Start a Spending Fast by Next Month | Week 1


Do you want to start a Spending Fast but are feeling a little overwhelmed? Don't! This is going to be easier than you thought, I promise. Week 1 is about getting organized.

Did you know that most people don't have a clue where their money goes every month? I didn't. I've always made "enough" money, but at the end of every month, as I was making withdrawals from my savings account to supplement my income, I would sit in the drive through ATM , scratching my head and asking, "where did all my money go?"

The first step of starting a spending fast is do decide "What is essential?  What are my 'necessities'?" These are the things you spend money on every month that you absolutely have to have - for survival - like if Bear Grylls lived with with you, what you guys pay for?  Daily coffee from Starbucks is NOT a necessity; but daily coffee might be, in that case, you would add a can of store brand coffee into your grocery budget.  Whether you're doing the spending fast to pay down some debt, or just to save, you have to make sacrifices. So, what do you HAVE to spend money on (not counting debt repayment*)?

I've mentioned before that Anna considered her gym membership a "necessity." I, on the other hand think $50+ a month for the gym is ridiculous.  Especially when running, push-ups, and crunches can be done at home for free. However, I do consider getting my hair highlighted a "necessity." Decide what's important to you. It's also good to have one "luxurious necessity" item, otherwise you could go crazy.  Keep in mind, the expense should be small, and I said one item, not two or three.  Also, keep in mind, that mostly everything you spend money on can be DIY.  To help get your brain juices flowing, here's a list of my monthly necessities:

Tithing (10%)
Cell Phone
Car Insurance
Doctor Co-pays

That's it. That's all the money I'm allowed to spend every month. When I lost my job a few years ago, I was out of work for over a year and had to move back in with my parents. The reason I'm doing the spending fast is to save enough money to put a down payment on a house of my own.  However, because I live with my parents now, I don't have to pay things like utilities and rent/mortgage, etc., which are most definitely necessities. I also have a "social" category. I did not have this "necessity" when I started the spending fast. But since then I have become single, and I don't want my new guy to have to always pay for everything. While he's the kind of guy who insists that the man pay for everything because that's his job as man, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable.   I've set this money aside in case I'm allowed to pay for a date once a month. (If I don't use it this money gets saved, but it's there just in case.)

A word about groceries... I usually only spend about 70% of my grocery budget every month. Notice the category is called "groceries" not "food."  This is because I only buy groceries, I don't grab food.  Eating out is no longer an option on the spending fast.  An individual adult can eat, healthy and well on about $10 a week (yea, seriously, $10!); contrast this with spending $5-$15/meal everyday if you were to dine out.  That's a savings of about $7,300 over the course of a year.  Cutting back on food requires a lot of patience and planning!  I have to plan all of my meals in advance, and  then grocery shop sales, coupons help, but beware of the "extreme-couponing=buying-more-than-you-need" trap.  I also buy mostly "ingredients" and not pre-prepared things.  Again, making from scratch takes time and lots of Google recipe searches, but it's more inexpensive than buying ready made.

So, figure the things you ABSOLUTELY MUST PAY EVERY MONTH and write them down. If you have a few luxury items, really think hard. Do you need it? Look at what that item will cost you over the course of a year, and ask, "would I rather have that money in one year, or not?"

*More on the Spending Fast and Debt repayment to come.


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