Forgive Me Father for I Have Splurged

Sponsored by RBC Advice Centre

Christians have Lent, Jews have Yom Kippur, and Muslims Ramadan. For all three holidays, followers give up food as a form of penitence and spiritual purification. But what if your transgression happens to be overspending the almighty dollar?

According to recent figures from Statistics Canada, the ratio of household debt to disposable income is at 163.4 percent and rising – meaning, on average, we’re spending $163 for every $100 we make. That might okay short-term and as long as borrowing costs are low, but sooner or later the piper must be paid.

Meticulous budgeting helps but, let’s face it, gents:  we’re more likely to watch a Sex and the City marathon with the one we love than make itemized lists of everything we spend on. And even if we do, we’ll end up slipping back into our old habits anyway.

That’s where a fast from splurging comes in. Instead of trimming a little all the time, how about cutting back cold turkey for a day or two once in a while? Sort of the old “pull off the Band-Aid fast versus slow” trick. In other words, abstain one weekend a month, or one day a week, every week or so. No spending. Nada. Nein. None.

• No eating out, no coffee shops, no bars — you only munch on what’s in your fridge or pantry

• No movies – read books or magazines you haven’t gotten around to, write, paint, knit (we don’t judge), visit family or friends (but don’t mooch their stuff, that’s cheating!)

• No driving – gas is money, parking is money, public transit is still money, so walk or ride a bike

• No shopping – go hiking, go swimming at your public pool, sleep in

If you’re really serious, turn on as few appliances or lights as possible and turn off your mobile phone – minutes and data are, lets be honest, money.

While a daily fast once a month may only reduce your spending by a measly 3.3 percent, it’s really the act of fasting itself that has the most profound impact. It helps focus on how we’re spending our hard-earned cash.

So pick a day and don’t pay. Can I get an amen?

Image by iStockphoto.

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