Frugal living can get boring to those who are new to it because it doesn't seem like you to get to buy anything you want or simply spend money on a whim anymore. Tightening our belts can be a hard lifestyle change. But when the frugal living boredom sets in it's time to sit down determine a new challenge for yourself to keep going to move forward to the goal you have given yourself.

Challenges are a wonderful part of life, they make us into better people or help us see where we need to do better. Without challenges in life we don't learn and grow. I know I don't like having challenges come up from a blind spot, so why not make my own frugal challenges, on my own terms?

These types of frugal challenges are more of a game in my opinion because they help me build a habit, I can enjoy the sweet taste of victory when it is over or feel the disappointment and resolve to do better next time. Frugal challenges are useful because even if you fail, you have moved down that road of frugality in some form, either by saving money, spending less or wearing down a new path for a habit to form.

It seems that after all that we voluntarily or involuntarily go through we should received some kind of recognition, a challenge coin to show to the world that we have a unique membership. Maybe it could be divided up in to categories. A challenge coin for those who master the art of bartering and deal-making, mastering the fix-it-yourself challenges, a coin to master the art of home-made and so on. No coin is better than another, just simply categories to in the challenge of frugal living.

Some challenges that you could turn into a game (and all games eventually have an ending).
  • Summer or Winter challenge to see how long you can go without using A/C or Heat. This challenges you to find new ways to keep warm or keep yourself cool.
  • The Pantry challenge that uses only the food you have bought for stocking up over the years. No more buying new food, you have to use what you already have in the freezer and on the shelves.
  • A Generic buying challenge that requires you to try the generic version of what you would normally buy in name brand items. Of course if you don't like it, you now know to cross it off your list and then you can use up the "bad" food for a work potluck.
  • The Second-Hand challenge where you only buy items second hand - furniture, clothes, appliances, toys - for a certain period of time, no matter what. Some people I know are masters of this already, but that is why we have so many cool challenge categories!
  • A Home-made challenge of your choosing, whether it be to cook at home when you usually go out to eat quite a bit or to make your own home-made cleaners. If you are not a cooking master like myself, start easy by taking your lunch every single day to work.
  • How about a No Electricity challenge to unplug anything not in use, keep the lights off for as long as possible through the day and use low electricity items to cook.
  • Let's not forget a Drive Less challenge to master the art of one trip errand running, and then challenge yourself not to drive 1-2 days a week and see how much longer you can go before filling up with gas again.
It is these small challenges that can ease you into a frugal living lifestyle or get you back into the game again. And though there are no real frugal challenge coins to be given out, I do hear the jingle of coins in pockets, purses and piggy-banks that are testament to others that we have a wonderful membership of people in this club!


  1. Anonymous // Monday, May 03, 2010 10:54:00 AM  

    Last month was No-buy month for me. Other than food, and gas for the car, I bought nothing for the house or for myself. I made a list of things I THOUGHT I needed, with the intention of buying them on May 1st - if I still really needed them. It reminds me how often I use purchasing something - regardless of how small - as entertainment.

  2. // Monday, May 03, 2010 12:01:00 PM  

    I love your challenge ideas. Sometimes it can seem impossible to sustain a tight budget, but if you mix up the challenges (say, one a month), you'll keep your head in the game.

    I've tried The Pantry Challenge before. That's a tough one, lol.

    Here's one I dare you: The No Starbucks/Specialty Coffee Challenge. ;)

    - Shayna from

  3. Dawn // Monday, May 03, 2010 5:27:00 PM  

    I am always trying to delay the impulse drive... I found it works better when I am by myself and not with another person to toss excuses at me.

    Good idea!

  4. Tim Gray // Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:50:00 AM  

    My favorites...

    No cabletv challenge. Go and call up cable and have them disconnect you. Honestly your life will be better without TV.

    Friends of mine go further.... Shared internet cost: they share internet with 2 other neighbors. All three pay for the internet account so they each pay 1/3rd the cost.

    Shared Trash day: They have to pay for trash, but they rarely throw away enough to fill the can. They and their neighbors all share the same trash can... again 1/3rd the cost for trash service.

    Re-use challenge: every item that is going to be thrown away, try and find a re-use for it. Re use metal veggie and fruit cans to grow a garden. try to refill disposable items... The automatic shower cleaner, refill it with a no-brand shower spray cut by 1/4 of the amount of water.. $3.00 to refill the auto shower cleaner 5 times instead of once....

    Bake bread. Dont buy bread, make it. Find a breadmaker at a thrift store, or do it in your oven. Making bread is really easy and it's a whole lot cheaper. $0.35 a loaf my cost compared to $1.99 for a cheap loaf at the store. you can make the dough up and freeze loaf size lumps of dough for backing at a moments notice.

  5. April // Tuesday, May 04, 2010 10:22:00 AM  

    This will be our 2nd summer of the no AC challenge; last year we won! I am doing a variation of the Pantry challenge--still buying milk and one or two other perishables--but my goal is to empty out the freezer (last year's garden bounty) and the cupboards (the same, only canned) by early July so we can start filling them again!

  6. Dawn // Tuesday, May 04, 2010 10:52:00 AM  

    Those are some good ideas... I would really like to have a no cable summer myself.

    You go girl! What feeling to win a self-made challenge. Going 2 for 2 should be interesting since no summers area EXACTLY the same.

  7. Eric // Thursday, May 06, 2010 1:27:00 PM  

    @Tim, Great ideas. I love the idea about sharing internet and trash. Those are some great ideas to get your neighbors talking about frugality and how we can help each other on our financial marathon.

    @Dawn, Great post! I love the idea. I wish there was some kind of electronic badges people could use to show off their specific choices in the frugal challenge. Look me up when you want to work on that project.

    Keep up the good work,