Monday, July 26, 2010

Go on a Spending Diet (or Spending Fast)!

One of the items on my list is to make enough money to be able to do everything else on my list.
In my mind there are two simple ways to make that happen - by making more money and/or spending less money.
  1. Make more money - this is generally what people think they need to do. Just make more money and all your money problems will be solved! Not most cases we let our spending rise to our income. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to make more money. Absolutely we should...but that won't solve a key issue - our terrible spending habits. With that in mind, I recently decided to focus on the other side of the Debt/Wealth coin -
  2. Spend less money - this seems logical enough. But few if any of us realize how much we spend on a daily basis on pointless purchases and expenditures. The reason for this is that we're creatures of habit, we continue to do what we've done and rarely give pause to the fact that "if you keep doing what you've done, you'll keep getting what you got." So, to break that habit I decided to go on a Spending Diet for a week. It's a simple exercise that can be surprisingly hard to do, but unbelievably eye-opening. All you have to do is not spend any money on anything for a week! Here's what I did and how I did it and what I learned.
  • I stated publicly, on FB, that I was doing this - I strongly urge you to tell everyone. There's power in the pressure of everyone knowing you've set a challenge for yourself. People were checking in on me and challenging any spending I considered doing. It helped! lol
  • I decided to not spend on anything except the bare necessities - only gas to get to work and utilities because you have to keep the lights on! But no additional spending. No food shopping (we ate what was in our pantry), no movies or entertainment that costed anything (unless someone else offered to treat - then go crazy, lol), and no other spending that was non-essential, in any way. I made do with whatever I had at home, and that was it.
  • I looked for free things to do for me and my girls - there's tons of free stuff to do in most any city, from free music festivals, to going to the beach or the park, and going to the library. Visiting family and friends was also good to do. And to be sure we didn't get tempted to spend, we ate well before every outing and took bottled water wherever we went, just in case. 
Ok, what I learned -
  • First - FOOD - I have more than enough to eat at home. The temptation to go shopping for food we wanted was at first hard to get over. But once we decided we're eating what we have, we found tons of food in our frige and pantry. It's amazing and a little sad what we take for granted here in the US.
  • Second - ACTIVITIES - there are lots of things to do without spending. We went to the park and threw the frisbie, went to a local festival on free day, saw fireworks at the lake, played tennis, and went to the library more than once and had fun each time. Local folks, check out
  • Third - PEOPLE - it is a little weird telling people, "Sorry, I can't, I'm on a spending diet. But if your honest with people and explain you're trying to change some habits to control spending and reverse the debt cycle, they can relate - cause most everyone we know is in debt and in trouble, lol.The average American has 10,000+ in debt and less than 1000 in savings. So most everyone you know can relate or is just lying to themselves, lol.
So...I don't want to get preachy or long-winded here, but I do want to impress that going on a spending diet is about much more than money or debt - it's about breaking a habit and taking control again.
So take 7 days and give this a try. It could really change your life. At the least, it'll make for an interesting and enlightening week!


    Jessi said...

    It seems as though I could learn a thing or two from that...I have quite a few things on my "list" that I need to save up for.

    Thanks for the tips! <3

    Jessica said...

    Well, I'm definitely looking into ways to make more money, but as far as a spending diet, I've cut a lot of "non-essentials" but I could always cut more. Definitely food is one of my biggest expenses that could be cut (eating out for lunch or worse, not eating the food in my home before it goes bad). But I read a lot and stay home, so entertainment isn't that bad. I could always do more!

    Tim said...

    Some useful tips there! I will be looking at trimming my expenses and focus a lot more on saving money and exploring new ideas to have fun without having the need to spend lots of money on it.


    Tim (your 24th follower!) :)

    Pablo Baez said...

    Juici - yes, take a shot at it. I've been spend-fasting before list expenses and it works good.

    Jessica - food is one of my biggest expenses too. So I scan the frige for leftovers before I eat or buy anything else, lol. Also, not shopping for a whole week was an eye-opener. Looking at my past bank statements, I was stopping a the grocery story about 5 times a week! lol. crazy.

    Tim - I'm glad this helped. Imagine if you could live on what you made 5 years ago and invest the rest...we'd all be better off.

    Best of luck all. And if you're looking for a good book to inspire you, check out my post on The Automatic Millionaire.


    Anonymous said...

    A lot of folks are thinking along the lines of the spending diet/ debt diet, etc. We have built such a culture of consumerism, that the concept of actually making sensible decisions to NOT spend seems foreign.

    My wife and I eat out about 1 or 2 times a month, but don't feel like we're cheated in any way. I cook on the gas grill 3 or 4 times a week on average. We have a chest freezer, and buy chicken breast, pork loin, and hamburger in bulk when on sale, then package it in sizes to feed about 3-4 people. We'll cook it all, and then have something leftover for the next day's lunch or dinner. We've tried all kinds of things, and it's really clear that the most expensive meal you could make up with this stuff is way cheaper than anything at a restaurant!

    Keep spreading the word. The world needs more of us to get a grip on what we spend.