22 Jan 2021 • 3mins • Yolt

Why crash money diets won’t give you a healthy bank balance

A woman is in the kitchen, looking at vegetables and wondering if a crazy money diet could work.

Have you ever wondered if a ‘money diet’ could help you whip your bank account into shape?

We apply the theories behind three popular diets to money instead of food, to see if a financial fasting really is the best way to budget.

The 5:2 diet

Made popular by British journalist Michael Mosley, the 5:2 diet is based around intermittent fasting – restricting your diet two days a week, and eating normally the other five.

The idea comes in trying to trick your body into losing weight on your fasting days, while stopping your metabolism from slowing down.

How would the 5:2 diet work for money?
Applying the 5:2 diet to your money would work in reverse – keep a strict budget for five days, with two days off for free spending. Sounds doable, right?

Like the classic 5:2 diet, the danger comes in going overboard on your non-diet days, cancelling all your hard work by spending just as much over two days as you would in seven.

There’s also the challenge of planning ahead. What do you do when something essential pops up on a non-spending day? The milk is off, or the kids need a school trip paid for? Probably not the most practical way of going about things…

The eight-hour diet

This is pretty self-explanatory. You can only eat during a daily eight-hour window (between 9am and 5pm or 11am and 7pm).

Great for people looking cut out evening grazing, but how does that apply when it come to your wallet…

How would the eight hour diet work for money?
If you have a habit of late night online shopping, this might seem like a pretty good diet to try.

If you limit your spending to daytime hours, you’re far less likely to lose yourself in virtual shopping basket. That said, it isn’t very convenient. What if you need to work late? What if the milk is off when you get home? It’s your Mum’s birthday tomorrow – even fast-track delivery can’t promise same day.

Let’s face it – life is far from predictable. And essential spending is still essential, whatever time of day you add it to the basket.

The master cleanse

Master cleanse is probably the most extreme diet of all and definitely not one we’d recommend trying at home. The diet is essentially a type of juice fast, allowing no food, replacing meals with tea and a special lemonade made with maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

There are no prizes for predicting the science behind this one. This diet is all about the calorie deficit.

How would the master cleanse work for money?
Taking a money master cleanse would need a bit of prep, making sure all your essential food and travel is sorted before quite literally locking away your cards for a set amount of time.

This sure would be a test of self-control, but living life on such tight restrictions won’t be any fun, and you’ll probably burn out a lot faster than you think.

Saving doesn’t need to be a strain – life is about balance, not about restriction.

Our verdict…

Just like with food, crash money diets are fads that should be avoided. Instead of taking it to the extreme, build good money habits with a healthy, balanced approach, so you can enjoy life now as well as saving for the future.

Find out more about how to build good money habits.