How the Frugal February challenge can bring out your inner frugalista


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Feeling that you need to be more frugal after our unusual summer holidays, and not sure where to start?  Why not do a Frugal February challenge.

How Frugal February works

February is a good time to make savings as it is the shortest month of the year (even in a leap year like 2020).

frugal february eat at home freezer

In Australia, an added incentive is that February is when credit card bills for Christmas and Boxing Day sales are due - plus when students need to buy new books and uniforms. In short, February is a great time to become a frugalista.

Different people have different interpretations of what Frugal February means to them.  For some people, Frugal February means going hard-core and committing not to spend anything at all for a month - other than bills. However, others take a less radical approach and focus on reducing spending on wants (rather than needs).

Frugal February is not about depriving yourself of any luxuries or fun for a month. Rather, it's an invitation to be more intentional about spending and to find creative solutions for habitual areas of expenditure.

Does Frugal February work?

Frugal February is an effective way to get your finances back on track, especially after the silly spending season, where many people (even frugalistas like me) can overspend on Christmas, parties, and holidays.

Frugal February is like a diet for your wallet: cut back hard for a while to get back into good shape.  How much you save depends largely on how much you usually spend.  Even though I am frugal, I always feel like I have tamed my spending habits by the end of a Frugal February challenge.

Five ways to save during Frugal February

These are some of the things I suggest focusing on during Frugal February:

1. Food.

Use up excess food in your fridge, freezer and pantry.  Eat that leftover Christmas cake or take it to work for morning tea.  Go through your freezer and find UFOs (unidentified frozen objects).  Do some batch cooking and ensure you have muffins for school lunches and prepared mid-week dinners.

2. Sell unwanted stuff

Did you receive a Christmas present that is just not you? Or do you have more than one of the same item?  If so, then sell it. Even if you don't receive a huge amount, it will help to snowball away any credit card debt. (Do some simple maths of what you will save per annum versus what you gain by it taking up space.)

3. Board games are fun

Who needs to spend money to have fun?  Connect with family and friends with games like Scrabble, Rummy, Twister, Uno or even Monopoly.  (Note: just don't play Monopoly with me - ever - as I am a ruthless negotiator.)

4. Say no to takeaway coffee

Give barista coffees a break for a month.  Instead, make your own, drink tea or go cold turkey and drink water.

5. Fix things

Rather than buying new things, use Frugal February as an opportunity to fix things rather than buy new.  Sew on that missing button, take up that hem, get the superglue out and contemplate with gratitude the many amazing things you will discover.

Connect with others doing Frugal February

There is not a single website or resource dedicated to Frugal February.  But you can share your journey on Twitter using #FrugalFebruary or join a Facebook budgeting group.

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Serina Bird is a proud frugalista who has amassed more than a million dollars through frugal living. She is the author of The Joyful Frugalista and The Joyful Startup Guide. Serina blogs at The Joyful Frugalista, and her podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. She is also the founder of the The Joyful Business Club.
Terrie Cupitt
January 29, 2020 9.31pm

We have one 'no spend' week a month. We do not buy anything for cash or on credit card from 23rd of each month until end of month. It took a while to get into the pattern but now it is easy. It just means being organised the week before to make sure enough fuel, food etc. We have been doing this system for years. Believe me it works and is fun!

Money Team
January 30, 2020 9.01am

Great idea, Terrie! Thanks for sharing.