Every summer, I make a bucket list of things to do with my two kids. This year, our plans took us on five incredible road trips, but it was a budget stretch, too.
We collected amazing memories exploring the Appalachian Mountains, touring Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and relaxing at an all-inclusive resort. But when the summer ended, budget reality set in.
To get back on a smart money routine, I decided to turn down the heat on my finances and embark on another journey: a one-week spending fast.
"A spending fast is a commitment to stop all unnecessary spending for a set period of time," says Megan Robinson, a personal finance expert at DollarSprout.
I'd heard about spending fasts before, but the idea of cutting out all non-essential spending seemed extreme. After all, I wasn't chronically overspending or skipping out on budgeting. I'd just overdone it a little on our summer travel.
Once I started researching, however, I realized that a spending fast can work for any financial situation. It's a great way to hit the reset button on your finances, put spending in perspective and instill some financial discipline.
"The best part about freezing spending for me is that saying 'no' becomes a no-brainer," Robinson says. "I also realized that there were areas in my spending plan I previously thought were fixed, but that were actually very flexible."
Here's what I learned from putting my spending on pause for a week.