WBEZ’s Natalie Moore on financial fasting | WBEZ
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WBEZ's Natalie Moore begins the 2011 financial fast!

The holidays are over and I feel like I need a financial cleansing. I'm embarking on a 21-day financial fast. No restaurants, fast-food, after work drinks, gifts, shopping or even window shopping. You can only buy the essentials: groceries, health/medicine, school and work supplies.

The fast is for people who are overwhelmed with debt and people like me - not debt ridden but want to curtail consumption. The new year has also brought about new expenses. Last year I did the fast and the exercise taught me to curb impulses. A few kind souls did take me out to dinner. There are plenty of creative ways to have fun especially in a city like Chicago. I look forward to taking advantage of the Art Institute's free days.

Once again I will be joined by my sister and some of her friends in the fast. A couple of my friends have decided to take part as well. The timing couldn't be better for my sister; in order to renew her vehicle registration today she had to pay off $400 parking tickets. She may not save as much money as she wanted during the fast, but a looming bill is now resolved. On a brighter note, someone is a taking her to the movies tonight.

I've already loaded up on lunch and snack food. Working in a food desert makes it hard to avoid the pitfalls of fast food. My picture is of the weekend Trader Joe's excursion. I have a long day today so I already cooked my dinner yesterday to eat late tonight. I plan to call Comcast and AT&T to reduce my bills, which probably means getting rid of some beloved services. A friend invited me out for another friend's birthday this Saturday night. I declined, citing the fast. The friend said drinks on her. Does that count?

Like last year, I imagine our intrepid web editor Justin Kaufmann will frequently weigh in on what is and isn't essential (editors note: You can count on it.) But I do anticipate some questions arising from all of us and would love our readers to weigh in. And if you feel so inspired, join us in the fast.

There's one expense I know I can't avoid - the parking meters.

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