Fiscal Fasting ~ 2/2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I don't officially start fasting until Saturday but I have another post going up then so I figured I'd post this a little early -- I have no plans to spend any money between now and then with the exception of filling my gas tank. Oh, and speaking of THAT, I noticed gas has creeped up to $3.49 a gallon here with lots of hoopla about it continuing to rise. How much are you paying for gas? Does it make you think twice about unnecessary trips?

Round 2 of Fiscal Fasting for me for 2012. Last month, I was able to abstain from spending for the full 7 days. YAY!! A few things have changed in my budget since then. I purchased a car -- although I put down a good-sized down payment, I financed a portion too. That means a car payment (it still scares to write those words, lol). Debt -- I really hate it - That makes my modest budget even more modest. In this case, it was the right decision but it still makes me want to get it paid off asap.

Back to my fast, NO spending for the next 7 days. I know that a lot of you, like me, are experienced thrifty's but it is amazing to me to talk with folks and find that *not spending* isn't even on their radar. A friend of mine and I discussed this a few days ago. She talked about giving up clothing shopping for lent. I am not sure if that is indeed what she did but I know that is a big deal for this friend.

I thought I would share when weighing the merits of a potential purchase, some of the things I consider……

Do I need it to live? - This puts food, clothing (to some degree) and the such at the top of the list.

Do I already own something that will meet the same need? - This prevents me from getting take-out food when I have food at home, or buying a new pair of shoes when I already have many pairs.

Will it solve or prevent a real problem? - I don't need toothpaste to live, but it prevents cavities and bad breath so I'm going to buy it. I may think that boredom requires a new DVD, but that's not a real problem so it doesn't pass the test.

Will it provide SOME kind of value? - Sometimes things aren't necessary but we want them anyway. For example, I bought a new laptop last year. It provides me opportunity to blog, keep in contact with friends and family and a great amount of entertainment. So even though I don't need a laptop to live and it doesn't necessarily solve a real problem, I still decided it was worth buying.

Can I afford this item without going into debt? - If I have to go into debt for something I must have to live, I can deal with that (though I'd rather not go into debt - my new car fits into this category). But if it's not a need and I've still decided to buy it, I have to make sure I can do it without pulling out a credit card.

Will someone be angry if I buy this? - Will I have to hide it or hide the receipt? Now that I'm divorced, I don't have a spouse that I have to answer to and even when I was married, I was never one of those wives (although I’ve had friends like this) who pull the tags off new clothes and sneak them into the closet (Hint: This is a sign that you shouldn't have bought said clothes).

Could my money be better spent elsewhere? - Can I really justify buying a pair of shoes if I know my car needs an oil change?

Is the "something else" really important? - Am I spending money that needs to go toward bills? If so, not buying is the wise choice. If the money is just earmarked for a competing *want*, I'll have to make a choice between the 2 *wants*.

Do I still want the item after all this? - If I get through this list of questions and I haven't given up, I'm probably buying whatever the want is. Going through this is my mind though saves me from a lot of impulse buying. Some stores REALLY seem to fuel impulse buying – WAL-MART is one (at least for me). I don’t know if it is something in the air or music or what, but it always seemed I’d go in for a few necessities and come out with a cart FULL – I am very cautious of using my list when I shop in there – if it isn’t on my list, it has to pass the test.

14 comments:

  1. Valerie said...:

    I'd be THRILLED (well, maybe not thrilled, but a bit happier) if gas here was $3.49 a gallon. I live in Washington State and we are now paying $3.80 a gallon. CRAZY! Yes, it HAS affected my driving, but I am required to drive 5 days a week most weeks. When I have errands to run, I try to map out the most fuel efficient route I can. Once gas goes over $4 a gallon or higher, my driving will HAVE to be less...not sure how that will happen, but I refuse to pay that much for gas to line the pockets of greedy oil companies.

