Welcome to Day #1 of the January Money Diet

Happy new year 2015

If you’ve decided to try the January Money Diet this month, congratulations! Previous participants have accomplished amazing goals, from paying off credit cards to saving for a house down payment to funding emergency savings accounts.

The key to starting off 2015 financially strong is to radically cut spending on everything but the barest essentials. Together we’ll explore ways to spoil ourselves, eat well, enjoy fun activities, improve our surroundings, and have a wonderful time — all without spending cash.

What Are the Rules?

One of the most common questions I’m asked about this annual month of no spending is “How do you define essential expenses?”

The answer will be different for each one of us, and the good news is that there are no hard and fast rules for the January Money Diet. In our family, I keep it really simple:  I try to only spend money on the monthly bills and groceries. It’s quite amazing how much money is left over when I’m not regularly whipping out my debit card for non-essentials.

If spending is a temptation, you may want to leave your credit card in a safe place at home (one reader froze hers in a block of ice!) or try Dave Ramsey’s envelope system for paying only for the month’s essentials.

How Does It Work?

If you’ve participated before in the January Money Diet, you’ll notice two changes this year.

The first update is in the number of e-mails you’ll receive. In the past, I sent an e-mail every single day during January. Thirty-one e-mails can be a little too much for anyone’s InBox, though, so I’m trying a different approach this year.

You’ll receive a daily e-mail from me for the first five days of the diet. Each of these posts will discuss an important, key strategy for January Money Diet success.

After that, I’ll send out several e-mails a week with various ideas and challenges for you to try. I encourage you to share your own ideas and experiences in the comments section of those posts. Let us know about your victories and struggles, and we’ll encourage and cheer each other on!

Be Diligent and Win a Special Prize

The second change for this year’s money diet is that I’m giving away a large gift box filled with goodies to one lucky January Money Diet participant.

The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and more.

In past years I’ve done some smaller, random giveaways, but this year’s winner will be chosen intentionally. At the end of January I’ll ask you to share your results, and the prize winner will be someone who participates in the January Money Diet with heart and soul and achieves good results. Good luck!

Your First Challenge

On this first day of the January Money Diet, begin by doing some “shopping” at home. This is the perfect time to go through the closets and drawers looking for those unused things we all tend to hold on to for “someday.”

Take inventory at home for Day 1 of the January Money DietStart in the pantry and freezer; do you have any fancy, gourmet items or forgotten goodies lurking back in the shelves?

In my own kitchen, I did some excavating and brought forth a box of pumpkin bread mix, a bag of frozen blueberries, lasagna noodles, artichoke hearts, panko crumbs and baker’s chocolate. This month I’ll try to find creative ways to use these products (not all in the same dish, of course) and clear some room in the cabinets and freezer at the same time.

What about those specialty kitchen appliances and gadgets gathering dust? We have a paella dish, a tortilla press, and an ice cream cone maker (that’s right), all of which I plan to put into service this month.

Another place to “shop” at home is the bathroom cabinet; are there shampoo samples, fancy soaps, loofahs, pedicure kits and bath salts languishing in your cabinets? Gather them up and plan to use them. If not this month, when?

What about those unused craft and scrapbooking supplies? Home improvement materials? Fabric and notions? Yarn and knitting needles? Office supplies? Candles? Blank journals? January is a splendid month to take on a project using things you already have.

Check your medicine chest, too; are there vitamins and supplements languishing there? Take a look around the closets and drawers of your home, and you might find a treasure trove of good stuff just waiting to be used up and enjoyed.

Make a List

After you’ve gone on a scavenger hunt at home and taken an inventory of the products you plan to use this month, post a few highlights in the comments section below this blog post. You know we’re all just dying to hear what you unearth.

From our home to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015. May these next 30 days be the beginning of your best year ever!

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Welcome to Day #1 of the January Money Diet

  • Jen T

    I didn’t come across this website and awesome idea until today, January 30th! So, I’m going to make my list today and start on February 1st. Is there a way to go back and access the emails that were sent to those who subscribed in time to take the challenge in January?

