When I was a kid in the 90s, I remember meticulously counting the pennies in my savings jar. Every purchase would be planned & I’d examine the trade-offs carefully.

Today, 80% of my monthly expenditure is via electronic bank transfer (rent, healthcare, etc) and the remaining 20% (my personal allowance) is nearly all via debit card.

I also spend more today than at nearly any point in my life. Yes, I earn more so can afford to, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I drift through each day swiping & tapping my card to pay for things without questioning their true worth.

As part of my mission to become financially independent (FI), this has to change. By going back to cash could I rewire my brain the think differently? Would I actually want to spend less?

They say it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, so I’ve put away the plastic & embarked on 3-week Cash Diet. I’m 1-week into to the challenge, so how has it gone so far…

Day 1

Monday is always a slow start in the GY2FI household as it’s generally pretty hectic in work & we always have a fridge packed with food after topping-up at the weekend. Zero spend day, $200 remaining.

Day 2

I forgot to bring my packed lunch to work. $10 penalty for a deli-bought sandwich… $190 remaining.

Day 3

Bought ingredients from the grocery store for International Food Day at the office – spend $11.60. I cooked-up a traditional Toad in the Hole & Yorkshire pudding to give the Aussies a taste of northern England. Complete with gravy, of course.

I fought-off the temptation to buy a stash of cookies whilst shopping. Using cash actually made me reconsider whether it was worth it! Balance remaining $178.40.

Day 4

Another zero spend day. Even after walking through the main street down at Neutral Bay to meet Miss GY2FI after work I didn’t succumb to sushi for dinner. Normally that’d cost around $45!

$178.40 remaining.

Day 5

Worked from home on Friday so very little opportunity to spend cash. I did find myself browsing Amazon over lunch, but I should be able to hold-off on getting that Kindle until Christmas!

After a packed week we decided not to go out for the evening & have a nice couple of steaks at home. Zero spend, $178.40 remaining.

Day 6 spend

The first half of a very outdoorsy weekend kicked-off with the weekly soccer game, where we won the league championship! After a quick swim we headed-off to watch one of the other teams from our Club play & enjoyed a BBQ on the house.

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I slipped-in a few cheeky drinks with the guys in the evening to celebrate the day’s earlier victory – $31.40 spend. Lost my discipline a little bit here… $147 remaining.

Day 7 spend

A very Sunday-ish Sunday, packed with bike rides & car washing. The weekly grocery shop at Woolworths was $160, so after deducting my 50% contribution this leaves $67 in the pot.

Total spend to date: $133

Total savings to date: $67

I’ve been on my Cash Diet for an entire week & I’m adapting pretty well. It’s definitely reduced my desire for impulse purchases whilst in the supermarket & has even made me reconsider grabbing a takeaway or eating-out on more than one occasion.

I won’t be rolling my $67 saving into next week; instead I want to see if I can continue this rate & get to a $200 saving by the end of the Challenge (33% saving). I’ll update on my progress in around a week’s time, but feel free to have a poke-around in the Net Worth series of posts whilst you wait!

Review: Acorns investing app

Score: 3/5 stars

The pros:

  • Packed with features
  • Low fees & great flexibility
  • Robust privacy safeguards

The cons:

  • Can be difficult to navigate the app

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Credit: http://www.Acorns.com.au

Every little helps, they say. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to saving.

But in a world of PayPal & contactless payments, gone are the days of spare change rattling-around in your pocket just waiting to be dropped-into a piggy bank. Or perhaps one of those really cool over-sized bottles…

But the team over at Acorns thinks they’ve found a way to overcome this very 2017 problem. They’ve launched an app that links to your bank account and then invests your spare change into the stock market. Pretty cool, eh!

It’s been featured on Wired, Forbes, ABC News… and now Gen Y to FI! It’s not just the markets that are hitting all time highs :-/

Yeah, pretty cool… but how does it work?

The key feature of the app is how Acorns automatically rounds-up what you spend to the nearest dollar and transfers the cash from your bank account without you having to do a thing. You can also make manual deposits into your account and set recurring payments if you want to give your pot a boost.

When you set-up your profile you’re asked to select from 1 of 6 portfolio funds with varying degrees of risk/return. You can drill-down into which holdings the fund is invested in & change your portfolio selection easily from the ‘Settings’ tab in the app.

Found Money is one of the latest features, where brands will give you a ‘Bonus Round-up’ for shopping with them. Everything from Asos to Uber. I’ve not personally used this feature yet, but it’s a nice little addition.

What’s also great is that it’s super cheap to use Acorns – just $1.25p/m for balances of less than $5k.

And is it safe?

The app & websites are both password protected, as you’d expect, but the thorough verification process also gave me more confidence in using Acorns. There’s more in-depth details on their FAQ page if you want to find out more.

So, does it cut the mustard?

I’ve already saved just over $100 in 2 months, which is approximately $600 annualised. Now that’s nearly an extra month of Super contributions by doing absolutely nothing at all!

However, the app can be a little difficult to navigate at times and some of the features are novel at best. But the beauty of this app is that even if I never click on it again, Acorns will still keep diligently working-away in the background without me having to lift a finger.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Acorns app, or any other similar tools out there. Just post below or get in-touch via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with a link to this super-trippy promo video they’ve posted on YouTube. Weird….

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Acorns Grow Australia Limited and have not received any direct financial benefit resulting from this blog post.