Or, “I want a latte more than I want to be out of debt.”
As I mentioned in my 2016 Goals, Greg and I decided to do 30-day “Spending Fasts” to boost our debt payoff this year. I originally heard of a Spending Fast from Anna at And Then We Saved (who paid off almost $24k in debt in only 15 months!!!).
The concept of a Spending Fast is to only spend money on bare-bone necessities. Then you can use whatever is left, whatever you’d normally be spending on things that are “wants”, to put towards debt or to put into savings.
So what you spend money on will vary, based on what you consider to be a necessity. We talked about our wants and needs and here’s what we came up with:
We also decided that we needed to have a cash-based budget in order to be successful in this. It’s just easier for us to keep track of where our spending is going when we use cash. Now, we obviously aren’t paying things like our mortgage or our cell phone bill or our car insurance in cash. But most physical goods that we purchase are done in cash such as groceries, oil changes, dog food, home supplies, etc.
So we’re now just over halfway through the month and it’s been going surprising well. To be honest, I kind of actually maybe definitely like it. Is it hard? Oh yeah, it’s definitely hard. Especially considering that we haven’t consistently been sticking to our budget for a few months now… But so far, it seems worth it.
So what has been hard about the Spending Fast?
- Passing up good deals. I have an obsession with athletic clothes and, as you may know, Victoria’s Secret has a deal going where you can buy a sports bra and get a pair of athletic pants for free. Yeah, like $60 pants. FOR FREE. It has taken every bit of will power in me to not jump on that like white on rice.
- Coffee shops and eating out. This is especially difficult for me at work. I work downtown and can walk to a hundred different restaurants and at least 3 major coffee chains in 10 minutes via the skyway. I want a latte SO FREAKING BAD.
- Social situations. It’s always awkward being invited to coffee or a movie or a happy hour and having to say, “I actually can’t spend any money right now.” While I haven’t run into this situation a ton, it is still challenging and tempting and frankly, a little embarrassing. I’m thankful that our friends and family have been supportive so far.
A few annoying things that we’ve come across?
- We’ve had some purchases from last month get charged to our account this month, you know, 3 weeks later (I’m looking at you, Dunn Bros!)
- We’re avoiding Target. We have the Target debit card (which is awesome because it gives you 5% off every purchase) but I’m nervous to use it. I have a hard time reconciling using the debit card instead of our planned cash because it seems more complicated. I feel like we would need to take some of the cash we have set aside for personal hygiene and put it back into our bank account to reconcile the $3 body wash we bought. Also, I feel stupid for going to Target and not taking advantage of the 5% off. Additionally, when I go to Target, I want to buy ALL OF THE THINGS. Can I get a praise-hands emoji, ladies? I know you feel me.
- We haven’t eaten out all month! Everything that we’ve eaten has either been made in our home or from friends/family (i.e. when we go to family’s house and eat their food). I’ve also been meal planning and trying to choose weekly meals based off of store sales.
- We KNOW where our money is going. With the exception of the few purchases from December that came out of our account this month, every dollar is accounted for and there’s no surprise purchases. We’re telling our money where to go, rather than the other way around.
- We’re making better use of the things we already have. Using Netflix instead of getting a RedBox, being more aware of how many times we make it to our gym (so that we can get our health insurance reimbursement), using food we already have in the freezer, etc.
Greg and I took Financial Peace University shortly after we were first married, so the idea of paying off debt and living on a planned budget isn’t foreign to us. But sticking to a bare-bones budget has been a little different. I’m excited to see how everything shakes out at the end of this month! I have a small student loan that I think we may just be able to pay off… now that would be awesome!
Have you ever done a spending fast? What are some of the necessities in your budget?