If you’ve decided to give the Fiscal Fast a go for a couple of days, or a week or even a month, you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to find the motivation to survive those No-Spend days. 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. Read about how it works in 3 simple steps here.


A Fiscal Fast can be done for a variety of reasons. Jeff Yeager’s reasons will be different from mine and mine will be different from yours – we all travel different paths. For you, it might just be an exploration into what not spending money actually feels like at first. Or you could be on a journey to getting out of debt, living below your means, sticking to your budget and putting each and every Rand you can find towards paying off your debt. Or you could be doing a Fiscal Fast after you’ve managed to get out of debt and in order to save more for a rainy day, or towards a specific goal.


Your reasons for fasting will determine how you feel about the Fiscal Fast as you go along. If you’re doing a Fiscal Fast for the first time because you’re intent on getting out of debt by, then your experience will probably feel a little uncomfortable at first. It will all be new for you. You might find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, feeling a bit deprived and possibly out of sorts at times. After all, we work hard for our money each month so we deserve to spoil ourselves. We only live once, right?


Such mantras used to pop up in my head too, all the time! But the desire to become credit-card debt free started popping up more and more often in my head too. That goal, for me, was stronger and more appealing than any handbag, any pair of shoes or any day at the spa could have ever been. I found that the more I thought about the goal I wanted to achieve by doing a Fiscal Fast, the easier it was for me to stay on track.


I also avoided the malls during all our Fiscal Fasts and I used that extra time to busy myself at home. I’d often find something that I’d been meaning to do for a long time but never got round to it, like a small project, or something that needed a bit of repair, and I worked on that. Paying whatever extra money we had towards our credit card debt first, and before we were tempted to spend it elsewhere, also helped us to stay on track. And bit by bit, I realised that it is true what they say:


“A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.” ~ Jenny Craig


A Fiscal Fast is not only an opportunity for you to work on changing your habits but also an opportunity for you to choose the kind of life you want to lead. So instead of seeing my circumstances as poor, I started seeing the opportunity that I’d been given to change my spending habits, and ultimately, to change my life for the better.


It’s during our Fiscal Fasts that I would also spend some time each day reading other people’s motivational stories about their journey to becoming debt-free. I may have at times commented on their blogs but I mostly just kept reading, and absorbing the fact that my husband and I weren’t the only ones who were struggling. Paying off debt, living life more frugally, more economically was sometimes a very lonely experience and we needed all the encouragement and support we could find.


The fact that there is a certain amount of guilt and shame associated with living life more frugally while trying to pay off credit card, or other kinds of, debt doesn’t help either. Consumer debt has become so commonplace and acceptable in our society today and especially the credit card has practically become a status symbol. Without it, we appear poorer, in our own eyes and that of others, when it should actually be quite the opposite!


As long as you keep your mind focussed on the reason(s) why you are doing a Fiscal Fast, and why you choose not to spend money which you don’t have, you will feel a lot braver and stronger and more motivated to stay on track. Whatever your reason may be, let that become your motivational mantra for the entire duration of your Fiscal Fast.


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