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Frugal Month – Final Summary

Sipping coffee on our deck enjoying gorgeous spring weather and blogging. Good life. 🙂

What did we spend the last few days?

Day 29 – $3.00 (snacks for oldest son at rugby practice) + $15.19 (2 lb bag coffee beans – very important!)

Day 30 – $7.00 (Patreon- Sam Harris) + $20.00 (babysitting)

Total = $45.19

Final Total = 426.58 (week 1) + $551.47 (week 2) + $803.09 (week 3) + $878.53 (week 4) + $45.19 = $2704.86 

As I detailed in my original post, we challenged ourselves to an April frugal month, inspired by the Frugalwoods and their Uber Frugal Month challenge.

How do I think we did?
Overall, pretty dang good. Mr. Butter Passing Robot is the finance guy in our relationship, and has been dutifully tracking every.single.purchase for the last 1.5 years via an Excel spreadsheet. We do this as a way to see exactly where our money is going, because it’s easy to lose track of all those little purchases (which as we saw during our week 3, can really add up!).

I don’t have the exact comparison as to how this month compares to our prior monthly averages, but I’m confident it is much lower than what we usually spend. I know for a fact Mr. BPR can pull out his well-honed spreadsheet monkey skills and within a few seconds have an answer.

As part of this challenge, I signed up for the Frugalwoods email, which contain a daily mantra. These are the ones that resonated most with me, as well as how we applied them this month:

I have the power to decrease my dependence on others and do things on my own.

  • Got rid of our cleaning service and cleaned our own house
  • Ditched the dog groomer for some DIY action (aka Pawsie takes one for the team) –  not quite the same level as letting my husband cut my own hair,  but a good start
  • Did a home pedicure
  • Replaced a broken phone camera lens cover
  • I wouldn’t call either myself or Mr. BPR handy, but we are motivated and willing to learn, and there is definitely joy to be had in figuring out how to do/repair things on your own. We’re going to try our hand at this kind of thing more going forward.

 

I refuse to waste my money on the notion that there’s something wrong with how I naturally look.

  • I minimized my makeup use over the entire month, and for about half the month went entirely makeup free. As someone who has struggled with acne through my teenage years well into my adult life and has the emotional (and physical) battle scars to prove it, this was a huge deal. The days I wore makeup I limited myself to mascara and eyeshadow, with a few special occasions (wedding, ballet) where I added my pre-challenge standard foundation/blush. This was also inspired by Mrs. Frugalwood and her post on makeup.
  • Bought 0 new clothes. I’ve got plenty of good stuff in my closet – in fact, I have a lot of stuff I never wear that I should donate to someone who will use it. I think one of my next challenges will be a closet purge and a commitment to buy significantly less clothing going forward.

 

I will absolutely make time for the things that matter most.

  • Family is incredibly important to us – it’s a big reason why we homeschool
  • We had a frugal family staycation, and in the process discovered a beautiful botanical garden not far from our house.
  • Lots and lots o’ family outdoor time this month – we are blessed to have plenty of beautiful parks and playgrounds in our area, and now that spring has finally arrived we are making a point to enjoy it whenever we can.

Picnic last week on the lawn at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

 

Food is a necessity, but expensive food is not!

  • Been there done that – Mr. BPR has been on a mission, drastically decreasing our monthly food expenditure via battling food waste and shopping at ALDI and Costco

 

There’s no excuse for takeout.

  • We keep a box of Costco frozen pizzas in our freezer, specifically so we are not tempted to get takeout on those nights when we don’t have the energy to cook.
  • We usually have a handful of frozen leftovers also on hand. As a result, I can’t even remember the last time we did takeout. It’s been months.

 

Establish frugal habits and execute them every day.

  • No more pricey coffeeshop lattes. We already own a burr grinder and a coffee maker that work just fine.
  • Institute at least basic meal planning to aid the grocery budget
  • Stop turning to online shopping as a stress relief tool
  • See below for the 72 hour rule

 

I have the willpower to wait!

  • We instituted a 72 hour rule for discretionary purchases. We still purchased some fun items this month, but by taking a few days to pause it allowed us to only buy what we really wanted. I love Amazon for it’s convenience, but it’s so easy to get sucked into that “buy now with one click/receive it in 2 days” mentality without dwelling on whether you really want/need the item in question. We will likely still use Amazon, but will be more mindful of our purchases.

 

Once we get past the debilitating position of trying to define ourselves by our things, we can express gratitude for what we have instead of anguish over what we don’t have.

  • I really love this one. We’ve been exploring the concept of minimalism and have been paring down our possessions. Some of this was necessary (we moved twice in the span of just under a year, and holy moly do you acquire lots of crap with small kids), but now it is becoming intentional. It IS difficult to separate yourself from the “keeping up with the Joneses mentality,” but after just the small steps we’ve taken I can already feel liberated.

 

Frugality isn’t about deprivation or hardship, it’s about spending money only on what truly matters to you.

  • I discussed this briefly during week 3 – the difference in being frugal versus being cheap. We spend money on a gym membership, which we love. We also spend money on dance lessons and the associated babysitting, again, which we love. Could we save more money each month by cutting those out? Of course, but it’s not worth the financial savings to us to deprive ourselves of the joy (and health benefits) those activities bring.
  • We also take a few family vacations each year, which cost money but are SO worth it. We are finally getting into credit card travel hacking so hope to make these vacations more frugal going forward.

My favorite part of this challenge was the awareness it brought ME regarding where our money goes. I was definitely more mindful of my purchases, and on multiple occasions found myself stepping back and reflecting on the emotions and cultural pressures that drive our consumer culture.

I am currently the primary breadwinner for our family, which can carry it’s own set of stresses. I’ve long defaulted our day to day financial decisions to Mr. BPR – he’s much better at tracking and managing those things, so it makes sense to use his talents in that regard. But this has meant I’ve mostly ignored his spreadsheets and assumed things are getting taken care of (they are!). This challenge has given me the confidence that we can keep ourselves on the right track financially, while showing me where our money goes and where we can potentially save more. We have FI goals we’d like to reach sooner rather than later.

I’m not sure how feasible it is for us to maintain this month’s level of spending throughout the year – we have vacations planned that will drive up our expenses (ahem…Disney), the kids are constantly growing and needing new clothes, and as any homeowner knows there are occasional random big expenses that can pop up out of nowhere. Still, it’s a good goal to strive toward. The more we can keep our monthly averages near this level the sooner we’ll hit our FI goal. As Mr. BPR and I can attest, we certainly didn’t feel deprived this month. This may be the sort of challenge we need to do periodically, e.g. once a year, to keep ourselves focused on our goals and keep our spending in check.

 

 

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