34-Day Reset Tips & Tricks

Save More and Spend Less in 2021


When it comes to challenges there are usually two types of people: the eye-rolling sceptic and the calculated victor. Admittedly, when I heard murmurs of the 34-Day Reset challenge, there was hesitation and yes, even an eye-roll. Lucky for me (and the marketing team looking for volunteers), I had just completely flubbed the budget with a rogue credit card payment—it’s true—even those of us on the YNAB team are mere mortals. 

With the camaraderie of others doing the challenge, I was victorious and completed all 34 days of this reset. 🎉 

We compiled our best ideas so you too can feel the sweet victory of saving more and spending less to hit your goals too.

Don’t miss the added boost of doing this in community! Join the Facebook group for the 34-Day Reset Challenge for more support and brilliant reset hacks.

1. Know Your Why

It’s been said, many times, many ways…your spending is nothing more—and nothing less—than a map of your priorities. Are you ready for the key to success? This reset should reflect your priorities. We can’t tell you your priorities—they’re all yours.

For us, my family decided our WHY was a move to a new home and less food waste. During the reset, we put all our energy into trimming the Dining Out and Grocery categories to cut food waste and we moved to a new home that would fit our needs as a growing family. When the siren call of Amazon Prime Day hit in the middle of my reset (a cruel joke, I know), I kept my eye on the prize. 🎯

Ask yourself these questions to determine your priorities and the reason behind this reset (and be sure to fill out your WHY in the workbook you received after signing up).

  • What are you saving for? Is this money paying down a car loan? Or going towards a maybe just maybe vacation in 2021?
  • In 34 days, what outcome do you want?
  • What does success look like to you when the reset ends?

Having a specific 34-Day Reset goal turns “I’m not spending money” (which feels like a real downer and limiting) into “I’m not spending money on THIS so I can spend money later on THAT” (which feels empowering and not so bad!).

2. Remove Temptation 

Hello firstname – check out this sale for the thing you didn’t know you needed five minutes ago. 

You know the email I’m talking about—the temptation to spend creeps into our lives in some not-so-obvious ways. 

Here are some tips to removing that temptation:

  • Go to your Instagram account and unfollow the influencers that have been seriously influencing you over the last few months.
  • Add some friction to online shopping: delete your account passwords and stored login information.
  • The new year brings a golden opportunity: you get emails from companies all at once—this gives you a golden opportunity to unsubscribe en masse.
  • Tap into delayed gratification by creating a list of things you want to buy during these 34 days. When the reset ends go through and revisit the list: some things might not seem so important after a little time and space.

3. Cancel or Negotiate a Bill

One fellow resetter used the challenge to dramatically minimize monthly bills.

“Finally moving to a much cheaper cell plan that should save us $150/month!” -Shannon

  • Go line by line and look at each category. Can it be cheaper? There are even scripts (like these, from our friend Ramit Sethi) that you can use to negotiate lower monthly bills.  
  • Negotiate your interest rates. Call up your credit card company and ask if they’ll give you a 0% interest rate for the next six months (but a word of caution: be wary about the mental game of zero percent).
  • Pause subscriptions or switch to a freemium option.
  • Compare car insurance rates without the obnoxious phone calls using The Zebra

4. Sell Your Old Stuff

From Facebook Marketplace to Poshmark, the world of reselling is at your fingertips. This challenge is a great excuse to actually do that decluttering you’ve been meaning to do. Sell a couple big things and you could be racking up challenge cash in the thousands!

5. Make Dinner Easy

No need to slave over five-course home-cooked meals every night. In fact, that’s a recipe straight to burnout. Be sure to stock up on a few staple “easy” meals when you’re at the grocery store that you can make on those nights where you just don’t feel like cooking (because you’ll have them, there’s no doubt!). These are things like cereal (who cares if you have cereal for dinner!), frozen pizza, eggs and toast, made-ahead soup, and so on.

Keep the bar for dinner at a reasonable height during this challenge and prepare for the low-motivation days!

Check out this guide to quarantine cooking (and how to have more fun in the kitchen) or this crash course in meal planning (with easy recipes!), or these eight cheap, healthy alternatives to restaurant favorites to for further inspiration.

6. Don’t Do It Alone

This challenge is hard, it’s as simple as that. But doing it with a friend, a family member, or even loose acquaintances or strangers makes the plodding along seem easier, and even fun at times. Join the private Facebook Group for the 34-Day Reset to get plugged right into a lively community already discussing their easy dinner hacks and cell phone negotiation scripts. Or, reach out to a friend and save for something together: like doing this challenge might finally make that girls’ trip a reality next fall! Find your community and you’ll thrive!


Jesse often reminds us that budgeting can have an immediate effect on your short-term spending, helping you to reach those long-term goals. Intense focus on getting ahead isn’t meant to be sustainable for a long time. But this temporary sprint approach helps you find quick, motivating, real progress. None of these suggestions have to be your new normal, and you’re not signing on to a lifetime of home-cooked meals either. It’s just 34 days of shaking up and sprinting. Remember your why and you’ll be able to stick with it when all you want is a take-out dinner from your favorite spot.

You might find that you really don’t mind spending less in some areas. Jen said the 34-Day Reset fundamentally changed how she thinks about the budget and the idea of spending less has been gamified, resulting in a leaner budget! 

Put these tips and tricks into action for a strong start and finish to your 34-Day Reset. We can’t wait to hear what you’re going to accomplish!


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