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Last week, I outlined exactly what I spent money on during my September Spending Fast. Even though things went well, there were still some things I wish I would have done beforehand to help with the transition and guilt when it came time to spend money on non-essentials. The next time I participate in a Spending Fast, I’ll make sure to prepare so I’m not regretting my decision two weeks in.
The next time I participate in a Spending Fast, I’ll make sure to prepare so I don’t regret my decision two weeks in.
1. Buy non-essential items you’ll need in advance.
For example, my mom’s birthday is in September, so I bought a card for her in August. Unfortunately, I forgot about Grandparents’ day, which I always send cards for. If you know there are things you’ll need in the month you are fasting, purchase it the month prior. This could be cosmetics, special hair products, or gifts for friends.
If you need a haircut or want a manicure, do it before the month begins. These are niceties you are not allowed to spend on during a fast.Then you won’t feel guilty when the time comes around.
2. Go out to eat the day before it begins.
This is a tip from Anna Newell Jones, the original Spend-Faster. Say goodbye to eating out by spending some time at your favorite restaurant. Consider it a “Fat Tuesday” of sorts. Toast to the next 30 days of spending nothing on anything frivolous. You won’t feel so bad the next time you want to eat out, and you’ll know you only have to survive four weeks.
3. Tell your friends and family.
I don’t have any family in Colorado, and I still told them about my Spending Fast. I also let my friends in on the secret, which was a huge help! They were my biggest supporters and would often buy me a treat (I have the bestest of friends), just so I’d go out with them. I hope you have friends like mine. One paid for a movie ticket; another bought me coffee. This is not why you should tell your friends, though.
I never asked my friends to buy me stuff. That’s just how they are. I told them about my spending fast so they would help me fight my cravings and urges. CRAVINGS and URGES are my weaknesses. They knew not to ask me out for spendy fun and instead would come over and play card/board games with me. This was a huge help because I never felt like I was missing out and we still had fun together without spending money.
Your friends will make or break you during a Spending Fast.
4. Make a budget before the month begins.
Confession time. I suck at budgeting. There. I said it. I have a very rough budget on Mint, but it’s more of a guideline than a steadfast rule. This has been my downfall time and time again. The struggle of sticking to a budget is REAL. Therefore, it is crucial for you to create a strict budget before beginning your Spending Fast. If you have no idea how much you make or spend in a month, push your Spending Fast month back so you can take the month prior to track your expenses and income. See where the bleeding occurs and find a way to stop it.
Ask yourself how much you can cut out from basic expenditures. For me, it was eating out and buying groceries. For you, it might be clothes shopping and manicures. To each their own. Just know that this is where money bleeding occurs. And put the credit cards away. That will just make everything worse. The Spending Fast should be a cash/debit diet so you are not tempted.
5. Forge a list of fun things to do in moments of weakness.
Note that fun is underlined. This would have bolstered me against the boredom I felt during the weekdays. A little planning can go a long way. All I had to take my mind off fun was Microbiology homework. Definitely NOT FUN. For example, I have a 1000 piece puzzle I never completed. Just the other day, I decided to try it again, and it has taken so much of my time! I love piecing it together and I have already saved money in October because I’ve been busy with homework and working the puzzle.
Maybe puzzles aren’t for you, but renting a book at the library that’s been on your to-read list could also help you reduce spending. Whatever your thing is, use it to help fight boredom on a Spending Fast, especially if it’s wintertime!
A Spending Fast doesn’t have to be overwhelming and guilt-ridden. With a little planning, you can save hundreds of dollars and still have fun, as well as show your family and friends how much you care. Plus, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The great thing about Spending Fasts is that you can do them over and over again.
I plan on doing another spending fast in January after my budget stops hemorrhaging from all my holiday spending. What are your tips for a Spending Fast?