It’s HERE! Are you ready to enjoy a penniless week and have more money to use at the end of the week for whatever financial goal or debt you are working towards? This is a VERY successful program and challenge.
What is Penniless Week?
Well, at various times we have shared something we do in our home called “penniless” week. It’s a challenge that we place on ourselves that means we don’t spend a penny on anything that week – acting as if we are penniless.
This is a fantastic way to jumpstart financial goals or to even push the budget stretching even further.
When we did this, even at times that we were “penniless” in our past, it was a way that we actually found a little extra and when we thought we “couldn’t squeeze just one more penny out of our budget” to apply to our debt-payoff goals, we would do this and could find extra to get to our goals quicker!
The only exceptions are:
- Emergencies – thankfully we haven’t had one in the weeks we have done this
- Gasoline to get to work – This hasn’t been a problem yet either as we also try to gas up before the week starts or Alex takes public transportation with his prepaid card
- Still pay your regular bills – what we are talking about here is the living expenses that you spend after you pay bills, you know…. the things you write checks for or slide your debit or credit card for. You are still obligated to pay your debts, heating, insurance, electricity, mortgage, etc. This is different!
- Any absolutely necessary expenses – We have to be very careful with this one; absolutely necessary means just that – not because its a “want”; We really try to cut out the reasons we would “need” to spend.
- Pre-planned events/holidays – We know every family may have special events that just might conflict with this challenge. There’s no reason to worry or skip this challenge; just work around it and make this challenge work for you!
We may not “love” penniless weeks, but we LOVE the end result!
For example, if you don’t grocery shop, eat out, causal shop, avoid activities that cost money, skip date out and do date in, make your beverages at home (like coffee!) and any other expenses that you have sometimes during the week; you could actually end up with a few hundred dollars extra in your pocket or bank account!
It is not always easy, but in the end, the rewards are awesome!
What could you do with a few hundred extra dollars? Perhaps seed your vacation or other dreams fund, catch up on or get ahead on the 52-week progressive savings account challenge, pay off debts faster, save for a need quicker? What?
We try to have a penniless week about every 3 months or so. We have done it more often or less often depending on the season.
How does Penniless Week Work?
- Before the week starts, buy just the fresh foods (produce, milk) that you may need for the week, but don’t make up for penniless week by double spending (on everything else – this is only for those fresh necessities) the week before in preparation! Be creative though as we’ve also just used the milk we’ve had on hand and then used our powdered milk in the pantry if we ran out! The goal is to make a bit of a sacrifice!
- Gas up your vehicles for the purposes of getting to work and try not to drive them to the point that you need to refill that week!
- Literally eat what’s in your house (penniless week is also a great way to eat foods you’ve been needing to eat before they expire!). Sometimes your meals are a hodgepodge and sometimes they may not technically be a meal. But you are getting food, so everyone is sacrificing and happy with the end result!
- Find free ways to entertain yourselves for FREE and to have fun.
- When the next week starts, don’t overspend to make-up for not spending the week before. Just do your normal grocery shopping and your activities like normally planned/budgeted.
What you may learn:
- It is character building for everyone to learn to temporarily sacrifice and to learn to “live without” to reach a goal.
- It is a test run to see if you really can live without and help identify perhaps problems your family has or addictions that are developing (e.g., coffee out, unnecessary snacks, movie theater addiction, etc). We learned something similar when we have done no electronic entertainment weeks! It is quite eye-opening!
- The value of your hard work and sacrifice. Each time we do this, we seem to come out of the week being even wiser with our allotted budget for the rest of the month. It also helps us to value each penny and consider how much meaningless spending actually ends up costing you ($1 here, .50 there, etc.)
- A good chunk of “seed” money to help you reach your financial goals and dreams!
- It really sets the stage to help you “Be Intentional” about your spending and your finances.
Now… on with a very personal story and us being real…..
We’ve had many of you that have stated…”I already live this way every week,” and it seems that the point of this challenge is being missed by many due to this statement. We get this…we understand this…in fact, we too at one time lived with this thought…
So let us relate our situation to you and how that story is different today: There was a time in our lives that we were in such financial crisis that we couldn’t go even ONE day without a paycheck, let alone a week. We had no savings, not a penny to our name = we were penniless. We were in over $100K of consumer debt and could not longer pay our obligations monthly. BUT…we got to work when we realized our crisis (and just in time as we were literally days from bankruptcy) and that hard work changed our financial situation. It wasn’t an easy road and it wasn’t quick.
Today, after years of hard work, we are free from our $100K debts (debt-free day was five years ago! YAY!) and in the process, we learned to live a very frugal, happy, full life. As a family of 7, we live on MUCH less than we ever did as the 2 of us. The point of this challenge is to not “live” frugal everyday, but to encourage everyone to do better from where they were at today. WE HAD NOTHING, but we figured out how to do better.
Today, we do have a weekly budget and it is a tight budget because we choose to live as frugally as possible now. We save our excess for future goals and paying for things with cash. Our weekly budget accounts for groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment, clothing, etc. We spend within our allotted budget and try very hard to not spend more. After our experience, we started our site to encourage and share with you what we have learned and how we try to live a little better every day! So, no matter your financial situation, this challenge could help propel you into a better financial future. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – try to understand what we are attempting to accomplish and join us for some penniless (not just frugal) fun this week!
We already have thousands of you joining us and seem to understand what we are trying to accomplish. We hope this has clarified for the rest of you why we are presenting the challenge. You’re welcome to join us!
Now for some tools to help! One of the BIGGEST tools to help us this week is the No Food Waste Menu Planner. If you haven’t already downloaded this menu planner, we highly recommend it for this week especially.It is a cool little planner that my awesome husband Alex made for me when I was trying to find an easy way to use all of our foods each week in my recipes and cooking. Along with that, you will want to utilize the google recipe search to help you create recipes with foods you have at home now! See all of the details on this HERE.
In addition, it might be a good week to put together a home binder and get on track to a more organized life, which leads to an easier frugal life in future weeks. Find out the details of the Home Binder HERE along with the downloads to go inside!
Next steps: (leave comments below so we can all have fun and learn!)
- Live Penniless and leave comments below telling us about your progress.
- Tell all of us the funny meals you eat!
- What did you do for fun and entertainment this week?
- We would also LOVE to know how much you think you saved over previous weeks?
Alright…… who is ready to join us??
We would love to hear from you and hear your results and tips you have too!
Have you heard of our 52-Week Take Back Your Finances challenge where we are encouraging families from all over the world to join us for a year of challenges to help you meet your financial goals – no matter what they are?! Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 52-Week Take Back Your Finances Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!