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A Frugal Living Calendar For the New Year To Live By

Updated on October 9, 2013

We All Need Choices

A couple weeks ago I published a frugal living calendar. The idea behind it was to ease people into the frugal living lifestyle. It was suggested that people try one suggestion per month for only one week each month, thus lessening the culture shock that seems to accompany a lifestyle change.

That calendar was warmly accepted, and at the same time it was requested that maybe a second calendar be created, giving people even more options.

Never let it be said that this writer does not listen to his followers, for here is your second option for the New Year.

I think one reason why people have a hard time with the frugal living idea is because it is misunderstood. Living frugally does not mean you have to sell off all of your worldly possessions and live the lifestyle of a monk. Frugality refers to making conscious choices regarding spending, where “need” becomes more important than “want.” It is about making more responsible spending decisions.

And why would you do that? Well, if you are one of the 49.7 million Americans living at or below the poverty level, then the reason is obvious. However, that still leaves us with over 250 million Americans who need convincing.

It is estimated that there are another fifty million citizens of this country who are one paycheck away from serious financial issues. Let me ask you this: if you, or your significant other, lost your job next month, would frugal living be more appealing to you? Of course it would, so why not jump on board this movement and play it safe, thus guarding against an uncertain financial future?

Of course, this min-economic lesson is not just for those living in the United States. Financial uncertainty is a worldwide concern, so I welcome all of you in Europe, Asia, and all other points on the globe. Frugal Living is for all of you; all you need is the willingness to start making changes.

Without further delay, here are your alternative suggestions for the New Year.

Let's get started!
Let's get started! | Source


For the month of January, I want you to shop for groceries using a grocery list, and you cannot buy anything that isn’t on the list. If you want to start small and just try it for a week, then great, but I would love to see you commit to one full month.

Why would you do this? Simply because we need to cut back on impulse buying, and staying true to a grocery list will protect you from tossing money at the next chip display.


For one entire month, only shop at discount grocery stores. You know the ones I’m talking about….Costco, The Dollar Store, Grocery Outlet, etc. You could do this for a week, but you will be amazed at the savings you see if you stick with it for an entire month.


For one week in March, do not buy a single food or drink item at a fast food establishment. That means no mochas from your favorite barista; no soda at Dairy Queen; and no burgers at McDonald’s. This also means you can’t stop at the neighborhood mom & pop grocery store for two burritos from the hot food display.

I’m only asking for one week; if you can do this for a month then you are a frugal living guru wannabe for sure.


Build an outdoor compost bin for the garden that you should already have. If you don’t have the lumber to build a large one, then use a plastic container and follow these simple instructions.

Once you have your compost bin, then start putting food scraps and coffee grounds in there, and sooner, rather than later, you will have some great compost for your potted plants and veggie garden that you SHOULD have already.


Live on a budget for one month. You can use the envelope method and put money in each envelope for your bills and expenses. I’m going to challenge you a bit, though; before you put money in the expense envelopes, you have to set aside 10% of your monthly income for savings.

If, at the end of the month, you have money left over, that must go into savings as well.


For the month of June, I want you to keep a chart of every single food item you buy. Make a spreadsheet online, or do it the old fashioned way using paper and pencil, but each and every item needs to be listed during the month. The reason for that will become apparent in July.

A man enjoying frugal living
A man enjoying frugal living | Source


Cut your grocery and food totals by 10%. It should come as no surprise that we are becoming a fatter society. Let’s cut back by 10% and save money AND possibly help our health in the process.

Please note, this has nothing to do with the amount of money you are spending, but rather about the amount of food you are buying. Eat smaller portions, skip snacks, and cut back by 10%. No cheating!


Cut back the use of water by 10%. If you water your lawn, and shame on you for doing so, then cut back three days from the watering schedule. Put a solid object in the toilet bowl that takes up 10% of the space. Don’t let the water run while you are washing dishes. If you use a dishwasher, and you use it daily, then use it three less days. If you take a shower, and it normally takes you five minutes, then for August your shower can only last four minutes and thirty seconds. J


No lunches may be purchased for an entire week. Kids have to pack their lunch and working moms and dads have to do the same. If you are cooking in bulk on Sundays like you were told to in the previous calendar, then you will have more than enough leftovers for lunches.

