Financial fasting or “no spend’ challenges are popping up all over social media. From what I hear… all the cool kids are going days or even weeks without spending any money! Whhaaattt??
Financial fasting isn’t a new concept. If anything, the ridiculous spending habits we’ve developed have replaced the financially intelligent spending that our ancestors considered to be normal.
If you’re unfamiliar with financial fasting, it’s a period of time that you refuse to spend any money. You can either stop spending all together for a day or two, or you can decide to stop buying a certain item for a longer period of time.
The time limit you set is personal and can be tailored to your ability to shut down your spending. Some areas might be easier than others for financially fasting, and those can have a longer duration.
The overwhelming point is that if you’re able to break your poor spending habits and stop spending for periods of time, you’re going to save money. Plain and simple.
Financial fasting can be intense and you shouldn’t start a challenge without planning properly.
The tips below will help you crush your next no spend challenge!
Grocery Financial Fasting
Perhaps you can relate to this example. You think “I need to go buy a few things at [Big Box Store]”. You have every intention to walk in, grab 3 items and walk out. Easy peasy.
$15, max… or so you tell yourself. You walk in the store, black out. Cut to $230 bill and you feel guilty, regret, and a little dirty. Budget. Busted…
To make matters worse, you forget 2 of the 3 items that pulled you into this palace of food… Shit! Guess you’ll just have to go back tomorrow…
You make it home with the car full of groceries that you don’t even need… As you begin to put away your fresh groceries, you realize you’re just throwing away all of the same items, just expired. New milk in, old milk out…
Madness, I say! Madness!
As silly as the above scenario sounds, it was pretty common for us. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve bought cheese or some other common item to replace the moldy shit in the refrigerator.
Becoming more intentional with your grocery shopping could possible save your hundreds of dollars a month!
How to Nail Your Grocery Financial Fast
To execute this financial fasting challenge, you’ll need a plan. For starters, how long do you want to freeze your spending on groceries?
If you’re unsure as to how long to start, financial fasting on groceries for a week is a great place to start. Maybe you can work up to a month, but let’s not start too hot out of the gates!
A small victory is better than a big defeat! You can always add time on next time.
Grocery Financial Fasting Tips:
Step one is doing an inventory of what you’ve already got at home. Again, speaking from experience, failing at grocery shopping is buying 2 of something that you already have 2 of at home.
A lot of people like to meal plan as their step one, but it might make better sense to plan your meals around what you already have rather than what you plan to buy.
Saving money is the goal… keep the focus!
Step 2 will be planning your meals for the next week. What exactly are you going to make/eat for the entire week? This plan will be your grocery shopping road map.
Without a meal plan, you’ll end up buying $73 worth of condiments and some skittles. Don’t ask me how I know this…
When creating your meal plan, be sure to account for all of your meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner (or whatever habit you’ve established).
Get your family’s feedback. Make the planning process enjoyable and let everyone pick a meal or two.
Getting your family’s buy in will help you crush this week-long financial fasting challenge and it’ll help avoid the dreaded “we don’t have anything good to eat” cries from the kitchen!
Next up is creating a detailed shopping list. You’re only buying the items you don’t already have and what you need to create your planned meals.
You’ll find that your list will be a lot shorter than you expected. Aside from slowing down your spending on groceries, you’ll notice that you’ll be spending less than usual because you have a solid plan.
Remember, this shopping trip is it.
You won’t be heading back out to pick up that “one more thing”. It’ll have to wait until next week when you begin to plan your next financial fasting challenge.
This step is probably the most important step. A solid plan will ensure you don’t over spend. Buy the correct items and it’ll set you up for success.
The last step is executing your plan. Stay true to your goals and don’t break down and head to the store when your kids are making gagging sounds after hearing what’s for dinner.
Remember this financial fasting challenge will save you money, and saving money will help you achieve your financial goals! Each step will get easier, and the savings will compound!
