I thought I would try something new for January, so I'm participating in Mrs. Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal Challenge! Below are some steps from the article I linked that articulate what I'd like to achieve by doing the challenge.
Step 1: Establish your goals
I am participating in this challenge to save up as much money as possible for my down payment when I buy a multi-family property in Q1 2017. I hope to achieve spending less than $1,200 in January, mostly by eating in and entertaining myself with things I've already purchased. My long term life goals are to be retired by the time I'm 35 so I can do whatever I want. Buying a multi-family rental property will accelerate that journey.
My current lifestyle has a few inhibitors that might prevent me from achieving an uber frugal month. For one, I tend to be on the lazy side. That leads to issues like not having food to pack for lunch at work, or simply not getting out of bed in time to pack said lunch before I leave for work. I also like to be lazy when it comes to making dinner. Sometimes I choose not to eat but other times I go out for dinner instead which is the opposite of frugal. The last inhibitor I can think of is lack of planning. Sometimes this means I pay for rush shipping from Amazon, and other times it means I pay a higher price at the store the night before.
Step 2: Review last month's spending
December was actually a pretty decent month for me. I only spent $1776, which is the monetary amount of most American's favorite year! My food spending was a little high as I bought some special food for events I was going to, so that should be able to come down no problems. Auto was also higher than normal as I got an oil change and drove all over the Midwest for the holidays.
Step 3: Categorize your expenses
My fixed expenses this month are:
Step 4: What can I eliminate entirely?
I can't really eliminate anything from this budget since I've already cut quite a bit. I don't have any cable, internet, or utilities anymore since moving into my friend's basement. I can't not feed the cat, and my sister appreciates getting the support. I'm not going to cut my phone off.
But, I think I can find ways to trim some of the stuff down in the bare bones budget. Food can always be cut back (beans and rice for lunch!), and I hopefully won't spend all of the auto category either. My goal is to get it under $1k, but definitely no more than $1,200 for the month. What's so awesome is I couldn't have done that 2 months ago due to ridiculously high rent. #winning!
I'm not going to go through the rest of the steps Mrs. Frugalwoods has outlined since I don't think they really apply to my specific situation.
I will, however, throw in some caveats. I will be spending some money this month, so I want to make sure I include those upfront. I'm going to Camp Mustache SE in Florida for 4 days (!!!!!) in the middle of the month, so I will probably end up with some transportation and food costs. I will be chipping in for gas/car rental to and from Orlando, as well as buying some snacks and drinks to enjoy while at CMSE. I wish I could bring the drinks I already bought, but the airlines frown upon smuggling 5 bottles of cider and a few bottles of mead in my carry-on luggage.
Total expected cost: <$50
Another expense to be included is a late Christmas gift for one of my sisters. I told her I'd buy her a pair of jeans when we went shopping in Chicago, but despite our best efforts and open pocketbooks we didn't find much to buy. Clothing wise, any way, as we did snag several containers of delicious David's Tea. Since I wasn't able to buy her anything while shopping, I will be picking up a pair of slippers for her this week before we have one last family Christmas with our other sister. Families are fun!
Total expected cost: <$30
If you can math at all, adding ~$80 to my total above pushes it over $1200. This just means I'll have to get creative in cutting some stuff down with the rest of my budget!
If you would like to join the challenge, you're not too late! You can still join by heading over to her site and signing up. She sends you an email each day full of wise words, greyhound pictures, and handy tips. There's also a Facebook group you can join to help you stay on track if you prefer that medium.
I wish you luck if you choose to do it! Goodness knows I'll need all the luck and will power I can muster!