Go for a week without spending ANY money?! It’s spending detox, what I call a “fiscal fast.” Give it a try a couple of times a year. You’ll save a few bucks, use up stuff you have around the house, and gain a new understanding of how you spend – and probably waste – money in a normal week. It’s a challenge, but it’s also kind of fun.
My wife and I just did a fiscal fast last week, and here’s a short account of the experience:
Saturday (the day before): No stocking up on supplies before starting your fiscal fast! But it is okay to top off the gas tank, pick up some milk for the kids, and buy a little extra fresh produce for the week ahead (but just remember all those frozen and canned fruits and veggies already waiting for you at home).
Day 1 – Sunday: We spent a little time today doing a quick inventory of the food we have on hand, taking care to freeze leftovers we’ll eat later in the week and store produce carefully to make it last longer (e.g., wrap leaf lettuce in a damp paper towel in the fridge).
Day 2 – Monday: Rather than take the time to pack her lunch every day, Denise took a bag full of lunch supplies from our cupboard with her to work to keep in her office. That way she won’t be tempted to buy lunches out. When I realized that I was close to running out of paper in my home office, I started printing drafts on the back of scrap paper instead – something I should remember to do all the time.
Day 3 – Tuesday: A little surprised this morning to find that Denise used the last of the toothpaste; no problem, baking soda to the rescue – it works just as well. Still living off the “low hanging fruit,” with plenty of good stuff in the freezer and pantry to make tasty meals, like leftover frozen turkey dinners from Thanksgiving tonight.
Day 4 – Wednesday: We like to take time in the evenings during a fiscal fast to review the routine bills we pay every month and look for ways to save – looks like we can save about $10 per month by increasing the insurance deductible on our aging vehicle. The week of a fiscal fast is also a great time to do some decluttering and “go shopping” in your own closets and dressers.
Day 5 – Thursday: A check for an article I wrote last year finally arrived in the mail today! Checking the gas gauge on our car, I decided to bicycle to the bank to deposit it (6 miles each way) rather than risk running short on gas before the end of the week. Beautiful, refreshing weather and some free exercise!
Day 6 – Friday: The food cupboards are getting a little bare … and so we start getting a little creative in our cooking. Firing up the crock pot today with a one-of-a-kind tuna, macaroni, sour cream, and frozen Chinese vegetables concoction. (P.S. – Pretty tasty. Might just have to make this again.)
Day 7 – Saturday: The last day of another successful fiscal fast. No budget for movie tickets and popcorn to celebrate. Instead, we’ll be snuggling down at home to watch a double feature (DVDs borrowed for free from the library) on a cold winter’s night, and toasting all of our frugal friends with the last of our box wine.