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.