How to do a Spending Diet

how to do a spending diet

This week I’ve been thinking about how The Spending Diet should work. I thought I had it figured out and then I didn’t and then I did and well, I wanted to have a plan that would work for me for life. Not something that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. So. I think I’ve got it sorted out now and I’m ready to spill the details.

The other day I was talking with a pal I hadn’t seen in awhile and he’s all “I’m doing the budget thing too” and I’m all “Oh, I’m not budgeting” then he’s all “Yeah, you are.” Me, “No, not really I wasn’t spending any money at all.” Him “That’s budgeting.” Me “Uh, no it’s not”. Him “Uh”. Me “Uh”. Him “Uh”. And so on and so on for like 5 minutes maybe more, and then we said our “goodbyes” and that was that.

Since budgeting is something that I tried pre-Spending Fast and since I didn’t have success with it I never considered that what I was doing was a budget technique. I don’t know, maybe it is? Maybe it’s just the word that I don’t like. That is a possibility. It’s kind of like the word “networking”. That word is scary but that’s all that’s scary about networking. Anyway, that’s totally off the topic. So, for me budgets weren’t a fit. I don’t like the category thing and defining a certain amount for each category and then going over or under categories and what if a certain thing goes into 2 categories?! Then WHAt!? Then WHHAHHHHATTTT!!!?? PANIC!!

Budgets work for millions of people and that’s cool. There’s a ton of different ways to do the same thing.

Anyway, here is my Spending Diet plan that I don’t think of as a budget:

How to do a Spending Diet

1. Make list of my NEEDS. These are things like: shelter, phone, food, utilities, mortgage/rent. See my original Spending Fast Needs list here. I’m going to re-do this list. Re-evaluation is a good thing.

2. Out of my NEEDS list figure out where costs can be reduced.

3. Stop spending money. (simple but not easy!)

4. When a NEED from the NEEDS list pops up I’ll spend money on those. Those are NEEDS. Those are okay.

5. Since this is the Spending Diet and not the Spending Fast I am allowing myself a $200 $100 limit on “non-needs” for the month. Things that go into this section are things like: clothes, make-up, entertainment, dinner out, other random “non-needs” stuff. I’ll follow this criteria for purchases so I don’t go buck wild buying corn dogs and bubble gum.

6. I’ll keep a running monthly tally of the money I’m spending on “non-needs” and once the $200 $100 is hit then that’s it. I’ll stop spending money and go into the Spending Fast mode for the remainder of the month.

There you have it! My Spending Diet Guidelines!

With this plan I hope to have a life long livable plan that works for me. I’m hoping with this plan I will be able to live in the world of “Enough” and not feel the deprivation I felt with the Spending Fast and also I won’t feel the tedious-ness that a budgeted life makes me think of.

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


7 thoughts on “How to do a Spending Diet

  1. marianney

    great plan! i may have to follow it myself. a few years ago, i did a budget with all my needs and some not so needed things and then gave myself a weekly allowance. i took that out in cash so that i did not use my debit card for anything that wasn't on my budget. let me tell you, it's a lot harder mentally to whip out cash from your wallet than to whip out a card, because you see it dwindling in your wallet. makes you rethink your purchases, haha.

    of course i didn't keep on this budget for some reason or another. but i am getting back on the horse ;)

  2. fromCNN

    it would be great if you posted more facts about this "spending diet". As this was linked by CNN and now making the rounds I find the idea of a spending diet to eliminate debt to be completely unrealistic for most people living below the middle class line with credit card rates as high and as unregulated as they are. It would be helpful for you to post more details. Like what was your salary at the time? All you did was ride the bus? Did your husbands contribution to income allow you to just spend a marjority of your income on debt repayment?

    The elimination of wants is great common sense advice, but to imply that riding the bus and not occasionally spending money on a few "wants"(without disclosing the whole story and more facts) is somehow going to end their debt problems is at best, irrational, and at worst, irresponsible.

  3. Kath

    You have a great writing style and should write a book. I enjoyed the bit about the detergent. Will try it, because I don't like paying $7.00 for soap.

  4. anna

    Hi "fromCNN",

    Take a look at the About The Spending Fast & My Guidelines section if you would like more details about how it all "went down". Here's the link: Of course I did more than just ride the bus since I only saved $1,400-ish from riding the bus. My husband and I don't have a joint personal account so he didn't contribute to my savings or monthly income (other than my occasional moochiness). My blog is a documentation of how I did a Spending Fast for a year. I actually DID pay off all that debt from spending money on needs only. Specifics about how much I make don't really matter (I work as a clerk for the state as my day job so it's not much) I'm merely telling my story and saying how I paid off my debt. I hope my story can help some other people. You can search the archives and read all about it if you like.

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