Take the Frugal Month Challenge
In this economy, most everyone is on a budget and looking for ways to save money. And while the holidays provided a festive reprieve from the daily grind, as a rule of thumb they aren't good for your wallet. With January comes the return to real life, which often means living on a tight budget.
So here's our New Year's offering to you: The Frugal Month Challenge.
Frugal Month.An article in The Washington Post: The Root DC that suggested a No Buy/No Spend Month to help clear out credit card debt sparked this idea. Here's how it works: Save money by going an entire month without buying anything other than the bare necessities of everyday life. This means you pony up for your house/apartment, monthly utility bills, groceries, and gasoline/public transit, but that's it. No dinners out, no trips to the salon, no shopping, no toys for the kids, no smartphone apps or music downloads, no cappuccinos or lattes -- nothing, even if you spot a great sale.
Photo by mjhoy
Pick a Frugal Month.If you haven't been particularly frugal this month, there's always February -- it's only 29-days long (leap year!) and almost upon us. But Valentine's Day falls in February, so if you want to wine and dine your significant other, look beyond to March. That's as good a time as any to accept the challenge -- no big holidays to throw you off your stride. The point is, pick a month and go for it. If you can't commit to an entire month of frugal living, try taking it a week at a time; same rules apply. And then reach higher and try living frugal one week every month for the next four months.
Don't Overcompensate.The goal, obviously, is to save money, but also to take stock of, and appreciate, what you already have. Moreover, abiding by the spirit of the challenge means you should take care not to overcompensate in the month before or the month after. It won't do you any good to plan the frugal month challenge for February and then run out and shop till you drop the last week of January. Nor, as Inexpensively points out, should you plan on a shopping-crazed week in early March. Nope, this is not frugality.
Photo by stevendepolo
What You Can Do.Despite the ban on spending money for an entire month, you can still live a normal life. Frugillionaire suggests borrowing books from the library instead of buying them, packing your lunch instead of visiting the local diner, and brewing your own coffee at home or at your desk instead of stopping by the coffee shop or office bar during the day. Budget-friendly activities abound in every community, and a previous Cheapism blog post provided several ideas to keep the kids entertained for free while allowing you to save money.
Inspired to live a frugal month? Pick a month and start saving -- and let us know how it goes!