An Abundantly Lush Financial Fast is like a food fast, only with money. In a food fast, you eat and drink enough food to Not Die, and you abstain from the rest for a specified time limit. A financial fast is the same concept, except that you replace food with dollars and Not Die with Not Have a Considerably Horrendous Life. To begin a financial fast, you need three things: 1) A desire to change your current financial situation, 2) A basic understanding of your income and how it balances against your spending, and 3) A goal for what you are are going to do with the dollars you free up on your financial fast.
This post will discuss how to determine your budget. The following posts this week will deal with how to determine and track your financial goals.
An Abundantly Lush Financial Fast is not a lifestyle fast. You are allowed to budget for the things you want, as well as the things you need. Be honest with yourself – if you cant live without adding to your collection of Firefly action figures, please, budget for them, but understand that you will have to take a hit somewhere. Perhaps you can balance the dollars you spend on action figures against driving your car less and relying on your bicycle for quick trips to save on gas. If you’ve accounted for a luxury in your budget, and still have money to put towards your determined goal, it should be guilt-free spending.
The first thing you will need to do to begin a financial fast is determine your income for the month, and then balance that against your basic needs. Your basic needs are rent/mortgage, bills (including credit card payments, car payments, insurance, etc), food, and gas/transportation fees. After that include the things you can’t live without: beer, smokes, your subscription to The Modern Drunkard Magazine, action figures, etc. Everything after that is an unnecessary expense, and the goal of an Abundantly Lush financial fast is to eliminate unnecessary expenses without compromising decadence.
Your budget is crucial. You absolutely have to account for every penny, including money that you’re saving for your goals (which will be discussed later this week), money that you’re putting into savings, and money that you’re spending on your pre-determined “luxuries” (in your case, action figures; in our case, booze).
Creating a budget is as simple as taking a piece of paper and creating two columns. Column A is income. Column B is spending. Spend an afternoon reviewing your receipts and bank statement (if you’re a debit card user) and write down all of your expenses in column B. Your goal is to make the total in Column B less than the total in Column A. For more specific help in creating a budget, check out the following links:
The length of time you will be doing your financial fast is dependent on your goal. Sometimes it’s a month, more often it’s six months to a year. It’s important when you’re starting out to not get “drunk on potential” and over-commit. Just like with a diet, if you try to make too many restrictive changes at once, you leave yourself in danger of a binge. Try your financial fast for a week and see how you feel. Determine what worked and what didn’t work, and if you need to shift funds from one column of your budget to another. Tweak your system and then try it for another week.
Your mission for now is to create a budget that accounts for every penny. Try it for a week and see where you stand. You’ll find that you can live an abundant lifestyle and still have an abundant bank account.