What is a Money Fast and Why Should You Do One?
What is a Money Fast and Why Should You Do One?
Updated March 22, 2017
A money fast…you may have heard the term here and here. But, what exactly is it? Getting money in a hurry? Instant money? Wouldn’t that be nice?! No, a “money fast” (or a spending fast) is when you take a temporary break from spending, much like in a traditional fast where you abstain from eating.
I first heard of this idea a few years ago, and my family and I have done a money fast a few times now. When we initially heard about it, we were already out of debt (which was essentially a two-year money fast) and were looking for a way to temporarily cut back our regular spending because we had a large purchase on the horizon.
Although, typically those who choose to embark upon a money fast usually do so for an entire year or six months, we did ours for one month.
How Does a Money Fast Work?
In a nutshell, you choose a length of time during which you will fast—one month, three months, six months, a year, whatever you decide—and you cut your spending to the bare basics. The purpose is to somewhat detoxify your spending habits and take a break from what you usually spend money on.
In doing so, you realize just what your needs are and how many of your wants you indulge regularly. Doing a money fast results in extra cash flow which can go towards paying off debt, savings, or towards a needed purchase.
What Can You Spend on During a Money Fast?
You can design your money fast to meet your specific needs, but the point is to keep your spending to the basics—to the things you cannot do without. In general, you would stick to the following spending categories.
Unlike in a traditional fast, you can eat during a money fast. (Phew!) But, reduce what you need to purchase by using up foods from your pantry and freezer. Stick to the basics, and do not buy more food than is necessary. For those of you that grow and raise your own food, you will be ahead of the game.
Gas / Transportation
If you haven’t already, identify the gas stations with the lowest prices near your home, job, and other places you frequent and only buy at those places. This will keep your gas costs low during the money fast.
Maximize your gas efficiency by consolidating your errands into fewer trips. You’re not indulging your regular shopping habits during this time anyway, so making fewer trips should be easy! Consider carpooling to work if possible, or if you use public transportation, explore cheaper options.
I don’t recommend you call up your mortgage and utility companies to notify them you’ll be missing the next few payments because you’re “on a money fast.” I don’t think they would take too kindly to that.
No, naturally you meet your obligations, but find ways to cut back where possible. Be brutal with your electricity usage. Consider suspending Netflix or other subscription services during your fast. Lower your thermostat a few degrees, and put on a sweater.
That’s it. Stick to those three spending categories: groceries; gas and transportation; and monthly bills. Of course, if you have medical expenses or other needs that qualify as essential in your situation, then you would include those.
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When and How Often Should You Do a Money Fast?
As mentioned, you can choose to do a money fast for any length of time. I find one month to be a manageable amount of time to reduce spending to the bare minimum. Recently, I’ve decided to make a one-month money fast an annual occurrence.
I suggest doing a fast either before or after a time during which you spend a lot of money. We have identified October as our annual “Money Fast Month.” It’s right before the high spending months that the holidays bring.
Another good time to fast could be right before or right after a vacation.
Try Your First Money Fast
A money fast is an excellent way to give a boost to your savings or to help you meet a goal. And a one-month fast is a manageable amount of time to cut things to the bare minimum.
If you choose to do a money fast, make sure the whole family is on board, decide on the length of your fast, and determine ahead of time what you will spend on during the fast. While a money fast can feel intense, remembering that it is temporary and focusing on the results will help you get through it.
Consider incorporating a one-month money fast into your routine and making it an annual or a semi-annual occurrence.
You’d be surprised at what doing a money fast for one month can save you. Maybe you’ll be tempted to extend your fast or adopt some habits permanently! You‘ll discover new and unique forms of entertainment. You might even find yourself cuddling with your loved ones more because you’re cold. See? There are side benefits to the money fast.
Have you ever tried a money fast or are you considering giving it a go?