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How to budget: Author shares what ‘financial fasting’ is and how it can help you can save thousands

A personal finance author has shared a three-step tactic to help you save money each month. 

Frances Cook, from New Zealand, explained the concept of ‘financial fasting’, which involves living frugally for one week per month. 

‘If you struggle with saving money, sometimes it’s better to do it in short sprints. So financial fasting might be for you!’ Frances wrote on Instagram. 

The method aims to help people learn how to budget and avoid blowing their income on unnecessary spending.

New Zealand personal finance author Frances Cook (pictured) has explained the concept of ‘financial fasting’ and how it can save you money

The method aims to help people learn how to budget and avoid blowing their income on unnecessary spending

The method aims to help people learn how to budget and avoid blowing their income on unnecessary spending 

Start by calculating the ‘bare minimum’ you can live on for one week – which includes a ‘very basic’ grocery shop, bills, rent or mortgage repayments, and any other necessary expenses. 

Then block out one week of every money for your ‘financial fast’. 

‘Live off that bare minimum, try not to spend anything extra that week. Keep social plans to a minimum,’ Frances said.

Ensure the money that’s been saved is put into an online savings account and don’t touch it. 

‘Go back to your normal life for the rest of the month, knowing you’ve done something good for yourself,’ Frances said.

Some many prefer implementing this money fast the last week before being paid or the first week after being paid.

After sharing the money method on Instagram many seemed eager to give it a go, while others claim they’ve been doing this ‘for years’ because ‘it works’.

‘Omg this is so smart!!!! Definitely trying this!’ one person wrote, another said: ‘Love this challenge idea. Tough! But anything is possible.’

‘We call this no spend week, no additional spending apart from fixed expenses i.e. bills/food etc. It’s a game changer,’ a third added.

What is money fasting?

Money fasting involves only spending money on necessities – such as groceries, utilities, rent or housing, and transport to work

It also involves cutting out all other expenses

How to use the tactic: 

1. Calculate the minimum spend you can live off for one week

2. Block out one week every month and live off that bare minimum. Avoid social occasions where you’re likely to spend money 

3. Put the money into a savings account and don’t touch it

Previously Frances shared how to save for a 20 per cent house deposit faster and why investing in the stock market is better than accumulating money in a savings account. 

At the moment it can seem daunting or impossible for first home buyers to enter the property market, but the best thing Frances recommends is ‘not panicking’ and thoroughly consider your financial goals. 

‘Depending on your goal in life, buying a home can actually hold you back,’ she previously told FEMAIL, adding: ‘Putting together a house deposit of $100,000 can feel impossible, and may lead some people to give up.’

Those wanting to buy a house or rent in an area closer to a major city may wish to consider investing in stocks – an avenue Frances deems to be ‘doable’ and an option that works ‘for all stages of life’.

‘You can use stocks to build up a level of financial independence that lets you securely rent forever, or you can use it to help to you build up a deposit,’ she said.

Previously Frances shared how to save for a 20 per cent house deposit faster and why investing in the stock market is better than accumulating money in a savings account

Previously Frances shared how to save for a 20 per cent house deposit faster and why investing in the stock market is better than accumulating money in a savings account 

‘Rather than frantically putting your money into a savings account and watching house prices keep going higher while you struggle to keep up, you can put it into stocks instead,’ Frances said.

‘Stocks have actually increased more in value over the last ten years than housing has, so it can help you keep up.’

Unlike property that requires a large lump sum deposit, investing in stocks and shares gives the individual the freedom to choose the figure for themselves. 

Frances said online investing platforms, such as Raiz, FirstStep and Spaceship, allow users to start for as little as $5, which is perfect for beginners. 

‘The only trick is a long-term strategy; stocks can go up and down a lot over ten years, even if you eventually come out ahead,’ she said.

INVESTING PLATFORMS IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND FOR BEGINNERS 

Spaceship Voyager is an Australian financial services company offering investment and superannuation products, specifically designed to engage younger people

The platform is fee-free for balances less than $5,000 and will cost 0.10 per cent per year over that

In only three years, 100,000 Australians have begun investing with Spaceship 

Raiz is another platform that allows Australian customers to micro-invest the remaining round up of everyday purchases in exchange traded funds 

‘If you put your money into an index fund, then you’re spreading your investments across lots of different companies from the very start, which is something most experts recommend,’ Frances said

‘Don’t feel bad about starting with only a little bit of money – it lets you get a feel for what you’re doing, and you’re less likely to panic when the market inevitably goes down.’ 

While some may consider investing in stocks to be a ‘risky’ option, Frances said there can be more benefits than investing in property or opting to not invest at all. 

‘Choosing between property and stocks is a bit like choosing between chocolate and vanilla – different people prefer different things for different goals,’ she said.

‘The big problem is that a lot of people can’t get any chocolate right now, because saving up $100,000 minimum is a huge goal.

‘Meanwhile being able to start with $5 investing in shares lets you figure out how you want to invest, and you’ve got less on the line if something goes wrong.’

FRANCES’ TOP FIVE BUDGETING TIPS 

1. Keep a money diary – write down everything you spend then note down what you truly needed to spend on (food, rent, petrol, etc), and also whether it made you happy. A budget won’t work if you try to cut out what makes you happy.

2. Cut out what you don’t need – this may include online shopping, a certain food or luxury

3. Consider your big expenses – for the average person, 60 per cent of spending is for large expenses. The areas of biggest spending also have the most potential for savings. Can you change your housing? Are you willing to ditch the car one day a week?

4. Consider smarter spending – if you love going to cafes, but usually just for the atmosphere and company, meet a friend for coffee instead of brunch to save money 

5. Don’t bother wasting money trying to impress people – we’re all the main character in our own lives, so it’s easy to think other people are watching what we do more than they are. Spend for things that you enjoy, and can afford. Cut the rest


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