I hope you guys don't mind me going off topic a little bit from jewelry/fashion to finances. I know that when you think of fasting you imagine giving up sweets, sodas, or dare I say CHEESE!?!? I've participated in a few fasts for my Faith and they're never easy (call me a drama queen but the cheese one almost killed me) but they manage to always be a positive experience and refresh the way I think about my lifestyle and the world around me. This year I've got my sights on a "spending fast". I'm not going to go into the spirituality aspect of fasting for this post but I wanted to start a conversation about it and at least make myself accountable for what's coming up. Our family is starting our spending fast today.
So really, what is a spending fast? In my opinion, a spending fast is a way to separate your needs and your wants by refraining for a certain length of time from buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. There are a lot of details that you can customize for your situation - mostly the length of the fast, what you consider to be your needs vs. wants, and the overall purpose. I'll break down some simple steps to start you on your way.
Define the length. Since we like throwing the plastic around, we've decided to not bite off more than we can chew and start with a 2 week fast. It's enough to be challenging but not totally rock our worlds. We're wimps. Anna from And Then We Saved went on a 15 month fast and managed to pay of $24,000 worth of debt. Now that's impressive.
Define your needs vs. wants. For us our needs include: rent, utilities, insurance, food (we plan to eat as much from our pantry as possible and only buy ingredients that we need to complete recipes plus staples like milk/bread/eggs are OK), cell phone/internet/cable, diapers, anything medical related, and gas.
Wants include: shopping (clothes, electronics, home goods, knick knacks etc. etc.), iTunes, Amazon, unnecessary items for our son, movies.
Lastly, define your purpose and goals. For us the purpose is not only to create more robust savings but to reboot how we think about material things and how fortunate to live where we live and have what we have. Sometimes you get smothered by the sheer volume of all the things around you that each individual loses its luster. Maybe it's time to get excited about the things we already own, go through junk piles, and pass on what we don't need. As a mother of a 3 month old, more and more I'm choosing to keep things simple. I believe this fast will aid to living a simpler life and help us hone in on what really matters, the people around us - and guess what, they're free.
I hope this little summary and outline of our spending fast makes you think and even join in! Have you done a spending fast before? Was it successful? Thinking about jumping in but need a little push? Let's hear your thoughts...