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Sure, you’ve tried to save more money. And you’d like to try eating clean but then it’s Friday night and Uber Eats is just so easy… 

It’s hardly groundbreaking to say that most of us have some area of our lives that we could improve. So why not try one of these 30 day challenge ideas to help you stick with a new, great habit?

That is, doing something for self improvement is always a good thing, but it’s not always easy. So being able to continuously achieve your goals throughout a 30 day habit challenge can help you lay the groundwork for seeing long term, positive results that really could change your life.

As explained in Atomic Habits (which, in my opinion, is one of the best books out there for anyone looking to take action for a better life), habits are just a series of tiny changes that you build upon to improve yourself.

So why not start your next time changes today – and who knows what habits you’ll be able to build over the next 30 days?

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30 day challenge ideas

1. Start that side hustle

So many of us have big dreams to start a side hustle. Whether it’s to earn some extra income on the side or to build it up eventually to be your main source of income, I can definitely understand having these huge ideas – but never seem to actually start them.

This is why a great 30 day challenge idea can be to use the next 30 days to lay the groundwork for finally starting that side hustle. 

Exactly what you’ll do for each of those 30 days will depend on what your dream side hustle is, but your first few days could look like this:

  1. Plan out the next 30 days of setting up the foundations of a side hustle.
  2. Brainstorm the name of your new business. Yes, even if it’s just you working on this, you’re about to become a proud business owner!
  3. Secure the domain name for that business. I like to use Hover to buy these because it’s cheap and does exactly what you need.
  4. Launch your business’ website. As you’ll see if you follow our step-by-step guide on how to start a website, it literally only takes 20 minutes to do this – even if you don’t have any tech knowledge!

And from there, it’s up to you. But while it may seem like a scary first step to do this as a 30 day challenge, your future self will definitely be grateful.

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2. Try a no-spend challenge

No-spend challenges are when you agree to not spend anything for a certain period of time.

Given that you’ll be doing this for 30 days and, well, you have to eat, it’s fine to agree that you’ll only spend money on actual needs, like groceries, rent or mortgage and other similar things.

But the main rule here is to not spend money on anything extra. To help you out with this, you can grab the free no spend tracker below:

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3. Meal plan for an entire month

Food costs are in the top three biggest expenses for most households, so finding ways to save money here can have a huge impact on your budget.

This is why a great 30 day challenge idea is to meal plan for an entire month. By doing this, you’ll always know exactly what you’re going to eat every day and will always have the groceries on hand to make it, meaning no spending money on expensive takeout.

That said, it can definitely be hard to think of different things to eat every single day, especially when combined with a goal to embrace clean eating. Finding the time to sit down and do this can also be tricky, to say the least.

This is why I recommend the $5 Meal Plan. For only $5 per month, you’ll get a full four weeks of meal planning sent to you, including shopping lists and recipes.

And the best part is each recipe costs only $2 per person to make!

It’s an incredible service at a great price to save you both time and money. In particular, if you’ve tried to do this before but haven’t been able to stick with it, having this service could be just what you need to be able to meal plan for the full 30 day challenge.

To try it out, sign up for a free 14-day trial of the $5 Meal Plan here. You’ll get:

  • Two weeks of (all different!) recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack and dessert – meaning you don’t have to think about new ideas for what to make
  • Recipes for all of these that cost only $2 per person to make (and often less!)
  • A shopping list for the two week period – great for saving money and time at the supermarket (including from having to go back when you forget something)

4. Track your spending every day

If you’re looking for a 30 day self-improvement challenge that’s money related to help you on the way to financial freedom, this idea will definitely help you to save over the next month.

That is, for anyone looking to cut their spending or increase their liquid net worth, it’s hard to do so without knowing exactly where your money is going. This is why keeping track of where every dollar goes can really help you to identify any problem points-as well as how to fix them.

Writing down every expense over the next 30 days is also a really good way to hold yourself accountable. After all, will you really buy that new shirt if you know you’ll be staring at that number on your spending tracker for the next few weeks?

The one issue with this is that it can take a lot of time to write down every single thing you spend money on. This is why it can be a good idea to use an app that automates this for you and, for this, we recommend Personal Capital.

It’s a completely free app that keeps track of your entire financial situation, as well as provides personalized advice based on your circumstances.

personal capital logo and sample screens

Personal Capital

Our pick: Best money management app

Easily our choice for the best app to help you manage your money better.

Create a budget, track your spending automatically, receive personalized advice, get alerts about hidden fees and a ton more – and it’s all free.

5. Reduce your meat consumption

There’s no reason why your 30 day challenge can’t have more than one benefit, which is why you may want to consider one that’s good both for your money and your health.

This could be as simple as not ordering takeout for the month, which can save you a ton of money – not to mention it can be good if you want to use your 30 day challenge for weight loss reasons or to embrace healthy eating.

woman cooking as part of her 30 day habit challenge for clean eating

Or you could even consider a slightly different shift in your diet, like reducing or even cutting altogether any meat from your meals for the next 30 days. 

