Your Financial Diet

In a previous post, I mentioned you should treat your personal finances like you would your business finances. That means keeping track of every penny you spend. Are you allowed to forget the $1.25 in change you spent on an ice cream cone last week? Of course, but don’t make it a habit. Those pennies add up!

Well, in taking my own advice, I had been sitting on a small box full of receipts I meant to input into my personal system and tally up. I won’t say how far back they went, but I will say a good way to keep your receipts is to dump them into a shoe box during the month. At the end of the month, tally them all up and file them away. Anyway, as I sat there inputting the numbers, I took notice of what my spending habits had been since I last did this. I had eaten out or bought lunch a lot more than I budgeted for and it clearly showed in my tabulations. So, I thought to myself what can I do differently over the next period in order to reign in my expensive food consumption?

The result? I’m going on a 30 day Financial Diet! And, I challenge you to go on it with me! Here is how it will work:

For the next 30 days, I have decided I will not buy fast food. Every meal I eat will either be home cooked or someone else is going to buy it for me. Since I don’t expect that to happen often, I know my spending and fast food consumption will go down drastically. A double positive.

For the next 30 days, I won’t buy any candy or buy soda (pop). I’ll only drink water and juice. More importantly, I’ll buy my water in bulk from the grocery store so I won’t pay for over priced bottles from vending machines and corner stores. I won’t even be afraid to refill the same water bottle whenever its empty and I know where a water fountain is close by.

For the next 30 days, I won’t go out to dinner more than twice. When I do, I won’t spend more than $25 each time. I’ll save both trips for two weekend days so I feel like I’m still getting out. Again, if its on someone else’s dime it doesn’t matter how often I go. But this is a critical cut back because dining out can easily run you $50-$75 a trip for two.

For the next 30 days, I won’t spend more than $20 on alcohol. Sound impossible? It may be depending on how much you drink. But the financial savings is worth the sacrifice. I’ll remind myself how to have a great time even when I’m not under the influence.

For the next 30 days, I will make a conscious effort to buy all of my food from the grocery store. By focusing on grocery shopping, I will help eliminate the prospect of desiring to make expensive food purchases on the sheer strength of readily available food in my refrigerator.

That sums up my financial diet. Will it be tough to adhere to? Of course, that’s why I suggest you undertake it with a friend. For the next 30 days, talk with this friend nightly so you two can compare expenditures. You don’t have to tell that person everything you bought, but you do need to tell them whether or not you stuck to the financial diet. Also, you want to discuss how you felt when you made each purchase for the day. Where you tempted to buy more or did you only buy exactly what you needed? Do you feel your attitude toward spending is changing? How does your energy level feel? As you two discuss the questions, let the conversation roll and see what ideas transpire in the process.

Lastly, I feel compelled to tell you no diet is easy. Never has been and never will be. A diet requires you to sacrifice the things that are unhealthy for you and your lifestyle and the things that take away from your daily efforts to get to the places or the level you want to get to. But the payoff is well worth it and I hope you succeed as we embark on the 30 Day Financial Diet.

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