Who doesn’t like a challenge? Perhaps more than any other time of the year, the first quarter of each New Year seems to abound with challenges—challenges to be stronger, healthier, or just, well, better. Some are starting 2019 with a Dry January; some may be undertaking Veganuary; some may be doing both. As for me, I’ve opted to look ahead in preparation of February’s challenge: Frugal February.
Like other challenge months, Frugal February is named for an aspirational goal—to reduce discretionary spending—leaving the details of the challenge to be self-defined and self-guided. For our family, Frugal February does not affect either our monthly savings or charitable giving. Rather, we focus on the two areas of spending with which we struggle to reduce on a regular basis: (1) eating out; and, (2) grocery shopping. Yes, our family is all about food, be it cooking, baking, tasting, trying, experiencing or ordering. The problem? We purchase more food than needed during our weekly grocery shopping. We eat out or order in throughout the weekend. And approximately four out of seven nights a week, I enjoy a glass of red wine after the kids have gone to sleep.
This February, our goals include reducing our weekly grocery shopping expenses by 20% and reducing our restaurant/prepared meal expenses by half. How?
- Meal planning, meal prepping, and shopping our pantry
- Easy to use online couponing and shopping the sales
- Shopping at our local green markets
- Eliminating impulse purchases
- Tossing (or hiding) delivery menus
- Ordering less food while dining out
- Drinking only water while dining out
- Transforming restaurant leftovers into a satisfying second meal
Experimenting with Frugal February allows us to use the shortest month of the year to rethink, reprioritize and reset our spending habits. Even if we fall short of our February goals, we will likely have instilled some new—and, yes, better—spending habits along the way.
What is your Frugal February challenge?