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Rid Yourself of Costly Toxins with a New Year’s Financial Cleanse

Man looking at phone doing a financial cleanse

Ever tried a detox diet, fasting or a cleanse? Touted by celebrities and health gurus alike, reducing your dietary intake for a set amount of time is believed by some to bring big benefits that range from enhanced mental and spiritual clarity and improved circulation to a general feeling of lightness and rejuvenation.

Given the state of most American’s financial health—from a lack of adequate savings to ever-growing debt—now might be just the time to start the New Year with a financial cleanse. Consider one of these for starters:

1. The Financial Freeze

Before the month begins, determine what essentials you absolutely have to buy and commit to not spending a penny more. This may mean no new shampoo if you have samples tucked away in the bathroom, no new underwear if there’s a pile in the hamper, and no fresh veggies if there’s broccoli collecting ice crystals in the freezer.

As the weeks go by, you may just be surprised at the amount of stuff already at your disposal: half-used rolls of tape, cleaning solutions shoved under the sink, phone chargers and headphones heaped in a tangle. Why bring more things into the house when there’s enough already there? Now that’s a cleanse!

2. The Pantry Purge

Keep January’s grocery bill to the absolute minimum by challenging yourself to make use of all the canned and boxed food that’s already in your cupboards. Of course you’ll have to buy perishables and essentials. Baby formula, milk and fresh produce come to mind. Ice cream treats and sodas? Not so much. (Here’s hoping you’ve got some canned pineapple or peaches in there.) Not only will you spend less, you’ll avoid wasting that sack of rice and old BBQ sauce nearing its expiration date. You’ll also get a handle on how to cook with less.

3. The Booze Banishment

Movements like Dry January in Europe were prompted by a growing concern about alcohol consumption. Surveys now show that those who refrained from drinking for a month after weeks of (often excessive) holiday cheer reported enjoying better quality sleep and a noticeable weight loss. They also experienced less rebound drinking upon starting up again.

Ever notice how much heftier your food bill is at the end of a night drinking out? Not drinking is a no-brainer when it comes to financial diets. Take a month off the sauce and nurture your health and your wealth.

4. The Debit Card Diet

For one month, leave your debit and credit cards at home and buy everything with cash. This doesn’t just apply to entertainment and meals out. This also means shelling out cash for everything from groceries and gas to that flat screen TV you’ve had your eye on. You are sure to be prompted into mindful spending every time you open your wallet or make yet another trip to the ATM. Research shows you also are likely to spend much less.

5. The Fast Food Fast

For one month, challenge yourself to prepare everything you eat and drink with provisions from the grocery store. That means: no take out, no coffees or lunch trips to the deli.

You’re not necessarily talking a month of rice and beans here. This can be a palatable commitment if you allow yourself to purchase and make foods you really enjoy. Take the opportunity to explore new recipes, splurge on your favorite fruits and vegetables and purchase spice combinations you’ve wanted to try.

Depending on how often you eat out, this could save you a lot or a little. Either way, watching yourself shop for and prepare an entire month’s worth of meals promises to deliver long-term inspiration and encouragement.

6. Moneyless Mondays

If an entire month of spend-free days feels overwhelming, take a page from the Meatless Money campaign and pick a just one day of the week when you won’t spend any money. After a weekend of socializing, errands and the occasional splurge, restart your work week on a spend-free 24 hours.

No cleanse requires an extreme lifestyle change for the rest of your life. Instead, the point is to discover previously unnoticed habits about yourself, bring about a feeling of a fresh start and adopt better financial habits going forward. Remember: the end game is to become more mindful about what you purchase and why. Now brush off those old pens and forgotten pads of paper in the back of your drawers and make a plan!