This year, my family will once again be participating in the Frugal February Challenge. Every year we enjoy doing this challenge as a way to reboot our frugal practices. No matter how long you have been living a financially responsible life, bad habits can begin to form over time and control over your spending can begin to slip away from you, so its important to nip those things in the bud by paying very close attention to your budget at least once a year. February is always to perfect time to do this in my opinion. It is the shortest month of the year, so the misery does not last as long (sadly I am not kidding!) Also, the holidays have come and gone so the need to buy gifts/decorations/new clothing has past. Most people also have received their credit card bills from the Christmas season by now and are in the need for a serious wake up call. So if you are someone who needs to get a better control over your finances for 2020, think about joining in for the Frugal February Challenge.
What is the Frugal February Challenge?
The challenge can be as difficult or as easy as you want to make it. The most devoted members of the challenge pledge to not spend any money except for regularly occurring bills during the month of February. This generally only works well if you have a lot of stored food or grow a lot of your own things. People love to share stories of gas rationing and the bizarre meals they begin to resort to towards the end of the month. (We are not that devoted!)
Basically, the goal is to make it a little tough on your family, but not so tough that you will drop out half way through the month. In our first year, I gave us a really low grocery budget for the week (I think it was $25) and that was all we could spend. That was an interesting month:) We did manage to make it through, but we had to barter with my mom and get creative on items like toilet paper (I think I swapped my mom two loaves of pumpkin bread for a pack of toilet paper and a bag of sugar….we felt like pioneers!!) Over the past few years, I have slowly raised the amount of grocery money we can spend during the challenge to a more realistic number, but always make sure that it is slightly uncomfortable to us. Besides grocery money, last year I gave myself a small amount of spending money each week, to treat the kids with or to scoop up a great deal at the thrift store and that was by far my easiest year.
I will say that every year while I am very happy for the challenge to be over, I am also very happy that I participated. Once you have to weigh how every dollar is spent, it makes you more thankful for what you have and also reminds you that you can make do with a lot less than you normally buy.
So here are the rules that my family will follow for Frugal February 2020:
- Spend no more than $100 on groceries for the week. (We consider anything we buy while at the grocery store as “groceries” so this includes personal care products, cleaning supplies, and paper products)
- Buy nothing “new” during the month of February. This means that we can only buy used items (besides food obviously!) during the challenge. **We completed almost two years of a Buy Nothing New challenge last year, so this shouldn’t be too hard. If you ever want to really nip your bad shopping habits in the bud, try out the Buy Nothing New Challenge…it really works!
- Spend no more than $100 for the entire month on frivolous purchases. For this month, frivolous purchases will be anything that is not a necessary food item. So that means fast food , thrift store purchases, and other entertainment purchases will come out of the fund.
**Exceptions to the rules:
- If an appliance breaks or a home repair is needed, then we will fix it.
- My children can spend their allowances on anything they want.
- If we take an out of town trip (and we might), then the food costs do not count towards this challenge.
So if you are interested in taking part of this challenge, sit down and write out some realistic numbers that your family can work with. Anything is better than nothing!
Like other years, I will be posting weekly about how much we spent and the many ways that we had frugal fun during the week. Feel free to comment about your own successes (and failures) each week because I love to hear how others find fun ways to live life cheaply:)
Here are some other Frugal February posts that you may enjoy: