Senior Editor Tanisha A. Sykes takes you on a 21-day journey to becoming debt-free, as prescribed by author Michelle Singletary.

Day 1:

“If you want to be rich, change. Grow. Get organized. Make the decision that you want to prosper.” -Michelle Singletary

I’m hungry. It was the first thought I had three hours after eating Cherrios this morning. Dammit, I forgot to bring my mid-morning snack and it was too early for my box lunch. Now what? On the first day of the financial fast, I was already screwing up. Lucky for me, a fellow ESSENCE editor hooked a sister up with an ooey gooey chocolaty KIND Protein Bar, which hit the spot. If I’m going to follow the rules of the book The 21 Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom by nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Singletary, I’ve got to be ready.

You see, aside from reading the book and doing the exercises, Michelle only really asks you to focus on one key tenant: Take a 21-day financial fast in which you only purchase necessities. Eeek! No more Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate from Starbucks, Salmon and California Roll from the Deli or Chicken Snack Wraps from McDonald’s after work. In NYC, that easily adds up to $10-$25 a day of miscellaneous spending on my Debit Card, which I think has an unlimited amount of funding, until my husband starts questioning “What the Hell are you buying over there?” My response: “I make it; I spend it.” But let me tell you something ladies, there is nothing sexy or cute about being 40 and in debt. Notice, I didn’t say broke. I’m not spending on shoes, accessories, bags or dresses out of turn. My silly behind is spending on convenience food, mostly because I don’t prepare what I need at home or I’m too lazy. I know better so why haven’t I’ve done better? Subliminally I think: “It’ll get better because I know the deal. I know every step, every rule and every tip to financial freedom. Hell, I’ve created some of them for our 10 million ESSENCE readers.” But this ish of overspending has got to end because Mama got some pretty amazing things to concur.

The first day of the financial fast made me realize that I earn more than enough not to be in debt. Now, it’s time to start minding my own business. So, for the next 20 days, I pray that I can stop the frivolous spending, prepare some delectable meals at home, get a free meal or two on one of those folks who have been dying to meet with me (a girl’s gotta live) and come out on the other side a changed woman. Because something tells me, my doing this financial fast is about a lot more than little ole me.