Getting your spending habits under control is never easy. Neither is quitting a bad habit cold turkey. Finance blog Money Crashers suggests a middle ground: go on a three week financial fast to help kick some bad habits and learn your budgetary problem areas.
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The idea of the financial fast is not to permanently break any particular habits (though you may decide to stick with a couple when you're done), but to give yourself a chance to see what really matters. So, the site says, take a few weeks and cut back to the bare necessities:
Make It Last for 21 Days. Three weeks is a perfectly reasonable period of time to cut back on your wants and focus only on your needs. If you commit for less time, you may not really absorb the benefits of a fast and the transformative effects it can have on your financial habits. However, a longer period could put your resolve and willpower to an unreasonable test.
Only Purchase Needs. Unless you absolutely need it to survive, don't buy it during your fast. That eliminates trips to the hair salon, happy hour at the bar, restaurant dinners, movies, online purchases, and even birthday presents for your best friends. Instead, your money should only go toward food, housing, medication, and other necessities.
We all have those indulgences that kill our budgets and a financial fast should help highlight what they are, in addition to breaking us away from the routines that leave us stuck there. Plus, at the end, you'll have a better sense of which unnecessary purchases you really don't want to live without. It's not a cure-all for your financial woes, but it can help you on the journey.
How to Use a 21-Day Financial Fast to Improve Spending Habits [Money Crashers]