A few weeks ago I found the Uber Frugal Month Challenge over at the Frugalwoods and I was immediately hooked. What a great way to start out 2018! I signed my husband and I up and we have spent the last week reading through the daily emails and completing challenge items. I will admit that we already do a lot of the tasks listed in the challenge such as not eating out, keeping track of our finances and trying to be mindful of our spending but as I have said before we have had a rough couple of years for our finances and we are ready to get back on track! This challenge is perfect for that and we have already started looking at areas for us to cut the fat and to buckle down.
One of the areas we have struggled with overspending over the past year has been with our groceries. I wrote about it in my A New Beginning in Budgeting Series Part 2 and we are working this month to lower our expenses even more with a pantry clean out. Unfortunately we realized on New Year’s Day that we were out of some very basic groceries such as bananas, eggs, carrots, yogurt and paper towels so we did end up having to go to the grocery store but we only spent $66.15 for the first week of the year and that included a couple of rarely purchased basic ingredients such as butter for when we hosted our group of friends over the weekend. That is a huge improvement for us! We stuck to our list and did not buy any extras and everything we bought we have absolutely used this week. We are already out of bananas but we are delaying going to the store for as long as possible so maybe we will make it to the weekend before we do another Costco run.
We got creative with some of the meals we made and although we are not completely vegetarian we have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian/low meat meals into our dinner rotation. Our kids love meat and some days that is all they will eat but we also are huge believers in putting a wide variety of healthy foods in front of them and eating them along with them. Kids learn by watching what you are doing (even if they don’t look like it) and we always eat our vegetables with the kids. I try to serve two vegetables at dinner so that the kids have a choice. One choice is a vegetable I know they like (such as peas) and another is either a new vegetable, one they need to try or something else they like but maybe prepared differently. We have really been working with our pickiest eater on just trying new foods and so far it has worked with the eater in question at least tasting new foods. Some of them have been thoroughly enjoyed!
Now I know that many uber frugal people would maybe tell us to switch to something other than paper towels but we primarily use them for cleaning up bodily fluids of both the pet and human kind off of the floor and I just do not feel comfortable using my towels and well loved hand/face wash clothes for that. I did make an effort this week to use our repurposed baby wash clothes when washing the kids hands and faces after meals instead of reaching for a baby wipe and I am thinking of making some more cloth napkins at some point. I have sewed them in the past but we only have a few currently and that is nowhere near enough with small children in the house! I finally have my sewing machine set up but I definitely don’t have the time right now to make them. Maybe next month my goal will be to replace as many disposable items in the house with reusable ones as possible. Hmm…I will have to think about that!
One of the biggest things we got out of our first week of the UFM Challenge was exactly how much our overspending on clothing and groceries was effecting our bottom line. I hadn’t really looked at our yearly spending in a couple of years and once we broke it down it became clear that we needed to be more diligent about overspending. I am really glad we are doing this challenge and gearing up on our frugal choices!
What ways are you being frugal in the new year?