I recently embarked on another weight-loss plan (I know, I know – here we go again) and in my research on various nutrition plans I found several that advocated fasting for a short period of time in the beginning to get things jump started. Aside from religious fasts, I’m not sure I agree with their effectiveness, in terms of metabolic enhancement. However, it did remind me of another idea that worked for me in the past.
For those living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling with some other aspect of their finances, a “spending fast” could help break the addictive behaviors costing you money.
Most people are paid biweekly, and spend the weekend between paychecks living like paupers. I was no exception. Back when I earned very little money, and my wife and I had our first child, we used credit cards to float until the next weekend. This invariably led to the accumulation of credit card debt which took some time to work down.
The answer to our problem, which unfortunately was not evident to us at the time, was that we were continuing to spend money when we didn’t have any. And when we did manage to save back a little from each paycheck for the next weekend, it was all gone by Saturday afternoon.
What helped us break this cycle?
We started declaring “no-spend” weekends and putting ourselves on a spending fast from Friday evening to Monday morning. The trick to this was to initiate the fast when we had money, beginning on payday. This forced us to learn to delay purchasing things we really wanted, and prepare by only buying things we really needed.
After trying a no-spend weekend for a couple pay cycles we discovered that it was a nice feeling to still have cash a week after payday and not have to rely on credit cards. We also found that our unplanned spending decreased as we became more discriminating in our purchases.
Here’s the fun part – Calculate your savings on Sunday evening. At the end of our spending fast weekend we reflected on all the things we used to do that took money. Eating out, going to movies, and shopping out of boredom really add up! We started looking for more frugal ways to spend our weekends and discovered that the greatest things in life really are free.
Along with the end of these frugal weekend purchases we also saw a drop in our credit card balances. If you are currently stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck routine I highly recommend going on a diet – a spending diet. Use this 48-hour weekend spending fast to get you started.