Worried about all the extra spending you did this past holiday season? While those around you are probably setting new year’s resolutions and going on strict food diets, have you ever thought about going on a financial fitness diet? By embarking on a financial fast – even for just a few weeks, you’ll build your savings back up, see if there are any areas in your budget you need to tighten up in the new year, and learn to be happy with what you have without going overboard on spending.
What exactly is a financial fast? It’s a period of time you’ll set for yourself in advance, to not spend any money other than on necessities. The fast can be a week or two, a month, or more – if you have the discipline to do it. In order to be successful, here are a few tips for staying on course.
What defines a necessity?
This might be the hardest part of a financial fast. A necessity is an actual “need,” something you really can’t live without. Groceries would certainly be defined as a necessity or medication, whereas buying coffee daily from your favorite local coffee shop on the way to work or going out to dinner with friends is a “nice to have,” but not a “need.” Define your necessities in advance of beginning your financial fast and don’t let yourself stray off course.
Plan in advance.
Think about how long you’d like to go on this financial diet. Say you decide to financially fast for a month. You will need to plan ahead to see what things may come up in that month that you’ll need to prepare for. Do any family members have birthdays in that month where you’d need to purchase a gift, do you have kids who may be attending a party and once again you’ll need to buy a gift, or are there any other upcoming events you have already RSVP’d to? You’ll need to plan ahead to be successful on this one. For any of the parties, can you bring a homemade gift or gift an experience? If not, you can still commit to trying to buy a less expensive gift in advance of your financial fast.
Pay only with cash.
Using a card to pay for items is easy – almost too easy. When you’re on your financial fast, leave the credit and debit cards at home and only pay for things with cash. A card makes it too tempting to keep spending. When you actually have to pay with physical money and see it disappearing from your wallet, that will have more of an impact on you and you’ll be likely to spend less.
Don’t get tempted.
While on your financial fast, try to stay out of places like the mall or other stores where you typically shop. You might even want to temporarily unsubscribe from advertising emails, and avoid viewing ads on TV or on social media. Try to escape from being tempted, and stick to your financial fast.
While it may be difficult in the beginning, after a short time on a financial fast – you’ll most likely see very quickly what some of your problem spending areas were. However, moving forward you’ll be able to pinpoint them, know what might be a temptation for you and how you can avoid it, as well as recognize the importance of setting a budget and sticking to it. You can do it!
Article Source: Emily Birken for Moneyning.com