probably attainable january things

What are you reading lately? Are you listening to any wonderful books/podcasts/music these days? What are you making for dinner this week? What do you do with the tiny sliver of time you may or may not have at the end or beginning of your days?

It is in these seemingly mundane topics I am and always have been fascinated. I really do want to ask you these questions.

Earlier this week I mentioned fresh starts at the new year. Similar to September and the beginning of the school year, this time does fill me with hopes and ideas. A clean slate can be liberating and inspiring. It can also be intimidating, and make one freeze with too many choices.

This month I’m trying a couple of things, neither really all that novel. But both I’m really happy and excited to do.

the uber frugal shopping hiatus

Last month I listened to the audiobook The Year of Less by Cait Flanders (library / bookstore). In it, the author gives us a memoire about a year long shopping ban challenge. Put that way, it sounds gimmicky and loud, but it’s more of a thoughtful exploration of why we do what we do with our money, and how our decisions are rooted much more deeply than our Amazon clicks might first appear. Flanders, a millennial (I’m an elder millennial), tells the stories of her youth, jobs, and relationships, and how everything is intertwined with decisions about money and the stuff she buys and owns. I recommend it, and plan to read her newest book soon.

One of my favorite, and aptly named, podcasts, Frugal Friends, featured Mrs. Frugalwoods, who writes a blog about, not surprisingly, frugal living. Each year she does a free email Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which involves getting a daily message with tips, thought exercises, and actionable steps to practice uber frugality. I think you may still be able to sign up.

So between these two influences, I’m doing my own uber frugal shopping hiatus for the month of January. First, I have to acknowledge that many folks’ money challenges are not fixable by cutting spending alone. There is only so much one can cut, and issues like income, systemic discrimination and disadvantage, costs of education and training, caregiving duties, the list goes on, exert pressures that compound and outweigh the power of frugality.

All that being said.

This month I’m not buying any non essentials. What are some of my favorite non essentials to buy?

  • Craft supplies, namely patterns, cross stitch stuff, yarn.
  • Magazines.
  • House things like candles, oils, kitchen gadgets, etc.
  • Stuff to delight and amuse our kids. This is especially compelling this month after the recent stuffplosion of Christmas.

And what am I deeming essential?

  • Mortgage, utilities, any absolutely necessary house repairs that come up. No cosmetic or optional home expenses.
  • Food. But first we eat the stuff we have in the fridge and the cupboards, then we can frugally shop for any food to amend the pantry stuff, then finally whatever else is necessary. No Trader Joe’s.
  • Prescription refills.
  • Any self care items that legitimately run out (i.e. toothpaste), and not if there’s a duplicate in the house.

If this sounds like a huge drag, it isn’t. This whole past couple of years I’ve been knowingly and unknowingly making little steps in this general direction. And because I am privileged and lucky enough to be employed and have a family safety net, I can do something like this as a behavioral exercise. Some people live like this, out of necessity or choice, all the time as a matter of course, without making a big deal about it. For me, I haven’t done this ever before, and am curious what feelings, thoughts, and changes may emerge.

the other thing

The other thing I’m doing this month is doing free Yoga With Adriene online everyday. I just want to say thank you to people putting out free, accessible content to the world to bring joy and health and healing. Especially things like yoga, which can be incredibly expensive. When I first discovered yoga it was on a vhs tape, and featured a practice which I still enjoy digitally.


I already messed up on one of these goals. I am letting you know because we all mess up; we are each just one human swimming along the stream of life with SO many challenges and variables coming at us everyday. Also, I am a perfectionist, and typically if I were to get off track on a challenge like these I’m doing this month I would probably quit. But I’m not quitting, even if I miss a day. When I miss a day.

What are you doing this month? Resting is a very valid answer. So is surviving. Take care 🖤

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