No. of Recommendations: 76
Exactly four weeks ago on August 31, I posted a request for tips on doing the Cash Diet.

I had been over budget every month since June, often midway through the month. Since I received a fixed income direct deposit within the first week of every month, this was cause for significant concern. Being overbudget means that though I took care of critical expenses every month immediately (rent, utilities, tax payments), expenses was going to discretionary expenses that I rarely wrote down, often did not plan and were impulsive. Usually this meant I sacrificed through my food budget and sometimes delayed payment to non-essential bills. And did not do things like laundry, did not replace household consumables (including detergents, toilet paper), and anything else. My bank accounts usually had less than $10 in it and I was being hit with monthly low usage fees. The straw that broke the camel's back was in mid-August when I was hit with a $35 overdraft charge to checking because I did not do a direct withdrawal from my savings account immediately to cover an expected expense to my checking account. All my accounts, every month, would be down to less than $5 each, more typically as low as $1 or less after monthly charges. In other words, as I waited desperately for my direct deposit in the beginning of each month I had ended the previous month with cumulative totals (savings account, checking account, and cash on hand) from less than $3 to $10 a month.

My Cash Diet started immediately after the Labor Day weekend. My use meant that almost all my fixed and expected expenses were paid by electronic bank payments and planned credit/debit card payments. Any cash expenses were thought out in advance and written down.

The results so far.

As of this morning, I have $142.64 in my savings account, $35.10 in my checking account, and $2.53 in my wallet.

I caught up with some other expenses that I had been putting off.

My refrigerator is adequately stocked with food and staples. I have been cooking lots of healthy and filling meals all month. Even with an unexpected guest for several days, I had more than enough food. Right now, I have a hearty amount of leftovers to pick from as well as fresh ingredients.

And last, though highly subjective and impossible to quantify, I did not feel inadequate or deprived at all.

I still have a week to go before my next direct deposit, but I feel very comfortable and secure for the first time in a long time. I am genuinely amazed. All it took - not that it is as simplistic as that sounds - was planning, tenacity, and determination. But I did it.

Thank you for being here.

Lois Carmen D.
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