So you’ve decided to purge yourself from past financial mistakes and save some money by going on a spending fast. Easier said than done, right? What happens if you’ve lost momentum, or are finding that your goals have started to fall by the wayside? Here are ways you can get back on track once you’ve fallen off the bandwagon:
Step 1: Figure Out Weak Points
“First, ask yourself why you got off track,” says Jen Hayes of Frugal-Millennial.com. “Did an unexpected expense come up? Were you having a bad day and felt the urge to splurge?” Or maybe you had some out-of-town visitors and spent money on things you normally wouldn’t? Try to figure out the cause and triggers for why you might have fallen off track.
Step 2: Forgive Yourself
“After that, forgive yourself and move on,” suggests Hayes. There’s really no point in beating yourself up over it. Just own your mistakes and spend some time reflecting on the struggles you’ve faced. Everyone slips up sometimes and no one is perfect. Just remember that It’s a process, and give yourself kudos for having the will to commit to it in the first place. “Don’t get discouraged; it’s never too late to start over again,” says Hayes.
Step 3: Make Tweaks to the Original Plan
Spend some time reassessing the fast and monitor your progress. It’s important to be honest with yourself. Sometimes we may get the details wrong, so you might want to check your spending patterns through your transaction history on budgeting apps. If you’re a credit union member, you can also look at your spending history through Sprig, which helps you manage all your accounts in one place.
A big part of a financial purge is learning more about your spending habits and behaviors, and you might be surprised at what you discover. Maybe you found it more difficult to stick to your fast during the holiday months, or noticed a spike in spending right after getting a paycheck.
One thing you could change is to allow yourself more “jail-free cards” than before, or you might fare better by shortening the length of the fast. Another thing you could try is to give yourself check-in points. For instance, if your fast was intended to be year long, do a quick check-in every three months or and give yourself an informal progress report.
Step 4: Recommit to Your Goals
After you spend some time evaluating your behaviors and making slight modifications to your plan, make a pact with yourself to stick things out. Outline your goals and the rules of the spending fast. How long were you originally supposed to go on the fast? If it helps, jot it down somewhere and do another check-in with yourself down the line.
Step 5: Partner Up With a Buddy
It’s much easier to stay accountable to your goals if you have a buddy to help you through. You can also use it as an opportunity to bond with your friend by talking about why you’re committing to the fast in the first place. You can also exchange tips on how to save money. Maybe it’s to rid yourself of bad spending habits and get a new start. Or maybe you’re trying to focus on paying down debt so you can really start to save for that emergency fund or to save up to buy a car.
If you ever need help with your long-term financial plans, you can also reach out to your local credit union, where you can sit down with someone and who can provide you with information and tips on helping you with your goals.
Going on a spending fast takes a lot of discipline and willpower. Even if you’re steered off track, it’s not too late to recommit and get back on the bandwagon. By taking a few easy steps, you’ll get back on course in no time.