12 Monthly Challenges to Cut Down on Spending and Stress

January comes in with a blanket of snow and optimism. For those of you in sub-Arctic conditions, I hope you are safe and warm. If you’re stuck inside reading Babble, welcome.

Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s plan out the year together. Popular wisdom suggests that it takes 28 days (or is it 21?) to make a habit. In researching this article, I found nothing to support that claim, and a reputable article suggesting that the popular wisdom is simply “poppycock and horsefeathers” which is a great phrase, if nothing else.

In addition to my mile-long list of resolutions, I’m adding one challenge each month. I’m excited, because my January challenge has already started and it’s going really well so far!

Creating new healthy habits, and eliminating old unhealthy habits can not only save money, but they’ll give you more time to be a better employee.

Join me as I pursue these 12 monthly challenges, won’t you?

  • 12 Monthly Challenges for 2014 1 of 13
    12 Monthly Challenges for 2014

    Ready to get down to business? These 12 monthly challenges will help you break those bad habits, and feel less stressed and save, to boot! Click through for them all ... 

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • January: No Eating in Restaurants 2 of 13
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    My dad came to visit for 10 days in December, which resulted in at least 10 trips to local restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I adore going out (especially when my generous dad is footing the bill!), but it's a habit I need to break when he goes home and my schedule is normal. So, no restaurants this whole month!

     

    I'm tracking my progress and will report back at the end of the month to see how I've done. The kitchen is well-stocked with all kinds of delicious things, and my boyfriend is splitting the cooking duties with me. 

     

    This is not only a money-saving challenge (Americans spent $392 billion in restaurants in 2009 alone!)  but a challenge to re-establish normal. Going to restaurants should be an occasional treat, not a "hey it's Friday and the fridge is empty" routine.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • February: No Wine/Beer at Home 3 of 13
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    According to my Mint account, I spent $1,600 on alcohol in 2013, which works out to $133/month. So, if I skip this month, I'm saving at least $133. Good for the wallet, good for the liver!

     

    In February, I'm focusing on saving my alcohol consumption for special occasions. I have two out-of-state trips planned, and those are special right there! So, I'll "dry out" at home (including the homes of my friend!) and only order my drinks out.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • March: Exercise Every Day 4 of 13
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    Replacing a sedentary lifestyle with an active lifestyle saves so much money over the course of a lifetime. In fact, I don't think many of us can afford a sedentary lifestyle!

     

    Right now, I'm exercising 4-5 times a week, but I want to increase it to daily exercise so I can get my blood pumping. I'll switch it up: maybe I'll go to Zumba, or maybe I'll continue to deepen my yoga practice and run with my boyfriend.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • April: No Alcohol At All 5 of 13
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    Americans spend a lot of money on alcohol (myself included). So, similar to the previous $133 saved in drinking, I'm also saving my liver and perhaps even my waistline. No foolin' — I'll take February's challenge a step further and eliminate all alcohol for a month. It'll be good for me to take a break for a bit.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • May: Take a Photograph a Day 6 of 13
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    I love taking pictures, and this will be a fun way to show a snapshot of what a month in my life looks like. Every day, I'll take one picture with my big-kid camera.

     

    Developing hobbies outside work enriches your life in ways you may not understand at the onset. In fact, your hobbies might even help you get hired!

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • June: Read Every Day 7 of 13
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    End the day in bed with a book. Every single day. That sounds more like a reward than a challenge, but I've been struggling with reading lately because I don't crawl into bed until I'm 100% exhausted. June will be the month where I make reading a priority.

     

    I'll read business books as well as fiction. I'm interested in keeping my mind sharp at work, as well as my imagination.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • July: Write 1,000 Words a Day 8 of 13
    12 Monthly Challenges for 2014

    This will be a challenge simply because it's 31,000 words! But sometimes I feel like there are too many words in my head. So in July, I'll really focus on writing more.

     

    Do you have a side project you can work on for an hour a day? Maybe one that can earn you a part-time income?

     

    Image by mzacha

  • August: Drink 32 oz. of Water Every Day 9 of 13
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    Hydration: It's good for your skin! It's good for your circulation! And it'll definitely be good for the summer heat. Staying hydrated keeps you healthy, which, by extension, saves you money. Nobody wants to be inside on a nice summer day. So drink those 32 oz of H20!

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • September: Wake Up at 4:30 a.m. 10 of 13
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    Studies show that successful people wake up early. I'll set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. every day in September. I'm usually up by 5 but never at 4:30. Will I enjoy an extra 15 minutes of solitude? Only time will tell.

     

    Image by mconnors

  • October: Floss Daily 11 of 13
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    Confession time: I'm a grown woman who does not floss unless I have something in my teeth. This must change! Not only is daily flossing good for you, it's the frugal thing to do! An ounce of prevention, right?

     

    Image by SDRandCo

  • November: Eat 9 Servings of Vegetables Daily 12 of 13
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    I'm usually good about eating my veggies, but when fall sets in, I need to make consumption more intentional. Nine servings of veggies a day makes me feel good!

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • December: Get Outside an Hour a Day 13 of 13
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    Playing outside is fun when it's nice out, but when the weather turns icky, it's still important to be outside. I'll take the dog out for a walk, or take him to the dog park. He needs it!

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

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