Note: You can sign-up for the Uber Frugal Month Challenge at any time! Although we take the Challenge as a group every January and July, you can start it on your own whenever you’d like. Just sign-up in the box below and you’ll receive an email a day for 31 days.

The July Uber Frugal Month group Challenge starts tomorrow, July 1, 2017!!! To the over 17,100 people who’ve already signed-up for this Challenge: welcome! I am thrilled–yes, thrilled–that you’re joining me on this adventure. And I have some good news: if you haven’t signed up yet, but want to join the group, there’s still time!

If you sign-up in the below box before 11:59PM EST on July 1st, you’ll be on track with the group. Note that you can take the UFM Challenge at any time, but we’re taking it together this month as an awesome, powerful, frugal group like we did back in January. So don’t delay!

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Signup

We all need encouragement and inspiration on our financial journey! Signup to receive an email a day from me for 31 days. Every email has a tip, a mantra, an action item, and recommended reading, all designed to help you transform your finances. You can take the UFM at any time and as many times as you want!

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Congratulations Are In Order

This baby says CONGRATS!

Even though we’re only just beginning our journey together, I encourage you to reflect on the accomplishment you’ve already realized. You took the time to recognize that you want to change something about the way in which you interact with money.

You signed up for this Challenge because you think you can handle your finances more wisely. You are here with me today because you want something more out of life. You no longer want to slog through your days, wondering how you’ll cover your bills, wondering where your money goes, counting down the hours until payday (not to mention the weekend), and wondering why you can’t make longterm financial projections and plans.

You want something more. And together, over the course of the next 31 days, we’re going to get you there. I offer this Challenge because helping people manage their money is my passion. I’m not a financial professional, I don’t have a background in economics, I’m not even good at math (this is not me being modest, I am sincerely terrible at math. I nearly passed out trying to squeak through my grad school econ course).

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Signup

We all need encouragement and inspiration on our financial journey! Signup to receive an email a day from me for 31 days. Every email has a tip, a mantra, an action item, and recommended reading, all designed to help you transform your finances. You can take the UFM at any time and as many times as you want!

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What Frugality Has Done For Me (the brief version)

What frugality did for us: a homestead in the woods

What I am is successfully frugal. What I am is financially independent. What I am is living a life my husband and I conceived of, saved for, and made happen. And we didn’t get here through crazy high salaries or by inheriting money or by gambling or day trading or winning the lottery (although, full disclosure, we did once win the Trader Joe’s raffle for a $50 grocery gift card, which was pretty much amazing).

Sidenote, I’m a huge advocate for acknowledging one’s privilege–of which I have plenty–and which I discuss in detail in the following posts: The Privilege Of Pursuing Financial Independence and Striving For Compassion In A World Of Judgement.

I got here by radically changing the way I think about money and its role in my life. For me, money is a tool to be deployed in the most efficient, prudent manner possible–namely by spending judiciously and investing massively. Money is not a stand-in for human emotions, money does not bring me happiness, and money is not the root of all evil or of all good.

I love it in the snow too!

Money is here to work for me, not the other way around. I spend money only on the things that matter most to me–on the things that facilitate my longterm goals, that deliver genuine pleasure to my life, and that are true necessities. The number of things I DON’T buy is staggering. In a typical week, all I buy are groceries. In a typical month, all we buy are groceries, household/farm supplies, and gas for our car. But deprivation is not part of my life. I’m not dependent upon the euphoric consumer highs of a daily Starbucks trip or a weekly Amazon shopping spree for my daughter or a $300 run through Target.

Instead of those mercurial jolts of dopamine, which quickly fade and leave us craving more, I’ve crafted a life I love living every single day. Our financial independence allowed me to quit working a job that didn’t bring me fulfillment to instead pursue a career I adore (hint: I’m doing it right now), stay home with my daughter and, oh yeah, move to a 66 acre homestead in the woods of Vermont.

Last summer’s peonies in bloom

In addition to the tangible, financially-related dividends I’ve enjoyed, my extreme frugality has opened a world of benefits that have nothing to do with money. I’m less stressed and I’m a happier, more peaceful, healthier person.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have a closer, deeper, more committed marriage. We’re more environmentally friendly, we have an enriching community of people surrounding us, we’ve learned how to DIY a ton of random stuff, we spend every single day together as a family here on our homestead (no commutes!), we get to hike our land almost everyday, and we just generally enjoy our very simple, very laid back, very thrifty life.

I don’t tell you this to make you jealous, I tell you this to demonstrate that it’s entirely possible to dramatically alter the way in which you live in order to incorporate your passions and your dreams. What’s the point of living a life you don’t enjoy? A life where you bob along from one spending opportunity to the next? Where longterm goals never quite happen? Stop that cycle for yourself this month. Step off of the consumer carousel and step right into the life that frugality can deliver for you. The Uber Frugal Month Challenge will give you the toolkit you need in order to pursue that life.

