About 6 months ago I started into a spending fast after reading a book by Anna Newell Jones. It totally changed the way I think about money, but I had a hard time actually putting it into practice. I had a bunch of little incidents pop up that only ADDED to my debt, we moved into a new place and we needed some new things…and it just spiraled from there. With that being said, we also had some good luck and things were looking really good financially, but now with a pending trip to Hawaii, our wedding, and plans to buy a home, it’s time to review my currently relationship with money and work to repair it.
Improving or repairing your relationship with money isn’t an overnight process. It takes time to and effort to really make a change. Money isn’t everything. It really isn’t. But we need it in order to live our lives. We have to spend at least some money to survive our day to day lives. I think that something with that much power deserves some respect…Here are the steps you can take to really change the way you think about money.
1// Understand where your money is going
The first step of a spending fast is to know what your current spending habits look like. Take a look at your bank statements for the last 3 months, or if you’re like me, look online. Your bank or credit union may even have an app or other tools to help you analyze your spending categories. Most of my spending tends to be eating out and miscellaneous Target trips to pick up things we “need”.
2// Analyze why you’re spending there
When you review your spending habits, pay attention to the dates where the spending occurred. What was going on in your life? Were you stressed out? Did you just go through a big break-up? Did you manage your time poorly and not pack your lunch for 2 week? What caused you to spend where you did? Knowing why you’re spending can help you try to prevent these situations where you’re “forced” to spend outside of your planned occasions.
3// Determine your wants and needs
Writing down what you need to spend money on and what you want to spend money on can help you realize what is truly essential. This list will look different for everyone. My “need” list will include my gym membership, but someone who never goes to the gym might put that on the wants list. Understanding what you could live without can help cut down your expenses and avoid that completely unnecessary overdraft.
4// Write down all your payments and debt amounts
Knowing how much you owe can help ground you. I know that when I wrote down how much I still owed on my car made me stop eating out real quick. I started taking that money I would spend on Taco Bell and started throwing it at my car payment and now my car is paid off. It took time and some sacrifice, but it is so worth it. I am so happy every time I get in the car that I own.
5// Make a plan
Have you heard that old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? It’s so true. Make a plan for what you’re going to do when you’re tempted to spend money. If you’re allowing for certain “fun” expenses, how are you going to determine if it’s worth the money? If your biggest spending weakness is food, how will you avoid that needless spend? Maybe you’ll pack a lunch or avoid leaving the house hungry. Maybe you’ll explain to your work friends that you only eat out for lunch once a month.
Whatever your plan is, make sure you have one so that you know exactly how to handle spending when these situations arise.
6// Track your spending & savings
I use a spread sheet to track how much I’m spending and saving. I document every dollar I spend, I regularly check my bank account. This helps me see how I progress, how much I “save” week over week, and keeps me encouraged to continue. I’ve also recent been playing around with “YNAB” or “You Need a Budget“. I only just downloaded it on the 1st so we’ll see how my free trial goes.
7// Increase your income & decrease your spending
This is a total Dave Ramsey thing…but seriously it will help! Find some things you can sell that you aren’t using. Facebook has made this so easy these days. Take a few pictures and post what you can live without. Take surveys, consider starting a low cost business, become a secret shopper, get a part time job, work that overtime etc etc.
To decrease your spending where you must spend, use coupons and your local grocery store apps, use Ibotta (seriously it’s free money!), avoid shopping hungry, compare prices. Call your credit card companies and see if you can lower your interest rates (and then cut up the card!) shop around if your car insurance is high, consider refinancing your mortgage and so many other things!
8// Stay motivated
Personally I listen to Podcasts and read the success stories of others to stay motivated. If you ever need a boost or you’re thinking about quitting, it helps to know that so many other before you went through the same journey and made it happen. You could join a support group on Facebook. I’m in one and it really helps keep me motivated. I can also bounce my plans off of other and see how they are crushing their debt and saving money.
How do you plan to repair your relationship with money and destroy your debts?