Traveling Wallet Roamer

January Expenses and the uber frugal month wrap up

What do the uber frugal month challenge and our January spending have in common?

Only that they happened on the same month.

So peek through to see our uber frugal month challenge results. How much did we save? How much did we spend? and what was our honest opinion. Finally, whether we think it’s right for you.

So lets hop to it..

January $pending

Normally we only share our spending with our email subscribers, but since we took part in the Uber Frugal Month challenge hosted by the Frugalwoods I wanted to share the facts of our spending. To see how much of a difference it made.

I do want to note that Mr. Roamer and I are trying our hand at travel hacking to help save us money for our big international trip at the end of the year. We planned poorly and blew up our December spending in an efforts to hit the minimum spend of the credit card.

Our spending deadline was January 14th so I wasn’t planning to actually participate in the challenge. But since we hit our spending ( and then some)ahead of schedule, we joined in on the 6th and played catch up on the first few days.

Our January date meal. Shabu Shabu. That is a lot of food.  Who doesn’t want to pay too cook their own food!

So before we officially joined the challenge we had already gone out to eat as a family after enjoying the Roses Parade , and Mr. Roamer and I went on a rather costly date of Shabu-Shabu.

The mighty dragon! This was Mr.’s and Minnie’s first tournament of Roses experience.
December vs. January spending
Items Cost Dec  Cost Jan
Rent 1854 1854
Car Insurance 146.59 146.59
Utilities 122.33 122.32
Phone Bill 67.66 52.24
Groceries /food 298.95 285.83
Gas 115.37 34.06
Internet 49.99 49.99
Extras, Target, Laundry 63.57 109.56
Kids 2 160
Mr.’s allowance 125.91 225
Mrs.’s allowance 100 380
Automotive 209.64
Legoland  (Mother in law xmas gift) 349.95 90.18 (Date)
Mr.’s New phone 700.92
Eating out 523.73 35
 Rock climbing  132.6
Total 4863.21 3544.77


At first glance it looks like quite an improvement  $4,863.21 to $3,544.77. That’s an improvement of $1,318.44. Multiply that by 12 months and you get $15,821.28 more that I could save per year. Wowza.

Sadly that would be very misleading. As I explained earlier as well as at the start of the challenge our spending isn’t usually how Decembers spending was.

We don’t buy $700 phones every month and we don’t spend $350 going to Legoland each month either. But at the cost of that phone we could have done Legoland twice!!

No, last year our average per month was $3,508.90, with $2,653.03 being our lowest month and December’s $4,863.21 being our highest month.

When I saw our monthly spend for January I was disappointed. It was standard spending for us. $3,544.77 is right at the average.

What’s up with that?

After joining the challenge we went all in.  So lets talk about it.

What is the Uber Frugal month challenge?

In case you don’t know, this is a challenge where you test how frugal you can be for a whole month. Challenging you normal, to see the extraordinary amounts of money you could save if you really buckle down on your spending.

I don’t tend to describe myself on this blog as frugal. So I figure if I don’t think I am frugal there must be room to improve.

Why we didn’t see much change and why you might not either.

So I am going to start with the bad news. We really didn’t see much change in our spending.

Even though we gave up eating out for the whole month. ( Not counting the spending we did before joining: our date and roses parade meal. ) When we decided to take part we said, “ok, we wont go out to eat at all until this thing is over.” No family eating out, and Mr. Roamer even gave up his once a week lunch with coworkers.

We even said no junk food in the shopping cart, no stray bag of chips or pan dulces. (We all have to make sacrifices.)

Mr. Roamer really enjoys his meals out and even I was feeling rather deprived towards the end of the challenge. We both were craving some food out. But we stayed strong. Which I am proud of , since in December we went out more then usual to hit our minimum spend. We basically went from our biggest eating out month to nothing. Nada.

Yet we didn’t see a big change. Even without these indulgences we saw spending within our normal average.

Why was that? Well to be honest our spending on non essentials is such a small piece of the pie that even with a cut of almost 100% we saw 0% total improvement. Why? because we still had to cover one off “must” expenses, like my for this site. Or it’s time to pick up contact solution and toilet paper again. In the end everything balanced it self out.

I attribute it to not being beginners. I have been tracking our spending for over 7 years and we slashed our spending a while back.

I think we have reach the top of the curve, were we can still see growth but it will be much smaller. We are in the realm of diminishing returns on the “cut spending” side of the wealth equation.

Not just applicable to learning about money. In most things you will see big gains. If you can make it past the slow growth of learning something new.

If you are far on your personal finance journey. I think you will see similar results. A small change in your spending. However, you can still check out the challenge because there were non financial gains to be had from participating.

What did we gain?

While our bank accounts didn’t see any extra $$$ thank to the challenge I still think we scored some non financial gains.

My favorite part of the challenge was the conversations it prompted. While Mr. Roamer and I had already discussed a lot of the topics proposed. For example, why we save aggressively, our spending, our “budget” . There were a few things we hadn’t discussed.

It was really useful to approach Mr. Roamer on the front of , Hey it’s not me making us discuss this stuff, it’s totally Mrs. Frugalwood’s fault. Hahah .

The discussion prompts were by far the most valuable part of the challenge. Which says a lot. After all the discussions are what would feed into seeing a change in your savings. The reason Mr. Roamer and I didn’t see much change was because the ones that tied most directly to the bottom line, we had long ago discussed.  So that’s some good news if you are just starting out.

So to sum it up

I’ll use Mr. Roamers words

“I ride my bike to work instead of driving. I pack my lunch on most days. It’s(the challenge) great if you haven’t taken any steps towards being frugal, but we already do these things.”

When I shared with you that we were doing the challenge I stated that I was looking forward to learning some negotiating trick. So I was disappointed that they didn’t cover anything about fixed “mandatory” expenses. There was no talk about calling up people and negotiating better rates. Changes that would give lasting benefits that you would reap even after the event. Because that is what we would need to see a change in our bottom line.

Should you or shouldn’t you?

Why it’s not for you… you are too advance. If you are far on your personal finance journey you might not see much change to your bottom line. Its not for you if you are already working towards a goal, and regularly talk about money with your partner. That being said, if it’s not just about the money, there is a good chance you will still learn something from all the thought experiments you’ll do.

This is totally for you, what are you waiting for, go sign up now! if… you are just getting started in the whole money thing. It’s for you if you have difficulty talking about big picture topics or money with your partner. If you need someone to blame for bringing up difficult discussion topics. If you would benefit from daily motivation.

Or if you plain just have nothing better to do. 🙂 Seriously, you can always check it out due to simple curiosity.

Did you do the Frugalwoods challenge? Did you see a big change? How long have you been on your personal finance journey?


The Roamer traveling wallet

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4 thoughts on “January Expenses and the uber frugal month wrap up”

  1. That’s probably a great thing you kind of broke even. Sort of like not getting a huge tax refund. Sure it would be nice in theory, but all you did was give the government a tax-free loan. OK, maybe it’s sort of similar. Anyway, it means you’re doing something right all the time instead of just one month.

    1. Yeah I’m happy to know we are doing well with our choices . This is reaffirming.

      But I am kind of bummed. I was hoping to see some tangible gains. At the very least we finally ate through stuff in our cupboard and freezer. 🙂

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