The Uber Frugal Month is BACK!

You might’ve thought I forgot about the Uber Frugal Month and that would be totally justified because I DID forget about it in July. But NEVER AGAIN. You frugal mavens aren’t going to ring in 2021 alone–you’re going to do it WITH MEEEEEEE and thousands of other Uberly Frugal folks.

It’s baaaaaack!!!!!!

The Uber Frugal Month is a thing I made up back in 2016 that has since become world-famous. Ok, slow down there, Mrs. Frugalwoods, let’s not start lying quite so early in the morning…

Although I will say that over 90,000 frugal weirdos have participated in the UFM hailing from Prague, the Netherlands, the Seychelles, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Finland, Romania, Germany, Australia, Ireland, England, Wales, Canada, Scotland, Denmark, New Zealand, and more!

AT ANY RATE, the Uber Frugal Month a month-long program with an email from me every single morning prompting a series of questions and exercises around how you manage your money.

It’s designed to meet you where you’re at, so it works for people who aren’t sure how much money they have all the way up to folks who track their net worth in pivot tables. In fact, a lot of people take the UFM Challenge every single year! Or twice a year in the years I remember to host it in July… listen, it’s a pandemic, ok?!

2020 was WEIRD and for many of us caused a re-assessment and re-alignment of our priorities, both financial and otherwise. 2020 was a year of job losses, recession, and bone-deep uncertainty. Let’s start 2021 together on a proactive note and with a very achievable shared goal: to master how we manage, think about, spend, earn, and save our money.

The Uber Frugal Month isn’t just about saving money, it’s a holistic re-evaluation and re-structuring of our human relationship with one of the most polarizing, stress-inducing, divorce-causing, fear-mongering things: our money. But money does not have to be any of those things. Money can be a beast you tame, understand, and that works for you–not against you. You can either master your money or it will master you. Join me and take charge! [imagine Flight of the Valkyries playing as you read this and thank you].

OMG, did I mention it’s FREE!!!!???? It’s totes free. Why? Because I want it to be free!

Will There Be a Private Facebook Group Again?

Frugal snowcones

YAAASSSS! Actually, the private Facebook group never stopped after I created it last January. I LOVE the supportive, helpful, friendly, and funny frugal conversations that happen in that group.

I rarely comment because the group members are rocking it and have created a wonderful community!

If you’re already a member of the group, you just keep on keeping on. If you’d like to join the group, you’ll receive instructions on how to do so after you sign-up for the UFM. It’s a private group, which means the posts are confidential to the group.

It’s also a “Frugalwoods-y” group, which means there’s no rudeness, judgement, self-promotion, or mean comments tolerated. Humor and photos of your frugal hacks are welcome and encouraged!

And Now For My World-Famous FAQs Section! (not world-famous, but sounds better than “non world-famous”)

Q: What, exactly, is the Uber Frugal Month Challenge?

It’s a 31-day program outlining the steps my husband and I took to recalibrate our approach to consumerism, ramp up our savings rate, and ultimately, achieve financial independence. To sign-up for the Challenge, enter your email address in the box below and you’ll be all set to go!

Q: What do you mean “31-day program”? Sounds painful/long.

Frugal view: free tree

Not at all painful! Only one month long! You’ll receive an email from me every day for 31 days, starting on January 1, 2021 (it feels so good to write 2021!!!!!!!). Every email has a theme for the day, an action item, links to recommended reading, and a mantra for inspiration.

The first step, which you’ll be prompted to do in the first email, is to read through and complete the questions contained in this post:

Uber Frugal Month: The Ultimate Guide To Saving More Money Than You Ever Thought Possible

You can get started on that now since it takes some time to really do the Uber Frugal Month with gusto.

Q: Who should take the UFM?

Anyone and everyone!

