Frugal February

frugalWhat is Frugal February? Well, it is a way to help change habits, or, make better ones. It happens over the shortest month of the year, so it is the easiest to do. Frugal February is a notion to curb your spending habits… just for one month. There are so many things you can cut from your daily life that are not necessities, and you can end up saving a lot of money doing so. Try to live as cheaply as possible – again, only for the shortest month of the year. Some examples of this challenge are:

  • Stop eating out
  • Eat only what you have (I always have the pantry stocked with dry and canned goods)
  • Stop going out for drinks
  • Stop, or limit, the amount of times you buy your daily coffee (make it at home and bring it to work)
  • Stop exercising your Amazon Prime membership
  • etc.

I heard about this challenge last year from my fiancé…we didn’t quite get to it. But, over the last year I have been changing my spending habits, better watching my money, saving, and starting to invest, so we are taking on the challenge this year. At the end of the month, I will tally how much we usually spend on groceries, coffees, and eating out – and then dump that into savings or one of my investment accounts (have that money work for me, instead of someone else).

I usually keep the pantry stocked with dry and canned goods – not that I am any sort of die hard apocalypse prepper or anything, I just like to make sure in the event of a prolonged emergency, my family can have enough to get by for a couple of weeks…just in case. To that end, we are planning on not eating out, going out for drinks, buying coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to work for the month. We did do a pre-February shopping trip to shore up on some staples, like eggs, bread, butter, and a few dry and canned goods, and inventoried everything we had. We then sought out recipes, and planned out our meals… not extensively, but, enough to know that we’d be good to go. So much so, we soft launched this challenge in mid-January.

Other than being the shortest month of the year, it is said that it takes about 3 weeks of doing something to form or break a habit – February is exactly 4 weeks this year. So it’s habit forming, plus a bonus week. If you are still catching up on bills from the holidays – now is the time to save more and put those bills to rest.

I’ll post an update of our progress at the end of the month!

Are you doing Frugal February? What are you cutting out? What are you expecting to save? Comment below!

Acorns

scrat-ice-age-wallpaper-25-cool-wallpaperOne of the first things I did once I finally decided to start saving for me again was… investing.

At the time, I didn’t have much free cash. Still paying down a mortgage, still paying lawyers, buying furniture, paying down debt, and paying bills, re-building up my life, I couldn’t do much.

I wanted to save, and not only that, since my savings account interest rate was a deplorable 0.01%, I actually wanted my money to do something. That is when I found Acorns. Named like the squirrel hording nuts to eat over the winter when there is snow everywhere and no food source is available to supply more nuts… save them.

Acorns is micro-investing. It’s free to sign up. And you will get $5* for signing up while they are running a promotion. Here’s the cool thing, you link one or more accounts to the service like credit cards, bank accounts, etc., and it will monitor the transactions on each. It will then round up your transactions to the next dollar, and the difference gets deposited to Acorns. When you hit $5, it is invested.

So if you buy a coffee for $2.49 with your debit card, Acorns takes that $0.51 cent roundup and transfers it from your main linked checking account. This goes for any linked account, but it always transfers from your main linked checking account (which you specify). So if you buy gas with your credit card for $33.91, Acorns will transfer the $0.09 roundup from your checking account. Easy, huh, and you really didn’t have to do anything? It’s like Bank of America’s Round-Up savings, except in this case, you are investing it, and it’s making more than 0.01%. A lot more.

You can withdraw at any time without any fees. The only fee is a $1 a month service charge. Once you have hundreds or thousands in there, $1 is not much at all for what it does for you. I have been using the service, and dump a little extra in when I can, and using their Aggressive profile (there are several portfolio types, from Conservative to Aggressive). Since I am trying to make as much as possible, and since this is money I am trying to not even think about, I went with Aggressive, and it has earned me about 5% over the past year and a half of using the service. That is my money working for me.

So, give it a chance, and see if you can store away some additional Acorns to save for yourself.

*FYI – Both you get $5 and I get $5 once you invest some money into Acorns if you use my referral link.