This is something I’ve personally tried and really enjoyed. Eating meals with more beans in them has been super filling, tasty and, yes, great to my bank account.

It can take a bit more planning, especially if you’re used to eating meals that are based around meat. So it’s worth highlighting that the $5 Meal Plan that I mentioned earlier also comes with a vegetarian option if you’d like to try it

And don’t forget that you can grab a free 14 day trial of the $5 Meal Plan here.

6. Read every day

A great 30 day challenge idea is to commit to reading at least once every day. After all, there’s a reason that this often features on lists of tips for the day.

This doesn’t mean that you have to finish an entire book, but agreeing to read for, say, 20 minutes each evening can be a great achievement, especially if you find yourself not taking the time to do the same now.

You can tie this into another goal, like sorting out your finances or launching a side hustle you were thinking about earlier. On these points, I definitely recommend taking a look at the following books:

  • The Simple Path to Wealth (my favorite personal finance book, by far)
  • Atomic Habits (I mentioned this one earlier but it’s worth repeating – it’s so actionable for anyone wanting to improve their lives)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek (something to seriously aspire to in our own working lives)

Related: 10 Best Personal Finance Podcasts for Beginners

7. Declutter/get rid of stuff

We all have corners of our house that we probably should’ve cleaned up a long time ago and that we promise we’ll do “one day“.

So let’s make one day today! That is, you can easily commit to spending at least 10 minutes every day for the next 30 days to declutter and tidy up one corner of your house.

woman cleaning as part of her 30 day challenge to declutter and get rid of stuff

This could be as simple as sorting out that drawer (you know which one I mean, we all have one) or making a list of 30 places around the home that need a good decluttering and spending each day focusing on a different one that needs attention.

You could then sell anything you find that you no longer need, making it a great way to earn some extra money by using your 30 day challenge to get rid of stuff. For example, Poshmark or thredUP can be good options for selling any clothes you don’t want anymore.

Doing this can also be a good opportunity to put some processes in place, like creating a designated spot to keep track of any bills

8. Reflect on your day

No matter what your overall life goals, reflecting on the good and bad things every day can be a great way to consider how to address these going forward.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be finance related although, of course, it’s always good to reflect on your money decisions as well as other aspects of your life.

Related: 17 Best Financial Planning Quotes to Inspire Your Money Makeover

So as a 30 day challenge idea that could have a real impact, take a few moments every evening to fill in your gratitude journal (like this one) and to consider what you’re grateful for.

Some people describe this as being almost meditative, allowing you to turn the page – both literally and figuratively – to be ready for a new day.

9. Workout every day

When people are looking for 30 day challenge ideas, fitness related ones are often what they really mean.

And it’s easy to see why. With only one in four adults getting the recommended levels of physical activity, for most of us, our exercise habits definitely need some work.

This is why it can be good to use a 30 day challenge to workout consistently over that time and reestablish a fitness regimen. You could also tie this into the fact that this may help you to lose weight, if that’s what you want.

man stretching after exercising as part of his 30 day challenge to workout

How exactly these 30 days will look will depend on your current level of fitness and your goals. Fortunately, there are a ton of free workout ideas online, whether you’re looking to workout at home, you need tips for beginners or have some more experience in these things so need a more advanced program. 

For example, you may want to simply do yoga every day (in which case, Yoga with Adrienne has a ton of great 30 day free programs). 

Alternatively, you may want to work on your running. If you’re starting from scratch, the Couch to 5K program is perfect for this. 

10. Walk every day 

While using a 30 day challenge to start getting fit can be a great thing to do, it may be enough to simply use this opportunity to start moving a bit more.

That is, you could commit to walking for at least 20 to 30 minutes every day over the next 30 days.

Even this relatively easy amount of exercise can be great for your physical health, not to mention the benefits for your mental health of getting outside and moving a bit.

And if you can make it to 10,000 steps every day, even better!

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11. Use cash only

For those who find it hard to rein in their spending, the reason can often be because simply swiping your bank card is just too easy. 

This is why trying to convert much of your spending to cash can have a really positive effect on this. That’s because the feeling of handing over actual money when buying something really makes you appreciate what you’re spending.

black envelope with cash in it

It’s for this reason that for your 30 day challenge, you could commit to only making cash purchases for the month. 

You could even consider combining this with the envelope budgeting method, which is when you allocate a set amount of money in cash to each spending category by putting it in different envelopes. And once the cash in an envelope is gone, that’s it, no more purchases in that category until next month.

Related: 15 Incredible Debt Snowball Worksheets to Get Out of Debt

12. Save money every day

There are a ton of really great 30 day savings challenges out there that will not only boost your savings each month through ways to attract money, but will show you how easy it is to keep doing that going forward to help you stick to your personal financial plan

Even spending just 30 days on this can ultimately have a huge effect on your finances, especially for anyone who’s struggled to save before.