  • If you’ve never been frugal a day in your life, but are ready to improve your financial health and make real changes in how you manage your money, the UFM is for you.
  • If you feel like you’re in an awesome place with your frugality, the UFM is a nice touch-up and a good reminder of why you’re frugal and how you might augment your savings and your overall philosophical approach to a simple, fulfilling lifestyle.
  • If you previously took the UFM but bailed without finishing (no judgment from me) or weren’t ready to follow through on all the action items, now’s your chance to try it again.
  • If you thought about taking it last time, but didn’t sign-up, do it now!
  • If you’ve already taken the Challenge, but want to touch base with where you are on your financial journey, join us again!
  • If you took the Challenge before and had so much fun hanging out in the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Facebook group that you want to hang out with us again, sign-up!
  • If you think you might want to save more money, but aren’t sure, join us.
  • If you have no clue what your longterm financial goals are (or even how much money you have or how much money you’re spending), then the UFM is definitely for you!

Q: Do I need to use Facebook (or other social media) in order to participate?

Nope! The Challenge is conducted entirely via email and here on Frugalwoods. The UFM Facebook Group is an optional bonus. No need to sign-up for Facebook in order to participate in the UFM. All you have to do is sign-up with your email address in the box below.

Q: If I’ve already taken the UFM, can I take it again?

Absolutely! I had my tech guy (aka Mr. Frugalwoods) set up the email thing-y such that you can sign-up to re-take the Challenge with the same email address you used to take the Challenge previously. You do, however, need to sign-up again in order to join us starting January 1st.

Q: What does it mean to take the UFM as a group in January?

Frugal jungle gym: fallen tree logs

It means I will moderate the UFM Facebook Group and facilitate discussions in the group to help you along your journey.

This Facebook Group is active only twice a year during the two months that we take the Challenge as a group (January and July).

You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to join the Group shortly before the Challenge starts.

Note that this is different from the regular Frugalwoods Facebook page, which I moderate year-round. If you take the Challenge in January, you’re doing so with the knowledge that thousands of other frugal adherents are participating in the UFM alongside you. There’s power and motivation in knowing that you are not alone on this epic frugal journey.

Q: How much does the UFM cost to take?

It is absolutely free! So, no excuses.

Q: How do I know if my sign-up was successful?

You’ll receive an email from me confirming your registration. The Challenge starts on January 1, 2021!

Q: When are the UFM emails sent?

Free pond view

You’ll receive an email from me every single morning for the entire month (January 1 – January 31, 2021) at 5:00am EST. The emails are sent automatically at the same time every day to everyone signed up for the Challenge so, fear not, they will arrive. I’m paranoid about the emails so I manually check every morning to make sure they’re sent.

Please note that the time at which emails are delivered to your inbox depends on your email and internet providers–some providers are slower than others to deliver messages.

If you suspect you’re not receiving your UFM emails, please do the following:

  • #1: check your spam and all other email folders (search for “UFM” as every email begins with that title in the subject line).
  • #2: if you think you’ve accidentally unsubscribed from the Challenge, you can sign-up again here on Frugalwoods.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of Frugalwoods readers who sign-up for the Challenge, I can’t send out the emails individually.

Q: Can I access the UFM in any other way?

Nope, you gotta sign-up for the emails.

 

Q: How should I prepare for the Challenge?

  1. Read Uber Frugal Month: The Ultimate Guide To Saving More Money Than You Ever Thought Possible and follow all of the instructions contained in that post.
  2. Start tracking your expenses ASAP if you’re not already doing so. I use and recommend the free online expense tracker through Personal Capital (this is an affiliate link).
  3. Be proud of yourself for taking this powerful step toward creating the life you want to live–not the life you have to live.
  4. Invite a friend to take the Challenge with you!!! Hey, this could be the perfect holiday gift for the person who has everything.

Q: Can I take the UFM after January 2021?

Yes! You can sign-up to take the UFM at any time, but the Group Challenge is only offered in January and July. Sign-up by January 1 in order to join us!

Real Live People Love The UFM!!!

