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2013 Frugal Living Challenge

edited 22 December 2013 at 12:23PM in Debt-free Wannabe Challenges
755 replies 86.5K views
FrugaldomFrugaldom Forumite
6.3K posts
Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
edited 22 December 2013 at 12:23PM in Debt-free Wannabe Challenges
Frugaldom's Frugal Living Challenge

It's that time of year again, the time when we all need to start thinking ahead into the new year and how we are going to tackle any debts, generate extra income and squirrel away some savings.

Please take the time to read posts 1 and 2 in full and check out the HANDY LINKS section.

To help avoid clogging up this very fast-moving thread, please private message Frugaldom to have your name added to the challenger list.


This is an adaptation of Frugaldom's 'Living on £4,000 for a Year' challenge. It has been running here on MSE for the past 5 years, but the actual challenge began several years previously, elsewhere. It has seen many changes over the years, so this version is a catalogue of diaries charting the progress of 'debt free wannabe' money savers.

Your budget is personal to you, it should fit with your personal financial situation.

Some have achieved their debt free status and now follow frugal lifestyles in order to stay debt free. Others are still pursuing that dream. Whichever stage you are at, feel free to join us for 2013 and share your journey as you give debts the heave-ho once and for all.

Edited in - the MSE version of the 2014 Frugal Living Challenge is HERE

The following links will take you to previous MSE versions of this challenge:

The 2013 Challenge - this one

The 2012 Challenge

Part 1 - January to March 2011
Part 2 - April to June 2011
Part 3 - July to December 2011

Introduction to the 2010 Challenge
Part 1 - January to March 2010
Part 2 - April to June 2010
Part 3 - July to September 2010
Part 4 - October to December 2010

Part 1 - January to March 2009
Part 2 - April to June 2009
Part 3 - July to September 2009
Part 4 - October to December 2009

Part 1 - January to March 2008
Part 2 - April to June 2008
Part 3 - July to September 2008
Part 4 - October to December 2008

Please respect others' lifestyles and beliefs. We are not here to judge, we are here to support. Thank you

This challenge is about living a frugal lifestyle - establishing your true cost of living, sticking to your budget, clearing any debts and making savings wherever and however you can to enable you to live the life you really want.

Frugal living isn't for everyone, but everyone is welcome to join us. Methods employed by our merry band of frugalers include batch cooking, stockpiling, preserving, foraging, mending, shopping in charity shops, reducing, reusing, recycling, Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS), Vegetable and fruit growing, allotments, keeping hens, using cashback sites and earning whatever it takes to become self sufficient in managing the cost of living without incurring debt.

For some it is initially about clearing debt, for others it's about increasing savings, buying property, becoming stay at home mums or paying off the mortgage early. Some choose the lifestyle on ethical grounds. Above all, this is a fun and supportive way to manage your budget so you have control of your own cost of living. It's about NEEDS and not WANTS.

Living on a budget = living within our means.
Frugal = thrifty, living without waste

Ideas to help you achieve and/or maintain debt free living
Spend within your means
Set a proper budget
Get a lodger
Shop via cashback sites but always price compare
Buy reduced items in stores only if you need them
Stockpile & bulk buy
Batch cooking
Make the most of charity shops
Join Freecycle or other similar waste awareness and recycling associations
LETS trading - become active members of trading & exchange groups
Grow your own herbs, fruit & veg
Preserving & winemaking
Card & gift making
Order splitting for better discounts & shared postal costs
Landsharing, allotments & frugal garden systems
Free scratchcards
Matched betting
Free online bingo
eBid and eBay trading
etc, etc, etc...

Monitoring and revising the budget is part of frugal living plan. Gifts & cards could all to be homemade, livestock needs to pay its own keep, anything else needs to be cash neutral.

(I am neither endorsing nor recommending any of the links provided here, members of our extended frugal community have simply found them to contain helpful information.)

