Get Your Finances Back On Track With A Spending Fast
Does it feel like your spending is out of control right now? It happens to the best of us. First there’s the matter of Christmas gifts for everyone. Then there are dinners out with friends and a new outfit for the company party. Plus, special ingredients for Christmas dinner. Do you have enough wrapping paper and what about the batteries?
All that spending adds up. Whether you accumulated some holiday debt or just want to save some money in the new year, January is a great time to embrace a spending fast.
Whether you call it a fast or a no spend month, this exercise is a great way to reign in your spending while saving money. Since it’s your spending fast and your money, you get to make the rules. Here are some things to consider:
Necessities - Yes, you need to pay your bills and put gas in the tank! If you’re sick, go to the doctor. If you need groceries, go buy what you need. A spending fast isn’t an excuse to skip your bills or to do without. However, this isn’t the time to wander around the grocery store buying everything in reach just because you’re hungry and didn’t take a list.
Shopping – This is where you set your own guidelines. Most people on a spending fast, eliminate shopping unless it’s for a necessity. If your child outgrows their snow boots, you need to replace them but you don’t need to buy new shoes for yourself if yours are ok. See how that works?
Meals Out - Maybe the family still goes out for pizza on Friday night but you pack your lunch instead of buying every day. Or maybe you stock your freezer with some quick to prepare foods like frozen lasagna or pizza so you’re not tempted to stop for takeout after a long day at work. Again, you make the rules but this is a super way to rethink some of your habits.
Entertainment – There is free entertainment out there if you know where to look. The hiking trails and nature centers in Ohio State Parks are nice this time of year. If you’re in a city, some museums offer free admission on certain days of the week. Invite friends over for a game night and have everyone bring a snack. Gather the family for a Saturday movie marathon where everyone gets to pick something to watch. Invite a friend over for coffee and a chat. Revive some old hobbies like jigsaw puzzles, reading or that musical instrument that’s collecting dust in the corner. Find free books, movies, music and many useful items at your local library.
Declutter – Dedicate some time to decluttering. Remember, every item that has outlived its purpose in your home is something you once wanted! Nothing makes you want to stop spending money quite like moving a bag of junk out the door!
Keep Tabs – If you like to track things, hang a calendar on the fridge and mark every day you didn’t spend on an unnecessary expense. Better yet, jot down every time you wanted to spend but did not. Acknowledging the desire and fighting off temptation is a success story. Celebrate!
In The End - At the end of the month, add up how much extra money you have left and transfer that amount to savings. Great job! How are you feeling about not spending money? Maybe you could keep going for another month? You never know where your spending fast could lead you!