The Rules: YES

What we CAN spend money on:

1. Keep paying your BILLS, rent, mortgage, etc. Obviously these must be paid.

2. MEDICAL expenses, medicines, etc. are ok if truly needed.

3. GROCERY shopping: You can buy produce, dairy, bread. Only buy what you’ll need and use. Check manager’s specials and discounted “bruised” produce. This month, get the .99/lb apples instead of the 1.99/lb apples.

4. GYM membership (IF you actually use it). Being healthy saves money in the long run.

Exercising releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.*

5. MEAL PLAN: Plan meals ahead of time based on what’s in the pantry and freezer. By Jan 25 you might be having garbanzo beans, frozen spinach, penne pasta, and ground turkey. But who cares? The Queen isn’t coming to dinner.

6. MEAT PLAN: Which is kinda like a meal plan, but… meat. Say you have 1 lb. of ground beef. Monday night, brown the beef. Then make spaghetti using only ½ the meat. (If your sauce needs more bulk throw in some onions, mushrooms, or bell peppers.) Save the other ½ of the meat for Tuesday which is, of course, Taco Tuesday. Buy once, thaw once, brown once, eat twice.

7. All SPARE CHANGE/CASH goes into a jar. We are using coffee cans with holes cut in the lids as our “piggy banks.” Make a game out of finding the change around the house, laundry, car, etc.

8. Make a LIST. If you see a book you want to buy, or a sweatshirt, or a pair of fuzzy boots, or a cute t-shirt for your kid, or a .99 song, or a fancy cup for your highlighters (what? It’s a thing), write it down. Keep a running list of “stuff I wanted to buy but didn’t during January” then on February 1st, review the list, and see what you still want to buy. I bet some of the things will fall off the list.

9. DISCRETIONARY: Pick one thing as the exception to the rule (IF NEEDED). E.g., if a movie is coming out during January that you’ve waited a year for, go see it. But just that one, and don’t get the $8 soda at the theater. Or it’s your spouse’s birthday and they want everyone to go out for dinner — go, just order sensibly and look for a coupon first!

10. TRACK IT: Track your daily expenditures here on this blog. It can be as simple as: Jan 1, spent $0, or you can give details if you like (e.g., Jan 1, amount spent: $24.50 for gas) or you can tell us a story about your day, challenges you faced, and moments of triumph.

11. BRAG ABOUT IT: For the fiscal fast, tell us about how you avoided a spending pitfall or left a store with nothing. For the Use It Up Challenge, take photos of the empty plastic shells of stuff you’ve used up and are kicking out of your house for good (recycling) and post them here.

* Loosely quoted from Legally Blonde.