A Frugal Challenge For This Week

Frugal tips for the January Money Diet

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

People of our grandparents’ generation weren’t nearly the consumers that we are today. They grew up learning to take care of their possessions and make things last, a useful skill that can help stretch dollars today. (Disclaimer regarding the vintage sign above:  I recommend that you have your husband remove his pants first before repairing any tears in that particular area.)

I promised not to bombard you with e-mails, so I’m presenting a robust challenge guaranteed to keep us all busy and out of trouble for a few days.

Fix, Polish or Maintain Something You Already Own

Fix something during the January Money DietJanuary — especially a January when one has a few idle hours because one isn’t patronizing online retailers or shopping malls — is the perfect time to make something shiny and new again. Get out the shoe polish kit and make your scuffed boots look great again. Sew the missing button on your favorite sweater. Touch up the chipped paint on the door trim. Glue the handle back on the teapot. Restring the broken beads.

We honor our possessions when we take good care of them. This quiet January is the perfect time to tackle a few maintenance tasks. Perhaps your garden tools could use a good cleaning and sharpening, or maybe it’s time to delete some computer files to make more room on your hard drive and update all the programs. Perhaps your bike could use a good tune-up, or you feel like washing the windows or polishing the furniture.

Let’s Get Busy

Let’s tackle a few of those projects we’ve been meaning to get to, and experience the satisfaction of taking care of what we have.

I’m going to repair a crack in the drywall near the dining room door frame, and touch up the paint. Also, my favorite cashmere gloves have a hole in the finger. I’m going to sew up that little hole so I can enjoy them again.

How about you? Do you have something you can fix, polish or maintain this week? If you accomplish this task, we’d all love to hear what you did in the Comments section. I’ll send you a new challenge at the end of this week.

Hugs and gratitude for each one of you,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. You could win a deluxe Happy Simple Living gift box by participating in the January Money Diet. 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 soap, candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and much more.

At the end of January I’ll choose one winner from among everyone who comments–someone who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results. Good luck!

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.

21 comments to A Frugal Challenge For This Week

  • sharon

    Really nice idea! I need to take a challenge like this! Thanks!

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I made a comment on this a few days ago, but had to tell I broke a pedi gift given to me sometime last year. I wanted to go get a pedi so bad, but I’m spending no $$ & using stuff I already have. It was awesome. I actually called the person yesterday that gave it to me & said Thank U for the calming break

  • Tricia

    This is one of my favorite things to do… find a way to give things that are worn out a 2nd and 3rd purpose in life. I just had a favorite pair of jeans rip on the front leg. For the time being they will work to wear around the house this winter, but they will probably become a ‘new’ pair of shorts this summer. Worn out t-shirts and sweats become comfy sleepwear, little to no mending required.

  • This is my third year of doing this project. Two years ago, I repaired some soft clogs that my dog had chewed. They have remained my favorite ‘house shoes’ since then. Sadly, over the holidays, I noticed that a new hole had appeared in a section attached to rubber. Too hard to fix easily, so I retired them. So glad I had those last two years, though. Now, I have a routine of saving all my mending until January, when it is cold and snowy and fun to sit by the fire and sew. So, it has been great to slowly tackle my rips and tears and missing buttons. Thank you again, Eliza, for helping me stay focused and inspired!

  • Lois

    Eliza, Happy New Year’s to you. This is such a great challenge to start the year off with. I do my best to repair everything I can. This month I am focusing on remaking a few things found in my house to be useful and save money, I am repuposing a bookcase into a dollhouse, a small kitchen cabinet into a nightstand, and old denim jeans I’ve collected and saved from the trash are being given new life in sewing projects.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I wanted a new bookcase, but instead I’m rehabbing my old one which is solid wood just gonna paint w/’some we already have. I’ve been doing great w/ the no-spend challenge. I thought I was going to suffer, but it’s getting easier. Since I’ve written down my goals & budget it makes it easier for me to pick out wants vs. needs.

