying and mitigating the efforts of environmental toxins. This doesn’t mean ending relationships, but it does require a concerted thought process and how to find better alternatives to maintain the happiness quotient. Gerstley provides additional support in the form of group activities, spending triggers and the forty-eight hour rule. In-depth discussions and mitigation techniques about these three factors further assist the money cleanse process.

Chapter 15 follows the journey after the 30-day money cleanse. The author starts off with the ‘Week 4 reflection,’ and then discusses how savings should be viewed as an expense allowing it to be budgeted accordingly. A short questionnaire explains the practical aspects of this concept. The author provides guidance on actually protecting the savings using an online savings account Next, Gerstley explains how the savings should be supported by a definitive purpose i.e. rainy day fund etc. Next comes a 4-step process to ascertain your rainy day fund and then a 3-step process to prioritize your goals. The author caps this chapter’s discussion with some pointers about managing different expenses and keeping ahead of bankruptcy/fraud.

Chapter 16 is titled ‘money parties,’ and it relates to periodically checking off the financial to-dos we are hesitant to address. The writer wants us to address it as a work date, ideally with our life partner or dream team. This is essentially a fun review meeting that recaps our money cleanse journey and aligns our finances with future goals. The author provides guidance regarding the contents of the money party and how to plan ahead for the next one. Grestley acknowledges that initially, money parties will take time, but later they will become habitual and a time of celebration.

Chapter 17 wraps up the money-cleanse journey by reviewing whether the reader has achieved his/her money goals from the program. To support the life-long money cleanse, the author has provided a ‘Money-Bliss checklist’ that explains when you should apply the different tools learned in this course. The writer signs of with exhorting the readers to continue their journey of financial wellness by benefiting from literature, trainings and other avenues.

The verdict

The 30-day money cleanse is a thorough money guide written in a simplistic to-do manner. It’s a financial diet that actually leaves the participants feeling better about themselves. Some may argue that the guidance is more adequate for the youth, but money is something that we never have enough of. Therefore, specific step-by-step guidance regarding how you can control this scarce resource is really worth it. The book has featured on Amazon’s top sellers and is worth reading.

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