My So-Called Fiscal Fast
How many times have you gone to Target for some toilet paper and walked out with more than $100 of stuff you didn't really need? It happens to me more often than I'd like to admit. So the idea of going on a fiscal fast, where I couldn't spend a single penny for a whole seven days, sounded like the perfect way to purify my credit card.
My household's fiscal fast was last week and I recruited friends and family as well as Shop To It readers to join me. I hope you'll post a comment about your experience. My fiscal fast wasn't as successful as I would have liked it to be. Even though we had to spend money three times during the week, I learned some valuable lessons.
Lesson #1: Not spending money takes organization and planning. I had my annual doctor's visit on Day One of the fast. Instead of paying $6 to park in the garage conveniently located next to my doctor's office, I parked a few blocks away on the street for free and walked. I couldn't have done this if I was running late so it was essential that I allowed myself enough time to find a parking space and to walk the few blocks. Organization also means packing a lunch so you don't have to eat out and planning out dinners so you don't have to order out or buy expensive prepared dishes at the grocery store. (By the way, the doctor is sending me a bill for the co-pay, which I'll eventually have to pay but I did avoid it during the fast.)
Lesson #2: I buy stuff I don't need like the weekly $5 green tea latte that I always treat myself to on Tuesdays when my kids are with grandma. After cursing the fast for denying me this weekly treat, I realized that if I permanently cut it out, I'll save about $260 a year. I also had the urge to get some toys and books for my family's upcoming week-long vacation. But my kids already have a vast collection of beach toys and books they love. There was no need to spend $20 or more on new stuff.
Lesson #3: Sometimes buying stuff you don't need is fun. I look forward to my green tea latte splurge each week. So if I cut out one week per month (thank you, Shani) then I will save $60 a year. That's a good compromise right? One luxury that just couldn't be compromised this week was getting our central air conditioning repaired. In the name of saving my marriage (heat and humidity can make two laid back people pretty grouchy) and re-introducing clothing to my children, I spent $1,800 to bring cool, dry air back to my house. While my husband argues that central AC is a necessity, especially in Washington, I say it's a luxury, one I'm not willing to give up.
Lesson #4: Conservation is key. Whether it's conserving gas or diapers, being aware of how much of your supplies you use is vital in cutting back on spending. Miraculously I made a tank of gas last a whole week by walking my kid to summer camp as much as I could. We even had enough left at the end of the week to drive to Bethany Beach, arriving on fumes. However as much as I tried to conserve my 6-month-old's diaper supply by only changing her when it was actually necessary rather than automatically changing her every few hours, we did run out on Day Six.
Lesson #5: Think before you buy. The fast has been over for three days and I've lost my will to buy anything but the necessities. I bought food and gas as soon as the fast was over and I have to admit, I felt alive again as I pulled out my credit card to pay. But I found myself thinking about every item I put in my grocery cart and asking myself if we really needed it. And the usual pull I feel by the silver jewelry stores and fun gift shops that surround me in Bethany Beach is gone... for now.
So will I do a fiscal fast again? I will. Because I saved at least $50 on stuff that we didn't need that at this point, I won't go back to buy. If I did a fiscal fast every month, that would be about $600 in savings.
So how did the fast go for you? What did you learn about yourself? If you didn't do the fast, do you think you could? Post a comment below.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Shani | July 17, 2008 9:31 AM
Posted by: read it again | July 17, 2008 12:06 PM
Posted by: Big Spender | July 17, 2008 2:33 PM
Posted by: Donna | July 17, 2008 3:08 PM
Posted by: Sharon's husband | July 17, 2008 3:30 PM
Posted by: Karen in AL | July 18, 2008 12:26 PM
Posted by: Mom | July 18, 2008 12:34 PM
Posted by: Little Red | July 18, 2008 4:57 PM
Posted by: stef | July 22, 2008 3:59 PM
Posted by: Ellen | August 17, 2008 6:28 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.