Febfast: ‘How Giving Up Alcohol Saves Me $5,000 a Year’

It can become all too easy to fall into the habit of buying coffee and pricey lunches daily, drive when we could walk, and generally spend too much on things we don’t need. Unfortunately, too many Australians live with far too little, which is what febfast is trying to eliminate.

febfast is a fundraising campaign held every February to support young people across Australia living with serious disadvantage and experiencing issues such as homelessness, abuse, neglect, mental health issues, and addiction. As of 2017, febfast has raised over $8 million to fund youth workers for people aged 12-25 around the country.

Participating in febfast is simple enough – you pick something that would be challenging to give up, and you pledge to give it up. Common choices are alcohol, sugar, coffee and junk food. It doesn’t have to be food-related either – you can give up something like swearing, negative self-talk or even taking selfies.

It only has to be for the month, but some participants feel so good about themselves they decide to extend the challenge, sometimes permanently. febfast veteran David Rice is one such person.

How one febfaster saves $5,000 a year by cutting out alcohol

To give you an idea of how beneficial febfasting can be, Canstar reached out to former accountant David Rice, who retired five years ago and has been participating in febfast since 2014.

We spoke with David about how febfast has changed his life for the better.

Q. Why did you decide to get involved Febfast?

At first I did dry July for a few months and enjoyed it, so a few years ago I started doing febfast and carried on the challenge for four months. I thought it was pretty easy actually! Last year I did it again and have carried on for the challenge for a year so far. I’m feeling fitter as I combined giving up alcohol with eating less and paying closer attention to my nutritional needs, and since then I’ve dropped from 82kg to 75kg.

Q. Did you find it challenging to give up alcohol?

At first, I found it difficult to get past the “reward beer” at the end of the afternoon. So, I replaced it with a cup of tea and a snack or a visit to the pool or gym, and soon found that the need had gone. After that, going without alcohol was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Now I’m proud to say I’m a lot healthier, fitter and trimmer than most other 68 year olds.

Q. Why did you decide to continue the fast after February?

I was feeling so good without alcohol that it was a simple choice. I actually feel no inclination to drink alcohol again.

Q. How much would you say you save per year?

I save around $100 per week, having previously spent that abount on packaged beer and wine at home plus drinks bought in pubs and restaurants. This works out to about $5,000 per year. I didn’t previously spend “like a drunken sailor” when I went out, but at pub and restaurant prices it sure starts to add up!

Q. What have you done with all that extra money?

I’ve put the money that I’ve saved into consolidated revenue to make our retirement more secure.

David Rice on holiday in Marrakech, Morocco. He has been a staunch febfaster since 2014.

Other ways you can save with febfast

Besides giving up alcohol, there are other habits that can eat away at your budget a lot more than you realise and could be worth ‘pausing’. Here are some common ones:

Coffee

According to the Cappuccino Price Index, the national average for a single cup of coffee is $3.62. A coffee a day, every day for a year can add up to as much as $942.  If you cut out the daily caffeine or even invest in a coffee machine at home you can save hundreds of dollars over time.

If you do want to look at buying a coffee machine, then you can start with Canstar Blue.

Spending too much on coffee

Homemade lunches

Let’s say you go out for lunch every day and spend $10. That would add up to:

  • $50 a week
  • $200 a month
  • $2,400 a year

As a country, we spend more than $1 billion a week on eating out, and a 2017 study from ING found that the average worker actually spends closer to $1,600 a year during lunch hours. If you were to bring lunch in every day, nutritionist Amelia Phillips says you can save as much as $1,000 a year.

Credit card debt!

ASIC’s national credit card debt clock is currently ticking at more than $33 billion – around $4,200 per cardholder. The average cardholder is paying around $700 in interest per year too. So, why not think about cutting down on your credit card spending and balance transfer those debts.

Canstar’s febfast team

This month numerous members of the Canstar team are participating in febfast.

Although it’s still early days and many of us (myself included) are ready to crack, we’ve already noticed positive changes – physically, mentally and in our bank accounts!

Canstar’s Group Executive People and Operations Lynne Cawley said Canstar joined febfast to further its corporate social responsibility efforts in a way that was highly meaningful to staff.

“febfast is an initiative each staff member can become involved in their own unique way, as they are able to choose how they’d like to ‘fast’. Assisting young people is an area Canstar is passionate about, so we are delighted to be on board as a febfast supporter,” said Lynne.

You can learn more why thousands of Australians have ‘paused for a cause’ here.

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