Could You Survive A Week On $20? Preparing For A “$20 Cash Crash Diet 5-Day Challenge”

November 14, 2014  |  

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and saw something that, at first glance, I did not recognize. I pulled it out from the mélange of shoe straps and hangers to see what it was.

It was a cognac-colored Coach bag that I bought four years ago that I swore up and down would be that bag—the bag that I would and could rock with anything.

That bag that I would love and cherish and keep for at least 10 years.

Umm… that would be a negative.

Looking at it at the bottom of the closet revealed that I was living a four-year damn lie.

It was apparent that I neither needed the bag nor wanted the bag. It was also apparent that the $460 plus tax that I gave to Coach was far from being well worth the purchase.

So, this closet spelunking got me really thinking about one of the most fundamental precepts of personal finance: knowing the difference between a need and a want.

In fact, the bottom of my closet spoke volumes about how I failed to internalize this concept. So I decided to limit my discretionary spending to no more than $20 next week, Monday through Friday.

I have called it the “$20 Cash Crash Diet 5-Day Challenge.” Here are the rules:

-The $20 Cash Crash Diet 5-Day Challenge will not include the cost of necessities like groceries, hair appointments, and transportation.
-It will include, however, the cost of eating out, impulse buys at convenience stores, manicures, pedicures and online shopping for books, which (as you know) are one of my biggest weaknesses.

So, in preparation for my $20 Cash Crash Diet 5-Day Challenge, here is what I am planning to do:

1.Look at my bookshelf for books that I have yet to read. Going to the library to borrow books is not possible for me because I need to write in my books in order for me to get the most out of my reading experience.

2.Leave my credit cards at home. I’ve been doing this for the past two months and it has worked miracles for curbing my unplanned expenses.

3.Withdraw my $20 bill or in two $10 bills. Having cash makes me want to spend it less. When I actually have fewer bills (one $20 bill vs. 20 single dollar bills), it tricks me into thinking I don’t have that much.

4.Carry tea bags to work with me. One of my biggest unnecessary purchases is the tea that I buy on the way to work. I already have the type of tea that I buy outside in my house. It makes no sense that I am paying probably triple the price for someone else’s hot water.

5.Prepare all of my outfits at the beginning of the week. This helps me gauge when I will have to do laundry.

6.Decide which meals I will have at home. Twenty dollars will give me a little wiggle room to eat out. It just won’t let me eat often or for much. So, the question then becomes, “Which meal is most cost-effective to have at home?”

7.Bring a thermos so I can refill on the water at work. Bottled water is the devil. It siphons your money. Bringing a thermos so I can fill up at work can keep me from frittering away my dollars.

8.Go to bed earlier and stay off of social media and the internet. Nighttime is the hardest for me when it comes to online shopping at Amazon. Figure out your triggers and find ways to work around them.

9.Unsubscribe to my favorite online bath and beauty mail lists. I am addicted to Carol’s Daughter Brown Sugar body scrub. I always wait until it is on sale to buy it, but I know that I can make my own if I really wanted to.

The Cash Crash Diet 5-Day Diet Challenge begins on Monday, November 17th. If you want to challenge yourself, share your setbacks, and triumphs, receive some support from your fellow sistergirl, join my closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group.

Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista. She is also the author of the ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan. You can download it for free here. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista.

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