It has been a while since we ran an MMM challenge here at Mr. Money Mustache. The last one, where I instructed you to start getting your groceries with a bike trailer, was way back on October 20th. And even that one was a bit of a cheat for me, since I didn’t have to change anything in order to meet it (although I’m still proud to say I’ve made only one car-based grocery trip since October 20th – due to needing supplies for an impromptu party in January immediately after an 18″ snowfall in my area).
So anyway, over in the Forum, someone came up with the idea of this March becoming “Mutilate the Mortage Month”. We agreed to broaden the idea to include non-mortgage-holders and hardcore mortgage leveraging investors, and thus we settled on Maximum Mustache March.
So here’s the deal:
For just one month, find a way to increase your hardcore focus on monetary efficiency, boost your badassity, and supercharge your ‘stashing. Cut your spending in novel and healthy ways, and see how well you can do. Reducing total outlays by 10% is a nice goal.
My personal goal is to up my game in healthy cooking for the family in a strategic way that allows us to spend at least $100 less on groceries for the month. With an average that had crept up towards $400/month throughout 2012, I’d like to keep it well below $300 this month with a goal of $250. This means eating less meat, and more things that are lower in cost on a calories-per-dollar basis. Spicy bean and rice dishes, an Indian vegetarian curry recipe, the occasional baked potato with cheese and chives, and plenty of fresh fruit come to mind. The remaining meat dishes can have more things like grilled tilapia, which is cheap and yummy, instead of organic beef and chicken, which is expensive and yummy.
I’ll also make a point of taking on one extra full day of paid work in my construction business (which will be nice since I’ve been a bit lazy since finishing the Foreclosure Project). This will add a few hundred dollars to the family income for the month.
Other ideas for setting a new record in your own performance this March:
- Make it a “buy nothing month”, where you eliminate all optional purchases except groceries. It’s okay to make exceptions when needs come up (prescriptions, things for kids, fixing important things) but gadgets and wardrobe upgrades are out!
- Take the “One Tank Challenge” where you fill your car’s gas tank before the month begins, and make it last through all of March. This would be too easy for for the MMM family, so we could shoot for a “One Gallon Challenge” – driving less than 40 miles in our 40MPG car – instead. But with a family camping trip already planned, we might have to apply the challenge only to the portion of the month we are in town.
- Get new quotes on your house and car insurance to see if you can drop the rates. See if you can beat the ones we’re getting as mentioned in the new “MMM Recommends” page.
- Set a goal to ride your bike at least 100 miles (3 miles per day) during the month – for work commuting or errands.
- Consider switching to a new cell phone plan or internet plan that meets your needs at a lower price. Some neat ideas came up in this forum post on that subject.
These are just a few ideas out of thousands of ways to improve your bottom line. Then you take all the profits and roll them into either paying down your highest-interest debt, or investing some other way into your Early Retirement Fund.
And there’s actually something quite tricky about this challenge: I am fooling you into thinking this is a one-time exercise, so it sounds easy. But really, trying any of these things where you push one of your boundaries, will automatically result in new frugality skills. You’ll find that a portion of the new behavior just sticks, effortlessly, and you will benefit financially from the new skill for the rest of your life.
In my own case, I’ll learn a bit more about affordable cooking, with a new recipe or two to go with it. That knowledge will help me spend less on groceries, forever. And I’ll invest 100% of the extra few hundred I earn from my day of work, resulting in a higher stream of passive income, forever.
Yahoo! What will you do with YOUR Maximum Mustache March?