Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Frugal Files: How to Survive Seven Days without Spending

Hey frugal folks!!

We’re here another week hoping you’ll join the Frugalicious Diva in a Frugal diet of sorts. You know I’m the Challenge Queen and it’s good to stretch our thinking and confront our habits periodically. It’s always easy to say you’ll join this and take on that, but sometimes we don’t do well because we don’t know how to do it.

This week's focus is ZERO SPENDING, for the last few days of January; a good way to end the first month, discipline ourselves to combat instant gratification and best of all, save money.

So, how do we do it?

Planning and careful execution is a key to achieving any goal. “Winging it” only creates confusion and lack of focus. So, let’s put together a game plan.

Plan Meals
Since we’re not going to the grocery store, take an inventory of what you have. Ration it out with precision and make do. Plan for breakfast, pack lunches and cook and freeze dinners for the whole family. Experiment with items you don’t normally use; the food that’s always left in the cupboards after all your favorite stuff is gone. In my house, it’s pasta and cornbread, but they will both make a grand entrance this week.

Tips for frugal eating: Suggest everyone drink water before each meal and brush their teeth directly afterward to ward off any unnecessary, excessive hunger pains. Sit at the table and eat as a family, not in front of the television. Look at each other and talk, chew your food and enjoy the flavorful meal while you engage in meaningful conversation. Further distract the family with an activity like board games or trivia. Avoid television, especially commercials. For dessert, give fruit or something that can stretch like jello.

By the way, don’t worry, this challenge doesn't call for you not to pay bills. Those things, because they are necessary, are exempt from this test of willpower. Let’s move on.

I set my budget for entertainment and I exhausted it for the month. It ended with a great time at my Book Club meeting. Great ladies, great book and a hilarious and insightful time!! It’s once monthly and I promise you, that when you plan for it, it's much more fun. How else can you prepare for leisure activities?

If you’re a homebody, then staying home and finding something to do is a great way to save money. No spending, no driving. Many complain of being bored at home, but there are a myriad of domestic things to do. You have your normal reading, housework (tip: use cold water for laundry, as it saves on your heating bill), and family time like games and chatting. However, doing something for yourself will ensure your commitment to doing it again in the future.

Finish a DIY project in your bathroom or bedroom. Write your business plan for that awesome idea you had last year. Have an unusual hobby? Start a blog and interact with others online who share a similar passion. Commit more time to meditation and centering yourself. If you've always wanted to learn how to Samba, grab a video and follow along.

If you tend to get stir crazy, then go ahead and venture out, on foot. Take a walk around your neighborhood and leave your wallet at home. Go chat with your neighbors or watch the ducks at the pond. Head to the Farmer's Market and inquire about growing your own veggies. You'll pick up a great deal of knowledge, but no goods, since you left your purse.

Other places to keep hold of cash include your local library. It not only has books, but music, movies and magazines, events for all ages and it's typically free. Seminars, public speakers, classes (I'm in a 3 week Tai Chi class) and show displays abound if you visit. Museums have free exhibits, good for date and family fun. Does you zoo have "free" days? Do you have a national or local monument? Pack up the kids and go. It's free to see!!

Food and entertainment are two major categories where people spend money and most times they go hand in hand. By taking a different approach to them, you can get through the next seven days without spending money on either. You can do this, I'll be joining you. Feel free to email me at FrugaliciousDiva@yahoo.com what you did daily to save money and focus on you. Stay Frugalicious!! Have a great week!!

Frugalicious Diva

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