Frugal February

Frugal February Week 3 Update

This past week has been almost identical to Week 2.  I have only bought groceries and avoided the thrift store all week.  My pantry and freezers are still mostly full, which is surprising because I have not really bought much meat/pantry staples this month.  I think this is because I had a really, well-stocked freezer to start the month. (My dad raises cows and chickens, so I had over 150 lbs of beef and 4 whole chickens in my freezer to start the month) 

Things we have run out of (We were only out of these items for 3-4 days until I went to the grocery store)

Spinach

Apples/Pears

Sliced cheese

Crackers

Mustard

 

Things learned this week:

1. We eat a lot of fresh items.  I have hardly bought any freezer items or pantry items this month. So I guess this is a good thing??

2. We spend a lot of money on food, especially if we buy convenience type items. In the past, I have just accepted that I am going to spend more for certain items that make the way we choose to eat more enjoyable.  Low spend months really help you to realize what you can live without…

3. Every Frugal February, I remember how cheap Aldi is compared to other stores.  I tend to go to Kroger(which is still pretty cheap) for my weekly grocery trips because they have everything in one stop, while Aldi is missing a few items we regularly need. So I am thinking after this month is over, I am going to try to shop at Aldi first and then make a Kroger run to fill in the gaps.

4. If I stay out of stores….I spend no money!  A lot of times, we get bored and end up going to a store to just look around and more times than not, we buy something that we “think” we need.  When I have a low spend month, I realize how much I overspend in other months due to mindless spending habits. I really hope that I can continue this habit of avoiding stores because it makes living on a budget so much easier!

 

*My Frugal February ends next Wednesday and have just completed my final grocery shopping trip for the month.  I have $10 left to spend on random grocery needs/wants for the next five days, so let’s hope we make it!

 

 

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Frugal February

Frugal February Week 2 Update

This Frugal February has been so easy compared to others for some reason.  This is surprising to me because I have cut my grocery budget in half, so I thought I would feel the pinch a lot more.  I think that maybe my goal of not buying anything new this year, has really changed the way that I view shopping.  I have finally realized, that I get the same amount of enjoyment out of a $4 purse from the thrift store, as I do from a $20 purse from Target (more so in fact, because the thrill of a great deal, feels wonderful!)  I also am completely happy in my 100% paid off house, that is admittedly in need of some work…but hey it’s paid off:)  Contentment and acceptance of your situation really does bring happiness to your life.  **Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama…you must read the Book of Joy!

Here are some of the things that we have ran out of the past week:

Shredded cheese (I had to shred my own cheese today….boo!)

String cheese (My son eats two string cheeses everyday, so there was a fair amount of whining involved)

Conditioner

Crystal light

Things learned this month:

Our guinea pig eats a ton of veggies…

We are going to have to start growing lettuce at home soon because it is getting ridiculous! She eats a package of carrots, a head of lettuce, and a stalk of celery each week (in addition to hay and pellets) I guess I never realized it until I started to monitor my grocery spending.

We may have a dairy problem!

You know this is true when the grocery store cashier asks, “Oh are you not getting any cheese today??”.

Taco soup still tastes great after 3 months in the freezer

Leftovers are magical to me, because they mean no food was wasted and no additional cooking was needed to feed my family, so that is a win/win.

Have you been participating in Frugal February? If so, what have you learned so far?

 

 

 

Frugal February

Five Things That You Learn By Having A Low Spend Week

This year as one of my new year’s goals, I decided to have a low spend week each month.  I decided to try this because I learn so much about my spending habits during Frugal February, that I probably would benefit with the reminder year round.

Here are a few of the reasons you too would benefit from a low spend week each month:

1. Gratitude

Having a no spend/low spend week each month, really makes you grateful for your normal weekly budget.  I think we all grumble about being on a budget sometimes (If you do not have a budget…get one!) and this is one easy way to help you to appreciate the wiggle-room in your normal weekly budget.

2. Lowers waste

I am sure many people are like me and have a lot of food waste during the month.  By having a low spend week each month, it really keeps you aware of how much food you are throwing away.  It also helps you to make sure you are using up pantry or freezer items that maybe are going unnoticed.

3. Thankfulness

I am sure we have all heard the term “first world problems” and feel a little bad about how much we have, when others have so little.  Having a low spend week really helps you to appreciate what you have and also more importantly, it serves as a reminder as to how little others have around the world on a daily basis.  My no spend week always reminds me to be thankful for my blessings and to pray for the less fortunate around the world.

