Monday, May 5, 2008

Spending Fast

Recently, I posted step 2 of how we paid off $55,500 in debt which includes advice on creating a baby emergency fund.

Another idea for coming up with cash to use to fund a baby emergency account is to undertake a family spending fast.

A weekend spending fast.

Do you spend your weekends spending? It is super easy to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday eating out, hitting the bars, going to the movies, shopping at the local mall, etc. It is even easy spending money doing chores - picking up the dry cleaning, picking up supplies at Home Depot, grocery shopping.

Instead of going to the movies, find the free events available in your community or head to the local park. Instead of eating out and even instead of going to the grocery store - go on a pantry diet (live off the food that is already in your pantry/fridge - eat soup, pb&j, eggs for dinner, etc.) Hold off on house projects so you can avoid the Home Depot (H.D. stands for hundred dollars in our house).

On Sunday night or Monday morning take the money you didn't spend and put those savings towards your emergency fund. Try committing to a weekend spending fast once or twice a month.

A work week spending fast.

On Sunday, hit the grocery store (make sure you plan out some menus and bring a list) and fill up your gas-tank.

For the next 5 days, Monday - Friday, spend no money!! No lunches out, no take-out for dinner, no coffees at Starbucks, no stopping by 7-11 to pick up a soda/water/candy-bar, no lunch money for the kids. By cutting out those work week purchases, you likely will find that you save $10-$20 a day or $50-$100 a week. In 10 work weeks you will have saved enough for your $1000 baby emergency fund.

A 30 day spending fast.

I don't think it is realistic to go 30 days without spending any money. But, you CAN, for the next 30 days, avoid the mall, Target, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, internet or catalog shopping, etc. Whatever triggers your spending, for me its all those glossy catalogs, avoid it for 30 days (I recycle those catalogs without looking at them).

What else can you put off for 30 days? If you get your hair cut every 4 weeks wait a couple of weeks and get your hair cut at 6 weeks. For the ladies, cut out the weekly, biweekly or monthly pedicure/manicure.

By putting off a purchase for 30 days you likely will find that you no longer want that particular item. A spending fast will also help you sort out the difference between a want and a need. If you can do without an item for 30 days it most likely is a want not a need.

Note, even if you 'fail' at your spending fast you will find you are much more aware, or engaged, in how you spend your money. A spending fast is a great way to become more aware, and more mindful, of where and how you spend.

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