The Frugal February Challenge
For many years, Finn and I did our own Frugal February challenge to start out a new year. The rules were tweaked here and there, depending on what was going on in our lives, but for the most part, we tried our best to avoid any unnecessary spending for the month of February. No dinners out, no coffee shops, no shopping trips. We’d set a saving goal for ourselves and try to hit it in those 28 days.
Then, COVID happened and last year we decided we wouldn’t do a Frugal February challenge because pandemic life was hard enough. Not to mention, we don’t ever really go out to dinner anymore, which used to be a big line item for us with Ubers and restaurant bills.
This year, I’m not totally sure how we’re going to tackle the month ahead. For one, we have two bathroom renovations starting in February and they each come with big price tags. And while our bathrooms are being renovated, we’re taking a family trip to Florida to stay away from the construction mess.
So a vacation and two big renovations realllllly aren’t the best ideas during a no-spend month. Ha! Even though we won’t exactly be saving money in February, I still wanted to dedicate an entire post to the Frugal February challenge. It’s been a staple of the Playbook community every February and I thought it would be helpful to dive into some of my tips, past posts on the topic, and other financial tips Finn has shared right here on the blog.
Frugal February Challenge – Tips & Tricks
- Create your own rules: First and foremost, set your rules before the month begins. For some, that may mean you only nix your daily coffee run or you create a specific budget for groceries. For others, you may try to completely eliminate any unnecessary spending. Set your own rules and make sure everyone in your household is on board.
- Use up gift cards: During the holidays, I often get gifted a lot of gift cards. Sometimes these sit in my purse or in my office for months and I forget to use them. Frugal February is a great time to corral all of them and put them to use!
- Take your change in: I rarely use cash these days, so I don’t have many coins anymore, but we do still have a coin bowl in our home that gets filled up. Take it to the bank and deposit it to get some extra cash.
- Cash in credit card points: We regularly use our credit card for all of our purchases, and we specifically use one that has great cash back rewards. Every few weeks, we cash in our credit card rewards and a check comes in the mail.
- Get creative with your pantry/freezer: A bulk of our monthly budget goes to our grocery bills, yet somehow we feel like we never have anything to eat! Frugal February is the ideal time to use up any random items piling up in your pantry and freezer. Get creative with your meals and plan them around the unused ingredients you already have in your home.
- Cancel unused subscriptions: This is a big one that we’re going to tackle during the next month. We have so many streaming subscriptions and we certainly don’t use them all. We’re planning to sit down and see the automatic charges that come in every month and cancel anything that we really don’t need. This can save you hundreds a year!
- Check out our Frugal February Challenges from the past…
Now, let’s dive into some past blog posts that are chock full of money-saving tips.
I always like an excuse for Finn to write a blog post and this one was super popular. He shares 9 tips to better manage your money and easy things you can practice on a regular basis to become financially healthy. Oh, and the best part? He created a monthly budget report that you can download and use for your own finances. Heck yes!
While that post gave lots of general tips for money management, this one is very specific to home projects. We spend a lot of money on large home renovation projects and we often get asked how we budget for a project and then finance it. Finn dives into the various options to finance pricey home projects in that blog post.
Here’s another post written by Finn, our in-house finance expert. Even though our kids are young, Finn immediately took steps to secure their financial futures with their own bank accounts, investment accounts, and more. If you’re a parent, this is a must-read.
Okay, now here’s a money-saving topic where I can share a bit of my expertise. If you’re partaking in the Frugal February challenge, but still actively trying to decorate and make your house look good, this blog post is for you. I share some free and some super budget-friendly ideas to upgrade your home and bring some life into a space.
Transparent Home Project Costs
Over the past few years, I’ve tried to be very transparent when it comes to the cost of home projects and big renovations. Even though it can be scary putting real numbers out there, I think it’s helpful to have a sense of how much a project will cost before you dive into it. And if my sharing my real budget helps you with your next home reno, then it’s worth it to put it all out there. Here are a few blog posts where I share real-life numbers…
I plan to continue to share real numbers here on the blog, with our upcoming bathroom renovations. If you’re planning any 2022 home renovations, it’s nice to have a number in mind to motivate you to save!
Frugal February Challenge – Are You In?
Even though we’re not going to save money during the next month, we’re still going to implement a lot of these tips to save money where we can. (Looking at you, gift cards and subscription services!) I’d love to know if you’re planning your own Frugal February challenge. Let me know in the comments below and we can all encourage one another.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.