Approved Food - Some amazing bargains if you don't mind short dates or past sell by – save a fortune whilst saving it from landfill!
Bite Card - 20% off food at train stations (ideal for regular travellers)
Budgetbrain - MSE's free to use budget analysis tool - BRILLIANT!
Carrot recipes - loads of ways to use up those carrots
CASHBACK - The official MSE list of sites offering the best cashback deals
Complete (MSE) cooking collection - Loads and loads and loads of recipes
Coupon thread on MSE - For coupons, money off and discounts
Crafting for Christmas - homemade presents
Eggs, eggs, eggs - Frugaldom's '100 things to do with eggs' list
Electricity & Gas savings - monitor your electricity & gas with the MoneySaving Carbon Club
Flannel Cake making - unusual gifts
Food Bargains - Discounted food, short dated and past 'BBE' dates
Foraging & Preserving - free foods, when, where, what to do with them
Free crafts ideas - how to make papier mache banks etc
Freecycle - don't bin it, rehome it
Freegle - Originally Freecycle in UK
FREE Spreadsheet - link to Cheryl's (CW18) budget spreadsheet
Frugaldom - Home of this challenge
Gift Baskets & Hampers - an index to the MSE relevant threads
Gifts in a jar - you don't need a canner for these
Greenfingered money saving - Gardening & growing your own food
Grocery bargains - Supermarket price reduction times
Homemade Rhubarb Champagne - quick, cheap and easy
How to make a sealed pot - saving all your spare change in papier mache banks
Hunger Site - Charity site where every click counts
i-Measure - log your meter readings and try to reduce your carbon footprint
Laundry Gloop and loads of other frugal cleaning related 'recipes'
Leftovers - don't bin them, get creative, make another meal.
LETS - Local Exchange Trading Schemes and alternative currencies within communities
Martin's mad moneysaver ads - a surprising new addition to the site - advertising offers!
Martin's current offers & discount codes - updated daily
Menu Planning - hundreds of options and suggestions
My FREE spreadsheet - where to download from
Nutrition and diet info, an excellent thread - thanks to Weezl74
Old Style indexed collection - Indexed collection of links, hints and tips for anything old style, moneysaving and frugal.
Preparing for winter the frugal way
Recipes part 1 - thanks to Rosieben on the Grocery Challenge
Recipes part 2 - thanks, again, to Rosieben
Remoska discussion - everything you need to know about Remoska ovens
ROSSPA - Cheap groceries & fresh produce direct to your door.
Rural Moneysaving Hunt - official MSE discussion
Selling on eBid - decluttering and recycling for cash with no listing fees
Slow Cooker Recipes - on MSE
Snowman Soup - always a favourite with frugallers during the festive season
Soapnuts - The frugal, eco-friendly alternative to soap powder or detergents (free samples)
Soapnuts thread on MSE - discuss, ask questions here
Spending Diary - excellent free resource for recording your spends
Start a cottage industry - the official MSE discussion
Veg Planner - free printable vegetable planting guide/calendar from the RHS
Weezl74's 50p per person per day eating healthily thread
Weezl74's frugal recipe testing thread - Phase 1
Will Power & Billy Can - part 1, part 2, part 3
The bits we need to include to make this work :)

Please read the MSE forum rules and help us to keep this challenge on track, thank you.
If you have any questions about this challenge, feel free to PM me.
The following is taken from the official MSE forum rules section:


Please try not to take threads off-topic. This can be confusing for new users and makes it especially difficult for people ... Where requests from Board Guides for threads to be brought back on track have not been followed off-topic posts may be removed. We encourage community, but not thread derailment.

Please bear in mind the main purpose of the site is to save money. The forum team has therefore been instructed to prioritise its time on the MoneySaving forums.


There are two boards provided for off-topic chat and discussion. The MoneySavers Arms has been set up for fun, more lighter-hearted chat (although do still remember this is a family forum – keep it clean please). Discussion Time is for discussion of current issues (read Martin’s description).

If you post a topic that does not relate to the board it’s posted on it will be moved to a more relevant MoneySaving board or to Discussion Time/The MoneySavers Arms.

