Here is what I took away from that experience.
Planning works! I had to think about my money in a way I hadn't done before. I turned off the autopilot. I stopped just running my debit card for every little purchase. Planning saved me from making a lot of impulse purchases.
Preparing food isn't as time consuming as I thought. The excuse for a lot of last minute fast food stops was that I didn't have time to cook. I found that it didn't take a lot of time to make my own burger or heat up some leftovers.
Separating needs from wants. I realized that a lot of things I would have purchased weren't necessary expenses (needs) they were extras (wants). After the month was over, I realized that I wasn't as tied to buying a lot of the things I had gone without during that month. I started to ask myself, "Do I really need that?" and "Do I really want to spend money on that?"
I had more money than I thought I did. I realized I didn't have to cry broke. In fact, the reason I was broke so often is because I was making a lot of mindless purchases and those things added up!
If you want to try this for yourself, you have to start with a plan. Here is what I suggest.
- Use this month to prepare for next month. Don't start right away, use this month to prepare and plan so you won't be caught off-guard.
- Make allowances for expected expenses. If you know you will have to pay for your child's summer camp or if you are already planning for a major event, work those expenses into your monthly fasting plan. If you plan for those events upfront, they won't catch you off guard.
- Look at your day-to-day expenses. I looked at the snacks, coffees and lunches I was used to buying and made some substitutions I could manage on my own - taking my own coffee, what I could pack for lunch, ...
- Don't go it alone! It was great to have a friend going through this with me. We were there to support each other, help the other overcome temptations and celebrate small successes. Having a partner in financial fitness made it almost fun!