February Frugal Fitness Challenge


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With the Canadian dollar dropping to less than $0.80 US it seems like a good time to tighten my purse strings. As a PhD student and a single parent I don’t have a ton of money to begin with but I do spend money on things that I don’t really need. February just happens to start in a few days and it starts with the letter F, so (obviously) it makes sense to make it “Frugal Fitness February” and get to work!

Now that I have a home gym, I don’t have to worry about paying for a gym membership but I do spend quite a lot of money on supplements (protein, probiotics, fish oil, etc.) and healthy food.  So the challenge for me is how to spend less money without sacrificing health and performance (and body composition). I know some extreme money savers promote living as cheaply as possible by eating low quality foods but I personally am not willing to sacrifice my health and quality of life. Instead, here are some practical ideas that I am considering for my Frugal February challenge:

  1. Eat less meat. Rationale: Meat is expensive, biologically and financially. There is lots of protein in plants. Counterpoints: higher carbohydrate content in beans & legumes and somewhat harder to digest.
  2. Stop buying supplements. Rationale: You can get all the nutrients you need from food. Counterpoints: difficult to eat enough protein, omega 3s, B12, iron, etc. for optimal performance, recovery, and health. I really enjoy protein shakes….they are so yummy!
  3. Price matching at the grocery store.  Rationale: Get the lowest price on the foods that you want to buy without having to go to all the different stores. Counterpoints: requires planning and organization; must be willing to deal with impatient shoppers in line behind you.  (I am considering making a t-shirt that says “Price Matcher at Work” on the back to warn people…)
  4. Meal planning: Rationale: Waste less food by only getting what you need.  Counterpoints: Again, requires time to plan and also prepare meals.
  5. Stop buying coffees at work: Rationale: I probably spend $10/week on coffees and snacks on campus…which adds up to $40-$50 a month!  We also have a hot water kettle in the office and a stash of tea…so really no excuse here. Counterpoints: sometimes I am lazy and tired and I just want a Starbucks coffee.

So after thinking about all of these opportunities to save money, I think I will still buy some supplements and focus on the other 4 options.  Eating less meat combined with meal planning, price matching, and not buying stuff at school will probably make a significant difference.

Right now I budget $100/week for food (for me and my 2 year old).  I use mint.com to track all of my spending and accounts (it is really great and free!) and in January I spent $482 on groceries…so my goal for February is to actually get down to $100/week (lower would also be awesome).

What can you do to save a little or make a little extra this month?  I would love to hear your ideas!

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