If there’s a time of year that makes you feel that you’ve definitely been overspending, it’s the holiday season. Even when you try to be frugal, and keep the materialism to a minimum, spending still manages to creep. From the gift exchange you feel you have to participate in, to the food you purchase when you entertain, to the decorations that you couldn’t pass up because they were on sale, it seems as though it’s especially hard to keep your spending under control this time of year.
It’s especially hard for me to keep a lid on my spending during the holidays, no matter how hard I try. As a result, come January, I’m ready to never spend again. There’s a reason that so many people decide to go on a “spending money fast” after the holidays are over. But is a spending money fast the right move for you?
What is a spending money fast?
A spending money fast is a conscious effort to dramatically reduce where you spend money. In fact, much as you avoid eating and drinking for a set period of time when going through a fast, you decide on a period of time in which you won’t spend any money. Usually, a month is the desired amount of time, since it is a meaningful period of time, and it can help you develop new habits to replace the spending habit that you might be stuck in.
With your spending money fast, you continue using your money on must-pay items, like your mortgage payment or rent, your bills, and making your debt payments. You should also purchase groceries as needed. Everything else is usually cut out, unless an emergency comes up, such as the need to repair your car, or replace a broken appliance.
Your spending money fast should also consider cutting out extravagant spending, like junk food at the store. The idea behind a spending money fast is that you only purchase true necessities. So, you might need produce for this week, but you don’t need to buy popcorn or candy. Many people also use a spending money fast as a good time to make use of their food storage. If you are concerned about some of your pantry items reaching an expiration date, your spending money fast can include these items. You won’t have to spend as much at the store, since you can use your food storage to prepare most of your meals. If you wait until later in the year, your spending money fast can coincide with harvesting your garden in order to reduce your need to buy food.
Some people make it a point to go on a spending money fast three or four times a year, just to make sure that they refocus their priorities and reduce the chance that lifestyle inflation will creep in.
Is a spending money fast practical in your situation?
For my family, a spending money fast isn’t really practical. That’s because my husband won’t get on board. He’s not really a big spender, but he likes to buy extra foods at the store sometimes, just to try them, and he enjoys being able to purchase collectibles when he wants, without having to worry about the timing. A spending money fast isn’t going to work in my case — unless I’m willing to to just make it a personal spending money fast.
A spending money fast might not be practical if you have obligations coming up, or if you know that you will be spending money on something important to you soon. An upcoming wedding that you will have to travel for, or if you know that you are going to make other purchases soon, a spending money fast might not make sense, since you won’t be able to keep with it.
On the other hand, a spending money fast can be a good idea if you are trying to figure out what really matters to you. If you want to see what you can do without, and what you would like to cut from your budget, a spending money fast can be a way to see what you truly miss in your spending, and what you don’t care for. Plus, a spending money fast can help you set new priorities, and reduce your overall spending.
Finally, if you are determined to get out of debt as quickly as possible, a spending money fast can be a way to kick off your efforts. A good spending money fast, with the savings going toward your debt, can boost your morale and help you see good results.
What do you think? Have you tried a spending money fast? Did it work?