  1. My gas prices are around the same as yours. I try to make fewer trips and really watch where I go. I've been doing the 'do I need this list' in my mind for awhile now before I buy something and it really does help. Friday is my daughter's 30th birthday, so I have a gift to buy and a lunch out for the family. Other then that I hope to not spend anything but on a few food items. I don't keep a deep pantry at all. Good post! hugs, Linda

  1. Sherry Hefner said...:

    Our gas priced here are in the $3.69-$3.79 range. One thing that really hurt this year was when NC enacted new taxes on gas. It made prices go up in January around 9 cents a gallon. We just found out our 2001 truck needs a new transmission...but we would rather pay to have it repaired than purchase something new with payments. Our truck has been very dependable through the years and has had few problems...basically just maintenance.
    I enjoyed your list of questions to ask before purchasing items. If I am not actively thinking of it, I easily fall into the habit of just throwing things in my cart...even though I am a conservative person. I think in our society, buying things is made to seem so normal that we often don't "think" before we buy. Thanks for pointing out how little we truly "need."

  1. Dani said...:

    our gas in southern california is $4.00 a gallon.....and we've been fiscally fasting for the last 5 years...going to the grocery store is a treat...

  1. Great topic!!! Wish more people would ask themselves these questions when they shop and keep themselves out of financial trouble . We have tried to teach our children this too. I certainly enjoy my share of fun purchases, but I make sure I have the cash in my hand.

  1. We went to the mountains over the weekend and gas went from $3.49 to $3.65!! And it is going to keep going up!! We are not going out to eat, but making more meals at home. We are going to have to learn how to live like our grandparents did.

    Jocelyn @
    http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com

  1. Shug said...:

    Gas here in East Texas is 3.53 today...
    A tank of gas sure does not go as far these days either...???
    I sure admire you for the fast that you are doing..this takes a lot of planning and a lot of sacrifice...
    Blessings...
    shug

  1. MamaMonki said...:

    We've been working really hard to avoid Walmart for that exact reason. We used to go at least once a week and now we're down to almost once a month. Huge improvement. We try to do our shopping at our local Dollar General and Family Dollar and even our Kmart. Seems like we never over spend there like we do at Walmart. Maybe it's something they pipe into the air...

  1. This is an eye opening post! I think you will do well, you have the right idea.

    I have given up shopping online for Lent. It is just too easy for me, convenient. Wish me luck!

    XO,
    Jane

  1. Wonderful and timely post, Mrs. P! Almost everyone could stand a little belt tightening right now. YOur thoughts about weighing the merits of a purchase are very wise! I am printing them out. They will come in handy when I step foot into Walmart or Pottery Barn! Thank for your kind comment on FB.
    I have missed you!
    xo Yvonne

  1. acorn hollow said...:

    gas and heating oil it makes me so angry because there is no need for the prices to be this high. This is a good topic and one I should pay more attention to.
    Cathy

  1. April said...:

    Gas is $3.69 here. We are on a very strict budget, so if I can get it second hand I do that before I buy anything outright. I tend to look at clearance racks first, but a trick I have been using for a long time now is if I think I want it, I put it in the cart and as I do the rest of my shopping I think long and hard about how much I really want or need it. I also think about if I have anything else that we need more than that. I usually wind up putting whatever it is back.

  1. I'm not sure how much gas is now...but it's at least around $3.50. I don't know if I could go 7 days without spending anything. HOwever, I do take frequent trips to the store, and so I need to maybe narrow it down to only 1-2 a week..OH, and thanks for all of these great questions to ask oneself before making a purchase. Those are so important!!! Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  1. Cherise said...:

    Gas here where I live in Southern California is $4.09 right now. It seems to go up everyday. It's so depressing! I am going to have to make more cuts to my already very tight budget. I went to the grocery store yesterday. I bought a chub of hamburger. I bought it on sale like I normally do. I usually go home and cut it up into 1 lb portions and freeze it. When I went to do this I noticed that the 3 lb chub I usually buy was only 2 lbs. I couldn't believe it. They reduced the size of the chub but kept the price the same. Everything is getting way too expensive. It sucks!!! Keep up the good work! You're an inspiration! :)

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