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An Uber Frugal January: Halfway There

The first two weeks of 2017 were rather bananas for me, with a big work deadline looming and everyone demanding my time after they returned from the holidays. Thankfully, that’s in the past, and the three day holiday weekend offered an opportunity to refresh, regroup, and finally put away the Christmas decorations. So, how’s my Uber-Frugal Month going? Not bad!

Grocery Shopping: We have had alternating expensive and cheap weeks. The first and third weekends were more expensive, with the 2nd weekend being just $23 spent at Aldi. We’re not doing amazingly well, but we are trying new recipes and wasting very little food.  I have probably been driving up the costs a bit by buying more convenience/snacky food, but all of those carb-filled delights propelled me through a long couple of weeks at work. The busy-ness of the past few weeks is not my typical situation, and usually I am able to take the time to cut up a grapefruit or apple and have something healthier (and cheaper).

Cooking: I wasn’t totally confident in my abilities to handle an eating out ban coupled with a rather insane amount of work-related stress, but it hasn’t been too bad, and planning our meals in advance has actually made things easier. I’ve been making large batches of soup on the weekends and eating that for lunches (and a few dinners) all week. With my work deadline, there were several 10-14 hour days happening in the last two weeks. It was so nice to come home, shove some homemade food in my face, and head back to work, as opposed to worrying about grabbing fast food or going to a restaurant. Having portable and pre-batched meals all week at work was also a time saver.

Eating Out: Our eating out ban didn’t really feel like a slog until the last weekend. Late last week, I caved and bought some french fries at the student union, and this weekend we ate at a restaurant while we were out with some friends. (Thankfully, it was half price menu!) All in all, we’re still looking at about $14 in eating out spending, for the both of us, for the last two weeks.

Shopping: Last weekend we did stock up on a lot of household items (ziploc bags, TP, kleenex, allergy drugs) at the warehouse store and Target. (And maybe a few bulk snack items. Ahem.) I did buy one “stupid”/unnecessary thing at Target, but I waited a full week to buy it after first seeing it, and I’m using it now and enjoy it. Avoiding the the temptations of internet sales was much easier when I was buried in work – now I have more time to click on those seasonal clearance emails and find some more stuff that I absolutely do not need. Nothing has been overwhelmingly tempting, and I think I threw out a $20 REI coupon this weekend (REI clearance is my frugal achilles heel).

Entertainment: We don’t typically spend a lot of money here, and that trend continued. A good friend invited me to go see Hidden Figures with on opening weekend, and I jumped at the opportunity. As a woman in the sciences, I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time, and I was happy to support its success with my money. We also spent a small amount on a community trivia night. Each team can bring their own food and beverages, so it turns the event into a festive, picnic-like atmosphere. There is a modest entry fee for each person, and that money is used to fund community initiatives. Another thing we’re happy to support, especially since we got to bring our own dinner and have a home-cooked meal and some camaraderie.

Decluttering and Weight Loss: My usual January goals include cleaning up around the house and focusing on healthier choices after a busy and indulgent holiday season. In my part of the country, January is a great time to putter around the house and purge closets and cabinets. Crappy weather this weekend meant there was zero temptation to drive to city to go shopping. I’ve been continuing to find goodies for my local Buy Nothing group, and purged about a dozen cookbooks and a few other books last weekend. While putting away the Christmas decor, I purged a few more things from those boxes as well. I don’t have a real decluttering goal, like the MinsGame, but I do have a bit of renewed motivation since we’re still thinking about moving. Eliminating (almost) all eating out, coupled with a Dry January, has also helped me shed just around 4 lbs. And that’s even with the first few weeks of the year being VERY sedentary and stressful and involving a fair amount of junk food.

My Goals for the Second Half of Uber Frugal Month:

  • Make my remaining 2016 Roth IRA contribution
  • Look into opening a 529 (for my sibling’s baby)
  • Finish my taxes if all the forms become available
  • Plan some travel for later this spring
  • Focus on healthier and more frugal snacks at work
  • Look into alternative cell phone providers
  • Look into retrofitting my SodaStream with a paintball CO2 canister for cheaper & less frequent refills
  • Tally our spending totals for UFM and report them here!


Are you doing a challenge this month? 


3 responses to “An Uber Frugal January: Halfway There”

  1. Can’t believe how well you’re doing when you’re so busy. When I’m working long days, that’s when I’m worst for treating myself or being a bit lazy ‘because I deserve to be’!! I’m a little way off an uber-frugal month psychologically, but just had great success on my first ever no-spend weekend so I feel like I’m heading the right way 🙂


    1. TRUST ME – I also surprised myself in this. I thought I was going to crumble and hit the drive-thru before I even knew what was happening. I was far from perfect in the first few weeks of January (hello Little Debbies for breakfast one morning, omg), but the secrets to my success are 1) practice, 2) homemade soup, and 3) a supportive partner. I could not do a no-spend weekend, I don’t think, but Mixed Up Money posted about no-spend 4/5 weekdays, and that’s much more appealing to me.


  2. My challenge is growing a human! 😉 I feel so much better being able to say that. It was so hard being asked to do all these things at the start of the year. Normally, I’m all about solidarity. This year, I’m just trying to be comfortable and healthy. Thankfully, our budget is much more normal this month now that I feel better-ish. And I guess I’m doing dry January by default! Ha 🙂

    I’m so impressed by your month, your determination, and how you’re going after your money goals. Can’t wait to see where 2017 takes you!


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