  • HeatherP

    This was fun- I am a teacher, and forever splurging on things for the classroom or my students- but in searching the crafting drawers I found plenty of supplies to use on bulletin boards, paper for copies and some homemade cards. Found some bath and body sprays that have been neglected and two scarves I forgot I owned… will so be using those this week!
    Best find- my daughter is invited to a Birthday party this Friday and instead of going to the store to buy a gift I went through our “Birthday Box” (I stock up on clearance item toys, books… super deals for just this type of thing) found several great new items to give her that have been waiting for a good home.

  • Tricia

    This was easy for me. As my husband and I have very different diets, we have very little that gets stored up in regards to food. I am one that hates clutter and keeping things that do not have a purpose in our current day to day life, so much of the extra or duplicated things get purged on a regular basis (at least 2Xs per year). We also put our house on the market last spring, so there was a massive de-cluttering, as my husband and I agreed that we were downsizing when we moved!!

  • Lisa

    We not only want to buy less, but get rid of more. Today I finished going through college textbooks from both my daughter and myself (mine were from a recent master’s degree) and found websites to sell the books to. It took a little time and a few trips to UPS and Fed Ex, but I netted $80 out of the effort, so it was a nice bonus to cleaning out something we didn’t need anymore.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I found some many items in my pantry. I found a Hello Kitty Halloween Cupcake Mix from 2 seasons ago. LOL I also found great ingredients for stir fry. Also broke out the hotel shampoos. I’m going to start keeping a list of staples on hand so no more waste.

  • Danielle Crawford

    My family of 5 has become me and my husband with our 3 kids in college. We moved from a large house in Atlanta to a very small apartment in Charlotte that I now love. I thought I had purged everything due to space. Well I was completely wrong so thank you for that. I found a jar of gourmet chocolate sauce, orzo pasta, whole wheat flour and dark chocolate peanut butter cups which all were still in date to eat. I haven’t made it through both bathrooms yet but that will be tomorrow. I did find 2 purses in my closet that had a pair of earrings I love and 2 lip glosses. Truly a fantastic idea!!!!!

    • Jennifer

      It’s just like Christmas when I find an old purse. There is always something in a pocket that I missed. Even better when it is money. Way to make the best of the downsize and be happy! 🙂

  • Karin

    I really don’t have many odd pantry items. Every year when the Boy Scouts do their canned food drive I go through my pantry and donate the items. Last year it was canned soups, canned pasta and a few mixed vegs my family didn’t like.

    However, it did get me to think about going through my lotions and other items in the bathroom. I found 3 bottle of half empty lotions to use up.

    It also helps to declutter.

  • Lindsey

    I spent most of last week cleaning out drawers and cupboards and gathering things up for Goodwill. Feels great to be down to only the things that I use and love. Going through the freezer and refrigerator to figure out ways to use all the food and sauces that I typically ignore now…

  • Jennifer

    We have gone to the no poo method and after a couple months, I love it! This is a great time for me to take all the bottles of hair products I have stocked up and donate them to our local shelter.

    I also have a TON of gluten free pasta that I have a terrible time cooking with. I plan on trying it out again and making many meals this month to get it used up! Thanks for the motivation!

  • Cindy

    I have been doing a lot of decluttering recently so I didn’t think I would find much when I “shopped.” After 5 hours of decluttering and shopping in my house on New Year’s Day, I found a picture frame I’m going to use and a forgotten stash of candles. More important than what I found for myself is what I found for others and how I’m saving them money. I’m giving two jackets, unopened make up, and cute mugs to my niece. I’m giving three beautifully framed prints to my community house. I’m giving washable paint and Mardi Gras beads to a Girl Scout troop. I’m giving four bags of items to Goodwill.

  • Laura

    I found some lovely essential oil infused bath salts, some fancy soap (I opened and used in my shower this morning!) And I have some lavender lotion to use at bed time. Time to pamper, yes? 🙂 I found a bag of chocolate truffles in the pantry and an unopened box of tea. I made myself a cup of tea this morning. Yum.Yum.

  • Bonnie

    This is a very new concept to me and I am looking forward to it. I have found lots of creams and shampoos from my travels and samples that I should be good for awhile (even longer then a month).