Start Now And Don’t Look Back

Start down the path and don’t look back!

You might be thinking, that’s all well and good, but I’ve got a million things to do this month and I’m not sure how dedicated I’ll be to this Challenge. And that’s fine.

You can always come back to the Challenge in the future and take it again–I know we have quite a few UFM alumni taking the Challenge for a second time, which is a wonderful thing! But don’t delude yourself: an immutable truth in life is that time is going to pass. It has a way of doing that.

You can either take charge of your money today, right now, or you can let a month, a year, ten years elapse and wonder why you didn’t start all those years ago. There’s no such thing as a “perfect time” to do anything–to start managing your money, to begin an exercise regime–you have to just dive in. Need more motivation? Frugality is a compounding game: the less you spend, the more you save, and the more you can invest, which means the more money you can make… it’s a virtuous cycle.

Do your future self a favor and commit to this Uber Frugal Month. Start today in creating a future you’ll be proud of. Envision yourself ten years from now with no debt, sizable investments, and a clear, strategic plan for your life. Start today and don’t look back.

Housekeeping Notes

Springtime view of our neighbor’s cows. Moo.

A few housekeeping notes for Challenge participants:

  • The Uber Frugal Month is a 31 day Challenge during which you’ll receive an email from me every single day containing: a tip, a mantra, an action item, and recommended reading.
  • In order to effectively participate in the UFM Challenge, you must thoroughly read–and complete the action items–contained in this postUber Frugal Month: The Ultimate Guide To Saving More Money Than You Ever Thought Possible
  • If you are signed up, you’ll receive your Day 1 email from me tomorrow morning (July 1, 2017). If you don’t see it in your inbox, please check your spam, promotions, social and any other folders you might have. Even though I send the emails every morning at 5am EST, when they’re delivered to you depends on two things that are out of our control: your internet provider and your email provider. Never fear, the emails are sent automatically every morning, so you’re not waiting for me to wake up, feed Babywoods, and drink my coffee (thank goodness!!).
  • If you accidentally unsubscribe from the UFM, you can sign-up again here on the blog.
  • You can take the UFM as many times as you’d like and at any time. You may use the same email address, but you do need to sign-up each time you want to take the Challenge.
  • Join our Uber Frugal Month Facebook page where we have daily conversations–moderated by me–about that day’s email content. It’s a chance to connect with like-minded frugal folks from around the globe (we have Challenge participants from dozens of different countries) to share advice, derive inspiration, and know that you’re not alone on this journey.

Are you taking the Challenge? Any questions for me before we get started?

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Signup

We all need encouragement and inspiration on our financial journey! Signup to receive an email a day from me for 31 days. Every email has a tip, a mantra, an action item, and recommended reading, all designed to help you transform your finances. You can take the UFM at any time and as many times as you want!

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  1. I’m super excited for this. Last time a few of us followed along and kept accountable on the YNAB forums, and I’m sure we’ll do the same again.

    We consider ourselves pretty frugal (just hit 55% net savings rate…wooh!) but I love a chance to pause and reflect, because lifestyle creep seems to happen naturally whenever we take our eye off the ball.

    If anyone who is reading this hasn’t yet signed up…DO IT. I also signed Mr. Miser up, and it definitely helped to spur a mindset shift for which I will forever be indebted to you!

  2. Any suggestions on work related (I kinda have to) gifts during July? I am retired but a younger friend is really stressed over these…”If you’re one of the group and friend you should contribute” obligations.

    1. Is your younger friend creative or crafty in any way? We often give homemade gifts…anything from home grown vegetables, plants grown from seed and then planted into pretty teapots bought second hand, jars of chutney/jam, or sometimes I will sew something especially.

      I hate the idea of compulsory gifts – gifts should be given spontaneously, out of love! Could the friend be in charge of baking the cake? Or suggest a sort of secret santa arrangement – at the beginning of the year each person could be given another’s name, and they buy for that person.

      Sorry to hear it’s stressing her out, I hope she finds a solution.

      1. Thank you for the great ideas! I’ll pass them on. Like you, I have a problem with compulsory gift giving. As my friend gains confidence perhaps she’ll speak up at work…I’ll bet quite a few others would be secretly glad to get off the forced gift cycle. I remember taking a deep breath and opting out of a week long Christmas gifting extravaganza at the school where I worked and immediately hearing another girl say she was opting out as well. Just as you do, I often made jams or bread to share with those I had a genuine relationship with. And those are the folks who remained friends over the years!

        1. I liked our Secret Santa project at work. No one spent a lot, we gave gifts like a chocolate bar or a pack of gum and a note. I would bring a large cookie or brownie I’d baked, other people said they would bring the recipient a salad for work lunch tomorrow. Crafty people might make a pot holder or a book mark. We cleaned our own offices, and my Santa vacuumed my office every other day during the month as her gift (I was gone from the office to swim at lunch time every day, so she did it then.) It was a nice way to acknowledge every day in December, someone we worked with.

