Fasting from food in the religious context requires discipline while simultaneously building strength and character in the person undertaking the fast. In the same way, a financial fast also fortifies the individual against succumbing to the whims and fancies of frivolous spending.
Taking on the challenge of a financial fast is a demanding endeavor and the following checklist should help you stay on the straight and narrow.
1. Get rid of all entertainment expenses. Treat this as a way of finding new ways to keep you entertained. There are many activities that we might enjoy but we overlook in the distraction of everyday life or because we allow ourselves to be constantly bombarded by consumer advertising. Pick up a good book and settle down for the night or try taking a walk in the park. Think of this as an opportunity to rediscover the simple things in life.
2. Do not purchase any new clothing. This should go without saying but we may try to trick ourselves in the same way that we may try to squeeze forbidden things into a food fast. Try cleaning out your closet instead and you’ll be surprised at how many clothes are buried behind the ones you are constantly wearing. Make a game of it and see how many outfits you can make by introducing your new staples into your rotation.
3. Do not eat out. There is no exception to this rule. It may require a lot of planning and spending extra time in the kitchen but the dollars you save will add up nicely and contribute to your lump sum at the end of the month.
4. If you have extra cable channels, trim them for the period of the fast. This is not as hard as it sounds. Remember that a fast requires sacrifice and how are you going to find time to read your book if you are distracted by your addiction to what’s happening on the television.
5. Save on gas. As an added benefit of your fast you should also be spending less on gas, while lowering your carbon footprint, as your commute will now be limited strictly to what is necessary for work. If possible you can even opt for public transportation for the time period, as long as it would not adversely affect your ability to report to work on time.
A financial fast like a food fast should not go on indefinitely as this can lead to feelings of deprivation. Like fasting for religious purposes, a financial fast should be a concentrated and intense effort over a short period of time that is geared towards jolting your life into perspective. In the religious context, fasting helps the devotee to focus on the sacrifice of their Supreme Being by making personal sacrifices. By depriving yourself of all your excess, your reward is the surplus at the bank at the end of the period, as well as a greater appreciation for all the things you take for granted.