Fun as it is to read what I write (right?!), it’s even MORE fun to read what other people (real, live people) have said about their participation in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge. Lucky for you, I’ve collected testimonials from past Challenge participants who’ve written heartfelt notes about how the UFM revolutionized their finances and ultimately, their lives. Here are but a few selected for your enjoyment and published with permission:

Victoria wrote:

From the bottom of my heart (and all the way from the UK!) I would like to thank you. I feel as though I have been saved! Your words of wisdom and encouragement have been so meaningful to me this past month and helped me to get on the right track to living the life I want and crave. You’ve helped me to re-evaluate so many aspects of my life, this goes much deeper than finances alone and the process has been nothing short of revolutionary for me. What an incredible resource you are providing for so many! Just fabulous. Thank you so much!

Karen shared:

Thank you for the daily posts this month. It was a fun and interesting journey!  I’m 53 and have always been very frugal. I lived extremely simply in my 30’s after a divorce (no kids but always dogs and cats) and was able to pay off my small house when I turned 42. My family continuously made fun of my frugal lifestyle but I loved living simply. It was very peaceful for me. My family is extremely materialistic so it was hard for them to understand that I didn’t need more stuff. But I’m glad I stuck to my way of life because my husband and I already paid off the house we moved into when we got married 10 years ago. For us being mortgage free was psychologically important so we buckled down big time and paid it off in 4 years. A month after we paid it off I was laid off from a high paying but stressful job. (Yay!!!)  Now I’m making half of what I made before, but I walk out at 5pm and don’t look back. Very Low stress. And I can afford that because of the good decisions I made early in life. The truth is that you’ll NEVER have enough of what you don’t really need. And the older I get the less I need of anything other than my faith, family, friends and my beloved animal menagerie. 

Kid in a tree

Lauren wrote:

Thank you for organizing this challenge! While I didn’t have the perfect frugal month, I found that my mindset changed. Instead of buying something right away when I realized I “needed” it, I stopped to think: do I already have something I could use to fulfill this need? If not, can I get it used? I’m a member of my local Buy Nothing group and we have a good selection of thrift stores around here, so getting used goods is a fairly easy option. Plus, I’m switching to Mint Mobile. It will be about half of what we are paying now for cell service.

The Reverend Dr. G.L. shared:

Thanks for offering this daily reflection….it’s been a helpful reminder to me to align my own spiritual priorities with my checkbook. I truly enjoy your webpage and appreciate the inspiration!

M.W. said:

Thank you so much for your support- I really enjoyed reading your newsletters (and I usually read the supplemental material listed at the end too!) It helped me focus and I really did limit my spending and made progress towards my goal… I love reading your newsletters and they inspire me and made me realize I could be less influenced  by others and their expectations and choose where I really wanted to spend.

Laurel wrote:

Thank you for creating this challenge (and your funny, heartfelt posts about what you and your family run into)! I’m retired and am safe financially but had been overspending my budget every month by several hundred dollars or more. This was the first month in a long time that I lived within my means. I also made more meals from scratch and ate healthfully. Both of those were my goals for the month and my goals moving forward.

Meg shared:

This month was a great reset for me. I am naturally frugal, raised by uber-frugal 1930s era parents, but as my sons have flown the nest, and we have more disposable income, I had drifted into careless spending — especially for clothes. My closet overfloweth — and I knew it was a problem before stumbling across your challenge. From this point forward, I will not buy anything unless (1) I have identified a clear need for it, and (2) I have verified that I don’t already own one. My retirement goal (in five years at age 59) is to travel the country with a small camper. My new mantra is — does this fit in my camper? Is it something I would take with me? If not, I don’t need it.

V. wrote:

LOVED it. Wish it continued. Thanks for sharing! I will continue to follow your blog as I’ve learned so much. If you sent out the same emails next month I’d still read them as if they were new.

