"See how long you can go without spending any money," the nice man on the podcast challenged. The man was Carl Richards and the podcast Behavior Gap, one of many channels through which Mr. Richards educates readers about money. As opposed to standard budgets where you plan how much to spend and then monitor expenses to ensure they do not exceed targets, the idea of this Transaction Cleanse was to see how long you could go without buying anything at all.
Now I've never been a big fan of traditional cleanses, since they usually involve replacing the very foods I want to eat with the very foods I don't... or, worse, nothing. If you ask me, the whole process bears a striking and unwelcome resemblance to prepping for a colonoscopy. Further, my experience suggests that this sort of deprivation only ends up being counterproductive, since it typically begets binging on the substance in question.
But despite its many food-related nicknames (bread, kale, cabbage, cheddar, clams, dough, lettuce), money isn't food, so maybe this kind of cleanse would deliver more beneficial results. And I was 100% convinced I would achieve Carl's stated goal: reset and increase awareness.
There's still one more reason I decided to take on this challenge. A former financial planner launching a new career as a personal finance writer, I am embarking today (yes, April Fools' Day) on an "April Writing Challenge" put on by Susan Weiner of Investment Writing. Reporting back on the results of my Transaction Cleanse, I suspected, would provide endless fodder for writing.