Fit & Frugal: Surviving a Fiscal Fast

As we are pushing through the most expensive…err…I mean, the happiest season of all, many are going to unwillingly prepare themselves for the fiscal fast of the new year.  This does not have to be a bad thing!  Actually, it can be quite a relief when you get down to actually doing it.  If you have seen my Fit & Frugal posts before, they called these months “no spend” but I do not actually like the “no” in that.  Something so little as a “no” in the title can bring on a psychological upset of being restricted, so instead, we are fiscal fasting.

  1.  During a fiscal fast, re-evaluate all of the extras that go into a month’s spending.  I had a bad realization during my first one that in a matter of 6-8 weeks over the summer I had loaded over $80 onto my Dunkin Donuts card.  That one stung a little.  I kept saying to myself that I do not really spend a lot on dining out because we do dinners at home and I do not grab fast food anymore, but in reality…coffee.  Coffee and donuts are both fast food and dining out.  It was a mini reality check for me.  Not in the sense that I needed to limit myself more, but that I needed to turn around and start budgeting my coffee trips.
  2. After reviewing the previous “extras”, go into the cabinets and take inventory!  The grocery part of the budget is the easiest piece to unconsciously add to because we do not know what is in the cabinets.  I can fully attest to this with my 3 containers of oregano that every time I go to the store my brain tricks me into thinking I have run out of.  Here are the places that we found as speed bumps during our fiscal fasting.
    • Food
    • Toilet paper
    • Personal hygiene
    • School supplies
    • Clothes
    • Home decor/organization totes
    • Printer ink & paper
  3. Ask 4 questions…
    • How much do I have here?
    • Will it be enough to last a month?
    • Can I go without it?
    • If I replace it, how much will it cost?
  4. Be careful of the thought of organizing = savings!
    • Reorganization with what you already have available is okay!  When you need a new shelf or containers, the $ jumps quickly
    • During a fiscal fast, you may begin to notice “house projects”.  Again…these are not fiscal fasting friendly unless you have everything available to do this project!!!  Add it to the budget for the month after the fast if it is that important.
  5. Look ahead!
    • How many miles do you have to drive to different places throughout the next month?  Can you afford the gas?
    • Do you need to attend different events?
    • How many meals can you do at home?
    • Are there any commitments that we need to bring a dish to?
    • Do we have people coming over?
  6. Plan for what’s coming with what you have!
    • Remember to put in the budget for birthday/anniversary gifts.  These dates for the close family members is not a surprise.  You know it is coming so handle it quickly.  Procrastination leads to the possibility of overspending.
  7. Fill in the gaps with creativity
    • Figure out the ingredients you have and use to search recipes by those specific ingredients
    • Forgot about a needed birthday cake (speaking from experience)? Make cupcakes, a cookie cake, pancakes or some other dessert!
    • Encourage all of the members of the house to help figure “it” out.  They may know where other candles are…like using a decorative candlestick on a birthday cake instead LOL
  8. Eating healthy does not mean expensive!
    • EveryDollar’s blog “How to Eat Healthy on a Budget”
    • Shop around!
    • We do healthy by Amazon Subscribe & Save, local stores like Aldis and Walmart and using grocery pickup services so we are not tempted to add things to the cart that we feel like having that day.

Most of these tips are from our journey through the Dave Ramsey books like Money Makeover and Financial Peace as well as a quick ebook from Joyce Meyer Ministries.