New Ways to Save in the New Year

There is something so renewing to know that a new year is beginning and that you have a whole new year ahead of you to start fresh. In February, our New Year’s goals may have already been forgotten, but today I want to encourage you to dust those goals back off and start anew again with a goal that is very dear to my heart… being wise with our funds. The goal that I have each year is to continue to reduce our spending and find creative ways to live our beautiful life on a small budget.

Perhaps it is a goal of yours too? Let’s explore some new ways to save in this new year!

Get Your Finances Back on Track- Isn’t it funny that we have more ways than ever to be in touch with our money, yet many of us couldn’t be further from it? Consider investing in some financial planning software this year or utilizing a free financial planning service like for tracking your spending. Start this year out right and begin analyzing where your money is going and find new ways that you can reduce your spending categories. Viewing your spending history is an eye-opening way to see simple switches you could make to begin saving and planning for your future.

Switch to a Cash System- In some regards, using an envelope system is an old-school method, but it has been the one method that has worked the very best for our family through the years. At the beginning of the week, withdraw the money that you need for your groceries and give an allowance to yourself, your spouse, and a family allowance for dining out/entertainment. This will not only keep you within your grocery budget, but it will also keep those incidental expenses for each family member within a budget too.

No one can shame you for buying a weekly latte and no one can be upset that a family member went out to dinner, provided that it is within your weekly allowance! A family allowance will also allow you to do something fun each week together and give you that much needed family time you deserve. 

Ditch the Membership Fees- Are you paying for a membership that you aren’t using anymore? Many times when I talk to people about memberships they have, they are usually not using them. Do you have a gym membership, but don’t ever go to the gym? Do you subscribe to a magazine that you don’t have time to read or is no longer applicable to that stage in your life? Do you have a movie club, but no one ever has time to watch the movies?

Ditching those memberships doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in those activities; it just means you can be smarter about how you are doing them. A gym that offers a punch card where you only have to pay per class might be a better option if you can’t ever make it to the gym. Checking out those movies and magazines from the library might be a better way to indulge in those entertainment expenses without paying yearly on them. Rethink how you can approach those spending categories and you could easily save $30 or more off of your monthly expenses. 

Embrace a DIY Lifestyle- The best thing you can do for your finances this year is to invest in learning new skills that you will save you money. Take a class to learn how to make your own birthday cakes, learn a new craft that could save on gift expenses, visit a Saturday workshop at your local hardware store to complete a home improvement project, research on You Tube or check out books from the library on how to tackle projects that you normally have to outsource. Embracing a DIY lifestyle is what frugality, to me, is all about. Go out and learn a new skill today and see what it can do to improve those family finances. It just might surprise you!

When looking for materials for these DIY projects, be sure to stop at your Goodwill store to see what treasures you can use to tackle those home improvement projects. Goodwill is always my first stop when looking for materials for my favorite DIY projects. 

Get Rid of That Clutter- Clutter not only weighs us down physically, but clutter causes us to spend money when we don’t need to. One look at a cluttered pantry or bathroom closet and you know exactly what I am talking about. Duplicate purchases occur when we don’t have a strong grasp on our inventory in our home and clutter hides us from the real treasures that are in our lives. Stop allowing clutter to put a drain on your budget and your life.

The best part about our Goodwill stores is that not only can you get rid of clutter, but you can score savings at the store by stopping by and making that donation. An employee will happily hand you a tax receipt when you drop your items off at the Goodwill Drive-Thru Donation Center. The bonus, that makes the trip and decluttering your life entirely worth it, is that our Michiana Goodwill Stores attach a coupon to your tax deduction form that will save you a percentage on your next shopping trip.

When you visit Goodwill, ask about their Goodwill Loves Moms Reward Program.  It’s amazing!  You can register in the store for $4.00 and you’ll receive a re-useable Donation Bag and Reward Card.  When you donate with the bag, they’ll validate your Reward Card.  When the card is full, they’ll send you a gift valued at $25.00 – or a Shopping Certificate – you decide!  Find out more at:

I call that a win-win situation when it comes to ways to save money and reward yourself in the new year!