  • Kimberly

    I lost my brother and sister from cancer. I was the one to go and be with them so they were not alone when they needed someone and their spouses were at workI lost my sister first then my brother two years later. I had been working on projects at their homes but put them down and have had a hard time picking them up to finish, This is the year I will do that. I have a blanket and a table scarf to do. I also am not doing any processed foods and had grown and canned a lovely little garden. I will not buy any food this month just use what I have on the shelves and in the freezer.I got a grinding mill in October and haven’t taken the time to use it yet, My husband bought me wheat berries for Christmas so I will start making my own flour and baking my own bread this month. I am doing this challenge for a year. We are wanting to get land so I don’t have to go pick at the organic farms. If there is a home on it that will be a bigger blessing but it starts with me saving every cent I can.Good luck to all of you on this challenge, remember use what you have and don’t waste anything.

  • Kelli Tolstoy

    So excited to be doing this challenge this year. I am getting married this year and any extra money will help. Here it goes:
    1) make a yummy pot of beans & ham soup with the ham hock I have had in the freezer.
    2) we, as a family, decided to take the games off the shelf and have family game nights instead of going out and spending money.
    Thanks for creating this great challenge♡

  • I have shampoo and conditioner in the cupboard that I had forgotten I’d bought on sale a few months back, and we’re using up the last of the steer in the freezer to make way for next month’s hog. My monthly meal plan has lots of beef recipes on it now. I also found a bunch of good broth is dozen so we’ll be having some good bean soups this month too.

  • Jenny

    Today we unearthed craft and paper supplies. My daughters received an embossing machine for Christmas. They asked if I had any extra paper to use. I sent them to my “backup” storage/craft room in our basement to fetch a box of paper that had been given to me years ago. Two things accomplished here: Girls made homemade/recycled thank-you cards for Christmas gifts and overcoming their fear of our basement!

  • I’m thoroughly enjoying your comments, and you are all gathering some great resources to help stretch money this month — thanks so much for sharing.

  • Lorena

    Love this idea, I have plenty of food to shop my own freezer and pantry, thank you!😊

  • Lynn Louise

    OK I can do this. I am a newbie but this looks fun and exciting. Good ideas from everyone above. My pantry is crazy stocked because of readying for Christmas so I have alot to choose from. Hoping not to have to grocery shop much except for bread and fresh vegies/fruit. We have our own meat, eggs, and milk thanks to our dairy farm. Money saved already. I have “unsubscribed” to many of the Dept store emails that I get so I won’t be tempted to even go near the stores. I am all shopped out anyway from Christmas. And have my daughters birthday present for end of January already bought. So I am set!

  • Steve

    -cake mix (will use at a work party this month)
    -packages of coffee (will give to friends who drink it more often)
    -various meats stored in freezer

  • Georgina Bowie

    I spent last year downsizing so I’ve used up most things in drawers and cupboards already. I still managed to find some food lurking in my kitchen cupboard that I will find some way of using up, and a whole load of sewing projects I haven’t gotten around to doing yet.

  • deborah

    Working 2 jobs I have very little time during the week to prepare meals so I cook on Sundays. I’ve decided that although I’m cooking for the week, Sunday will be “leftover” day. Everything that I eat will be from what I have leftover from the past week first and then from what I have in the fridge/freezer that are leftovers. Just writing it down feels good.
    I am also doing the 52 week challenge of saving money. I have already put the money for each week in January ($15.00) into the money box….so I don’t have to spend money for it in January.

  • Joyce

    My son is moving to CA on 1/3. My daughter and husband will drive the moving van behind my son and his girlfriend. I have many de-cluttering plans but this reminded me of the fish I have in the freezer that my hubby doesn’t like to cook (or eat). I will use that. I will also gather my unfinished crochet projects and try to finish them. Burning candles is also on my list.

  • Green Girl

    Earlier this year, I gave up bringing any processed foods into the house and donated what was in my cabinets to a local soup kitchen. My cupboards are bare and I love it. I don’t waste food anymore and our shopping is a breeze because we don’t spend time going the isles. We just do the perimeter of the store and get out.

  • Susan Canada

    Found over 20 sample bottles of shampoo, conditioner.lotion,& soap collected over time from motels. Put in showers. Bottle of sparkling grape juice from last year will share neighbors today. Chocolate hidden in bdrm closet, now in bowl on counter. Waste paper basket from grandmother out of closet & by sink. Clothes that don’t fit in box to charity. Went through small stack of papers found refund for $17. Will do little amounts, baby steps.

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