Monday, June 3, 2013

Financial Fitness: Fasting

For the month of June, we'll be looking at what we can do to be financially fit!

A year ago, I went on a financial fast with a good friend of mine. We vowed to only spend the money necessary to pay bills, get groceries and gas. There would be no eating out, no shopping, no purchasing any extras. We did this for several reasons. First, we wanted to work on developing some new more frugal habits. Second, we wanted to see how much we could save.

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!

1 comment:

Allison Gill said...

This is a good practice to apply in our lifestyle particularly nowadays. Being financially responsible may sound diffficult to achieve, but having good strategies just like what you mentioned, nothing is impossible. Anyway, you inpsire me to do the same and I think your blog name speaks for - lose the excuses in achieving a healthier lifestyle not only physically, but financially as well. --> Allison @