I've been reading a bunch of similarly-themed blogs (Fabulously Broke, 365 Fashion Rehab, The Frugalista) as well as some other people who have done year-long challenges and blogged about them. And I think, for me, in terms of organization, I will follow the following guidelines:
- not a lot of specific dollar amounts. Not just because there is a chance my mother might someday read this and I don't want her to know, but also because once I start looking at specific dollar amounts, everything gets really overwhelming. So, I will start 2011 with basically a $0 balance, and then work very hard to pay off existing debts. Make sense? Kind of.
- similar to the way that Green as a Thistle made one change per day for a year, I think that every month will have a theme that will continue on through the year. Using examples of things from The Year of Living Biblically, rather than my own examples, it will work like this:
In January, I decide to stop boiling baby goats in its own mother's milk. I will therefore not do this again all year. In February, I decide to stop touching menstruating females. So for the rest of the year, I will avoid the goat thing and menstruating females. In March, I decide to start praying everyday, so for the rest of the year, I will do the goats, menstruating females, and praying.
See, it all just gets cumulative. So, like Green as a Thistle, I think it's best to make the first few challenges things that don't completely disrupt my life (like, her first changes were things like "use recycled paper towels!" while by the end of the year, she was doing this like "stop using toilet paper! stop shaving armpits! go off birth control!").
Coming up with 12 categories is tricky, but here are what I've thought of so far:
1) Stop taking money out of my credit card, line of credit, or going into overdraft. Just spend the money that I actually have.
2) Stop buying $5 Starbucks drinks.
3) Stop buying clothes I don't need (e.g. I may need a new pair of underpants at some point in 2011 if mine are all worn out; but changes are, I won't need any new pairs of jeans as I own like 10 pairs already)
4) Stop buying makeup I don't need - use up the things I actually already own. Ditto for skin creams, hair products, etc.
5) Buy groceries more thoughtfully - make lists of ingredients for proper meals, cook more than one meal with them.
6) Stop buying pre-made meals, but rather shop for ingredients.
7) Bring packed lunches, rather than buying lunches.
8) Stop buying snacks when on my way home - just wait until I am home. Or buy snacks in bulk and carry them around for emergency hunger.
9) Sell/get rid of things I am not using to free up space, make a little money, and become more aware of what I own.
10) Put a certain amount of money into a) Rainy Day Savings Account, b) Paying Off Credit Card Debt, c) Paying Off Loan from Mother.
So that's 10. I will work on all of them all year, but I will focus on one per month, I think. Something like that.
Some of the blogs I've been reading are really hardcore, but this isn't about turning me into an obsessive Frugal Minimalist. It's about paying more attention to the things I buy, and focusing on saving money and paying down debt for 12 months.