My wife and I have been talking a lot about making significant lifestyle changes related to frugality, and so we’ve decided to take a one month test run at it to see how it goes. We decided to make a list of twelve frugal initiatives to try for the month and then at the end of the month we’ll take a look at our finances and see how we’re doing, as well as decide which ones are worth adopting on a more permanent basis. Here are our twelve initiatives to make May an ultra-frugal month:
We will only drink water and milk at home. Water is the best beverage you can drink, and we’re retaining milk because of the nutritional value both for us (skim milk) and for our child (whole milk). We get our milk from a local dairy farmer (seriously, at Picket Fence Creamery) and it doesn’t have all of the hormonal additives of high-throughput milk.
We will only go grocery shopping twice the whole month. This challenges us to get into a routine where it becomes clear what we actually need and what gets put into the back of the cupboard only to be forgotten about. Plus, fewer grocery store trips means fewer incidental buys.
We will do all of our produce shopping at the local farmer’s market Farmer’s markets in the area have started up again and they’re already surprisingly well-stocked, as some people grow things year-round in indoor situations.
We will only do free activities (with a couple necessary exceptions) We won’t pay a dime for any activity during the month, with the exception of costs related to attending a graduation.
We will read at least one hour per day as a family How will we do this? This will happen in two half-hour stretches, one where I read to our son and my wife reads to herself, and then we switch. It’s a free activity that sets our son on a lifelong path to learning.
We will not use the clothes dryer Our apartment complex has a clothesline, so for the month we will use that in lieu of the clothes dryer. It takes more time, but it’s far cheaper, as a dryer load costs $0.75.
We will not eat out at any point (excepting meals related to the graduation and freewill meals) The only meals we will eat out this month revolve directly around travel and graduation celebration, which shouldn’t number more than three.
We will not prepare a meal that costs more than $3 per person Since there are three of us, no full meal for all of us should have a bill higher than $9 unless it produces leftovers, period. Since we are already committed to healthy eating, this makes for an interesting challenge – can we dodge the high fructose corn syrup on the cheap?
We will buy no entertainment or hobby items We can, however, trade for them or get them for free using services like the library or PaperBackSwap.
We will not run the air conditioner unless the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit If it’s cooler than that, then we’ll either go outside or keep the windows open to catch a breeze through the apartment.
We will not watch anything but broadcast television This means ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS here. Since the majority of our television programming comes from these, we’ll see if we can live with just watching them. If we can, then we’ll eliminate our cable at the end of the month.
We will attend fifteen community meals There are at least fifteen available meals in our area in which you can eat for free or for a small donation to a good cause. We’re going to try out a lot of these this month to see what’s available and what’s worthwhile.
How much will this save us? It will be hard to get a precise accounting at the end of the month, but we are anticipating hundreds of dollars in savings.