Financial Fast: Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Journals!

Submitted by aatkins on February 21, 2012

Happy Day 2, financial fasters!

In our interview with Michelle Singletary about her 21-day financial fast, she suggested journaling to track your progress and to use as a tool to work through your challenges. Below are some suggested topics for this week.

  • Write down all those necessities you buy during the fast, which will help you assess whether they are truly necessities.
  • Make a list of any obstacles that may prevent you from sticking to the fast, and then add ideas on how you can knock them out of your way.
  • Think of one person who could use help financially, suggests Singletary. Could you step in to help somehow? Even if you can’t give cash or goods, could you offer this person additional help, such as free babysitting?
  • Are you giving as much as you can to charity? This week, Singletary advises thinking about whether you could you give more to support causes that are important to you.

I’ll stop there to leave room for days when you just want to reflect in your journal about your personal progress or challenges.  Please feel free to reflect on these questions and more in the comments section, in place of or in addition to your journal!

I’ll start: As I’ve confessed in the Green American in the past, buying books is my budgetary weakness. Number one, I have a lot of friends who are writers and make their living off of royalties, so the thought of supporting authors that I love through my purchases alleviates much of my reluctance to buy a book that’s new. Number two, I love books. I love the crack of a new binding when you open a book for the first time. I love the scent of fresh paper and the promise of a new, exciting story that’s going to keep me up into the wee hours of the morning. After a stressful day, I can often be found seeking relaxation therapy in a bookstore. Annnnnd, I’m often tempted to buy something new before I go.

I also love the PBS Masterpiece Classic series Downton Abbey–and I’m not a big TV watcher. Now that Downton Abbey is over until next year, I’m dying to read this book about Lady Almina, a countess who lived in Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey’s real-life setting) during the Edwardian period and beyond. Since the waiting list at my local library is quite long for this book, its very tempting to just buy it new.

Now, however, I cannot. And that is a good thing. I will not be financially supporting the author (who is a countess and likely doesn’t need the 25 cents she’d likely earn), but I will be supporting my desire to increase my savings accounts and indulge in less impulse spending. I will also be doing my part to save forests, since most paper books are published on virgin pulp. (Sigh.)

I’m not proud of this habit, but I’m confessing all because many of us with extra cash may have a bad habit or two to break. The fast is about changing habits like these, and about fostering gratitude for what you do have. Every time I don’t buy this book that I want, I think about how much I already have and how blessed I am to have it. To be truthful, that mindfulness has been making my “challenge” not so challenging. (More on that next week.)

What about you? What are your challenges in taking the fast, and how do you plan to overcome them? Do you have any thoughts on the other questions I’ve posted above? 

I’ll be waiting in the comments section, and come back next Monday for more Financial Fast inspiration/commiseration.

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