For instance, do you want to save just over $450? One good way to do this is by saving $1 on day one, $2 on day 2… until you get to saving $30 on day 30. At the end of it, you’ll have $465!

You could even simply set up your bank account so that $20 is transferred out to your savings account every day for 30 days. How does having $600 at the end of the month sound?

Related: It’s Confirmed: Money Really Does Buy Happiness

13. Make your bed every day

A common piece of advice to people who may be struggling with an overall lack of motivation is to simply start by making your bed every day.

The idea here is to show you that with very little effort, you’re able to keep that aspect of your life organized. And if it was that easy on this point, why couldn’t the same be applied to other areas of your life?

So your 30 day challenge could be as simple as ensuring your bed is made every day. From there, the sky’s the limit.

bed with plant next to it

14. Floss every day 

And now something that we should all be doing but most of us definitely don’t, no matter how much we try to lie to our dentist about it.

That is, I assume you’re brushing your teeth every day, but making sure you floss as well is a really great habit to form. Unfortunately, the extra few minutes it takes to do this seems to be beyond most of us (including me, full disclosure).

So committing to floss at least once every day for the next 30 days can be a very simple, very effective thing to do for the month.

Do 30 day challenges work?

A 30 day challenge can work to start you on the path to making improvements in your life, although research indicates that it will take an average of 66 days for these actions to become a new habit, with the exact amount of time needed for this ranging between 18 days and 254 days.

This means that this study didn’t support the previous assumption that it only takes three weeks to form a habit – instead, it takes about three times as long.

And while that may be disappointing if you’re expecting a 30 day challenge to change your life, it definitely has its advantages. In particular, it’s going to help you lay the foundations for some great new behaviours in your life.

While some more work will be needed at the end of the 30 days, you’ll at least be well on your way to improving things.

Why do people do 30 day challenges?

People do 30 day challenges as a way to create new, positive habits in their lives. It’s a great way to prove to yourself that you can stick with something, with the ultimate goal of being able to continue implementing this behaviour in the long term, even beyond the initial 30 day period.

This is especially the case if you’re able to track your progress over the 30 days, even if that progress is simply ticking off the relevant thing every day. Being able to look at a full month of achieving your daily goal is a great motivator – and a good way to hold yourself accountable if you do happen to slip.

At the same time, a 30 day habit challenge can help you see whether or not it really is worth sticking with something. Certain actions may sound better in theory than in practice, for whatever reason, and giving yourself a month to try it out and realize it’s not for you is also perfectly fine.

How can I improve my life in 30 days? 

You can improve your life in 30 days in a number of ways. Whether it’s your health, your finances, your diet or simply your ability to take five minutes out for yourself, doing this consistently for 30 days helps you see that you can stick with something for that long – and, ideally, that you can continue the habit going forward.

As mentioned earlier, research has shown that 30 days isn’t generally enough by itself to create a new habit – even though we’re often told that this only takes three weeks to do.

But having 30 days to try something out can be more than enough to give you the push to at least try to stick with it for a bit longer. 

And that in itself can be what can help you to improve your life. That is, even if the action itself isn’t something you want to continue doing, you can prove to yourself that you really can stick with something. And this can often have a positive spillover effect into other areas of your life.

How do you do the 30 day challenge?

The best way to do a 30 day challenge is to track yourself throughout the entire period. Whether it’s a piece of paper or in an app, being able to tick off each day that you managed to achieve your goal is great motivation in itself to keep going. 

You can grab our free 30-day challenge printable tracker here, but if you’d rather use a 30 day challenge app, HabitBull works really well (not to mention that it’s free).

I’ve used it myself to help me start running more frequently again at one point and I found that it has everything you need to get through your 30 days – and beyond.

Final thoughts on what is the best 30 day challenge

The best 30 day challenge for you is going to be different from someone else’s. More specifically – and perhaps unsurprisingly – it’s going to depend not only on what your goals are but where you’re at in your life.

For example, you could be a fitness fiend but struggle to get your savings in order. Or you could be really committed to journaling but can’t even bear the thought of having to think of another meal to cook.

(It will also vary depending on if you plan to do it alone or with someone else, as there are plenty of 30 day challenge ideas for students, for couples or for fun to do alone!)

Whichever it is, there’s a solution. And part of that solution could be as simple as proving to yourself that you’re fully capable of sticking with a change for a few weeks.

This is why your first step when considering a 30 day self-improvement challenge is to question what you really, truly want to change in your life.

Then, by giving yourself those 30 days to start making those tiny habits that can eventually form a habit, you’ll easily be able to see

And then, when that 30 days is up, you’ll be perfectly placed to decide whether it’s something that you can really change your life with!

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About the author

Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been seen in Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a thriving investment portfolio. Find out more.