  3. Today I am printing out the June expense sheet, month 6 of itemizing every expense, this should give me a solid view of where the speedy leaks tend to be. My 10 yo car cost me a pretty penny this June but we have an emergency fund so it was managed. I am looking forward to socking away a little extra this UFM July and following along with everyone

    1. All of the UFM Challenge materials will come to you via email and through the blog once you sign up for the Challenge. The Facebook group is where we discuss each day’s theme, action items, and where folks ask and answer questions. It’s a virtual community of like-minded frugal folks sharing ideas, inspiring one another, and just generally chatting. That being said, it’s not necessary in order to do the Challenge!

    2. You should still be able to read the comments – I could last time and I am not on facebook. So you can learn from others but not give back as much.

  4. I am absolutely stoked for this challenge! I am actually participating in four different challenges next month. Each one covers a different aspect of my life: environmental, mental health, physical health, and financial. I think they are all going to be rather difficult but I wholeheartedly believe they are all necessary for me to begin changing (for the better!) the way I treat myself and others.
    I answered all of the questions outlined in your Uber Frugal Month post and for the past week or so I have kept coming back to it to read it again and again just to keep in mind why I am doing this. And every time I go over all of my notes, I cannot help but think that July is going to be amazing!

  5. I applaud all you for living a frugal life. I have been doing it for over 40 years, and the benefits are that we have a nice retirement without a lot of stress. We can live our life; traveling a little, giving to our grandchildren, and having the life we want while still living frugally and because we lived frugally. You don’t have to have it all and you don’t have to have it to impress anyone. It became apparent to me when I was in my early 30’s that keeping up with other people wasn’t necessary, but having a good life for ourselves and our family was the thing to do. We never wanted for anything, paid off our mortgage, paid our bills, and lived a life rich in experiences. Viva Experiences.

  6. I moved a few years Ago to Belgium, feel so Blessed I can join your challenge from here!!! Thanks

  7. My husband just retired and I am in a couple short months. We are selling our house and moving to Vt to live a quieter more peaceful and hopefully more frugal life. Going to try the challenge.

  8. Bill and I both have birthdays that fall in July, and this challenge is our birthday gift to ourselves! We missed the one in January but did it in March and learned so much. I can’t wait to build on that initial experience, to push ourselves farther and really get creative with our frugality 🙂

  9. Is the Facebook group private where the messages are only for its members? I would not want any of my comments available to people on my friends list or others not in the group.

  10. I have a question as we dive into this Frugal Challenge!
    At what point should we start investing? We have pretty limited money in our savings account (like $1000), so do we need to have more in our saving account before we start investing? Or should we invest our savings account money? How easily could we get to it in the case of an emergency? I’m so confused!
    I know we eventually want to have enough in savings to cover 6 months of expenses, but do we wait to start investing until we are at that point? It would seem beneficial to start investing as soon as possible so that our money can be earning more money, but I just don’t know! Does anyone have some advice?

    1. Madelyn (beautiful name by the way!)

      I’m not qualified to advise you, but I found Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” really helpful in deciding these kinds of things.

      Might be worth submitting your “story” to Mrs. FW to see if she features it as a reader case study. Do read some of those- you may well find people with similar issues already addressed

      1. Hi Madelyn:
        Unfortunately, that’s one of those questions that depends on a large number of factors and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I don’t want to lead you astray without knowing the full story! As Denise mentioned, if you’re interested, you’re welcome to email me about becoming a Case Study subject. I also highly recommend the investing book, The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence And a Rich, Free Life, by: JL Collins. It’s easy to read and understand and has great advice. I hope this helps!

  11. I will be taking this challenge again! We have 5 kids 8 and under. I would love to talk about housing more. We have a good size home we bought 7 years ago but with 5 kids now looking for something a little larger with not all the bedrooms on the upper level.

    We are on one income (thankfully a fairly good income.) We have no debt other than our mortgage (almost 50 percent equity) and shop Aldi, Costco etc and save for retirement plus annual bonuses go to savings.

    We have decided to build a home as inventory is low here for what we want , and our kids (older 3) play one major sport year round…hockey 😬(yep my husband and my brothers both played and the kids are fairly good and they love it but it’s not cheap.)
    We also pay for private school (Catholic.) The upside is we have a very good school district, but the faith formation is very important to us. With sibling and parishioner discount it’s less than $10,000 a year for THREE kids (the other 2 with so many siblings going will basically be a lot cheaper when they attend.)

    Anyway, the house, school and one major sport are all important to us so I would love to hear some suggestions and ideas on now you and others balance those things. (Since we spend more in those areas we try to save in others but sometimes hitting those savings rates monthly are hard, hence using guaranteed large yearly bonus for our forced savings.) I also resell a lot of the items we outgrow or no longer use.

  12. Oh, I hope I’m not too late to join in. I have my un-frugal pleasures in life, but occasionally a hard reset is in order. Very excited for some fresh inspiration!

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