Three weeks of being mindful about money during an intentional financial fast.
This year, I’ve experienced a major breakthrough by learning how to let go of things. Each month, I fasted from one particular item in which I felt that my grip was too tight.
Catch up on the series:
Personally, this experience was about seeking clarity, peeling back layers, and tending to areas that I’d been covering up for far too long. It was about unearthing new ways to grow, by letting go of things that were hindering the growth of seeds I’d planted in my business for years.
This process wasn’t only about getting rid of stuff or restricting myself from the things that made my life enjoyable. It wasn’t about weight loss or depriving myself of something that I actually needed (or even wanted). It was about hitting pause and refocusing on what I’d allowed to take center stage in my life. It was about interrupting patterns and routines that I had held onto out of habit over time, once I realized they were no longer serving me.
Lessons I learned from doing a 21 day financial fast
This financial fast taught me to stop and pause for enough time to really consider if this thing I was holding on to was elevating my life or holding me back from my goals. I looked at everything from sweets to alcohol to coffee.
When I removed some of these options in the past, I’d sufficed knowing that it was a temporary withdrawal.
Taking time off of social media was a challenge, but it definitely made a difference in my life. Then, I got to something that I knew I’d need to do in this year of letting go.
In fact, I was the most nervous about this one. Why? Because I didn’t want to limit myself, and I didn’t want to fail, because on most days I don’t want to have to say no.
What was the goal of the financial fast?
I came up on the month that I was going to complete a financial fast. However, my goal wasn’t to make a big move and save $10,000 in a month or a year.
I didn’t have a specific financial goal in mind, other than to hit pause on spending on nonessential and non-emergency items for 21 days.
To up the ante, I asked my husband to participate in this fast with me. Initially, I was nervous because prior to agreeing to do this fast, I’d been accustomed to spending money whenever I wanted to. I want to make the disclaimer that we aren’t at all in a financial position where we’re buying everything we’ve ever wanted. However, grabbing a cup of coffee, buying that snack at the store, and going to the special play place was all apart of my morning routine with my girls.
Had I been overspending?
During this fast, I noticed how easy it was for money to add up each day. Studies show that it takes making (or saving) $45 a day to earn an extra $10,000 a year. Spending $45 seemed like a lot, but it was just small, in-the-moment purchases that added up throughout the day.
In our American society, overspending is something that we’ve gotten far too comfortable with. It’s really easy to buy the latest and greatest thing, or “treat yourself” with this purchase or that one. However, I knew that I wanted to see a breakthrough in our finances this year, and part of that meant letting go of some things.
What is essential spending exactly?
During this process, I learned to define what our essential and emergency items are. I am someone whose love language is giving gifts. So when birthdays pop up, a friend is having a baby shower, or someone is hosting a special celebration, my default is to buy something that I know that person will absolutely love.
I got pretty creative going about this while also doing a financial fast. My family and I were going to a wedding and I’d planned on renting a fancy dress.
If I couldn’t find something available to rent, I’d considered buying a dress, but I couldn’t justify it as an essential or emergency item.
So I checked the weather and considered the fact that I’d likely be chasing around my small children, and realized I had two outfits that I could wear from my own wardrobe!
They weren’t brand new. I had worn them once years ago and to be honest, I wouldn’t have ever picked them because why would I when I could just get something new?
This time, instead of buying something totally new, I wore what I had. Now I know this isn’t a novel idea, but it’s a wise one, especially if you’re trying to make strides towards your financial goals.
To top it off, I still received many compliments because obviously, none of the people at the wedding had seen me in this outfit!
In this day and age of inflation, every dollar counts. Something I realized was that I hadn’t been paying attention to how I was spending my money in both my business and in my personal life. I so deeply wanted to have a business that was thriving, and while I was able to serve my clients and sell my programs, I wasn’t seeing that in my bank account. This was due to two reasons.
What this financial fast taught me about business
For starters, I was spending more than I was making. You’ve got to spend money to make money, right? Wrong. As an entrepreneur, I knew that I needed to make a profit in order to be able to continue running my business, so I read books that aligned with this goal and supported me to continue this fast.
Secondly, I wasn’t charging in accordance with how much time I was working for clients. Fasting financially led me to restructure my business in a way that served my clients and served my business, as I got paid for my expertise and the amount of work that I was putting into each project.
When I was spending impulsively, I also wasn’t charging appropriately.
Through the financial fast, my eyes were opened to the true provision that came my way. I normally wouldn’t have noticed it because I would’ve already spent that money. Paying off debt is not nearly as exciting or eye-opening as seeing fresh money come in that isn’t already in your bank.
How to do your own financial fast
I want to encourage you to embark on your own financial fast. I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not always pleasant, but for me, it was the kick in the pants that I certainly needed to start making some serious changes.
Now, can I say that my financial situation has changed overnight? No, it’s a process. But I now have a clear image of how my heart was positioned for money, how I was treating money, and what the reflection was on my life, and it’s made a world of difference!
Doing this financial fast brought me so much freedom (and it didn’t bring in an extra million dollars). Personally, true freedom looked like seeing where we stood financially so that I could understand why I was reaching for these momentary purchases.
How many beverages or snacks were we saying yes to without being intentional about the money we were spending? Did I need to make a second grocery run for all of the extra things I could easily justify as being essential? Did I really need to make another trip when we had plenty of food in the fridge? No. Did I need to pick up takeout because it was the easiest thing to do? Not as often as I was led on to believe.
Being aware and mindful of my spending habits and financial state has made a huge difference in both my marriage and our family’s life, and I highly encourage you to do it too!