Samantha said:

Thank you for Uber frugal month. I have been starting to practice frugal habits in my life over the last year or so. UFM helped affirm some of the changes I’ve made, and gave me some new ideas for challenging my excuses. It’s a journey, but I definitely feel encouraged.

Annette shared:

Well I did the month! what an eye opener. Talk about make you think; we are not out of the woods, but we can see daylight. Some good habits have been re-visited, and are savings will begin to recover. I know now exactly what it is we want, the direction of travel and more importantly, we have a plan. There will be bumps on the road, but I plan to join in again in July and hopefully will be reporting some real improvements. Thank you for the much needed kick in the rear end…

Kid on a rock

Russell wrote:

I was hesitant at first about doing this challenge. I already am frugal, but I decided to participate to pick up some tips. I did learn some new things. I also read each of your emails, and actually kept a few as a reference source. You make some VERY good points and ways to think differently about money, especially about getting off the consumer treadmill. Thank you for sharing your lifestyle and helping others to see the benefits of frugality. Keep up the good work.

Wendy said:

It has been a great month for a financial reset!I saved $500 off my grocery bill, learned to make some new food by scratch(falafel),cut and colored my own hair, paid $1,000 more on my husbands car and will pay it off completely next month! It was a great reminder of how much I waste for the sake of convenience every month. My friend joined me on this journey and we held each other responsible and also inspired each other with tips and recipes. I will definitely continue next month by ditching cable and my land line(finally),doing a vegetarian month, and always trying to eat at home.

Christopher shared:

This month has helped me tremendously on food costs.  Even while saving ~60% of my take home pay last year, I was still spending way too much money on food.  After seeing all your suggestions and others in the group I was able to reduce my spending a few hundred dollars and make some excellent homemade snacks for work.  After taking one 2 year mini retirement to thru hike the Appalachian trail and Pacific Crest Trail I hope the extra food money I save will get me closer to mini retirement number 2 in the near future.

Rachel wrote:

This month was eye opening. We aren’t big spenders but little spenders that add up. We realized we were stealing from Peter to Paul often and that is not a good feeling. My husband finally sat down and looked at our finances together with me and he felt bad that he had left me alone with it all these years. Even after asking for help repeatedly. Good news is now we know where our money goes and we just have to make the adjustments to stay within our means. I’d like to one day stay far below our means but for now we have to start with being able to pay all the bills.

Andrea shared:

Thank you for all of your hard work in the Frugalwoods blog, book, and emails. Although I haven’t curbed my spending quite as much as I would like (it’s a work in progress), I am more mindful of my purchases, look for products that will last, and think about the right time to purchase. One of the most important things I’ve taken out of this month is reducing waste. I am very environmentally conscious but don’t always make the right choices about waste.  If I can throw away less, use products long, use hand me downs instead of new, it benefits not only my pocketbook but also the Earth. I read the book “Secondhand” this month during the frugal challenge and it helped me see my purchases and “things” in a different light.

Joan wrote:

Just wanted to let you know in addition to saving money by saying no to any purchases except food I saved tons of time! All the wasted time I spent looking at emails with their after Christmas sales were deleted before I opened them which left me much more time to read and exercise! A wonderful side effect! Thank you!

Are you fired up for 2021? Are you ready to Uber Frugal it up???? (cue Flight of the Valkyries again)

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22 Responses

  1. Diane Patrum says:

    Really excited to start all over again. I’m one of those who bailed last time. Diane in NC

  2. Alice says:

    Great to see this start again. I love the opportunity to do this UFM alongside other people!
    I kinda wish this had been done in December (pre-Christmas spending spree, anyone?), but oh well! 😉

  3. Oh my gosh, I’ve been thinking about just doing a basic no-spend month for a while now because the pandemic has waylaid my perpetual goal of being as thrifty as possible—especially at the grocery store. I so need this!
    Also, we’ve got a teenage boy driver. I need all the tips on saving on car insurance.