This challenge is about paying for needs so we can afford to live debt free and save for wants. It runs from 1st January to 31st December 2013 The links will give you an idea of how previous challenges have gone and these will be updated accordingly.
I reserve the right NOT to spend:
The less I spend, the more I can afford!
Now running Frugaldom as a lifestyle social enterprise! :D


  • edited 30 August 2013 at 11:01AM
    FrugaldomFrugaldom Forumite
    6.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 30 August 2013 at 11:01AM
    The 2013 Challenger List

    If you want your name added to this challenger list, please private message Frugaldom.

    Baking Mad
    Dizzy Lizzie
    Frugaldom (NYK) - PM me to be added to this list
    Kerry Woman
    Miss Empty Piggy
    Miss Frugal Wannabe
    New leaf 88
    Out of Debt at Last
    Painted Lady
    Rising from the ashes
    Slowlyfading - looking after the 2013 MSE version of the frugal living challenge
    Tessie Bear
    I reserve the right NOT to spend:
    The less I spend, the more I can afford!
    Now running Frugaldom as a lifestyle social enterprise! :D
  • edited 21 April 2014 at 5:21PM
    AvaQuaverAvaQuaver Forumite
    50 posts
    edited 21 April 2014 at 5:21PM
    The aim...£5000 or less in 2012. x
    :heart: 'The time is now.' :heart:
  • giengien Forumite
    1.6K posts
    I lurked a bit on the other thread but I'd like to join in properly this year as we are completely skint, and need to look after my money like never before.
    We're a family of 5, high earners but high outgoings too and the two are very close right now. Additionally, we have a load of stuff to do on the house and we need to save up enough by summer to get it all done.
    Trying to keep in budget.

  • Hi everyone, Frugaldom thanks for starting the new thread :) (I've PMd you to be added to the Challenger List) and thanks again to Slowlyfading for keeping an eye on us :)

    2013 will be my 3rd year doing the FLC - year 1 was a big learning curve and I made huge steps :T but this year I seem to have plodded along - although great as I've not slipped back to non-frugal ways .... I need to learn new things next year!

    Looking forward to the challenge!:)
    Grocery Challenge £211/£455 (01/01-31/03)
    2016 Sell: £125/£250
    £1,000 Emergency Fund Challenge #78 £3.96 / £1,000
    Vet Fund: £410.93 / £1,000
    Debt free & determined to stay that way!
  • slowlyfadingslowlyfading Forumite
    13.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
    Woops! Was meant to grab post 3 but didn't get a chance....!
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
    Personal Finance Blogger / In pursuit of FIRE :)
  • slowlyfadingslowlyfading Forumite
    13.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
    A just in case and can edit post....
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
    Personal Finance Blogger / In pursuit of FIRE :)
  • Looking forward to this in 2013 & discovering more frugal ways.
    I haven't completely worked out my budget. I have really enjoyed it this year plus it keeps me on track. I hope to end the year with a high amount of savings next year and keep within whatever I set.
    Frugal Challenge £9000
    Grocery Challenge £tba pm £
  • Please count me in for the 2013 challenge

    I think for 2013 my challenge is to keep up to date the speadsheet I was doing alright until July :D

    I hope everyone has a good xmas and here's to a successful 2013:beer:
    Emma :hello:
  • Hello, I am a lurker on this one but please add me again for 2013 and I will try and pop in a bit more often. Thank you :-)
    Don't turn a slip up into a give up:D
    *NSD Challenge Nov 0/10* *£10 a day challenge Nov £0/£300*
    No buying unnecessary toiletries challenge-in it for the long haul

  • quintwinsquintwins Forumite
    5.2K posts
    Count me in aswell my budget looks like this

    rent- £1800
    mobiles- £300
    internet- £540
    electric £600
    food £1200
    desil £1800
    play money £250
    insurances £180
    heating £360
    xmas £0 (trying to do xmas next year with vouchers and surverys but have £300 set aside just incase, have £5 already and quite a few gifts already for next year-excess stuff from this year)
    clothes £0 trying to make clothes do and only use birthday/xmas money and uniform allowance have £53 already, i spent £12 of this already on 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of shoes.

    That comes to £7030 i'm setting a budget of £7500 for 2013 which allows extra if xmas and clothes don't work out as planned.So £625 a month to live on.I'm feeling positive :)
    OCT GC £196.12/£200
This discussion has been closed.

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