Flashback to 21-Day Financial Fast: Here’s another chance to give it a try

At the beginning of the year, I led a group of several hundred people on a 21-day financial fast. So, back by popular demand, here’s a chance for you to take the challenge if you missed it the first time. Or if you did the fast, you can do it again — especially if you’ve fallen off the frugal wagon and need a boost back to financial sanity.

I’m doing the fast with my church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden (on Twitter it’s @FBCG). We start July 7. If you’re interested, go to wapo.st/financialfast to sign up.

I’ll be tweeting live about the fast on Monday at noon ET (@SingletaryM). Use the hashtag #financialfast.

To fully participate in the fast, you’ll need to get “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,” a book I wrote based on a financial fast that I started at my church in 2005.

As I wrote when the book came out earlier this year, it’s not your typical fast during which you cut out eating certain foods. On this fast, you can’t make any unnecessary purchases, and you can’t use credit cards. For three weeks, you will shut down your shopping so that you can focus on your finances and what you really want to do with the money you make. Think you are up to the challenge?

Color of Money question of the week

What issues keep you from achieving financial freedom? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Financial Fast” in the subject line. If you participated in the fast earlier this year, let me know how it went and whether you’re still doing well financially.

Live online chat today

Join me for a chat today at noon ET. I’ll be talking about student loan debt. My guest will be Reyna Gobel, author of “CliffsNotes: Graduation Debt: How to Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99), which was the Color of Money pick for June.

Read the review of the book, and here’s the link to join the conversation.

FTC’s accusation of T-Mobile’s cellular caper

The Federal Trade Commission says T-Mobile got kickbacks when other companies tried to bill the carrier’s customers for services or products that customers didn’t want or request, reports The Washington Post’s Brian Fung.

In a complaint filed this week, the FTC said the mobile phone service provider made “hundreds of millions of dollars,” which in many cases were bogus charges. It’s a practice called cramming.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

As Fung reported, “the charges often appeared on consumers’ bills but were either buried so deeply that people couldn’t find them, or they weren’t itemized — so consumers had no idea that the bogus charges were being included in their ‘premium’ text messaging or other fees.” Typically, people were charged a $9.99 monthly fee.

T-Mobile says the government’s complaint is “unfounded and without merit.”

Here’s the lesson in this story: We all have to comb through our bills. Question everything. Be your own bill detective because, as Fung writes, 20 million people get crammed every year.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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