Frugal February: Are You Up for the Challenge?

By the end of January, your resolution to spend less and save more this year may have already waned. But Frugal February is the perfect time to get back on track!

The Frugal February Challenge has been making the rounds on social media, gaining traction on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Even if you’ve never done a budgeting challenge, this is one money-saving challenge worth trying.

What is Frugal February?

Frugal February is a personal finance challenge that can help you cut back on spending, reduce debt, and build your savings. While it’s up to you to set your own rules for the challenge, the idea behind Frugal February is to live frugally for a month by cutting all spending other than essentials.

Basically, you keep paying your mortgage, rent, insurance, utilities, and monthly debts but cut back on food expenses and non-essentials.

Does Frugal February work?

For most people, staying focused and motivated is easier when a money-saving challenge has an end date. And since February is the shortest month, you’re more likely to stick with it!

As with any money-saving challenge, Frugal February can be an effective way to get a handle on your finances, but it is what you make of it. This is the perfect time to recover from holiday overspending, focus on building emergency savings, or reduce credit card debt.

Frugal February can also provide extra motivation because you’re not alone. Personal finance bloggers and social media influencers frequently participate in Frugal February, so you can follow their day-to-day experiences for inspiration. You can also join accountability groups and forums to connect with other participants. For example, check out the r/Frugal subreddit or search “frugal living” on Facebook.

Benefits of doing a money-saving challenge

Money-saving challenges like Frugal February offer many benefits. These budget challenges can:

  • Keep you motivated – you’re more likely to stick to a budget when there’s an end date to the challenge.
  • Provide accountability – you can participate with friends and family or connect with an online community.
  • Make it easier to focus on saving – “no-spend” challenges like Frugal February help you funnel any money you would have spent on extras into your savings account.
  • Make budgeting and saving fun – short-term challenges require creative thinking and turn budgeting into a competitive game.

Above all, Frugal February can help you develop better habits. When you successfully complete a short-term money-saving challenge, those healthy spending habits are more likely to stick!

How does Frugal February differ from other money-saving challenges?

Even if you're not ready for Frugal February, there are plenty of other money-saving challenges you can try throughout the year. Here are a few to consider:

52-week savings challenge

Whether you’re saving for a major purchase or trying to grow your emergency fund, the 52-week savings challenge is an easy way to stay focused on the goal.

Simply save $1 the first week, $2 the second, and so on. After 52 weeks, you’ll have saved $1,378! You can even print our handy 52-week savings challenge chart to keep track of your savings.

Unlike Frugal February, the 52-week savings challenge lasts an entire year, which might feel overwhelming to those who experience better results from short-term goals.

Save $5,000 in 52 weeks

This popular money-saving challenge helps you stay focused on saving a significant amount in one year. The deposits vary by week, which can be confusing, so we’ve put together a printable chart to help you stay on track.

Setting aside $50 to $200 a week can be difficult, so you’ll probably still need to cut back on non-essential spending to meet those weekly goals. As such, Frugal February would be a great practice run before taking on this challenge!

No-spend challenge

You’ll often see Frugal February described as a “no-spend challenge.” During a no-spend challenge, you continue to pay your bills and make necessary purchases, but you avoid buying new clothes, dining out, or splurging on other non-essential items.

Whether you call it a no-spend challenge, a spending fast, or a spending freeze, the idea is to set a specific timeframe and commit to the challenge until the end date. Frugal February happens to be a structured no-spend challenge that many other people are participating in simultaneously.

Envelope budgeting

The envelope budgeting method is a throwback to how our grandparents budgeted and saved back in the day. It’s a cash-based system that can help you categorize your finances to identify your spending habits and reduce overspending.

Envelope budgeting can be challenging in the modern era of online bill pay and direct deposit, so it’s not for everyone. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile method to consider if you like to physically see where your money is going each month.

How do I participate in the 2023 Frugal February challenge?

So, you want to do the 2023 Frugal February challenge? Great! We can help you get started.

Remember, Frugal February is different for everyone, so feel free to make your own rules. For example, you might:

  • Cook more dinners from scratch instead of dining out
  • Hold off on making any impulse purchases until March
  • Set a weekly budget for the whole family
  • Freeze all spending in one or two categories
  • Cancel any non-essential services for the month

How you participate in Frugal February 2023 is totally up to you!

5 Frugal February tips & tricks

No matter how you approach Frugal February, we’ve got a few tips to help you succeed:

1. Set an achievable goal

Above all else, set a realistic goal – one you’re likely to stick with – and go from there. Don’t make the challenge so difficult that you set yourself for failure.

Let’s say you know you won’t make homecooked meals no matter how good your intentions are. In that case, you might set a rule to avoid all food delivery services and in-restaurant dining, but curbside takeout is fair game. And even then, you might limit those meals to two or three nights a week for the duration of the challenge.

If your goal is to build your savings, figure out how much you can realistically save and make that your goal. Depositing an extra $50 in savings each week may not sound like much, but it’s more than you were saving!

2. Use those holiday gift cards

Now’s the perfect time to use any gift cards you received over the holidays. Try to avoid impulse purchases, though, since you’re only feeding into bad habits. If you can hold off on impulse purchases until March, you might discover that you don’t want those items after all.

Instead, spend gift card balances on essential items like groceries, toiletries, and gas to help reduce your overall spending.

3. Cash in credit card points

Check to see if you’ve built up any rewards points on your credit cards. You might be able to cash them in to pay down your balance or get cash back.

If you have a card offering cash back on grocery and gas purchases, use it during Frugal February to build up your points. Just be sure you turn around and pay what you spent so you don’t accumulate interest.

4. Recruit a friend

Having an accountability partner is one of the most effective strategies for any challenge. You’re more likely to stick to your Frugal February rules if you and a friend or family member hold each other accountable.

You and your accountability partner should have daily check-ins to ensure you’re both on track. If they live nearby, you might even plan a shopping trip together. Maybe one of you has Sam’s Club or Costco membership and can get the other in on a guest pass! When you shop with a friend who shares your same money-saving goals, you’re less likely to overspend.

5. Create reminders

Even though February is a short month, it’s easy to lose sight of your goal. Setting bill-pay alerts and adding events to your calendar that remind you to transfer money to savings can help.

You might even download a budgeting app to track your debt payments, evaluate your spending habits, and cancel unused subscriptions.

Make the Most of Frugal February 2023

Are you up for the Frugal February challenge? Whether your goal is to pay off a debt, reduce your grocery bill, or improve your credit score, you might be surprised at what you can accomplish in just 28 days!

And if you need a little extra help, we’ve got you covered. Visit Advance America today to explore our financial services.

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