The Uber Frugal January Challenge was a big success. It was exactly the jump start I needed to solidify my thoughts and habits around money in the direction I’ve been working toward.
I made it the entire month without buying wine, which was surprisingly much harder than I expected. I don’t drink much at all in the summer, so realizing that wine in particular is such a psychological crutch in the depth of winter was quite an eye-opener. The ritual aspect of a drink at night was replaced by tea, but there is some physical component of wine itself (not just alcohol) that my body appreciates this time of year. I toyed with the idea of trying apple cider vinegar instead, but just held out and ignored the sensation.
On to the spending!
- Fixed Expenses – I had a budget plan adjustment for my gas utility, which gave me a nice little bump to put toward debt.
- Groceries – !!!! Wow. I did better than I thought I’d be able to! This could be sustained for several months if I ate less variety than normal and stuck to the basics.
- Pets – One bag of cat food and two containers of cat litter.
- Gas – I didn’t bike nearly as often as I thought I would.
- My spending – $0! My eyebrows aren’t perfect, but my wallet is happy 🙂
- Family/Friend Funtimes – One dinner out with my son and his friend, one brunch with friends.
- Everything else – Road trip to take my kiddo back to college, including lodging and gasoline during the trip.
- Kiddo – His groceries, college-related costs, and spending money.
The thing I found the most challenging was not putting more toward debt when my overall spending was less than normal. I have lean paychecks this month and next, so need to make sure bigger expenses will be covered (car insurance, annual professional dues, veterinary care, etc). It was also hard toward the end of the month to spend at all, when I knew I was doing so well. I don’t think a challenge mentality would be healthy for me long term.
Goals for Mostly Frugal February:
Continue meal planning like crazy — buying ONLY to a list makes a big difference, and buying ONLY during my weekly shop makes an even bigger difference! Not giving myself the option to “just stop for one thing” on the way home saves me money but also helps stop the impulse purchasing habit from resurfacing. I’ll continue to work my freezer down in February- there are still quite a few bags of strawberries from last summer that will make my winter nights much happier!
No spending on anything that is not groceries, toothpaste/floss, bar soap, cat/dog food/litter, or wine purchased mindfully and to the meal plan.
Walk or bike whenever I can. I’m not making as hardcore a goal as I did for January, to bike commute daily, because my lungs are apparently NOT a fan of the subfreezing very dry air. I haven’t been ill yet this season (knock on wood) and listening to my body is a big factor in that. I’ve started walking to the grocery store with my small hiking pack, and it’s been quite fun and helps the winter blahs. Much nicer than having to find a parking spot and deal with weekend traffic! I’m aiming to spend less on gasoline than I did last month.
Utilities – I’ll continue keeping the thermostat at 64, until I can determine how big a difference it makes in my overall usage.
Say Yes — February and March are usually months that I completely hibernate and miss the sun dreadfully, so it is easy for me to stay home and be a miser. I will spend minimally when possible to maintain relationships.
I’m again starting with a mindset of zero spending and working from there.
We’ll see how my not-Uber-anymore frugal ways shake out, and reassess next month!