I would love to see you do this for a month, but I’m not going to push my luck and scare you off.


For one week in October you have to exercise each and every day. Go for a walk, do yoga, whatever, but for seven days you need to work out, and you have to work out for thirty minutes each day.

What does this have to do with frugal living? Preventative medicine will allow you to live longer and it will cut back on doctor bills, and exercise is preventative medicine of the highest order.

Grow your own food
Grow your own food | Source

Are you willing to try some of these suggestions?

See results


For the first week of November I want you to keep track of everywhere that you drive and how many miles each trip entailed. For the second week of November, I want you to cut back your driving by 10%.

In other words, if you drove, during that first week, to 24 different places for a total of 165 miles, you are only allowed to drive 149 miles (165 minus 10%) the second week of the month.

This little exercise saves one gallon of gas; multiply that times 52 weeks and you have saved 52 gallons of gas for a total of what, $175.00 per year?


For one week, I want you to give 5% of your monthly income to the needy in an anonymous gift. The nature of the gift is up to you, but the dollar total is not debatable, and it is important that it be anonymous. The goal is not for you to get credit and attention for being a good citizen; the goal is for you to be a good citizen for no other reason than it feels good.

Join me for a chat


You have approximately three weeks to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the challenges ahead. We are not shooting for minimalist, but rather frugal. Wrap your brain around the concept of need over want.

You now have two frugal calendars to pick from, and a total of twenty-four suggestions. Pick and choose which ones are comfortable for you, and then get yourself focused and willing.

All silliness aside, you just might find, through some of these exercises, that you can actually live with less and still be happy. Once you have that realization in the bag, this frugal living thing will be easier and easier.

Good luck!

William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathryn, you are very right. It is hard at first but then it seems so natural and normal that we don't even think about it. Thank you for the visit on this Monday morning. I hope the storm that is predicted misses Boston. You guys deserve a winter break. :)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Very good suggestions! I have had to do many of these things in the past when I didn't have much money, so I know it is possible. After a while, it gets easier, and is the new "normal".

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, I love that you think about need vs want each time you purchase something. You are well on your way to being a frugal guru. :)

      hugs to you my dear and Happy Holidays!


    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh I am glad to catch this, as I loved your first calendar, Bill...

      These are all doable suggestions. I am finding the want versus need question popping in my head every time I purchase something...and need seems to be winning!

      Thank you for both of these options and your ongoing motivation.

      Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky no, that would not be fun. I have the feeling you could teach a valuable extension course on making money stretch. :) Thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Millionaire my friend, you are correct. The change in lifestyle does not seem so big if you take it a small step at a time. Thank you for the great comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eyes, it is good to see you again. Yes, it does get tougher each month; that's why starting now is the best route to take. I'll keep posting ideas that you can ease in with. :) Thank you!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I think that I am already living this, except for the garden. I just moved from an apt. I will try with my little house to get a potted garden in. I rent and have six feet on each side of the house. Not much room for a garden. I know I have you beat on gas as I do not have a car and take a cab to the grocery once a week. I have to use a list or risk running out of groceries in the middle of the week. My husband is totally disabled and we get paid once a month. We have to budget everything or we run out of money. No fun at all when you do that.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are great ideas Bill. Living frugally is done one day at a time, and each little step does wind up saving money. Voted up.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I am ready! You make it sound simple and easy to ease into this life. So I am willing to try it. We definitely need tips here for making money stretch, as it gets tougher each month. Thank you for providing such great hubs, Billy!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donnah, it would be interesting and probably shocking to know that. Some information I'm better of not knowing. :) Thank you as always for the visit.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      It would be interesting to calculate how much money is spent on food in this country that is either thrown away or just not necessary to consume. I wonder if the savings could pay off the nation's credit card debt? Oh well, maybe on a smaller scale following your tips I can save a few pennies. Thanks for keeping the tips coming.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Fiddler, and the economies of most countries are in terrible shape. :)

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 5 years ago from On planet Earth

      Yeah it sure would seeing that the same people live in the world no matter which county.

