Experiment: Frugal February

SNL-dont buy stuff you cant afford from Dean Francis on Vimeo.


Lately I’ve been feeling a little frustrated with my finances. Normally I run a tight budget ship (I mean, I check multiple times a day…), but a series of unexpected healthcare and holiday related expenses have put me behind my savings goals. While I contribute a healthy amount to my retirement accounts, my personal savings has not moved in several months!!! With that in mind I worked extra time this month, had several “No Spend Days” and have sold several hundred dollars worth of goods on eBay, yet still I’m not getting ahead! UGHHH!!!!

Drastic measures must be taken, and I love a good experiment.

So last year I gave up a lot of things in February- I stopped drinking, I was vegan and sugar free. That was… interesting. Kind of terrible, but I survived. In the hopes for a good shakeup (and lots of money saved!) I’ve decided to do a “Spending Diet*” this February. And I’ll be blogging about it. Because admitting to my friends and family that I can’t control my spending for a month sounds deeply humiliating to me.

So, here’s how my “diet” will work. Based on what I saw from my expenses last month, I  drew up a list of things that are okay to spend money on. And then I’ve got $200 dollars of play money to spend on everything else (comedy shows, clothes, yarn, new sneakers). With $200 I’ll have to be careful. I think I’ll probably have to use that money for social obligations, honestly. You can’t just go out for drinks with someone and drink water. It’s just not worth it.

OK to Spend List

  • Rent/Utilities/Household supplies/Laundry
  • Limit $100 for Food/drinks/coffee per week (I know that this is a lot of money for some people, but I love food & cocktails so much that I easily go over every single week. Just being honest. I’m hoping that eating out of my pantry will help alleviate the costs)
  • Limit $40 bucks for entertainment- I already know I’ve committed to a couple of events
  • Anything health related- emergency room bill, vitamins, flu meds, co-pays
  • Transportation costs- I ride my bike to work half the time, but some days it is better just to take BART or Muni. I’m not counting taxis in this list.
  • Birchbox subscription (It’s kind of annoying to cancel and restart a service just to save 10 bucks, you know?)
  • Retirement contributions
  • Valentine’s present (well I guess I don’t want to be a grinch)
  • Any costs related to selling things on eBay/Amazon/etsy
  • Taxes

Oy. I feel pretty nervous about this already, but I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can save! I’ll try to share a status update at least once a week here on the blog. If you end up doing something similar, let me know. I’m curious how it works out for you.

*The term comes from the blog And Then We Saved, which is famous for the author’s admirable 15 month Spending Fast, which allowed her to pay off 24k in debt. Definitely check it out. It’s super inspiring.