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.”
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!