    • Allison in Ky. says:

      Mom of a teenage boy driver here- see if your insurance company will give a “good student” discount. We have Farm Bureau insurance, and they give a 10% discount for maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA. Not a huge savings, but it helps. All we had to do was provide them with a copy of his most recent grades.

  4. Kathy E. says:

    My husband and I did this in February 2012 and called it “Financial February”. We decided to do it in February because it is the shortest month of the year – 28 days is a little less painful than 31 days ! A good exercise in building financial communication.

  5. JS says:

    I sort of hate to commit to things, but gritted my teeth and signed up. I absolutely LOVE reading Frugalwoods so how bad can it be? Lol. So appreciate this!

  6. Linda says:

    I have finally joined facebook ( blah!) just to participate !

  7. Luisa says:

    this is off the point, but hey Frugalwoods! New York Times has finally published a frugal hack- make your own seltzer- YEARS after you published your methods. Maybe they should subscribe to Frugalwoods so they come up with these things on a more timely basis. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/12/at-home/diy-seltzerator.html

  8. Mary Beth Angelo says:

    Let’s go!

  9. Jane says:

    I’m in, again. It really works. Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods!

  10. Diana says:

    I love frugalwoods and love everything about this blog and community- but is anyone else having a harder time with frugality than typical with the pandemic? Our income is very stable and being frugal in some ways doesn’t feel helpful to my community in this moment. Our country’s inability to materially help small businesses has led me to lots of frou frou purchases at struggling shops in my neighborhood, and my immense sadness at not being able to travel to see family for Christmas has led to some extra purchases around decorating our home for the holidays. Also some purchases around keeping the kid entertained have felt really worthwhile, and I’ve given more to charities and supported more local institutions (everyone is getting some sort of museum membership for xmas- vouchers to redeem when safe!!). We’ve also done more takeout than usual (always directly from the restaurant to save them the fees). I’m ALL FOR things like cutting cable, cheaper cell phones, giving a big screw-you to Amazon, but I also feel a responsibility to support my community right now, especially given how fortunate we are to not have lost income.

    • Lynne says:

      Diana – This is a big part of what we’re struggling with right now too. We have the means to support local businesses and we have been, but we have also felt our spending is starting to tip away from our long term goals. I see this month as a vehicle for taking stock of our priorities and “rebalance”

      • Diana says:

        I think that’s great. And hopefully with the holidays behind us and *some sort* of federal stimulus passing that takes the heat off the average consumer to prop up the local economy so much. But even shopping at local produce markets and the like helps, so I’ll still try where I can!!

    • Kate says:

      I am just so tired and feel like we are bleeding money. I work in healthcare but long story short my “side hustle” dried up due to the pandemic. At the same time we have to keep paying a nanny 2 days a week because my daughter’s Kindergarten is remote. Luckily we have only barely had to dip into savings, but we definitely are not increasing our savings right now. At the same time I just do not have the energy for frugality some days right now. Our daughter was crying literally every day for most of December about not seeing her grandparents for Christmas so we started doing things like going to light displays and buying cookie decorating kids and paying for streaming the nuctracker. All to say yes, it’s hard, and I can’t wait for it to end.

  11. Paullilne says:

    I tried to sign up, and your email told me that I had and to check my email. But there’s nothing there from you… Did I do something wrong??

    • Kim says:

      Hi Pauline. Same for me so I will be positive and wait for January 1. In the meantime, I am working on the exercises in the initial email.

  12. Sam says:

    I definitely can use this. I’m especially hoping to reexamine consumerism. I feel like in COVID holiday land, I’m feeling sucked in by buying things or optimizing our house. I’m hoping the challenge helps me to reexamine what I already have 🙂

  13. hans barfod says:

    i am on – ready with my dear friend jannie

  14. CaptainFI says:

    Oh my ! I was unaware there was a Facebook group. Awesome – I am heading over there to join right now!

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