The Frugalwoods is one of my favorite blogs. I’m not nearly as frugal as they are, nor do I want to be, but what I love is that their blog does help me to question some of my assumptions on frugality. Each January mrs. Frugalwoods hosts an Uber Frugal Challenge, but you can take the challenge each month if you want to. She sends out an email each day of the month with some questions to ponder and links to relevant blog posts on the topic.
Why I Participated
The reason that I took the challenge was that I’m very motivated to get as close to our maximum mortgage goal this year as we can. That is going to take some extra effort, so I wanted to see if there was anything I could get from it.
The questions that were asked at the beginning of the challenge were particularly helpful of refocusing on the reason I want to be frugal. I also thought that since we’ve been budgeters for years now that there was nothing anymore that we could cut from our budget. However, we took another hard look and canceled two subscriptions that we had for years. It won’t make or break our budget, but even the small things can add up.
The only personal money I spent was on a pizza with a friend (€17) and my credit card was charged for the book The Year of Less by Cait Flanders (€17,82) which I pre-ordered in December. Other than that we spent zero money on eating out, take out, or coffee on the go. It wasn’t always easy, but it was doable. I also started to enjoy making sure I was prepared so that I wouldn’t have to spend money unnecessarily. I’m also not very good at doing monthly challenges because I don’t like the all-or-nothing nature of it. I was actually quite proud and surprised that I finished this one with success.
The trouble with any type of restrictive challenge is that it is tempting to go all out on a binge afterwards and undo any of the good work you did during the challenge.
There was some temptation out there for this to happen on day one. On February 1st, I had a particularly challenging day at work and I had a lot of delays getting home because of a broken train. Then I had to endure rain and hail on my bike ride on the way home from the train station. Our dinner was based on stuff we had in the pantry: lentils, black beans and some pumpkin from the freezer over rice. Not exactly a meal I was looking forward to. Everything in my body just wanted to order pizza and call it a day. I started cooking anyway and the food was just so dry and not what I wanted after that day. I added some tomato paste and herbs, but it was still not good. I was so tempted to just go out and buy something unhealthy, but I knew I would feel really bad breaking the challenge after only one day in the new month. Also, I am really motivated to save so I would feel bad about spending money on unnecessary food.
So I didn’t do it in the end! I will admit that I did not eat a whole lot and that I may or may not have eaten some Nutella straight out of the jar to compensate.
This is not to say that I won’t spend anything on impulses going forward, but I feel happy that I was able to break this habit for the month and it had an effect going forward as well.
Did you ever participate in a no spending challenge, and how did you like it?