Should You Go on a Financial Fast?

Cutting nonessential spending is a challenge many Americans will tackle in the new year.

Business professional man holding a Piggy Bank in his arms
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[See: 10 Ways to Cut Your Spending This Week.]

Belsky uses another strategy to curb mindless spending: If you see something you want to buy, allow yourself to buy it the next day if you still want it. "You can imagine that nine out the 10 things that I think I wanted, the next day I think, 'I don't need this,'" he says. "The key is to not tell yourself 'no,' but 'not today.'"

Dietary fasts are sometimes touted as a way to drop weight quickly, but Singletary sees a financial fast as a starting point rather than a quick fix. "You didn't get into debt in 21 days, and you won't get out of debt in 21 days," she says. "The most successful diets are the ones that are about changing your lifestyle. A diet will help jump-start you, but the true test is have you changed things so that you can do with your money what you say you want to do with your money?"