Much like a health cleanse can flush harmful toxins from your system, a financial cleanse eliminates bad money habits, giving you a clean slate financial foundation on which to rebuild. It’s a fresh start that won’t have you running to the bathroom every few minutes, if you catch my drift.
So, who can benefit from a financial cleanse? Anyone who wants to revitalize their finances can take steps to analyze their money habits and reset them. Whether you’re struggling to rein in your debt, lack a clear financial roadmap to save for retirement, or just want to work on your money management skills, a financial cleanse might be just what the doctor ordered.
What is a financial cleanse?
Sometimes also called a financial detox or financial reset, a financial cleanse aims to evaluate and improve your habits and behaviors where money is concerned to enhance your overall financial wellness. Even if you haven’t made any dire money mistakes (yet), a cleanse can help you see what proactive steps to take to gain control of your finances and reach your goals. Detoxifying your finances can help you identify harmful spending patterns, reduce debt, build savings, and set you up for long-term financial success.
And leave it to Gen Z to make this kind of cleanse cool — what started as a TikTok trend is now a tried and true way to pay off debt, increase your savings, and say goodbye to frivolous spending once and for all. But it’s not just Gen Z who can benefit from the rejuvenating impacts of a financial cleanse. If you relate to any of the below signs you should try a financial cleanse, it’s time to break out your budget and get to work.
Sign #1: You’re drowning in debt
Household debt in the U.S. is at an all-time high, totaling more than $17 trillion as of the first quarter of 2023, according to the most recent quarterly report on Household Debt and Credit from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. If you are among the millions of people who struggle to get out from under their debt burden, that struggle is a surefire sign that you could benefit from a financial cleanse.
Debt comes in many forms — credit cards, home loans, auto loans, personal loans, student loans, and more — but no matter what type of debt you are dealing with, having a plan of attack to pay it down is crucial. That’s where a cleanse comes in. It can give you a designated time to learn and plan for how to break free from your debts.
Having the right tools can make all of the difference during a cleanse. One tool that can come in handy during a financial cleanse, in particular, is Credello’s debt payoff calculator. You can add additional payments to your current monthly payments to compare different debt payoff methods (such as the avalanche or snowball methods), helping you save on interest and achieve debt freedom faster.
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Sign #2: Your goals feel out of reach
Whether you dream of an exotic beach vacation or a debt-free existence, when your goals feel out of reach because of a lack of funds, a financial cleanse may be just what you need to start stacking away cash. Day by day during a cleanse, you take small, actionable steps that can help you chip away at your financial goals in an efficient and effective way.
What if your goal is to simply avoid living life from one payday to the next? If you find it challenging to cover your basic expenses and have little to no savings, your financial habits could definitely benefit from the reset that a financial cleanse provides. The process can break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, help you learn to set money aside to achieve your goals and create a solid foundation for financial stability.
Sign #3: You don’t have a designated emergency fund
Not having an emergency fund leaves you vulnerable to unexpected expenses and emergencies, but saving up the requisite three to six months worth of expenses can be daunting. A recent survey by CNBC and Momentive revealed that more than half of Americans don’t have an emergency fund at all. Of those who do, 40% have less than $10,000 saved.
When you’re unprepared to make up for lost wages after a layoff or pay for medical bills after an accident, it can stretch your bank account to the max. During a financial cleanse, the steps you take to prioritize saving can help you establish a safety net.
Sign #4: You’re stressed out by your credit cards
One of the main goals of a financial cleanse is to rid your life of bad money habits. If you’re swiping plastic but can’t keep up with payments, you could likely benefit from examining your credit card habits.
“Bad habits are easy to fall into and can be nearly impossible to dig yourself out of,” writes Barri Segal for CreditCards.com. “More specifically, bad credit habits can destroy your credit score, put you in debt and cause a number of other financial problems that threaten your stability and long-term goals.”
Take steps to monitor your credit card score, examine your account statements, and find areas where you can improve your credit card habits as part of a financial cleanse. Using credit cards can be complicated, but they don’t have to be a source of stress if you learn how to use them to your benefit.
Sign #5: You don’t have a budget
Not having a budget is one of the biggest signs you need to try a financial cleanse. Finding out the type of budget that works for you by experimenting with different types throughout your money cleanse can be eye-opening.
“People often ask me what budget template they should use, or how much they should be spending or saving,” writes Maggie Germano, Certified Financial Education Instructor and founder of Money Circle. “There’s no easy answer because it always depends on the individual. It depends on your current circumstances, your long-term goals, and your personality.”
There are all sorts of budgeting types to consider — you can use budgeting apps or try cash stuffing — just find what works best for you. Even if you’re someone who can create a budget but simply struggles to stick to one, a cleanse can help you learn new and better strategies to get your money under control.
Sign #6: You’re riddled with spending guilt
If your stomach churns each and every time you make a purchase, it’s time to consider a cleanse. (And maybe more than just the financial kind if your intestines are really complaining.)
When you’re spending more than you bring in, simply paying your bills can feel like an insurmountable task, and out-of-control spending can lead to major financial issues. But even if the guilt you feel doesn’t stem from overspending, a financial cleanse can help you uncover what’s causing your financial guilt and help you break free from it.
Sign #7: You feel trapped by your financial burdens
Do you have outstanding student loan debt weighing you down? Or do you absolutely dread seeing the ever-increasing amount of subscription service costs you have hitting your account each month? If you feel like you’ll never get out from underneath your financial obligations and get ahead, a financial cleanse can be incredibly beneficial.
During a financial cleanse, you can learn strategies to pay down high-interest loans or take steps to negotiate better terms in order to break free from the financial weight that’s holding you down.
Sign #8: You want to learn more about financial wellness
Knowledge is power, plain and simple. If you have a desire to educate yourself about financial wellness, there is so much to learn — and plenty of resources to help you along the way. Whether your aim is to learn more about debt consolidation, figure out how to maximize your credit card rewards, or save up for retirement, giving yourself the time and space to learn during a financial cleanse is vital.
Much like a cleanse that you undergo for physical health benefits, a financial cleanse can be a transformative journey. No matter what your money struggles are, a cleanse can provide the necessary tools and strategies for a fresh start. By evaluating and improving your money habits, you can identify harmful patterns, reduce debt, build savings, and set yourself up for long-term financial success. If you found yourself nodding along as you read each of the signs above, it’s time to take a deep breath and let the cleansing commence!