Creating a No Spend Challenge for Your Family


Does taking a No Spend Challenge sound like a daunting project? It is actually easier than you might think. Our family tries to go on this little adventure every February and have made a commitment to have a month of no spending.

The technique of giving yourself a break from spending, whether it is a weekend or a year, is a popular technique among personal finance writers and financial advisers to aid in getting your budget back on track.

Money-free weekends are nothing new to our family. We often make commitments verbally that we will forgo spending for a weekend, but no spending for an entire month? This will be a new one for us.

To make a commitment to our no-spend month, we have budgeted exactly what we need for gas and groceries. We will, of course, pay all of our monthly bills, but will go without any incidental spending that usually occurs during the week. That means no trips to Hobby Lobby for me, no dinners out when I am too tired to cook, no drinks out with the girls. As you can see, it will be quite the commitment to not spend carelessly.

Empty Wallet

What can be gained though from a no-spend month can prove to be of great value for families. When you are not able to spend, you suddenly see how plentiful your life already is. The richness of what is around you and how little you truly do need to be happy quickly comes into focus.

As a consumer, we become conditioned to spend so those initial first weeks can prove challenging, but the rewards are great for families who can overcome that hump and break the cycle of spending. A no-spend month does come with challenges, but it also comes with the gratification of knowing that you have let your bank account grow and have become aware of where your money is going.

Would you like to take a no-spend adventure with me? Just think of all of the free time you will have if you are not out shopping and spending for a month.

Here are a few ideas for how you could spend all of that free time!

– Get your finances back on track by trying out a free program like and get in better touch with your past spending.

– Dust off those old board games and spend an evening playing them together.

– Watch free movies on or take out the DVD collection and watch your favorite movies again. If you are really craving a new release, sign up on to get free movie codes sent to your cell phone to use towards a fun new release.

super nintendo

– Break out that really old game system and relive those games again with your kids.

– Dig through your old cookbooks and try out recipes using some of the ingredients in your pantry.

– Play a game of Iron Chef with your spouse and let your children be the judge of the best dish by having your very own cooking contest. You might be surprised that even dad’s toasted Pop-Tart might be the judge’s favorite in this contest.

– Actually use the craft supplies that you have bought and start tackling some of your crafty ideas for the holidays.

– Find the floor in your laundry room.

– Look for free community activities that you could do as a family.

– Volunteer or find things in your home that you could donate to Goodwill to reclaim that space in your home.

Donation Day

– Visit the library and actually read the books.

– Clip coupons and plan your grocery shopping in advance for next month.

– Take a wonderful and delicious nap.

– Learn a new skill set or check out books on self-improvement to help make your life better or easier. I love to visit You Tube to get great video tutorials on everything from doing my hair to discovering a new craft.

– Get free museum passes from the library or check the local museum’s websites for information on their free admittance days. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!

– Have a potluck-style swap night with your friends and exchange three of your things for three of theirs.

– Read that pile of magazines or newspapers that never gets read.

– Exercise.

– Listen to free music on Spotify, Pandora, or Groove Shark and make a fun mix of songs you listened to when you were dating your spouse.

bubble bath
– Take a bubble bath.

– Play on the floor with your children.

– Organize your closet and take inventory of your wardrobe. Be sure to start a great stack of items to pass on to Goodwill!

– Recharge those batteries and put them in the children’s toys to make them “new” again.

– Tackle a home improvement project that you bought supplies for, but still haven’t finished.

However you decide to spend your no-spend day, weekend, week, month, or year, I hope that it brings into focus how great it can truly be to not spend and that it gives you the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with those around you.

Have you ever tried to go without a period of not spending money? What did you learn from that experience? Please feel free to share!

Please click on the above pictures for photo credit and to access the photographer information for each image.