It’s June 27th and I’m sitting in my car outside the dog sitter’s house, crying over my AAA card.
I was supposed to be 100 miles into a road trip right now. Instead, I’m waiting for the tow truck – again – and realizing that it will cost me $1,200 to rent a car for two weeks over the July 4th holiday.
I guess I’m not taking a road trip. I guess I’m buying another car.
And that, my friends, is how I found myself doing a five-week Spending Diet + Earning Spree!
“What’s a Spending Diet? What’s an Earning Spree? Why were you trying to take a 2003 Ford Focus on a 1,200 mile road trip, Sarah?”
Thank you for asking, friend!
1. A Spending Diet is when you put yourself on a tight budget for a specific amount of time in order to reach a specific financial goal.
2. An Earning Spree is when you get very creative and tenacious about finding ways to bring in extra money in order to reach a specific financial goal.
3. MY MECHANIC TOLD ME IT WAS FINE OKAY.
I’ve been doing Spending Diets for years (re: most of my time in graduate school) but this was the first time I’d paired it with an Earning Spree. Here’s what I learned!
8 Things I Learned From Doing A 5-Week Spending Diet + Earning Spree
My goodness but this ish is effective
Because I believe that talking about money is a gift to everyone around you, I’m going to give you guys cold, hard numbers.
In the last five weeks I’ve spent less than $150 on fun, unnecessary things and I’ve brought in $5,467 extra income. That’s a lot of money! I mean, it’s a lot of money to me.
I’m generally quite good with money (I mean, I created a course about it, after all), but even I was surprised by this. It probably seems obvious, but putting yourself on a tight budget + taking initiative to earn extra cash = more money in your bank account! WHO KNEW.
I value things more when I pay for them in cash
File this one under “Dur” and “Psychologists figured that out a long time ago, Von Bargen.”
Be that as it may, I find myself more likely to wear items of clothing, use makeup, and read books when I had to count out cold hard bills to purchase them. Though I kicked most of my regrettable spending habits to the curb years ago, I’m more likely to carefully consider a purchase if I’m paying with cash.
I actually do *more* when I put myself on a Spending Diet
When I’m not on a Spending Diet I forget all about Minneapolis’s nearly-endless supply of free activities. Somehow all the free movies and music in the park slip my mind. Walker Free Thursdays? What’s that? Open mic nights? Never heard of ‘em.
When I’m trying to milk as much fun as I can from $30 a week, allofasudden I get more creative and more intentional with how I spend my time and money. Being on a Spending Diet gives me the nudge I need to actually take advantage of the myriad things I could do anytime. Constraint creates creativity: it’s a thing.
Sometimes money is less of a barrier than your mindset. Click To TweetRelated: 22 free (or cheap!) things to do when payday is far away
Living on a tight budget makes me a more empathetic human
While I’m not wealthy, when I’m not on a Spending Diet I don’t have to track my finances down to the penny. I can buy the fancy cheese at the fancy grocery store. I get the occasional pedicure.
Living on a tight budget for any amount of time is an excellent reality check. Did you know that the rise in the cost of living has outpaced income growth over the past 13 years? Median household income has grown 28% since 2003, but medical costs increased by 57% and food prices increased by 36%.
Did you know nearly half of “middle class” Americans (people who earn between $40,000 and $100,000 a year) would struggle to find an extra $400 for an emergency expense?
If you’re lucky enough that that’s not your reality, putting yourself on a Spending Diet will give you insight into how many people – regardless of their salary – live on a day-to-day basis.
Keeping cash in my wallet helps me track my behavior
I’m a super cool person who’s somewhat prone to overworking and under-spending. Earlier this month, when I was launching Make It Stick Habit School, I preeeetty much just worked, walked the dog, and ate leftovers. This is not the end of the world, but it’s also not a marker of good health or self-care.
Looking in my wallet and seeing the cash I hadn’t spent that week was a physical reminder of the world outside my laptop. It reminds me of all the things I could be doing, and OMG SARAH LEAVE THE HOUSE AND GO DO STUFF.
Weird things happen when you decide you want to bring in more money
Let me preface this by saying I do not particularly subscribe to the Law Of Attraction. I have a lot of feelings about The Secret.
That being said, one week after I decided I was putting myself on a Spending Diet + Earning Spree I sort of accidentally earned $1,300.
Some of this was money I’d been chasing for months and given up on. Some of it was unexpected affiliate payments. Some of it came from strangers hiring me for work that’s not even listed on my professional website.
Did I “manifest” this money? Did I place an order with the universe? Who knows!
But it’s probably never a bad idea to announce your intentions. You never know what might happen!
Doing work you don’t usually do might help you appreciate your ‘day job’
Part of my Earning Spree was doing things I don’t normally do to earn more money than I usually earn. I retired my ghostwriting services over a year ago but I decided I’d reach out to a few former clients as part of this Festival Of Earning.
And you know what? There’s a reason I retired my ghostwriting services. Those clients are so lovely! And the work they do is so important! And I’m so proud to be part of it!
Also: I’m exhausted, my well of creativity has been tapped dry, and I’ve been driven to googling physical therapy videos for my wrists, neck, and hands. Conceptualizing and writing a month’s worth of content for several different companies in two weeks is, uh, A LOT.
You can do anything for five weeks
Skipping dinners out, working extra long hours, rice-and-beans-ing it isn’t the most fun you’ll have this year. It’s also not the end of the world.
And a Spending Diet + Earning Spree has an end date! My goal was not to live on $30 a week for the rest of my life. My goal was to live on that amount for five weeks. My goal was not to work 60 hours a week forevvvvver. My goal was to work extra hard for five weeks.
Think about other things you’ve done for five weeks. You were The New Person at your job for five weeks. You’ve probably spent five weeks mourning a break up. You spent five weeks packing up one apartment and unpacking in another one. All those things suck way more than living on a tight budget and working a bit harder than usual! And you did them and lived to tell about!
Want to try a Spending Diet + Earning Spree for yourself? I created a 30-page workbook to walk you through the process, help you live on a tight budget without hating life + brainstorm ways to bring in extra money! It’s $17 so it won’t even cut into your fun budget!
Reboot your finances + fund your dreams for $17
I want to hear from you! Have you ever done a Spending Diet? Or an Earning Spree? If you have – how’d it go? Share your tips in the comments!
P.S. If you’d like support around money stuff, we have an awesome free Facebook group for that!