Spending Fast

Something I’ve found really interesting lately is looking at what I’m spending money on and exploring if it’s in alignment with what I care about most.  

Here’s what started it all:  There is this training that I came across it last week. When I saw it and felt into it I knew it was totally in alignment with me and what I am creating with my work.

But I didn’t have money set aside for a training of this magnitude.  The more I felt into it, the more I thought I’d benefit from it and it would be worth it in the long run to do it.  At one point I reflected on how I spend money and realized that if I gave up my eating out and kombucha habits (which have honestly gotten way out of control), I would be able to pay for the training.

This summer has thrown me off my regular game because I lead 4 retreats to the Apostle Islands, I’m preparing for the BWCA trip this fall, and I’m coordinating the Earth Medicine Women’s Gathering in early September.  It’s been a lot of travel and more computer work than I’m used to.  

So what happens is this: When I’m in town I like to set-up my camp at a coffee shop and restaurant and work for hours.  It’s nice because there aren’t my usual distractions, but I end up eating food that doesn’t feel good in my body and spending way too much money on it.  Honestly it has gotten way out of control.  I feel slightly embarrassed about this but well….I’m human just like everyone else.

And while these things aren’t bad and in moderation they can be relatively healthy for most of us, I’ve become rather dependent on these things.

So I’ve decided to do a “spending fast.” When most of us hear of fasting we think of it regarding food, but we can also fast anything in our life.  

There are two rules to money fasting:

  1. Make it an exploration rooted in love and exploration (not self hate)

  2. Don’t shame yourself when you mess up

The way I view fasting in general is an exploration of what it is like to do without this or that thing.  It’s important to recognize that whatever you're fasting isn’t typically anything inherently bad.  Fasting allows you to notice addictive behaviors and tendencies that you may not be able to see clearly or uproot under normal conditions.  It also can give you more freedom over these behaviors that have become very automatic.

The spending fast is very practical.  It often shows you what you can do without.  It becomes clearer what the sources of happiness really are (and are not).  And, if you do it right you’ll usually end up with more money in the bank (which is a nice outcome if you’re saving up for something).

So here’s how to do a spending fast Whole Life Elevation style:

  1. View your last credit card statement and identify things that you spend money on that don’t really add lasting value or joy to your life.

  2. Choose 1-2 things to go without for a period of time (a week for beginners, month if you’re hardcore). Things that aren’t necessary “good” for you are nice places to start. Like coffee, treats, unnecessary snacks, dining out.

  3. Explore what it’s like to go without. You might even keep a daily journal. Explore what it feels like to want something (coffee, soda, etc) and not act on it.

  4. When you have a craving for the “thing” let yourself feel the craving and realize you do not need to act on it. You are not your craving. This is freedom from the monkey mind. When you let yourself feel the craving without acting on it for 10 minutes or until it goes away, write down the money you saved (maybe on a notepad in your phone). At the end of the cleanse add up all the money you saved. You may be amazed!

  5. If you give into craving on your fast, notice that and feel it, but no need for shaming. Focus on the learning.

  6. When you’re finished with your fast completely. Do a victory dance! You’re awesome! You will notice the way you relate to your “thing” is totally different.

Like I said I’ve recently started this (started last week), and I plan to do this for actually 6 months—the length of the training I signed up for.  Here’s a little bit about what it has been like for me:

What I’m giving up: kombucha, out-to-eat (unless someone else is paying or essential biz meeting), and coffee (period).

Day 1:  Thought about buying kombucha about 20 times.  Went for a walk.  Craving was totally there.  Thought about going to the co-op to get a kombucha.  Went home instead and did yoga.  Felt energized.

Day 2:  Noticed some anxiety gone that was there before.  My system must be relaxing from not having coffee.  Wanting to do work at a coffee shop, but I  go to the library instead.  Got lots done.  Felt energized that I wasn’t a slave to my cravings.

Day 3: All-day weaving class at Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota (awesome!!).  Didn’t have much food to bring for sack lunch, so I packed greens and tomatoes (boring).  Totally exhausted after class (I literally think that class was harder than many of my college chemistry classes).  I want to go out for pizza, but it’s against the “rules.”  Ask boyfriend to take me for pizza and he says yes (awww).

Day 4: All-day weaving class again.  Too busy/tired to make anything for sack lunch, so I go to the co-op and get some grapes and kale salad (which I know is borderline out-to-eat, but I’m letting it slide).  Drink La Croix instead of kombucha.  Go out for burgers afterwards for a work thing.  Realize my body doesn’t do burgers and fries anymore….feel gross and can’t sleep.

Day 5: All day weaving class again.  Feeling energized from eating better foods (naturally) and drinking reishi mushroom tea instead of coffee which feels like it’s healing my whole body.  Pick up my CSA at Bang Brewery where they have wood-fired pizza.  Seriously contemplate getting some pizza.  Then decide I’ve been down that road and know where it leads. Instead go home and make some stir-fried vegetables.  Feels so nourishing to cook for myself and eat good food. Total victory!

Day 6:  Wake up feeling energized.  Feeling ready for a long yoga session by myself.  Body feels balanced, nourished and cared for.  Drink Reishi mushroom tea instead of coffee—don’t miss coffee at all.

Estimated money saved so far: $125.

So you see the cravings don’t go away completely (maybe over time they do…I’ll keep you posted), but over time energy and momentum can build and you are more able to resist the monkey mind. I will also say that I’ve done things like this many times and totally failed…needed to start over and over again.  This time I manage to be sticking to it so it made for a good blog post :-)

Try it and let me know in the comments what you gave up and how much you saved!