Want to Try a Spending Fast? Regain Control of Your Money

Lately I’ve felt like our money has begun asserting itself a bit more. It’s talking back. It drags its feet. It slouches at the dinner table. It ignores me when I’m talking to it. (The purchase of our first home has everything to do with the new bad attitude).

And yes, I often think of my money as a teenager.

“We’ve Seen the Enemy. It is Us”

You need to show your money respect and recognize its inherent value. Ah, but it deserving respect goes much deeper than that. You must also recognize that money is a part of you — an extension of you — no, a reflection on you. Not completely, but also not in a small enough way that you’re allowed to ignore its behavior.

I will readily admit there are times when money truly is out of control. That just happens. It’s to be expected to a certain degree. However, there are so many things that can be done to reduce those times of bad behavior, that it does much more good to focus on the things to be done and be assertive, rather than adopting some type of “woe is me” attitude.

Establish Yourself as “The Boss” over a 72-Hour Period

I propose you do something a little radical to regain your authority. I wrote about this a while back for a non-profit organization, but only as a passing idea, part of a list — now I want to flesh it out a bit.

You will not spend a dime for 72 hours. It’s called a Money Fast.

Don’t start formulating your excuse — you don’t have one.

Plan ahead. By that I don’t mean to go on a spending binge (you all know the Monday diet drill, right? You know that “Monday [you’re] going to start eating better” so Sunday you just eat whatever you can get your hands on to fill up the tank, so to speak?). However, if you’ve been waiting for the price of oil to come down and your car’s running on fumes, you should probably fill up before you start. If your refrigerator’s stock consists of half a bottle of ketchup and some old cheese, you should hit the grocery store. If one of your bills would normally be paid during those three days, pay it early. If you’re going out with friends you’re not allowed to say you’ll pay them back. Borrowing money during your fast is the same as spending your money.

I was reminded of the Money Fast after reading Trent’s post over at The Simple Dollar on 100 Things to Do During a Money Free Weekend (this is really great stuff and must’ve taken a ton of time to put together, if YNAB readers find the list helpful, dig it and say as much!).

I think the weekend is a great place to start at trying your money fast, but the real challenge lies in bucking old habits that are ingrained because of your normal weekday routines.

A Money Fast Has Nothing to Do with Saving Money

Yes, you’ll save money doing your fast, but we’re not worried about saving money here, we’re worried about regaining, or gaining for the first time, some control. We’re talking about asserting your authority as The Boss.

This has everything to do with your psychology and very little to do with anything else. I’m talking about a 3-day sprint, being totally radical, and just turning off the leaky faucet. Just Say No comes to mind. No restaurants. No movie rentals (library has them for free). No stopping and grabbing a coffee.

Your bank balance will thank you, but the psychological win dwarfs the benefits of a few dollars saved because that psychological win can stick with you — impacting hundreds (or thousands) of future purchasing decisions. The next time you’re tempted to buy that _______________? You’ll recall how you went three days without spending a dime and you certainly don’t need to spend any right now.

Take control. Reverse the bad attitude that your money’s been displaying for the past little while. Go on a money fast! Who’s with me?