Do you ever wonder what it would be like to go a whole week or a whole month without shopping? In a world where everything is geared towards buying, selling and shopping, how easy do you think that would be? If you have your heart and mind set on saving money and living life more frugally, more economically, then the idea of a fiscal fast might just appeal to you.


Fiscal fast is a term coined by Jeff Yeager from the Ultimate Cheapskate. It basically means that you abstain from shopping for a set period of time, usually a week but also longer than that, if you like. After all, who’s to say how long you would like to or should fast, that’s entirely up to you. The ultimate purpose of a fiscal fast is to help you save money. This money you could then put towards paying off a specific debt or stash it in your savings account for a rainy day.


Still interested? Here’s how it works in 3 simple steps:


1. Pay all the bills that are due, when they’re due: your rent/bond, municipal bill, insurance, medical aid, phone bill(s), etc. Set aside enough money to fill up your petrol tank or to pay for your bus fare. Pay whatever else you need to pay for that week or that month.


2. Do your grocery shopping either for the week or for the month as you normally would (read about how I save on our groceries each month here). Don’t be tempted to stock up on additional items just because you know you’re going to be ‘fasting’. You will get a chance to become creative in the kitchen and to use up whatever food is sitting at the far end of the top shelf of your pantry cupboard!


3. And the last, and most important, step is: don’t go shopping. If there is a medical emergency at home or you have a burst tyre or your pets have run out of food, you would, of course, attend to that immediately. But other than spending money on emergencies or your basic needs and that of your family and pets, don’t go shopping and don’t spend any money on anything else.


It’s as simple as that. Or is it?


I came across the term fiscal fast only recently. I didn’t even know that this whole idea had a name, and a catchy one at that too!  But it is something that I’d done time and time again and I’d never once, up to that point, thought of it as a ‘fast’. The idea of a ‘fast’ is appropriate though if you decide to look at the whole experience as an opportunity to resist the temptation of shopping and to reflect on the difference between a want and what truly is a need each time you see something or think of something that you’d like to buy.


Does the fiscal fast work? Well, that depends. How strong is your willpower? Personally, I like to take that time to be reminded of what I truly need as opposed to what I simply want but don’t actually need. That’s my ‘time out’. That’s my time to reflect and focus on what is important to me on this journey and to spend more time doing things that make a difference. I love our fiscal fast weeks and months, when we choose to do them.


I also like the fact that fiscal fast weeks and months give us a chance to use whatever food we have in the freezer, fridge or the kitchen cupboards. I love to get creative in the kitchen and to make meals as I go along. Some of my frugal recipes come from our fiscal fast months! We sometimes use the Big Oven for ideas too. I don’t like to waste anything if I can help it so an opportunity to use whatever I have, and not waste it, really appeals to me.


Having said all of that, doing a fiscal fast for the very first time, for even a short period of time, can be a shock to the system. You are, effectively, working on changing your spending habits. If you’re even thinking of doing a fiscal fast at some point, chances are you have your reasons, like I have mine. Remembering those reasons when it all starts to feel a little uncomfortable during the fiscal fast week or month, is what helps keep me going.


Have you tried a fiscal fast week or month yet? What was your experience like? Do you feel that you’ve benefited? If you haven’t tried the fiscal fast week or month yet, would you like to give it a go?


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