4 Quick Ways to Detox Your Spending


If a juice cleanse helps reset your diet, could a quick financial fix do the same for your spending? For some people, the answer is yes. We peeked at the pocketbook strategies of folks who have managed to reboot their budgets:


“My husband and I moved recently, and we were basically hemorrhaging money to get the house put together,” says April Dawn of Richmond, Virginia. And shelling out so much on household items and furniture made it harder to stay prudent in other spending categories. So April laid down a challenge: Could they go seven days without spending a single cent? (Financial guru Michelle Singletary has a 21-day plan with followers nationwide.)

“We stocked the fridge, the paper towels, the tank of gas—all the day-to-day stuff we’d need to get through the week, and then we literally spent nothing,” she says. April had to keep the “fiscal fast” top-of-mind for the first few days, to make sure she didn’t spend on auto-pilot, but by the end of the week it felt natural. And when she and her husband got back to their budget, it seemed easier to stick to, she says.


There are plenty of apps and programs that will automatically track your spending, but how closely do you scrutinize those totals? Christina Arnberger from Chicago realized she needed to go analog if she was going to radically revamp her habits. She grabbed paper and pen and literally wrote down everything she’d spent in the past month, tallying expenses into major categories. “When I saw that I spent $900 in one month on groceries, that scared me enough to make me extra conscientious the next few times I went to the grocery store,” she says.


That $20 sweater seems like no big deal—until you realize your closet is stuffed with similar sweaters you never wear and your budget is weeping. When Chicago resident Rebecca Resman was looking to make over her spending habits, she didn’t scrutinize her bank account or receipts, but instead spent a weekend looking around her apartment. She donated, sold, or swapped all of the clothes that no longer fit, toys her two kids weren’t into, and random dishware she’d accumulated. “Seeing all of the purposeless garbage I got rid of inspired me to buy less stuff in the first place,” she says. And since the massive purge, she has indeed noticed a dip in her spending habits.


“When we need to dial back our budget, nothing beats cash,” says Angie Kooima of Villa Park, Illinois. And science backs her up: Studies show that people who pay with cash tend to spend less than those who pay with plastic.

When Angie noticed her family’s spending was spiraling beyond their monthly budget, she looked at how much they’d allocated for meals out, coffee runs, entertainment, and shopping trips, and then withdrew that amount from an ATM. “Everything but gas and groceries got purchased with that cash, and I knew that when it was gone, it was gone,” she says. Holding what was left of the budget in cold, hard cash made it easy to put that stray $10 or $20 into perspective—a perspective that’s lasted even when the family isn’t doing an all-cash cleanse, she says.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The U.S. Postal Service Is Struggling—Buying Stamps Can Help

Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Pope Moysuh, Unsplash

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have drastically reduced the number of advertisements and other marketing materials they’re sending to consumers—and since a considerable chunk of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) revenue comes from those large mailings, the ongoing crisis has put the organization in a tough spot.

The importance of keeping the USPS afloat goes beyond simply wanting to preserve something that’s been around since the dawn of U.S. history. As Lifehacker explains, the institution delivers mail to every single household in the nation—be it by truck, boat, or even mule—which makes it a critical method of circulating necessary documents like paychecks and voting ballots. Without the USPS, it would be difficult to reach rural residents who might not have consistent phone or internet service.

So, how can we help? The USPS doesn’t get any taxpayer funds, relying instead on the sale of stamps and various shipping supplies. In other words, the best way to put money into the pockets of our postal guardians is to stock up on stamps.

There are dozens of different designs listed on USPS’s online store, which makes this charitable endeavor an especially fun one. You can, for example, decorate your envelope with Sally Ride, Scooby-Doo, or celebrated broadcast journalist Gwen Ifill. There are plenty of fruits and flowers to choose from, too, and even a lovely illustration of Walt Whitman, complete with a very thick mustache and a very piercing gaze. And we’d be remiss not to mention the existence of this mail carrier dog costume, which only costs $18.

An American hero.USPS.com

If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can also sign a petition to save the USPS by texting “USPS” to the number 50409. A chat program called Resistbot will walk you through the steps to add your name, and it’ll even send an automated message to your senators, letting them know you’ve signed the petition and support the continued operation of the USPS. You will have to enter your name, email address, and residential address, but the whole process takes about two minutes.

[h/t Lifehacker]