The new year provides an opportunity for people to take stock and consider the ways they can be better. Every year, folks hear of resolutions, manifestations, vision board planning and even fun little challenges to get people excited about self improvement. But truth be told many of these initiatives don’t even make it to the middle of January. Humans are creatures of habit. It’s hard to break old patterns, even if they’ll be better for you in the long run. If you’re one of the people who fell off of the wagon in January with whatever resolution you’ve made, don’t fret. You can pick it back up again but if you’ve had a hard time kicking this year, here’s a challenge that gives you a month lead time: Frugal February. 

Be Realistic

There are some people who call this challenge No Spend February. That just seems like a recipe for failure. Things happen and you never know when you’ll have to come out of pocket. Plus, challenges that deny us the simple pleasures of life are hard to complete. So for your attempt at Frugal February be realistic about what you will and won’t spend. Make your own rules. Will you be cutting out fast food? Perhaps you won’t be buying any clothes, shoes or bags this month as you focus on saving money. Either way, make rules that you can see yourself following. You can always adjust them later in the month or when you try again next year.

Have a Savings Plan

If you’re cutting out spending so you can save money, it’s nice to have a goal in mind. Set a number and watch your money stack as you get closer and closer to it. If you don’t have a set number in mind, you can wait and see how much money you save and then set that money aside in a new savings account, a separate retirement account or use it to pay off looming debt. Either way, make sure the money you save is either set aside or earmarked for something specific.

Buy Black

While major companies may have let their Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives fall by the wayside, that trend doesn’t have to be reflected in your wallet. February is Black History Month, celebrate the beauty of the community by pouring back into it. You don’t have to ball out and spend exorbitantly. But take the money you would have spent with other mainstream companies and give it to Black owned businesses.

Consider What You Already Have

Have you ever rushed out to buy an item only to discover you already own something very similar? Sometimes we accumulate so much stuff, we don’t really know what we have. In addition to spending less money, it might be time to Marie Kondo your house and see what you want to purge and what you want to keep so you don’t end up paying for things twice.

Evaluate Your Spending

During this month, really be intentional about discovering where your money is going. Make sure you’re still using all of the subscriptions you pay for. Ask yourself if you want to continue eating out as much or start cooking more. Could you save money using press-ons or doing your own manicures instead of your bi-weekly nail appointments? Can you call bill collectors and ask for lower payments or interest rates? These small steps could end up putting hundreds of dollars back into your pockets.