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Uber Frugal Month Prep and Challenges

December 30th, 2016 at 05:34 am

One of the blogs I read (frugalwoods.com) is doing an Uber Frugal Month challenge. I'm going to to make a valiant effort at doing the challenge, but there are several obstacles.

First, the challenges:
1) DH's birthday - DH's birthday is the 2nd. He already usually gets shafted, so I try to make it a big deal. I've discussed it with him, and have it limited to 3 things: an experience (there's an indoor speedway at a nearby mall that he's been dying to try - 3 14-lap races will be $40 each), dinner (we're eating out with his family, so I'm not sure yet if this cost will fall to me), and a physical gift (DH works outside. With the cold weather, I want to invest in a good insulated thermos/food container, so I can give him soups and such to warm him up).
2) Our housewarming - We moved in last November. Given the holidays, we decided to host a housewarming in January. The date had already been set and invites sent when I signed on for the challenge. I'm going to give myself a $200 budget for party things including beer, wine, and 4 appetizers, plus a veggie snack tray. I'm going to do my best to get it under that, but that's a realistic number given the area I live in.
3) Eating out - DH and I tend to just give up and eat out when life gets overwhelming. I'm doing my best to combat this by having meals on hand that require little effort to get to the table.
4) House Stuff - Other than the hot tub, we're going to try and make do with the things we have. Given that we live next to Wal-Mart and 5 minutes from Home Depot, we've gotten into a bit of a habit of just going out and buying it when we find we need something.

In order to tackle the month as best as I can, I've done some prep. DH and I discussed some things we'd like to attempt to be more frugal in. At the end of the month, we'll go back to the things we've missed and nix the rest. The prep work:

1) Cancel Netflix and Hulu. We have Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and Sling TV to cover the shows we're not willing to give up. I'm going to put Netflix and Hulu on hold for the month to see how we make do.
2) Food - we're going to stick to a $50/wk food budget. This should more than cover sandwiches, fruit, and basic ingredients for things like soup and rice and chicken.
3) Water Use - We typically take 15 minute plus showers. We've agreed to limit it to 5 minutes. We'll set a timer to keep us to it.
4) Minimum Payments - I usually pay 5-10 over all the minimum payments, but I think it's hurting rather than helping. I'm going to pay the bare minimum on everything (except the Target card which I'll pay in full) and see what that leaves us with. Based on estimates, we should have anywhere from $30-50 extra to throw at one debt.
5) Eating Out - I bought 2 gift cards for food in December. We have a $25 card to both Firehouse and Papa John's in case the urge strikes, but we're going to do our best to not eat out at all. My boss also gave us a $50 gift card, so that's a future date night at some point.
6) Temperature - We've kept the house at 65 which is much lower than I'd normally prefer. It hasn't been terrible, and this winter's been mild, so we're going to try taking it down to 60.
7) Pets - We've lowered the dogs' food back to their normal levels, so that should help with food cost. We're also pretty well stocked on treats. I was going to get them groomed prior to the party since they smell pretty bad, but we're going to take that on ourselves. Total savings - $110.

11 Responses to “Uber Frugal Month Prep and Challenges”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Is the housewarming a necessity? I've never had a housewarming in my life, but it doesn't seem I move in the social circles that expect one. Smile Anyway, when you're trying to meet a frugal challenge, I would make the housewarming VERY simple and laid-back.

  2. scottish girl Says:

    Some good planning there! I'm looking forward to having an Uber Frugal Month too!!

  3. scottish girl Says:

    Some buffet ideas from another blog I follow, I'm not sure if it'll be much help though:
    https://frugalqueen.co.uk/2013/02/20/frugal-buffet-for-twenty-people/

  4. alice4now Says:

    I signed up for the Uber Frugal challenge as well, thanks for the tip!

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    You have some great ways to save and cut back. I also would skip a house warming entirely, but I'm just not one to show off my stuff or my home. Just consider why you are doing it and what your ultimate goal is.

  6. debt-free by thir-ty Says:

    Maybe housewarming is too formal a term. We just want to have everyone over. We've been fortunate enough to be hosted by many of our family and friends, and now that we have the space, we'd like to have everyone visit. Had I known about the challenge sooner, I'd have pushed it out a bit, but invites were already out. I'm just planning on one wine box each of red and white, a few variety packs of beer, and making a handful of low-cost appetizers. It'll just be board/video games and everyone hanging out. In my area, though, the wine boxes are $20 each, so between those, the beer, and the groceries, it'll add up quick.

  7. snafu Says:

    As a stranger reading today's blog, nearly each line seems contradictory to the ideas of Ms Frugalwood. I doubt she would be planning a 3 part birthday celebration. There a benefits to a quality thermos if home made soup is available daily and if DH is amenable to homemade soup/stew daily.

