One of the few shows I make sure I watch is Survivorman. For those who are unfamiliar with this show, it is about a man who strands himself in different locales all around the world with just his camera equipment and a few random items for seven days. He then documents his survival, educating the viewers on what to do, and what not to do, in a survival situation.
He sometimes goes for days without food or water, often hardly finding anything at all to eat or drink.
While stranding oneself guarantees motivation to survive, I am still in awe of his willpower.
This got me thinking about willpower and how it is a major component in getting your spending habits under control. Then I thought, why not apply Survivorman techniques to personal finance.
For seven days, survive on the smallest amount of money as possible while saving what you do not spend. Here are a few guidelines.
Get your family involved. The best way to stay on track is with others. Have your family help you when you feel like giving in. Better yet, make it an adventure for the whole family and have them join you. Afterwards, talk about what you miss and what you did not. Were there things that everyone could agree to remove?
Make a pre-survival, document of what you normally spend. To learn more about your spending habits, document how you spend your money before you make you survival attempt. This will provide a good comparison afterwards and help illustrate where you can cut spending.
Document what you give up. Just as Survivorman uses cameras to document his survival, document yours. You can use a camera if you want, but a notepad will do just as well. Remember, this is a learning experience.
Avoid anything that is not a necessity. Of course, pay the bills that need paying, but avoid the stop for a donut on the way in to work, or that drive to run an errand on lunch that can wait until later.
Eat less. I am not talking about just do not eat out. Take smaller portions and take the leftovers for lunch. On the other hand, freeze them for another day. In addition, with many Americans being overweight, the weight loss will be a bonus.
Be creative. Figure out alternatives to situations where you normally pay. Carpool instead of driving alone. Take your lunch instead of going out. Play a game with your family instead of going to the movies. These suggestions are not anything new, but this exercise may spark your imagination.
Since we are not talking life or death, try and make it last longer. Seven days is a good starting point, especially if this seems difficult. It is after all only seven days out of 365. But if you can, try it for a whole month. This will provide you with additional information to combat your bad spending habits.
Image courtesy of Maurye