  • Laura

    I’m painting a spot on my son’s bedroom ceiling white that’s been nagging me every time I see it. Also, I need to polish some boots. And this is something I really really need to do and will do this week: clean the oven! It’s gross in there, people. I’m a little ashamed to admit. 😉

  • You are all so resourceful, and I truly appreciate you sharing all of these great ideas and projects! You inspire me and others, and I wish you continued success in your creative efforts. BRAVO!!!

  • Lisa

    Fixing things is a constant activity around our house. My husband always remarks that we are too cheap to throw anything out. If it can’t be fixed, we even try to re-purpose parts. So when we took down our outdoor Christmas lights last week, my husband tested all the strands to see if they were still working. One very old strand was half lit, and he had problems with it before putting it up. We decided it was too old (over 15 years) to fix, BUT we saved every light bulb on it to use for burned out lights next year. You have to take the bulb out of the base, because each strand may take a different base, but we added to our box of spare bulbs that we will use next December to fix broken strands before we put them up.

  • Jessica Keenan

    I have a bunch of black clothes that have faded, AND some black fabric dye. Let’s see if it’ll work out!

  • Green Girl

    Interesting, this looks like a poster from World War II. During that time, there was a HUGE push to conserve resources from gasoline, to electricity, to paper, etc… It was considered “patriotic” to conserve resources. These days, it is “patriotic” to spend and consume.

    Granted, during WW2, the conservation was so that the resources could be used for the war, which I disagree with all wars, but I wish we could have kept that same message and related it with self-reliance or resiliency.

  • Rosemary Carstens

    This whole program of being more financially aware this month really resonates with me. I’m enjoying the reminders too. I’ve always liked the concept of “using it up, wearing it out, or making it do.” I generally take good care of things–my adult children like to tease me about kitchen items (still good) that I’ve had since they were children–they call them antiques! Every year I buy three calendars–one for my kitchen area, one for my office, and one I hang over my scale to mark my weight on throughout the year. I usually spend about $45. This year, someone gave me one, another came from a media event, and the third I dug out of a pile of calenders I’ve kept in my art studio for inspiration over the years. Turns out that 2009 is a duplicate of 2015! Saved $45–feelin’ good!

  • Pamela Schmidt

    My mom made our family scarves last winter and I just took them out it is so cold at the bus stop.They are too short so I will just sew 2 of them together . They are different colors but who cares when it is cold Brrr.

  • Jennifer

    I had purchased a little black dress on clearance because it need a couple of stitches. Three years later, it still hangs in my closet, taunting me to toss it out. I found out today that my office will be holding a social dinner at the end of the month in which I would normally feel the need to go shopping. But not this month. Viola! Minutes later I now have a new dress to wear and all it took was three years and your motivation. 🙂

  • Kimberly

    LOL don’t sew the hole in your glove. I had a hole in my glove and found that it was great for operating my smartphone!

  • Lisa

    I did fixed my 3 loose button back in my favorite sweater. I had same sweater for almost 13 yrs. its still good condition.

  • Lynn Louise

    My husband has 2 pair of jeans that just need a little patch put on them. They have been patiently waiting in the sewing basket for months. Also I have a flannel sheet that tore and I have some extra flannel that I am going to attempt to repair it with. Also in the basket is a maroon color sweater needing a button sewn back on and my favorite wool coat has 2 loose buttons that I want to fix before they fall off completely. No time like the present!

  • Georgina Bowie

    I have a growing pile of clothes that have a little tear, dropped seam, or need taken in a little. So that’s what I’ll spend this month doing. Some of my winter boots could probably do with a good clean.

  • Lisa F

    I just finished sewing a button back on a sweater and sewing up a hole in son’s favorite pair of socks. Wow! The timing on this post is perfect.

  • Liz Kaltenbrun

    I try to repair anything I possible can…drives my husband crazy. I’m always trying to repair a hole on socks, patch the kids jeans…if itvxan be fixed, I will find a way.

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