Frugal February Challenge
You've heard of Dry January, but have you heard of Frugal February? It's kind of the same…but for spending. Your budget is probably a little tapped out after the holidays. Frugal February is a month to get back on track by spending very little and taking time to get a fresh look at where your money is going and setting some goals for the rest of the year.
55% of people don't use a budget, and 56% don't know how much they spent the previous month, according to a 2021 survey from The Penny Hoarder. The research also found a correlation between not tracking and owing more than $5,000 in credit card debt. Review your credit card, bank or credit union statements and tally up where you're spending. You may be surprised to see where your money is going. This exercise can help you prioritize what's important and what's not.
Eat Your Pantry (And Freezer)
Each year 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion in food are thrown away, with nearly 40% of all the food in the US being wasted. Don't waste yours. Instead, make it a point to meal plan and use up what's in your pantry and freezer. It's a big way to get frugal. According to the USDA, nearly 9% of our budgets are spent on food, with about 5% going to eating at home and 4% to eating out. This is particularly important now, with inflation higher than it's been in years. Food inflation specifically was up 5.3% from October 2020 to October 2021.
Join Your Local Buy Nothing Group
Need a ladder to reach those gutters you're trying to clean out? Or a crate to train your new pup? It's Frugal February, so you're not buying, right? Consider your local Buy Nothing group. These local groups, most of which are Facebook-based, have racked up 4.27 million members as of August 2021. Just search Buy Nothing and your town. It's a great way to give away your unused stuff, too.
Use Those Gift Cards
For years, gift cards have been the most requested/popular gift at the holidays. Perhaps, as a result, 51% of adults have unused gift cards, and the average adult has $116 in gift card value. And, for nearly three-quarters of people, they've been sitting on those gift cards for a year or more. Consider Frugal February a great time to break them out. And if you don't need to use them, make a plan to spend them sometime soon!
Set Some Goals For 2022
Research shows we're getting better at achieving our financial resolutions/goals. 71% of people stuck with their financial resolutions in 2021 vs 58% in 2020. So set some goals! Here are some common goals to set: save for emergencies, pay down debt, and save more for retirement.