At the beginning of the month, a couple of us committed to a 31 day spending fast from the 1st of the 31st of January 2017. The aim was to reduce on our impulse spending, use up everything we had in stock, and generally purge for the new year. You can read the rules here. About 65 of us even formed a Telegram group where we kept each other accountable on this.
Well, the spending fast as per the rules was a total fail for most of us. As per the Telegram chats, only one person @Tuva kept most of the rules. The rest of us broke them with impunity. However, like every challenge, there were lessons to be learned from the areas we failed and where we succeeded. At a personal level, I did manage to do a number of things:
- My spend on food was the lowest it had been in months. We ate mostly what was in the freezer, the only thing I added was liver and chicken. The strangest thing is that our diet did not change much for the period, which tells me that I tend to stockpile, instead of buying only what is running out
- I purged my daughter’s wardrobe, it now looks nice and neat. This was a nice bonding activity for us, I taught her how to fold her tee shirts, and we spoke at length about giving out things we do not need / use much
- I got rid of my TV which has been an eyesore (it is 10 years old) and a distraction. We have not noticed the change so far, seems we were not using the TV much
- I did not buy shoes. Were it not for the fast, I would definitely have bought a pair to kick the year off
- My spend on clothes for the month was zero. This was a victory because of the same reasons as (4) above
- From my savings, I was able to repay Kshs 30,000 towards my table bank loan. The entire amount was not from the fast though, I estimate that I was able to save about Kshs 15,000 from the spend fast.
Eating out was my greatest area of weakness; On the night of 31st December / 1st January, I went out and spent 80% of my January eating out budget on that one night. Not a great start! Overall I overspent by about 50% of my eating out budget. In January, I also spent about KShs 4,000 on a total of 6 books, and bought two toy sets for my daughter. I do not consider the last two items a waste of cash, but they were a violation of the spending fast rules.
Despite the fails, I learned some important things that I will be applying in the next Fast, which starts tomorrow (1st February).
- Socialising is my biggest spending trigger. I need to figure out a cheaper way to socialise or to change my style of socialising, as I spend a lot of time and money in restaurants. Tuva, our master hosts her guests at home – this is something I intend to do more of.
- Planning ahead on big expenditure works great. Instead of totally fasting especially on personal development items, a better strategy is to write a list of planned expenditure during the month and sticking to it.
- Make an allowance for weekly/weekend entertainment. This however has to be modest, to abide to the spending fast rules. My recommendation is that you reduce your entertainment budget by 50%
- Track your spending during the period. This will enable you notice areas where you could be overcompensating on, and to also tally your savings so you can apply them to something useful
- Clothes and shoes do not have to be a monthly affair. This is self explanatory. The clothes and shoes you have can last another month.
Join our Spending Fast Telegram Group, hopefully we can have better success this coming month! In the next post, I will outline the rules of the February spending fast, though I feel it should be a spending DIET instead.