4. Monetary benefits

A low spend week also helps to trim your monthly budget substantially.  During my low spend week, I try to only spend $25 on random food items to round out our meals and nothing else.  Considering that we spend around $125 a week on food, this puts $100 back into our bank account each month.  That really adds up throughout the year!

5. Better spending habits

Having a reminder of how little we can live on each month, really helps me throughout the rest of the month, to avoid excessive spending.  Being frugal, like other habits, takes time to develop.  I do notice in prior years when I did Frugal February, my spending would slowly go back to normal during the rest of the year.  Having a monthly reminder to monitor my spending habits really helps to “keep the spirit alive” year round.

Do you have a low spend week each month? If you do, what lessons do you learn from this practice?

 

Frugal February

Frugal February Week 1 Update

Well this was a pretty low key week for us on the saving money front.  I decided to have my no spend week coincide with the first week of Frugal February to kind of jumpstart the challenge.  So the only money I spent this week was $25 at the grocery store for essential food items.  We have not really felt the pinch of the challenge yet because my freezer and pantry are so well-stocked, but we did have a few uncomfortable moments.

1. Had to say no to Little Debbies….sniff, sniff

We spent all of our grocery money on real food so the delicious junk food had to take a back seat.  **I did make no bake cookies, but the family was not happy (Evil Mom laugh)

2. I actually walked through the thrift store and bought nothing

I really did not see anything that I needed in the thrift store, except for a nice collection of fairy tale stories that would have worked out as a great reader for Ben.  Luckily, I talked myself out of it because I am sure the library has a similar book. **Sadly, I went back into the thrift store today and someone had bought it!!

3. We ran out of bread….

I need to re-evaluate how much bread we are eating because 4 days into my no spend week we ran out.  So, I had to get creative with lunches, but luckily no one starved…

4. We ran out of Doritos

I do not feel too badly about this because the kids still had cheddar popcorn and potato chips. Tough love, people…tough love.

So the first week of Frugal February wasn’t too terrible….but this week might be totally different! The day after I ran to the grocery store for my weekly shopping (spent $48 of my $75 weekly budget), I found out we are almost out of Triscuits, tea bags, butter, and Triple Zero Yogurt, so my leftover grocery money might be cutting it close this week:)

 

Frugal February

Frugal February 2018

Today kicks off Frugal February, so I thought I would share with you all of my rules for our household spending this month and why I choose to participate each year.

Almost 4 years ago, we paid off our mortgage and became 100% debt free…yay! However, after we paid the mortgage off, I found myself relaxing with my spending and was astonished to see how much I was really spending each month when my bank and credit card statements came in.  I knew something had to change, because even though we paid off our mortgage we only had 3 months of living expenses saved and I really wanted to have a whole year of living expenses in our savings account.  (I know I did it backwards Mr. Ramsey but it worked for us!) So I decided to reboot myself and started having Frugal February challenges to keep myself honest and rekindle my love of budgeting and frugal living.  It really did pay off because over that year we saved up a whole year’s worth of living expenses and even cash flowed two much needed home improvement projects over the next two years.  So this can be a great tool, to rekindle or even to kick off some really great frugal habits.

Each year, my budget changes a little during Frugal February.  My very first year, I tried to spend less than $25 a week on groceries and random household spending and I amazingly did stick to it. Year 2, I went up to $40. Year 3, I went up to $50. This year I think I am going to raise it to $75 a week for a grand total of $300 for the month.  As our kids have grown bigger, they are eating more and we have also been on a low carb diet for two years and enjoy having a nice variety to choose from:) My usual grocery spending is anywhere from $100-$150 a week, so I think if I halve that, it will be slightly uncomfortable, but hopefully I will not hear too many complaints.

So I am allotting myself $300 for the entire month to buy groceries, random thrift store finds, any eating out that the kids talk me into, and whatever else my household might need for the next 28 days. Some exceptions that I will not count in this budget: random doctor visits (it is flu season), gas for our cars, monthly bills, tithing, or if anything mysteriously breaks, like a fridge or my washing machine…knock on wood…

I will be posting each week with how much I have spent and many of the silly  extreme ways that I have found to stick to my budget.  In the past years, we have bartered pumpkin bread for toilet paper and random canned goods for sugar, my mom is a good sport and finds this terribly funny:)  **I did make sure that I am well stocked up on toilet paper this year, so the Great Toilet Paper Rationing Week of 2015 will not be happening again!

If you would like to join in, leave in the comments what your budget will be for Frugal February and feel free to comment each week with all the many ways you found to stretch your budget by bartering, improvising, and finding amazing sales.  We can do this!