The purpose of a financial fast is to not spend any unnecessary money – PERIOD! We all need to develop financial habits that matter and that will benefit us for the present and the future. So, during a fast; the only money you should spend is on food, housing, and anything essential to your survival. The goal is to make make do with the essentials to show yourself that you may possibly be living above and beyond your means.
We all have a goal to save money, right? I mean our goal is to not live like we’re rich and we are actually broke. Well, maybe not broke, but not as stable as we should or could be. Some of us may be living Friday to Friday and waiting for that next direct deposit to hit the bank. I’m no financial guru – by any means so you don’t have to listen to a word I say, but believe me when I tell you that the information I provide you with over the course of this series will open your eyes as it has for my husband and myself. It started with my husband. He started to watch Dave Ramsey on YouTube and he started sending me links for me to watch as well. Dave is straight, no chaser…he doesn’t sugarcoat and baby you about your spending habits because he’s been broke before. As I listened to his Podcasts and watched his videos I became wiser about my spending habits and thought, “this guy has a great financial mind.” I’ve been invited on two very exciting trips over the next 14 months and instead of me saying, “Charge It,” I realized that I have other financial obligations that exceed a good time on an exotic island that is on my bucket list!
As I said, Dave doesn’t sugarcoat and his steps may seem drastic at first; but beneficial to anyone willing to take those baby steps. This fast I would love for you to take part in may help you get a little closer to financial freedom and also help you start with Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps to Take Control of Your Money.” I’m going to ease you into the baby steps and not overwhelm you all at once. So we’ll start with the first step.
1. Save $1,000 for an emergency fund. This is a step you want to do as quickly as possible. Emergencies come up – unexpectedly, having a fund such as this will keep you from stressing about how am I going to pay for this or that. During the 60 days in which we plan to fast financially I want you to imagine all of the money you spend on eating out, going out, or shopping when you get the “itch.” For example, let’s say that the average working person eats out three meals a day on average 6 days a week with the average meal costing $10. 3×6=18×10=$180 x 4 weeks in a month = $720. This is just me averaging about what it would cost to eat out for ONE PERSON! Now, add in a family of 3 or 4, the number would be staggering. Saving on eating out would have your emergency fund saved and then some within the 60 days…is your mind blown yet? I challenge you to cook, bring your lunch to work, check out Pinterest for meal ideas to save on what you spend on meals. Now what I want you to do is take that money and stick it in an envelope, put it in a safe place and leave it alone. If you think you’ll be tempted, place it in your safe or your savings account – if you don’t touch it. Stop digging a financial grave. The deeper in that hole you go, the harder it will be to get out of it.
2. Pay off ALL Debt (Except Mortgage) Using the Debt Snowball. Here you are going to make a list of your creditors: credit cards, cars, student loans; any outstanding debt with the exception of your mortgage, if you have one. Once you have your list, you start with the smallest amount on the list and work your way up to the biggest amount – paying them off one at a time. This may take some time depending on the amount of debt you have, but you have to start. You can have a plan all day long, but if you fail to work the plan…you fail.
I know you are thinking – WOW, that is only 2 of 7 and I’m reconsidering this whole thing. I know everyone cannot do it, but for those who can; it’s a wake up call. For those who think they can’t; start smaller because every little bit helps. We are working the baby steps and we are mid-way through step 2. The burden that I no longer have to pay x, y, z is AWESOME. The thing that will help most is a budget. Find an app or a create a spreadsheet; there are several sample ones online you can use. This will help you know what comes in, goes out, where it’s going, and what’s left at the end of the month. If you consistently see a deficit in your budget, it’s time to reevaluate your spending and financial well-being. If you are looking to improve your spending habits and live a life debt-free, independent of a wallet full of credit cards, or worried that you need to fix your car and don’t know where the money is going to come from, or concerned about how you’ll pay for an entire new set of tires…STAY TUNED.