It’s Easy to Go on a Money Fast if You’re Full

You can skip the spending if you’ve already got the stuff.

So I think “spend less money” is right up there with “eat less food” as one of the top New Year’s Resolutions, and although I will always advocate for both thoughtful spending and eating (and sleeping and working and all of that, because if you’re going to do a thing, it’s worth thinking about why you’re doing it) I get a little skeptical when people start talking about going on a post-NYE “money diet” or “money fast.”

The thing about a money fast is that, like a food fast, it only really works if you start out full. As in: refrigerator full, dresser drawers full, gas tank or transit card full.

You need to have enough, already in your possession, to be able to go on a spending fast for a month.

And when the money diet is over, you’re probably going to buy a month’s worth of groceries in one weekend.

Obviously there’s something to be said for asking yourself “why am I buying X when I have Y just like it at home?” But even that presumes that you have Y just like it at home. There’s a difference between buying takeout because you’re just not feeling like eating the leftovers in your refrigerator (which can also be a valid choice, our bodies can in fact say “please stop feeding me the same thing, I need different things to be healthy”) and buying takeout because you haven’t had time to go grocery shopping because it’s been a busy week at work/because you have caretaking responsibilities/because you’re sick and you need sleep more/etc. etc. etc.

So when you see those “money fast” posts where people talk about making delicious casseroles from the cans of corn they found hidden in the dust on their pantry shelves, or where they discover that their closet is already full of great outfits that they never even wear, ask yourself if you have fashionable, comfortable, well-fitting clothes in your closet that you don’t already wear at least once every two weeks. Ask yourself if you have a pantry, much less a spare can of corn.

As I’ve said before: we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

If you don’t have enough stuff (or time) to do a money diet this January, that’s fine. Make a money resolution that works for you—or decide to not make one at all.

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