Over the course of 2013, we delivered 12 months’ worth of posts dedicated to frugal practices that aimed to help you save at least £250 a month. If you followed our posts, you should have ended the year with £3000 in savings in the bank.
If your dedication to the Frugal Year Challenge ended in success, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. But even though that year is over, another one is just beginning. Now is the best time to regroup, revisit our posts from last year, and re-establish your savings goals with renewed energy.
As a reminder of what you learned about saving in 2013, here’s a recap of the entire Frugal Year Challenge. Today is the day to get back on the path to a better financial future and make 2014 the best it can be.
January 2012 – Budgeting
Our Frugal Year Challenge kicked off with budgeting, and there’s no better time than the month of January to evaluate your expenses, plan your year ahead, and make cuts where necessary. We suggested eliminating those daily small purchases that add up over time, like trips to the coffee shop. Next we recommended eating out less for lunch, and eating what’s already in your fridge instead of giving into takeaway impulses for dinner. We also pointed out how costly magazine subscriptions can be — especially if you have several of them — and why you don’t need them. Lastly, we provided advice on how to cut down on the costs of public transportation by walking when you can or working from home one or more days per week.
February 2012 – Abstain
February was an extension of January’s budgeting advice. We provided examples of how to abstain from certain purchases all together. Tips included finding an alternative to public transportation (like walking, biking and carpooling) and opting out of cable TV and DVR services.
March 2013 – Pay it off
For our third Frugal Year Challenge post, we discussed the importance of paying down your bills as quickly as possible. Two tips we gave were selling unwanted items around your home (things like CDs, DVDs, furniture, etc.) and starting a ‘Pay-it-off’ fund. The latter is a fund where you’ll send all the extra cash you’re saving from January and February budgeting and abstaining practices so you can pay down your debts.
April 2013 – Increase your income
In April we suggesting exciting ideas on how you can make more money — even when you think you can’t. Those ideas included selling unwanted items on eBay and Amazon (which we touched on in March), hosting garage/yard sales, picking up odd jobs and quick gigs (Craigslist is a great resource for this), and promoting your specialised skills in a trade profession.
May 2013 – Keep going
After four months of serious savings, we figured you might be experiencing fatigue. Our goal in May was to reenergise your dedication to the Challenge with ways to encourage you to continue. Among our 15 ideas were skipping the dry cleaners, forgoing buying music for a month, using natural light instead of electricity, and bundling up inside when it’s cold instead of turning on the heat.
June 2013 – Free fun
Saving isn’t always fun, especially if you have to cut out some of the things you love doing. Keeping that in mind, we provided a list of free activities you could participate in throughout the year. Host a movie marathon at home. See a local performance. Go swimming. Volunteer. Have a picnic in the park.
July 2013 – Explore new routes
Britons spend an average of £260 a month on transportation. For July we wanted you to reduce how much you use your own car and public transportation by exploring new routes. Some benefits of exploring new routes included seeing new things and getting more exercise.
August 2013 – Learn new skills
To save more money on the everyday things you want and need, you have to learn new skills. In August, we suggested a few how-to videos to help you learn new skills for free. Video topics included planting a vegetable garden, exercising at home and grooming your dog. Additional videos focused on how to set up a wireless network, clean your furniture and alter a pair of pants.
September 2013 – Work your wisdom
Have an untapped skill? This month we asked you to explore your talents and find a way to sell them. People hire others for many things, including tutoring students, fixing cars and walking dogs. Other skills may include baby-sitting, teaching and blogging.
October 2013 – Use less energy
Using less energy can save a lot of money. So we provided several tips on how to cut back on energy in October. Big tips included switching to energy-saving lights and installing a thermostat that you can program. Smaller tips included sealing up draughty windows and lowering the temperature of your water heater.
November 2013 – Research
Researching purchases before you buy them can save you money, too. That was our focus in November. Compare prices online. Search for coupon codes. Use apps. Find private sellers. Use common sense when shopping. All of these tricks are good ways to save more money when making purchases.
December 2013 – Do what works
For our final month in the Frugal Year Challenge, we wanted you to do what works. We’ve given you lots of ideas throughout the year, but not every one is for everybody. Your goal now is to find what works for you and stick to it. We hope you’ll continue using these tips and tricks to save more money in 2014.