Yesterday marked the end of our annual month-long practice in frugality.  31 days of no eating out, no shopping, no spending outside of regular bill-paying and grocery-buying.  It was a loooong January…  It’s tempting to ramble on about the things I missed or craved or bitterly denied myself, but I have to remember what a blessing it is that we do this out of choice rather than necessity.  The fact of the matter is this: we live a very charmed life.  So I’m looking back on the month with a couple of lessons learned, a couple of goals for the coming months, and a whole heap of gratitude for the multitude of blessings we enjoy that money can’t buy.

First, Starbucks is a non-necessary evil.  There are three Starbucks stores within one block of my office, and I had developed a habit of making not one, but often two trips in a day to indulge in a latte or Americano.  Not so much for the caffeine fix, but because I liked the routine of it – I liked the mid-afternoon break, the smile from my friendly barista, the warmth of that white-and-green cup in my hands as I walked back to my office.  And yet, I was surprised to find that I hardly missed my visits to the old ‘Bux around the corner last month.  The office tea cupboard is well-stocked, and let’s be real – that barista I felt so attached to didn’t even know my name.

Second, eliminating eating out from your diet usually results in a caloric decrease – weight loss may indeed a positive side effect of frugality!  However, if you’re baking chocolate chip banana bread and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting to pull yourself through the long, restaurant-less weeks, don’t even bother stepping on that scale.  Damn.

Third, it pays to rummage.  There were several days when my meal planning went amiss and we were left scratching our heads, staring at the cupboards and complaining that there was nothing to eat.  But when faced with the challenge, I unearthed the fixin’s for some pretty good meals – pasta with marinara sauce, curry noodle soup, veggie stir-fry’s.  Then there were the nights that I ate an apple and peanut butter with a side of chips and salsa for dinner.  Don’t judge.

Fourth, sharing a home-cooked meal with good friends at a dining room table beats sitting in a crowded restaurant (almost) any day.  We shared meals with our fellow frugal-ites (it’s become something of a movement among our friends!) almost every Sunday this month, and it was grand.  When at home, you linger longer, you get to pick the music playing in the background, and you can wear yoga pants and slipper socks at the table.  Nice!  Spending time in the warm and cozy kitchens of friends was what made feel the month feel not-so-bad.

We’re determined that this practice of discipline will influence how we think about consumption over the coming year – it’s not just about saving money, it’s about being more mindful of the “needs” vs. “wants” vs. “shoulds and should-nots”.  Lucky for me, my lunchtime burrito bowl with a side of chips qualified on all counts.  T.G.I.February.


  1. la v says:

    thanks for joining us in Frugal January! it really has become a movement! the month definitely goes by so much faster when you have friends to share it with.

  2. Brieanne says:

    I love the frugal month idea! What is the exciting plan for this year’s saved loot?

  3. kellyschnell says:

    Not sure yet – but we’re looking at our 2012 travel plans now!