Have you ever heard of a Fiscal Fast AKA 30 day No Spend Challenge? Well it also is a new concept for me, but can be very helpful in my quest to save money . For one month, you simply don’t buy anything that isn’t necessary to live or contribute to your well-being
The whole premise behind the 30 day no spending rule is that you actually take inventory of every dime spent. You stop frivolous spending, you save as much as you possibly can.
If you’ve set some big financial goals for the year, to pay down your debts, save for something big or simply have an emergency fund on hand it can be overwhelming to figure out where to cut your expenses. For one month, you simply don’t buy anything that isn’t necessary to live or contribute to your well-being. While originally, a 30 Day No-Spend Challenge was to drastically curb impulse buys, mindless shopping and consumerism, a Fiscal Fast requires you to not only stop shopping, but mainly, use what you have for 30 days.
ESSENTIALS OF A FISCAL FAST:
– For 30 days, you do not buy anything that isn’t necessary to live. If it isn’t food or medicine, you don’t buy it.
While food is necessary to live, you will reduce your spending on food drastically by making it a point to cut food waste and use up what you can. Go through the freezer, finally cook up those frozen foods. Use up the cans of veggies, the dried pasta and the non-perishables that are collecting dust, doomed to expire. You will still spend money on fresh fruits and veggies, but ONLY if they are needed to complete a recipe with existing foods that you find in the cupboard.Bread & dairy are also fine, but do your best to get creative with your lunches instead of just packing a sandwich everyday if you have other ingredients for whole meals that are lying around and can be used.Know that food this month is focused on using up, not creating magazine worthy meals. Your dinner plate will be a hodge podge of random entrees but that’s OK- it’s just a month and you’re using up those random cans and boxes you would have wasted otherwise.–
For 30 days you will declutter, donate and repurpose. Dust-collecting video games & DVDs either should be donated, sold or played. Instead of going out to shop, focus on making space in your life. You will have free time, so free up that closet space. Donate what you don’t use, fix what you can, or pitch it. Go through your closets, pantries, and shelves- even the trunk of your car. You may find that instead of spending the money to buy new doo-dads and organizers, you simply needed to purge and it will feel darn good when you do.–
For 30 days you will make do with whatever you have in the house. Use up those travels soaps and shampoos that are sitting around. Decide if clothes can be reworked or repurposed to new outfits or donate them. What can you bake from scratch? Can you make sugar cookies with existing staples and add in some leftover holiday candy to spruce it up? Can you make your own snack or trail mix with existing ingredients?–
For 30 days you will focus on finishing those annoying unfinished projects since you will not be spending money on entertainment. Your half finished scrapbook will finally get done. That empty recipe book should finally get filled. Any craft projects or household chores will finally get nipped in the butt. Fill up the free time you’d normally spend on shopping, spending money out or entertaining yourself with things that need to get DONE.
– Before A Fiscal Fast You Will NOT Stockpile. It’s tempting to go out and buy a bunch of stuff just for the sake of being “ready” during your fast, but that’s missing the point. You are going 30 days without shopping in order to make do with what you have, reduce waste, make it last or, alas- go without.That last part is the painful part- probably why you’ll be tempted to stockpile. “Going without” is much scarier than it sounds, you’ll learn to make do. Yes, will it be weird eating up those 15 cans of pinto beans- but that’s the point, use them up and find ways to do it creatively! You may have to come up with 15 different ways to eat pinto beans but you’ll think twice next time you insist on buying more than what you can actually use.
In sum- a Fiscal Fast means you do not buy anything you don’t need. You use up all that you can. You get crafty and finish projects. You declutter and donate.
In a pioneering spirit, you use what you have around you and make do with whatever you have on hand for 30 days- your home becomes more than just a place to house your crap it’s your entire focus for 30 days. All you eat, enjoy and work on will be found within, not at a shopping mall.
Build your tolerance by just trying to get through 7 days. No shopping (not even groceries!) for 7 full days and use up what you have. If you build to 14 days or 30 days, you can allow for grocery purchases, but only if it’s fresh or essential…meaning, no chips or frozen dinners but fresh veggies to use for a salad bowl or tortillas to use up frozen meat and cheese and make burritos. True essentials like perishables and medicine..the rest needs to be cobbled together for a month.If you can get through a Fiscal Fast, your bank account will recover and you will feel lighter and rebalanced…promise!Through the last few years, I’ve done No-Shopping Challenges and Fiscal Fasts and it always make me feel renewed. I feel productive and empowered- those nagging projects get done, that unused food doesn’t nag at my conscious and of course, saving money and knowing the need to shop can be weaned feels great. I HIGHLY recommend trying this!
So while this sounds hard, let me show several mindless ways that you can not spend for the next 30 days.
**Only use cash, hard to spend what you don’t have. Assuming you make more than you basic expenses/savings/investment needs it’s just about not spending too much on the extra. Figure out what falls into those 3 categories and the total, either save the difference or trim it down to a desired number to spend.
**Shop in your own closet. Spend as little as possible on entertainment ($1 redbox rental vs $12 buck movie). If you must drink alcohol, do so at home. Give up unnecessary habits like smoking. Watch your thermostat; try to keep it at no colder than 79 in summer and no warmer than maybe 65 in the winter. Electricity is one thing that really adds up in extreme temperatures. There’s other ways to stay cool or warm and comfortable versus adjusting the thermostat.
** Buy in bulk and cook. For example, instead of convenient prepackaged items like microwaveable rice cups buy a large bag of rice and cook enough for several meals. A rice cup is nearly $1 for one serving, meanwhile you could get way more servings for your money with bulk rice. Buy the store brand whenever you can; more often than not it is as good if not better than the national brand. Use reusable containers so you aren’t spending money on ziplock bags. Use grocery store bags to line your small wastebaskets.
**Use your dishwasher to wash dishes, it saves water and keeps you from getting sick by sanitizing your dishes. Make sure you load it up full to make the most of it.
These quick little tips will make your bank account more hefty after 30 days. Perhaps if you try this method several times per year, you can end up saving much more than you ever imagined.