Fasting for spiritual reasons is widely practiced and remains part of every major religion in the world. Jesus Christ, Buddha and the prophet Muhammed all shared a common belief in the healing power of fasting. By participating in a fast, followers refocus on what’s most important to them.
So what if we applied this refocusing principle to our usual spending habits? What if we took a “spending fast?” You might be challenged to think outside the box. And you might be surprised at what you can actually live without. A spending fast might just change your life.
Choose Your Fast
First, think of an area that you tend to overspend on where you’d be willing to stop spending completely for a set period of time. While most families overspend on groceries, this is not the area we’re focusing on now. You still need to eat!
The temptation is to try and stop multiple areas at once. But here we’re going to simply and select only one. Write down and fill in the blanks in this sentence, “I choose to stop spending on __________ for ____________ days.”
Will you stop spending on clothes for three months? Give up Starbucks for two weeks? When you look at what you spend on you’ll probably see many choices. What’s important is to give yourself an end date. Simply saying “I’m going to see how long I can go without spending” doesn’t help. The goal is too vague.
Without a clear end date for a goal, you won’t accomplish what you set out to do.
What Will You Replace This Activity With?
Most religions that practice fasting encourage followers to use the time normally spent eating in prayer and reflection. You can apply the same concept here.
You don’t have to engage in prayer, though you’re certainly welcome to. The point is to find an activity to fill the time normally spent doing the activity you’ve chosen to give up. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, reading a new book you’ve been thinking about, or just call a friend. Take time to be thankful for what you already have.
As with so many things in life, there’s no need to go it alone.
Tell friends and family about your spending fast. Explain your reasons for taking on this journey and what you’re hoping to accomplish. Invite them to join you, if not in the fast itself, then in the activities you plan around fasting.
Instead of buying new books, dust off that library card, and see what your local library has on offer. Did you give up dining out? Try out a new recipe you found on Pinterest. Or poll friends for their favorite budget-friendly meals, and maybe discover your new favorite dish.
Reflect On What You Learned
When you’re done, reflect on how the spending fast changed your perspective and behavior. So if you took your spending fast from buying clothes, this is a great time to clean out your closet. Chances are you now have a much better understanding of what you actually wear and need. Donate what you done wear to charity or plan a clothing swap with the friends.
And don’t forget to give yourself a huge pat on the back. You made it! Hooray!
Next, ask yourself how you’ll live going forward. Will you do a spending fast once a year? For one day a month? Was once enough for you? Whatever you decide, know you’ve taken a huge step in taking control of your own financial future.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
image credit: Bigstock/Darren415
Wendy Priester is a former Tax Auditor turned freelance writer and certified Financially Fit Bootcamp Coach. When not working with clients to help them live their best financial life, Wendy can be found exploring the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with her two hyperactive dachshunds.