45 Day Financial Fast
It’s July 31st 2008 and we (my husband and I) are fasting. Not from food or TV but from money, a financial fast so to speak. So, if you want to follow along, check out this blog daily. I will be updating our progress, struggles and successes.
So why the fast: We recently read the chapter on contentment from Tim Stafford’s book “Never Mind the Joneses”. It quickly began a family discussion about contentment. What does being content mean? Are we content? How do we gauge if we are content? Thanks to the reading we were really struck that contentment was a spiritual discipline, an idea that we had never thought about before. If contentment was a spiritual discipline then we realized we had a long way to go and a lot of things to learn.
From our reading we found that some ways to spur on a content spirit are by:
-Increasing Opportunites for Generosity (of our time, talent and treasure)
-Living Simply (not being cheap, but being simple)
-Family Fasting (this event)
-Counting our Blessings (being thankful)
We hope to increasingly incorporate these things into our lives in the next 45 days.
After a lot of talk about our possessions, our time and our money we found our biggest area of discontent, doing. As a family we “do” things for ourselves, selfishly, in order to be content. A lot of selfish doing for us includes indulging in treats (Starbucks, ice cream, spontaneous events out) which means we also indulge in spending. The amount may not be big and the event may not be large but we struggle with being satisfied with going to the park, sitting on the back deck or helpfully participating in the lives of others.
And the birth of the financial fast began. From now (July 31st) until our vacation (September 19th) we will not spend. For us not spending means that we will not be indulging in constantly “doing”. We hope to spend that time not spending/doing being productive with family time. If contentment is a spiritual discipline we need to focus on things of the spirit.
So here are some commitments we are making:
-We will spend on necessities (groceries, house payment, etc.)
-We will spend on events we have already committed to (a dinner with a friend, a Sunday brunch)
-We will replace “doing” with “being” - taking the time and money we spend doing things for ourselves to be something to others. This may involve being a family, being a better neighbor, being in prayer, etc.
-We will eliminate un-necessary things in our life - starting by cutting down the cable TV package we have. Do we really need 550 channels? Nope.
-We will say no to doing activities that focus on us and instead say yes to doing activites that focus on others.
-We will actively seek counsel from others and God’s guidance for this specific task of fasting and learning about contentment.
Tim Stafford encouraged:
“To produce contentment we need to battle. These battles are not won in church, though church has its role. They are won through a family culture that minimizes covetousness, cultivates generosity and encourages trust.”
11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.