How to Use a 21-Day Financial Fast to Improve Spending Habits

In “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,” monetary advisor and Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary outlines the “financial fast,” a form of money food regimen that guarantees to break unhealthy spending habits, create a plan to turn into debt free, and set your self on a higher monetary course for the long run. While on a monetary quick, you may’t spend any pointless money – in any respect. Unless it’s meals, shelter, or one thing else important to survival, you’re committing to making do with what you have already got.

While the monetary quick is just meant to be adopted for a quick stint, its aim is to make it easier to break a few of your worst spending habits within the long-term. A fast Internet search reveals tons of of bloggers and people who’ve taken on the problem – so whereas it would appear to be an excessive measure, there may very well be one thing to the thought of not spending any money for a time frame.

Can a Financial Fast Work for You?

I’ve had loads of expertise with monetary fasting. Every April, I get better from the vacations and my children’ birthdays by going a month with none pointless buying. It’s at all times an eye-opening expertise that helps me see the error of my methods. However, earlier than you start your personal monetary quick, it’s essential to perceive the foundations as outlined in Singletary’s guide.

The Rules

The guidelines are difficult, however they’re simple. Here’s what you have got to do if you commit to a monetary quick:

  1. Make It Last for 21 Days. Three weeks is a completely affordable time frame to in the reduction of in your desires and focus solely in your wants. If you commit for much less time, chances are you’ll probably not take up the advantages of a quick and the transformative results it might have in your monetary habits. However, a longer interval may put your resolve and willpower to an unreasonable check.
  2. Only Purchase Needs. Unless you completely want it to survive, don’t purchase it throughout your quick. That eliminates journeys to the hair salon, pleased hour on the bar, restaurant dinners, films, on-line purchases, and even birthday presents to your finest buddies. Instead, your money ought to solely go towards meals, housing, remedy, and different requirements.
  3. Pay With Cash Only. You turn into far more aware of the spending course of if you truly pay in money. Those payments can function a potent visible reminder of the choices you’re making, as you make them. When the money stays in your pockets, you’re going to really feel a lot higher about your self-restraint.
  4. Keep a Spending Journal. Throughout your monetary quick, maintain a detailed log of what you spend, what you save, and the place chances are you’ll be struggling. You can refer to this journal if you’re all finished to assist establish spending triggers and habits you’d like to change.

It is essential to notice that a monetary quick isn’t for everybody. By understanding the professionals and cons of buckling down and limiting your spending, you may resolve whether or not it’s best for you.


  1. Become More Conscious of Your Spending Habits. If you cease for a cup of espresso within the morning, a snack within the afternoon, and a soda within the night if you fuel up your automobile, chances are you’ll be spending $20 per day with out even realizing it. A monetary quick slows down your spending and helps you turn into extra aware of when and what you spend.
  2. Get on Top of Your Current Finances. Limiting your spending for 21 days received’t be a monetary game-changer. However, it might make it easier to save a little money, which might be a nice motivation going ahead. Seeing how painless it’s to maintain onto $15 or $20 per day just by being extra aware of your choices can provide the drive to chart a pay-down plan to your money owed or attain a host of financial savings targets.
  3. Reduce What You Put on Credit Cards. Too usually, if you don’t have sufficient money to purchase one thing, you set it on a bank card. A quick can prevent a lot of debt through the three-week interval, and it might have a enormous long-term impact for those who study to restrain your self after the quick is full.
  4. Reduce Temptation. When it comes to weight reduction, one of many first guidelines is to take away temptation as finest you may – sugary treats and meals excessive in saturated fat haven’t any place in your house. A monetary quick has the identical impact in your pockets that the food regimen has in your waistline. If you don’t enable your self to go to the mall or log onto Amazon, you received’t be tempted to overspend.


  1. It Can Backfire. I’d be mendacity if I stated my first response to ending up a monetary quick isn’t to buy groceries. That’s the place going chilly turkey along with your unhealthy spending habits can backfire. While it’s okay to return to a extra “typical” funds after your quick, be certain to keep away from overspending to compensate for it.
  2. It Won’t Fix Major Spending Problems. If you’re deep in debt, owe taxes, argue along with your partner about money, or produce other deep-seated monetary points, don’t count on a quick to magically repair them. It’s a three-week program that tries to reset your attitudes about money. It may help change your philosophies, lead you to rethink pointless purchases, and even immediate you to draw up a new funds based mostly on what you’ve realized. However, it won’t eradicate your debt or repair all your money woes.
  3. Fasting Is a Short-Term Remedy. In her guide, Singletary doesn’t advocate fasting for greater than 21 days. It’s sufficient time to save a little money and spotlight areas the place you may change your spending habits. However, it’s only meant as a short-term gateway answer for smarter saving and spending sooner or later.

Tips for a Successful Fast

1. Delineate Between Needs and Wants

Your personal definitions of wants and desires are going to be completely different from different individuals’s. For instance, whereas I contemplate a journey to the salon a need, some girls would possibly really feel that it contributes to their skilled picture and subsequently qualifies as a want.

Before you start your quick, write down your desires and desires as you perceive them. Knowing forward of time may help take a number of the temptation away – for those who’ve already determined consuming out is a need, it’s simpler to decline an invite from your mates.

2. Get Accountable

Not everybody understands the aim behind a monetary quick, so that you would possibly discover that a few of your family and friends scoff at your experiment. Still, it’s essential to be accountable to your spending, so be certain to discover a assist group or pal you may depend on throughout your quick.

If you may’t discover anybody to be accountable to, give a tried and true method used for dropping pounds a shot: write it down. Keep a working tally of what you’ve bought so you may see the objects and costs in print – that approach you’re much less doubtless to try to cheat your self.

3. Remove Temptation

Are you an on-line buying junkie? Limit your time on the computer. Do you at all times find yourself spending if you’re on the mall? Skip the window buying.

By interested by a few of your worst spending triggers and habits, you may work to curtail them. Remember that it’s solely 21 days – you don’t want to keep away from the mall eternally, simply till your quick is over.

4. Make Do With Remixing

One of the most effective issues a monetary quick does is drive me to have a look at my wardrobe otherwise. Without the choice to purchase one thing new, I’ve to use my closet in additional inventive methods.

Use what you have got and provide you with cost-free options to any issues you’d often simply clear up by spending. If you get a case of the munchies daily at 2pm, skip the merchandising machine and convey one thing from dwelling. If you’re keen on to spend money on films and different leisure, watch TV or dig out your DVD assortment for film night time. Think outdoors the fast pleasure of a buy and purpose without spending a dime options, making use of what you have already got.

5. Celebrate Your Success

Once you end your 21-day stint, have a good time the achievement. Don’t spend a ton of money, after all – as a substitute, deal with your self to a modest present and mark your accomplishment by depositing the majority of your financial savings in an interest-bearing account, or use it to repay money owed. The true celebration of the quick is in profiting from its advantages.

Final Word

A monetary quick can sound excessive, nevertheless it’s surprisingly doable. Armed with some prep work, an understanding of the foundations, and a few tips that you just set for your self, it’s doable to go chilly turkey for 3 weeks and see critically wonderful outcomes. It’s not a cure-all answer for out-of-control spending, nevertheless it’s a step in the fitting path – and one that may set you on a path towards higher monetary accountability.

Have you ever gone on a monetary quick? How did you’re feeling in regards to the experiment?

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