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Frugal February: A Creative Guide to More Conscious and Joyful Spending

Updated: Feb 1

Frugal February is here!

At it's core, Frugal February is a simple and fun way to build a more positive relationship with money. It is a reminder to take a step back and give an honest look at spending and financial decision-making in order to stay aware, intentional, and satisfied with your day-to-day money habits. This way, you create a new learning opportunity for yourself to make changes to long-term habits and make your money work harder for you.

Small, purposeful actions today can reap potentially mighty long-term returns. Challenging your current habits and way of thinking can help you better balance out needs vs wants vs "don't really want but still feel inclined to buy anyways" impulse buys.

In my professional experience, most folks' relationship with spending could use some TLC. Given that typical education systems overlook teaching practical personal financial know-how and healthy money mindsets, we have to make the effort to do the work ourselves. Fortunately, a little creative and strategic thinking can do us wonders to keep us conscious and avoid useless habitual, boredom or lifestyle creep spending.

I might also add- this challenge is for all! Regardless of income level or net worth, everyone can benefit from embracing financial wellness and taking a more mindful approach to money.

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Now, without further ado, a set of creative & fun ideas to celebrate Frugal February ✨


  1. Freeze spending in one budgeting category. Challenge yourself to cut out things like clothes, online shopping, or coffees and see how it feels. Either for the whole month, or rotate categories weekly. The lesson here is not about deprivation, but about learning to identify what truly brings you joy and is worth spending on!

  2. Plan no-spend dates or days. Find lists online that fit your style (from DIY at-home brewery/wine tastings and hosting movie nights with friends, to themed bike rides and picnics/games at the park or beach), and you can explore local free entertainment through sponsored events by community groups, parks, and libraries.

    1. Research events now and save the ones you like on your calendar. You can proactively invite friends, or when someone asks you to hang out you know just what to suggest.

    2. Bonus points for having a no-spend date on über consumerist Valentine's Day.

  3. Find alternative sources for planned purchases. Instead of supporting giant online retailers, check around first with friends and family, or give new life to an item through local thrift stores or your local Buy Nothing Group.

  4. Pay yourself first. Save more, either in cash to your emergency fund or short-term goal funds, or contribute more to your 401(k) or IRA. Decrease discretionary spending by the same amount to stay balanced.

    1. For example, check out this compound interest calculator to see what $500 in extra savings invested today could grow to by retirement!

  5. Minimize. One of my favorite minimalism reminders is that not only do I have to buy/acquire every object that I own , but I also have to store, maintain, clean, repair, and eventually, discard that object. Put like that, it feels like a lot of work. Too much work for objects that I don't actually use and/or enjoy. With that in mind, free yourself from burden by giving away your excess. Perhaps there's an opportunity to sell them, or you may find joy in simply giving things away to friends, family or on Buy Nothing.

  6. Audit your subscriptions. Cancel unused or underwhelming subscription services.

  7. Apply for a new rewards credit card. As long as you have a healthy relationship with debt (do not carry credit card balances, do not spend over your credit limit, etc), a single rewards card bonus can save you hundreds of dollars (or add more value through benefits like comped travel).

    1. Fun fact: credit card rewards are considered rebates, not income, and are therefore tax-free!

  8. Try out a different grocery store. If you know me, you know I’m a huge Aldi fan, and for good reason: I am fairly confident that it is the most affordable grocery store in greater San Diego, and their products tend to be high quality and free of synthetic colors, GMOs, and more. My partner and I eat most meals at home, and I'd say we typically spend about $110/week on groceries and alcohol for the two of us.

  9. Embrace budgeting. Create a detailed budget outlining income, expenses, and your savings goals. Oftentimes you can pull transaction information and averages from your banking apps. Seeing it all laid out can help you understand your cash flow (money in and out) and see where there may be work to do.

  10. Alternatively, try out a short-term structured monthly savings challenge.

    1. 50/30/20

    2. Envelope method

  11. Use up those random items collecting dust in your food pantry and freezer.

    1. Keep It Simple: Make clean-out-the-fridge style soups, salads, or burritos.

      1. Bonus points if you manage to meal prep doing this.

    2. Step It Up A Notch: Host a creative chef night with a date or friend.

      1. Bonus points if you tell them to bring their random food pantry items!

  12. Negotiate your bills. Did you know that you can negotiate with some service providers (think internet, cable, insurance) for better rates or discounts? In general, or identifying discounts through memberships such as AAA. I do this annually like clockwork with Cox and get an internet discount every time.

  13. Switch providers. If you can find comparable services at a better cost, and can't negotiate with your current provider, consider switching. For example, for insurance check out Lemonade.

  14. Learn a new skill. Attend a home DIY class. Home Depot offers free DIY classes.

  15. Make sure your cash savings are in a high-yield savings account (HYSA). Some accounts I like are WealthfrontBaskAlly, and Marcus.

  16. Invest in energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.

  17. Talk more with your friends and family about money. If that sounds stressful, start slow and simple!

    1. What are their favorite money saving tips?

    2. How do they view saving money in general?

    3. What are their financial goals?

    4. If money were no object, what would they do with their time/life?

  18. Donate to a rockstar 501(c)3 or volunteer your time to one. There's nothing like giving back to your community to help you feel connected, impactful, and grateful for what you already have.

Phew! What a list. That was fun, and I hope these ideas help spring you into a more Frugal February. As well as help remind you that money is a tool to be used to serve YOU, not the other way around. When we stay conscious, we prevent letting it make a tool out of us (I solemnly swear to never pass up a good pun.).

I hope that you'll join us at Sage Financial in embracing Frugal February!

Now it's your turn! Drop YOUR favorite creative frugal ideas and tips in the comments below ⬇️

Have questions? Drop a comment on this post.

Need help putting together your financial plan? Get in touch.

📌 Sage Financial Planning LLC helps young and mid-career professionals know and do better with their finances and work towards financial freedom. For more information on our holistic financial planning offerings, please visit our Services page.

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