Lessons Learned From A Spending Fast

The idea of spending only on the necessities is a scary one, but if you are determined to try a spending fast, you will be surprised at what you learn about yourself AND your spending.

Rules of a Spending Fast

Some things are obvious: There is no question that rent, electricity and other necessary bills have to be paid. Food is more difficult, though. You don’t need to go to the most expensive grocery store in town, and certainly don’t need to eat lunch or dinner out.

Exercise is another tough one. Yoga and group fitness classes are great, but running and walking outside or putting together yoga sequences at home keeps you from spending.

What purchases actually make you happy?

As you go through the spending freeze, the first couple of weeks are full of moments spent daydreaming about what you can’t buy. By Week 3 the things you truly miss become clear. Maybe it is going out to dinner, drinks, and coffee with friends.This is less about the food, and more about sitting down with a friend and catching up. One remedy is suggesting walks or hanging out in the park. Free, but still fun.

Studies show that spending money on others makes us happy. When a friend is having a particularly bad day, you want to get her flowers to cheer her up or offer to take her out for a drink, but you can’t during your freeze. Or when a friend has a birthday party and you show up empty-handed, that doesn’t exactly feel good. So, use this time to figure ways to bond with your friends without cheating on your fast.

What spending looks like after the freeze

A spending freeze helps you become a lot more mindful with your spending. Will that four-dollar almond milk latte really make you happier than the free coffee at work? Do you really need that T-shirt right this instant, or can it wait until fall? Overall, you learn what is really important and what you can live without.