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The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom Paperback – January 7, 2014
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About the Author
Michelle Singletary writes an award-winning personal finance column for The Washington Post called "The Color of Money," which appears in more than one hundred newspapers across the country. The author of two other books, Singletary has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including Oprah, The Today Show, The Early Show, The View, Meet the Press, CNN, MSNBC, Nightline, Tavis Smiley, NPR, The Diane Rehm Show, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and Yolanda Adams Morning Show. Her television program, Singletary Says, can still be seen on TV One. To learn more visit www.michellesingletary.com or www.washingtonpost.com/michelle-singletary.
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I learned a ton participating in the fast - not just about finances and how to manage them better, but about me and my habits, many which are not beneficial to healthy finances. Those things can be sneaky, and Michelle does a great job giving examples of what those might be.
I've decided that I'm doing a quarterly financial fast to keep myself on track as I continue to exercise newly found financial muscles. That may taper off to 2 or 3 times a year, but I found so much benefit, that I want to continue to challenge myself to be a better steward of my resources. Plus the other cool thing about this process is how creative a person can be in saving money. I actually had fun.
And a side note - a lot of this is difficult. My difficult areas may not be yours and vice versa. Give it a try, and hang with it for the 21 days. See how well you do. Subscribe to Michelle's Color of Money (Washington Post) column electronically; she'll announce when she's doing the next fast. In the meantime, there's a lot you can do yourself. And if you choose to wing it, her Financial Fast videos are available on YouTube, so you don't have to go it alone.
A final note - I cut my monthly credit card bill down by 50% during the fast, and have consistently cut at least 1/3+ out in the months following. We always pay it off, but when you put a lot on the card, it shortchanges other areas. Tired of shortchanging my savings and my retirement funds. Tired of shortchanging other areas of my life. And now that I have the tools and support - I know where Michelle's videos are - I'll continue exercising my new financial freedom muscles.
It's worth it. There are a ton of studies about this, many quoted in the book, but from an anecdotal perspective: using cash really changes the way I spend (even to this day) and forcing yourself to THINK about your purchases for 21 days just really changes my mindset. That's why I do it again every new year; it's like a "reset" to me.
It's over four years since I first did the fast (I have done it at least once a year since, but sometimes I've done it several times a year when I find a friend who wants to do it but needs support - it definitely helps to have someone with whom to check in), and I am happy to report that in 2016 I became 100% debt free, and honestly, it's only because of this book. I do not think I would be debt free today had I not found this and taken to it. I paid off my credit card debt, my student loans, a personal loan from a family member, and I now even am building savings, for the first time in my life and definitely for the first time in my immediate family. I'm saving now to hopefully one day buy a house, which would be the first time in my life to live in a place that is not rented.
I do wish she would write a secular version of this book, because I always feel weird recommending it to people (and have to give them the SFC caviat), but I am not kidding at all when I say that she changed my life, changed the way I think about money, and has become the financial role model I never had, that helped me to become (what I think of as) a real adult, a financial grown up.
Of course the point of the book in its entirety is to read it and do the journaling exercises which again I, as a woman of faith ---though not the same as the author, personally had no issue with--- but if the mere appearance of the word God is a bridge too far for you then you will be missing out on the sound financial advice that is contained within these pages.