I can make you hundreds of dollars in one month by telling you what to NOT do. You will end that month having eaten well, having fun, and at more peace than when you started. Don’t think I can? I can.
We here at Abraham’s Wallet are fans of another financial/lifestyle blog called Mister Money Moustache. And MMM’s main philosophy (rather un-American, we’re glad to say) is that, by being choosy about where you spend, and pulling back where you can (and believe me… you can), you can actually produce mounds of FREEDOM for yourself.
We rather agree. At my house, every molded piece of plastic (read: “toy”) that enters means the departure of another. Cleaning out the garage, the closet, and the storage room are all sure ways to put me in a great mood. Similarly, when was the last time you cleaned out your pantry? I mean, cleaned it out til there’s nothing left? I thought so.
Enter February: the dead month. The excitement of the new year is worn off, you’re back at the old grind, and the weather isn’t going to change for another 8 weeks. Unless you’re a huge Founding Fathers fanboy (or enjoy the pretentious pressure of commercialized romance), February’s a bit barren. I AM HERE TO SPICE IT UP my broze.
Back to my first promise: saving you some $$. Okay here’s the big idea: don’t spend any money in February. …Stay with me. For one short month (it’s only got 28 days!), don’t buy any new clothes (not hard; same weather it’s been since Christmas, when you got a new sweater). Then, avoid any unnecessary expenses. If you can possibly make it to the end of the month on the toilet paper you’ve got, do it (I even give you permission to bring a roll home from any hotel visits that month). Use up all those tiny or mostly-used bottles of shampoo you’ve got. Use up all the detergent, and the old cleaning supplies, and your bubble gum stash from the summer. Don’t go to the movies (you’ll have more fun reading a book to each other and sitting in a coffee shop*). Basically, tighten that belt waaaaay up. This is… Low Dough February or, what we in the biz call LoDoFeb.
One of the most fun aspects of LoDoFeb is eating. I KNOW you’ve got a 9-month-old box of rigatoni in the back of your cabinet. You have no plan of EVER eating it. Well THIS IS THE MONTH. Same with that frozen soup in the deep freeze from last April. Go through everything you’ve got, and only buy groceries that make a meal out of what you’ve already got. (For example, I had a huge sack of grits in my pantry that was just never going to be eaten. In LoDoFeb, I had big fun finding recipes that would feature yon grits, and I made this southern staple more than once. This isn’t a food blog, but COME. ON.) My wife and I make a game out of seeing all the places we can save money during LoDoFeb:
- All those gift cards and Starbucks points you’re saving up for (something?)… use them this month. Like on that *date! Fun!
- Got some hotel points burning a hole in your Cloud? Treat yourself to a night out! (Just make sure to bring a picnic dinner from home.)
- Scrounge up ALL leftover chow from work. (You can think whatever you want of me, but one of my true joys is texting my wife “I just got dinner covered” after walking out of an under-attended meeting during LoDoFeb. This is a sure way to Win The Day at my house.)
- All that junk you’ve been meaning to get on eBay or get to Goodwill? Do it now. This month is about cleaning away the clutter. Also…there’s $$ hanging around your life… like finding a gob of $10 bills in your couch cushions!
If you even give this HALF a try, you’ll be amazed at how low you can make your bottom line be for the month. LoDoFeb has all kinds of peripheral benefits. Here’s 4:
- There’s plenty of research that suggests that clutter makes us, in short, unhappy. You cannot live your best life with a bunch of junk surrounding you. Thanks LoDoFeb.
- It’s an active, practical way to teach myself that materialism’s tease, that I will be happier with more and more, is an empty come-on. As Jesus put it, “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions.” Think of LoDoFeb as a fast from materialism and consumerism, which streams through every pore of American culture every day. We need this!
- Your kids will get used to having periods of less, and of giving (money and toys both make their way out of my house during LoDoFeb). LoDoFeb coincided with my church having an emphasis several years ago during which we all ate what 3rd worlders would be happy to eat (beans and rice only). With the difference in our grocery bill, we gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to people in need. It was rad and got me really excited. We do something similar with our LoFeb Dough. So fun! Somebody actually benefits by my saying no to myself for a few days!
- Reinforces my will (so that I run my life and not the other way around). I hold the conviction that, “If we HAD to, we could get by on less…” Of COURSE we can; we DO every year! (And so can you… IF you’re LoDoFebbing it.)
So come on ye Abrahamic sons. Put this great flesh-coraller into practice. Heck put it on your calendar right now, while the cement on this year is still wet. Say no to your constant craving, and yes to LoDoFeb!