The Great Frugal Challenge

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Last week, the roomies and I competed in what we like to call The Great Frugal Challenge. We are all very active and competitive so, naturally, we love new challenges. The frugal challenge was awesome because it gave us an excuse to compete and save a little money at the same time. We searched all over the internet for some kind of points-based frugal challenge but found nothing, so we made one up ourselves. The rules are these:

The challenge lasts one week (Monday to Sunday) and competitors score points two ways: budget points and active points.

Budget points are earned by staying under a pre-set spending limit. In our case, we decided to allot a total of $100 for the week. We divided the amount between grocery money, for food, and mad money, for everything else. We were worried we might end up eating nothing but ramen for 7 days and didn’t want to sacrifice nutrition during the challenge, so having a certain amount of money set aside for groceries was important. We assigned 20 points for staying under the grocery budget and 50 points for the mad money budget. Certain expenses were exempted from the challenge – e.g., transportation to work, pre-planned travel, bills, etc.

Active points are earned by participating in frugal-friendly activities. For instance, we set up the following possible daily points:
Bringing lunch to work: 5 pts
Brewing (vs buying) coffee: 2 pts
Exercising 30 minutes: 10 pts
Using Coupons: 1 pt each

Finally, each day we could score up to 30 “activity” points. These were designed to get us involved in fun, low-cost activities. Some examples of point-worthy activities include going to the public library, playing sports in the park, visiting the DC monuments at night, going to a museum, attending a free concert, etc. We learned the activity points are vital to doing well in the challenge. We asked Alex to serve as challenge commissioner to assess the point value for the activities and make calls in case of disputes. The system worked out great.

Erin won our frugal challenge, but I made a strong effort and came in second place. The challenge was much harder than we anticipated and I learned a lot about my spending habits. I’m glad to take a frugal rest break for now, but I think a rematch is definitely on the horizon.

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