The Results of an Ultra-Frugal May

At the start of the month, I announced that my wife and I were attempting an ultra-frugal month where we would try out a number of highly frugal activities to see how it would go. Let’s go through each pledge to see how it went.

We will only drink water and milk at home. We did this, only excepting a bunch of free soda that was given to us at the end of a graduation party. Since the purpose was to reduce our expenses on beverages, I consider this a success.

We will only go grocery shopping twice the whole month. We mostly accomplished this goal. We took only two “real” trips to the grocery store, with one additional stop at the town grocery in the small town we live in to get some more milk for our son because we thought his whole milk was going bad before the expiration date – we are very careful with milk, smelling it and such before pouring any for ourselves or our son.

We will do all of our produce shopping at the local farmer’s market We accomplished this in part. We partook in everything available at three different local farmer’s markets, but many items simply aren’t in season in Iowa yet, so we did supplement it with a bit of produce from a local supermarket.

We will only do free activities (with a couple necessary exceptions) We did not pay for a single activity the entire month, not even related to graduations and family reunions.

We will read at least one hour per day as a family We averaged this, but we did not read that much every single day; some days we spent with family, and at least one evening we were at the park for more than three hours and Joseph was asleep before we got back home.

We will not use the clothes dryer This one didn’t go as well – several times, the laundry line was full, and another time weather prevented laundry line usage.

We will not eat out at any point (excepting meals related to the graduation and freewill meals) We nailed this one with only one exception, and that involved entertaining a friend.

We will not prepare a meal that costs more than $3 per person Success! Some meals actually were below $1 a person (homemade French toast, for one), which made us very happy.

We will buy no entertainment or hobby items I bought one single entertainment/hobby item the whole month – but it was a graduation gift for someone (The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, if you must know).

We will not run the air conditioner unless the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit This happened twice, and thus our A/C only ran twice, as far as I know.

We will not watch anything but broadcast television My wife watched The Colbert Report once without thinking about it; other than that, I don’t believe we watched any cable. According to my notes, the television was on seven hours this month, and four of those were devoted to Lost.

We will attend fifteen community meals We had a hard time finding enough freewill dinners to attend, because it turns out that many of the ones I knew of were actually seasonal ones and don’t happen during the summer. We didn’t even come close here, unfortunately, but it appears there are more regular ones in the town we’re moving to.

Although we didn’t quite make it on a few points, we still see May as being a very successful experiment. We are planning on trying July as a “no television” month (excepting testing cable connections and such after we move) because we’ll be busy with house stuff and other things.