End of financial fast is beginning
of different economic living

So what happened to the end of the 21-day financial fast, you wonder?

I completed it. But more important, I paid attention to the things I learned on it.

I paid off my car (and am about to pay off one of the only two credit cards I have).

I do not buy anything major now without giving myself a week to think about it.

And I’m cleaning up my house and life, getting rid of all the crap and not replacing it with things I don’t need.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMWhen I began Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary’s 21-Day Financial Fast, I figured I’d save a few bucks, learn a few things and go back to business as usual.

I saved a lot. I learned more about myself than my money. And things will never be the same.

Example? I went to have my annual teeth cleaning. I’m a big baby at the dentist’s office. The hygienist said “You want nitrous (the wonderful gas, nitrous oxide that makes you not care that she’s in your mouth)? Rather than immediately say “Yes!”, I asked “How much?”

It was $40. I said no.


I needed a new wallet. I went shopping in my closet. I found one with the tag still on, and I have had great compliments on the style and color. I don’t even remember buying it.

My next task is to clean the garage, so I can take the stuff I have in storage and put it in the garage. That stuff has been there since April 2012 because I didn’t have time to deal with it. When I realized that the money I’d spent holding onto it would have paid for a trip to Paris, I got motivated.

checkbookSo I want to thank Michelle and the fast. And she’ll be happy to know that, unlike some people who might not have wanted people to know what they were doing, I talked to everybody. The best encouragement I got was a gift from a dear friend, who knew that I would be experiencing several special occasions occurring during the fast, including my birthday. She gave me a checkbook whose checks were actually dollar bills.

“Snack on these and stick to your fast,” she told me.

And the moderator at my church now wants our entire church council to do the fast and give the proceeds to the church.

Now that’s spreading the good word and good habits in a good way.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

Making Time Stay On Your Side

I didn’t need anybody to tell me that I was wasting time.

I’m trying to finish a project, which is, of course, the exact reason why I was watching the “Ten Cutest Videos of 2012” as collected by mashable.com.

But then, I had a second thought.

What if, rather than wasting time, I was taking command of it.

Sometimes, I thought, taking a break can be good for what ails you.  I’m an A personality who operates at 78 rpm all the time. It was only after I had surgery last February and was forced to stay in or near the bed for three weeks that I learned what operating at a more deliberate speed felt like.

And I liked it.

So now, when I map out my days – days filled with my day job (writing columns), my night job (finishing what I hope is the final rewrite on my novel) and my life jobs (the volunteer work I do for my church, my sorority and other organizations) – I remind myself that a little break doesn’t keep the work from happening. It just makes my brain function better.

Yeah, I know it sounds like an excuse to goof off. But it isn’t – if it’s only 15 minutes out of 10 hours.

So if you want to try it, I’ve got some cute pandas and beagles to show you. Break a leg on the work front, but on the way, take a minute to smile.