      You are welcome

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fiddler, I think this calendar will translate quite nicely to another country. :) We'll call it a United Nations Frugal calendar. :) Thank you!

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 5 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi billy this is very interesting am not an American but I can try this to.

      Thanks so much

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I'm sure you don't. :) Thank you Sir!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. My doctors might take some exception to some of these. But I don't see eye to eye with them.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I hate it when that happens, Linda! LOL

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      I swear I don't spell this bad or type this bad. I spilled coffee in my keyboard yesterday and the keys are sticking. lol

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, at least you admit it. LOL I have fallen for that trap, and in all honesty Bev is much worse than I am. But she is learning, just as we all are, so there is hope for the future. :) Thank you my kindred spirit; have a great day.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Mike, I hope you are well, and thank you for the visit. We had that wildlife problem until we put a fence up and a dog out....that took care of the little critters real fast. :) I do get great enjoyment out of growing a garden; there is something about working the soil and seeing the fruits of your labor that is good for the soul. Thank you buddy, and enjoy your weekend.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Michelle, I'm quite certain I would not like to live like a monk; however, I am quite happy living like a frugal guru. LOL Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Kelley! I hope you write a hub detailing your adventures in frugal living. :) Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      Another awesome hub with simple, practice chores thatn anyone can do - if they want to. My real challenge will be the impulse buying. I rarely go to the store with a list. Guilty! And at least I am confessing. I bargain shop which means I rarely come home with real bargains. So, I have some learning to do and some discipline to apply. As always though, you are a motivating force in my life. :-)

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 5 years ago from Missouri

      Count me in! Several of these items we are either doing or have done. Staying on task with a shopping list is crucial for our family. If we plan out our meals and buy just what is on the list, we spend about half of what we do if we free style it.

      As far as a garden goes, if I can I will set up one where we are living now for next year. My past two years provided as much for the wildlife as for the table; maybe a little more for the wildlife. But the hours of enjoyment helped offset the hours of work. Working the soil is a tremendous thrill for me; and the things grown taste so much better that things bought.

      Keep leadin' us Bill; we'll follow!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Hello, Bill! Am glad that my hubby and I are quite on track with curbing impulse spending. Indeed, it's not living the life of a monk, but cutting back what you don't need! Thanks for sharing! I share this too.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Great ideas Bill! I am about to make my family calendar for next year this hub has given me the idea to set a frugal goal for each month. Voted up and awesome! Kelley

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, you hit the key when you said it is going to take major work for the self-centered and ego driven. Frugality is not for those folks unless they are willing to turn their lives upside down.

      Thank you buddy; all I can do is keep spreading the word. Bev and I are quite happy with our lifestyle. It's there for anyone if they want it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you are like clockwork; I publish and then wait for you to pop up minutes later. Thank you my dear, and if any of these help you then great! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Another awesome calendar and great alternative suggestions from the first one you originally composed. Thanks seriously for sharing and am going to go through your original again and this one, too to see which ones I want to try to implement. Have, of course, voted way up and shared all over!!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      Pretty cool ideas for a better life to be lived out, and if more folks catch on to this frugal living lifestyle and truly try to live by it all, or adapt their very own concepts, then maybe things can actually improve in life as a whole.

      This is going to take some major work for those whom are self centered and who base their lives on the premise of having materials as their personal status quo symbol per say, because you know Bill those shopaholic folks may never ever learn these great ideas.

      Let's hope a change of heart and mind is in effect though as for those who are the most Grinch like, greedy, and especially those big spender's who care only about keeping up with the trends all the time.

      Many of us have been there and done that, but we live and learn right!

      Nice thoughtful hub here, it was well written and very useful for those people in a position in life to have more then less as the intro to the hub suggests with the 50 Million (Rounded off) of us living in poverty and all. Thumbs up and out!