Color of Money: Want to save more money? Try these three financial fasts

Michelle Singletary on

"We waste so much money on clothes," Little said. "I had 15 pairs of black shoes, 12 pairs of brown shoes and enough underwear to last me for 90 days. If I calculated how much I've wasted on clothes, I'd get depressed."

So, for the next year, Little has vowed not to buy clothes for himself. Nothing. And, whenever he is tempted to shop, he plans to figure out how much he might have spent and add that amount to the money he and his wife are saving in the college funds for their two children. Or, they'll make extra principal payments on their mortgage.

Finally, as I do every year, I invite you to try the 21-day financial fast. For three weeks, you can't buy anything that is not a necessity. You continue to pay your bills as usual. Of course, you still get your prescriptions and only purchase food you absolutely need. But you can't eat out. You can't go to the movies. You can't get your hair done. (Ladies, did I lose you on that one?) Don't even browse your favorite online shopping sites. Shut it all down. The goal of the 21-day financial fast is to stop unnecessary spending.

One couple who did this fast realized they were spending more than $1,000 a month just eating out. They are now taking this savings and applying it to their credit card debt.

Several people have started Facebook groups and invited folks to do the fast together. Google "21-day financial fast" and click the link for videos you'll find at There's a video for each day of the fast to help you stay on track.

If you decide to try one of these fasts, let me know how you do. Send me updates on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or to

Any one of these fasts can help you establish a habit that, once formed, will make it easier for you to become a better money manager all year long.


Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook ( Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group


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