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A Frugal Living Calendar For the New Year To Live By
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.
An alternative calendar
- Frugal Living Calendar For the New Year
A beginner's guide to a frugal lifestyle, challenging the user of this calendar to do one frugal thing per month.
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.
- How to Make a Compost Bin from a Plastic Storage Container
A "how to" article that will show you how to transform a normal plastic storage container into a useful compost bin.
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.
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.
Are you willing to try some of these suggestions?
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.
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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.
William D. Holland (aka billybuc)