You may be familiar with the term “cleanse.” It’s often associated with eating habits.
For example, many use a cleansing strategy from time to time to clean up their diet. Maybe they’ve gotten out of control with their eating habits (which often happens during the holidays) and they need a little something extra to reign it in.
Going on an uber-strict cleanse for a short period of time can be an effective strategy for breaking bad eating habits. It allows us to hit the reset button and start making healthier eating decisions.
The reason a strict cleanse works is you have well-defined terms of engagement and only have to commit for a short period of time. It’s a way to narrow the guardrails of your food choices so you can realign them (less chocolate and more veggies) with your goals of living a healthy lifestyle. You know you won’t be eating this way for long so your ability to stick with it is higher than traditional diets.
The same cleansing concept can be applied to your spending. When you feel like your spending is out of control, a spending cleanse can help you to hit the reset button so you can eliminate your bad money habits.
Three ways to cleanse your spending
If you’re ready for a financial reset, here are three simple strategies to cleanse your spending and get your finances back on track.
1. Go cold turkey
Going on a spending cleanse is a simple concept but it can be difficult especially if you go “cold turkey.” With the “cold turkey” method, you halt all spending for the next 30 days. It’s the simplest (and most effective) method because it’s black and white – no spending on anything outside of mandatory payments. Mandatory payments include things like your mortgage, utilities, and car payments.
If you’re wondering, “what about groceries?” Yes, you still need to eat, but there are different rules of engagement.
The first and most important rule is to eat the food you already have on hand.
If you’re like most American households, you have enough food in your fridge and pantry to feed you and your family for at least two weeks, if not the entire 30 days. Yes, you will need to get creative. You’ll need to eat in a different way especially as you work your way through the pantry. Beans on toast or plain pasta with butter, salt, and pepper might not sound appealing, but they’ll fill your belly.
The point of the 30-day cleanse is to save you money. If you’re doing it right, then it should feel uncomfortable and challenging. But remember, it won’t last forever. It’s just 30 days!
Pro tip: To help ease the pain, you can also do a little stocking-up before your 30-day cleanse starts. Buy lots of fresh or frozen fruit and veggies as well as milk or any other perishables that will allow you to maintain a balanced diet.
2. Only spend on key categories
If the cold turkey method sounds too intimidating, you can opt for the middle-ground option. With option two you stop spending on everything outside of a few key categories. It’s up to you to decide what these categories are before you get started.
For instance, if you can’t stomach the idea of eating beans on toast or buttered pasta for the last week of your cleanse then choose fresh groceries as one of your key categories. Another example might be your gym membership. If this is something that keeps you active and feeling physically and mentally strong then you can deem it as one of your key categories.
When deciding what should be included as a “key category,” remember these should be things that are necessary for your physical or mental well-being. You should not be making exceptions for discretionary spending like buying new clothes or finally deciding to go “exclusively organic” on your grocery shopping.
Once you’ve set these key categories there is no deviating. You are locked in for the next 30 days with no spending on anything outside of your mandatory bills and your few, pre-established key categories.
3. Cut out frivolous spending
For those who are unsure of whether or not they want to participate in a spending cleanse or those who are new to the whole “cleanse” concept, option three offers a mild introduction.
With this option, you simply cut out all frivolous spending for the next 30 days. This is the least strict of the three strategies.
Before your 30-day cleanse, you decide which frivolous expenses you are willing to do without. Maybe no spending on clothes, beauty products, or toys for your kids or pets. Perhaps, you also take all food delivery services off the table or scrap one/two/three of your subscription services. You could “just say no” to all online shopping and force yourself to kick it old school and go to the store. There are many ways to curb your spending without going to extremes.
With option three, you have more leniency in terms of what you cut but once you make a decision, it’s set-in stone. No exceptions for 30 days. With this option, you won’t save as much money as you would with the other two strategies, but it’s a good start and worth doing.
Are you ready to cleanse your spending?
Going on a 30-day spending cleanse is a great way to shake things up and eliminate some of your bad money habits. Because it’s a commitment for a pre-determined and short amount of time, it’s doable. You’re not committing yourself to a year or lifetime of restricted spending, just 30 little days.
Additionally, because you’ve already set predetermined boundaries for what you can and cannot buy, you greatly reduce the chances for the dreaded impulse buy or the opportunity to convince yourself you “need it.” If it’s not on the list, you can’t buy it. End of discussion.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to go cold turkey or will you ease yourself into the process by removing all of your frivolous spending for the next month? In all honesty, it matters less which option you choose just as long as you choose.
“What happens if you don’t choose,” you ask? Well, most likely … nothing. But, if you’ve read all the way to this point, that’s probably not a good thing.