What Big Things Could You and Your Money Do in 2013?

January Money Diet at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo: Hakee

2013 marks my fourth year of participating in the January Money Diet. The first year, I remember feeling like 31 days was a long time to go without shopping. I was in the habit of buying and consuming whatever my heart desired, and if I didn’t have enough in my checking account to cover something I wanted, I’d just swipe my Visa card. So simple, yes?

We live close to a T.J. Maxx and Ross, two stores that I love to poke around in for bargains. I remember stopping in that January and finding a shirt and sweater that I wanted to buy because they were on sale. But I couldn’t, and I felt a real sense of deprivation as I drove away empty-handed. Never mind that I had a closet packed with clothes at home!

Later I would learn that it’s best to avoid the mall and bargain stores during the January Money Diet. Why tempt myself? But I noticed a lot of other things that first month, too. We ate more homemade food that January, and my jeans were not as tight. I slept better, probably as a result of eating well and being active. I didn’t have to fill the car with gas as often, because I was conscientiously driving less and being more careful about combining errands. Our energy bill also went down, a result of our paying more attention and turning the heat down a little. I completed several home-improvement projects, did some decluttering, and used up some supplies that I had been hanging onto for ‘someday.’ The result was a house that was a little tidier, with more space and breathing room.

Perhaps the best result of all was that at the end of the month, we had more than five hundred dollars left over as a result of all our frugal efforts. I put the money straight into an IRA, and didn’t look back. I soon realized that by not frittering away my money on little things, I could do big, significant things with it.

In subsequent years, it became easier to stop spending in January – and I noticed that the habit lasted throughout the year. I became more discerning about how we spent our hard-earned dollars. Vowing to only purchase things we needed and really, really loved has resulted in fewer possessions that we truly value.

The news last night featured a report that retailers are bemoaning the fact that we  consumers didn’t spend as much at Christmas this year as they had hoped. I see that as a very positive sign. I think we as humans instinctively know that we cannot survive forever on an economy that thrives only as a result of growth and consumption. We are smart enough to realize that someday, there will be nothing left to consume. So in our own personal economies, we can strive to live within our means, spend less than we make, and give to others so that there is always enough.

The January Money Diet is a good place to start. I invite you to join several hundred like-minded people as we go 31 days without spending money on anything but the barest essentials.

New this year, each day’s post will include a suggested homework assignment. If you complete all of the homework activities, I promise you’ll save money, find new ways to be resourceful, and still live well and have fun. At the end of the month, my hope is that you’ll have a little nest egg with which you can do something significant to start off 2013 financially strong and powerful.

Are you up for the challenge? If so, just visit the January Money Diet page and leave a comment with your intention to participate.

Here’s to 2013 – a year that is ripe with possibilities! Together, we can do great things.


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.

What Big Things Could You and Your Money Do in 2013?

  • Liz Kurz

    Our financial goals here include doing some much needed (for years) repairs in our modest house and buying some much needed new, but streamlined furniture that’s not falling apart. Thus far, we’ve simply not had the money. I can’t wait for this to begin! We live extremely frugally, but I still find myself buying a lot of “extras” (including foods!) that we don’t need.

  • Trish

    Count me in! Hopefully my family will be cooperative. 🙂

  • Looking forward to it. I’ve been trying to prep my family for it all month. We’ll see how they react when we go shopping and they can’t buy anything extra. 😀

  • I’m really looking forward to the January money diet. Nothing but essential food. I’ve lived pretty frugal for a couple years so this shouldn’t be too painful. It will just help me be even more mindful.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

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