Clothing Financial Fasting
I’ve never been a big clothes shopper. I’m not sure that sentence makes grammatical sense, but I know you understand what I’m saying. I don’t like to spend money on clothes.
With that being said, not everyone is comfortable seeing their big toe through their workout sneakers! (shocked face)
Planning a clothing financial fasting challenge might be a bit easier than curbing your grocery shopping. So, how long should you plan to abstain from purchasing fresh new clothes?
Let’s say…. a month!
Do you think you can forgo shopping for clothing for an entire month? I think you can! How do I know this? Well, you’re a financial badass.
Evaluate what you already own. We all have our favorite outfits, and we tend to rotate through those each week. Our closet if full of perfectly good clothing that we don’t even wear anymore!
It’s not that those items are ugly, or distasteful. They just have fallen out of the rotation!
Put those babies back in play! You really don’t need new clothes, you just need to really dig deep in that closest and revive those outfits.
After a successful month-long financial fast, celebrate… a little! Don’t blow the budget celebrating the month you didn’t buy anything.
Maybe next time, you’ll try for 3, 6 or even 12 months! It might sound crazy now, but it’s totally possible, and the savings will be tremendous.
Restaurant Financial Fasting
Going out to eat is a quick way to derail your budget. Dinner and drinks for two can easily cost $50 – $100… maybe even more!
One meal may be the equivalent to half of the money you’ve budgeted for groceries! Sure, it’s nice to go out and enjoy a night on the town, but blowing $100 or more a week is impeding your financial progress.
This one might sting more than the clothing no spend challenge. It doesn’t have to last forever, but stopping the bleeding is important.
We used to spend well over $400 a month going out to eat. It wasn’t until we audited our budget that we noticed this insane spending! Money was leaking out of our bank account in the form of crunchy Reuben sandwiches and delicious IPAs.
It really wasn’t a huge shock. Our savings rate was so low when we spent so much on going out to eat. To make matters worse, we would end up throwing out all of our rotten groceries at the end of each month.
We were a hot mess and if you can relate to this heated monstrosity, you can plug your money leak by starting this financial fasting challenge targeted at restaurant spending.
How we stopped the restaurant madness!
Eating the same foods each week gets boring, and going out to eat tends to spice it up. It’s a treat that we always enjoy… Sadly, we needed to tighten up our budget to pay off the $109,000 of consumer debt we owed.
What we didn’t realize was that cooking some of our favorite foods at home, together… was actually a lot of fun!
We learned to make some pretty amazing pizzas and homemade sushi. Take out sushi is so good… but it’s also crazy expensive, and making it at home is actually really easy.
Bonus: The pizzas are made with only Aldi’s ingredients! Double savings! (high fiver)
Word of caution. Don’t wait until you’re starving to begin cooking your “fun” meal together. Two hangry adults around cutlery is a recipe for a Lifetime movie… Plan. Plan. Plan.
Cooking together actually has become fun for us. Increasing the quality time with my wife was definitely an added bonus.
Write down some of your favorite restaurant meals and learn to cook them at home. Make it fun and it’ll end up replacing the majority of the times you go out to eat.
This financial fasting challenge will become easier and easier over time. Hell, you might even stop entirely.
Knowing where your food is coming from provides great peace of mind. I know I don’t want to be on the receiving end of a bowl of chili some high school kid stirred with his dirty boot. (blah)
Financial Fasting Final Word
Whatever your motivation is, financial fasting will help you gain control of your bank account and meet your financial goals.
If you’re ready to go to the next level with this, combine some of the above ideas. The more financial fasting you do, the more you’ll save and the more money you’ll have to put towards debt freedom.
Taking control of your financial life starts with small changes. Don’t jump into big life changes without planning or talking with your family.
Make some baby steps in the right direction and let your success compound over time. Before you know it, you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars a month that you never expected to save.
Start small, and celebrate your victories!!
Let us know how your financial fast went in the comments!!