    Will family be invited to your housewarming? Could a Birthday banner plus toasts be directed to DH to celebrate birthday to cut the cost of dinner out? What are the alcohol habits of your guests? How many drink beer? How many glasses of wine does a box provide? Surely the group could be satisfied with wonderful hot chocolate after all the holiday imbibing. What does Ms Frugalwoods set for eat-out opportunities and resultant budget? I suspect cable would be cancelled for the uber frugal duration, substituted by free, nearly free activities.

  8. debt-free by thir-ty Says:

    Snafu, as usual you are spot on in your observations. Some of my thoughts do directly go against hers, but that's where the personal aspect of personal finance comes in. She and Mr. Frugalwoods don't celebrate birthdays, I believe. However, I am not her. As someone who's birthday gets overlooked since it is 4 days before Christmas, I sympathize with DH. He never gets any recognition or celebration since everyone is in holiday hangover mode. I know it's not any sort of competition, but for my birthday, DH gave me 3 physical gifts and took me out to hibachi and for drinks. He would be deeply hurt if I told him that I could not do anything for him due to this challenge, and that is not something I'm willing to accept. Plus, I think birthdays should be special. I'm pretty sure that dinner will not be my cost, and even if it is, I would only pay for my and DH's meals. So my expenses will be the $80 for the races and his lunchbox. Given what he spent on me less than 2 weeks ago, I'm willing to go against the challenge with those costs.

    The vast majority of the 30 or so that have RSVPed so far are our age: mid-20s-early-30s. While no one is certainly going ham at the party, I do think we would be considered bad hosts if we did not have sufficient alcohol. We did eliminate hard alcohol from the mix, and I am not even going to buy more bottled water. I think Mrs. Frugalwoods actually uses boxed wine. It's 20 for the box which contains the equivalent of 4 bottles. I do have half a box of red left from Christmas, so I'll just get a box of white. That combined with 12 bottles we have coming as part of our Christmas gift should be plenty.

    She doesn't eat out and that is something we constantly struggle with. We usually only eat out/order in 4-5 times a month, but that is still more than I'd like. We will actually try not to do it at all, but the cards are there as a 'break glass in case of emergency' thing.

    We don't have cable, but we are cancelling Netflix and Hulu. Prime and Sling TV are already prepaid, so cancelling them wouldn't save us anything in January. As it is, the Netflix and Hulu cancellations won't take effect until mid-late month, but I did commit to cancelling them, so I did it.

    If we find that the changes aren't so bad, I think we're going to continue the challenge into February when we don't have anything planned. Valentine's Day is less sentimental to us, and we don't have any get-togethers planned, so it'd be a lot easier to really commit to the idea of the challenge. For me, this is just a push to start thinking more frugally and challenging myself.

  9. snafu Says:

    debt free, please understand I don't wish to sound Bossy Pants -like. I'm sensitive to DH's feelings since our very beloved DS #1 was born December 26th. We coped by celebrating in advance of Christmas. He kicked off the season of celebratory events

    I wonder if you would consider reviewing all those $$ cut backs we regularly offer on SA Forum. I can attest to the value of paying cash, it feels like 'real' money; once gone spending in that category stops until the next pay cycle. In case of emergency keep one card in the trunk, awkward to get under the spare tire.
    Assign months to note every dollar spent on your cell phone. It's annoying and also identifies leakage.
    Meal plans that are your & DH favourites, you're more likely to want to eat at home. If you've made an effort to partially prepare the next dinner, it's an additional motivator..

  10. pjmama Says:

    I would just do what you can on the housewarming and remember to enjoy it Smile For get-togethers like that we usually let everyone know that we'll have ______ and if they're welcome to it, but if they would like to drink something else to bring it with them. That gives them the option and generally eases the budget a little bit, as some people are pickier than others. We'll either supply cheap(er) beer, or have a "signature" drink that's rather inexpensive to make a lot of, but comes off as a bit fancy. I think boxed wine would be a great solution. Just make sure you get stuff you like in case it doesn't all get used at the party. Once it's open, it doesn't keep long Wink We do the same in terms of food - let people know what we'll have and let them know they're free to (but certainly not obligated to) bring a snack to share. Our friends seem to really enjoy cooking and contributing, so it works out well.

    You inspired me to do the challenge as well! And just like every other financial challenge/blog I've read, my view is that you have to make it work for YOU. I think proper financial management is about aligning your spending/budgeting with your priorities. If showing DH some birthday love is a priority, there will be ways to make that work. It's when we start spending will-nilly without intention that it gets out of hand. Same with the party. The point is to spend time with friends and share a new part of your life with them. It sounds like you have a good handle on how to make it less expensive and still enjoy it for what it is. It seems like you've identified your other problem areas and have a plan for addressing them.

    It may be an unpopular opinion (and perhaps I'm not the most qualified person to dish out financial advice), but you can't take it with you... It's about finding balance and spending intentionally. You got this.

  11. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds like a casual affair overall. Enjoy your time with friends and family! It's never about the food and drink, but the time together.

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