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I’m Still Alive; also, join the 7th Annual Uber Frugal Month Group Challenge!

I’m still here! I took an unplanned (and therefore unannounced) break from writing the blog, which was intended to be for a week, but expanded to a month and then two months… WHOOPS. I confess I needed some time off from ye olde Frugalwoods after consistently posting for 9.5 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever done any one job and I realized during this impromptu hiatus that I–gasp–MISSED writing and MISSED all of you. Sometimes one must have some absence in order for one to realize what one misses. So, I’m checking in to let you know that I haven’t died or abandoned Frugalwoods, but that I am trying to discern how often I’ll write going forward. The days of thrice weekly posts are definitively over, but on the other extreme, I don’t particularly want to take full months off again either. Thank you for your patience as I–once again–figure out what I want to do with my life. I like writing and I like helping people with their money and I’m very thankful that I get to do just that.

My vision going forward is to post a new Reader Case Study each month.

The Reader Case Studiesare the clearest distillation of what my work is evolving into: more helping other people with their money; less talking about moi-self. As longtime readers know, my writing on Frugalwoods began essentially as a money diary. A way for me to understand my own feelings about my money and how I wanted to create a different sort of life, one divorced from the rampant consumerism and hectic oneupmanship that dominates a large share of media in America. I’m humbled by how many folks have followed along these 9+ years and in awe of the deeply inspiring conversations, friendships and self-exploration this work has prompted for me. The other reason for my intended new focus on Reader Case Studies is the indisputable fact that…

I’m Tired Of Writing About Myself

What I learned during this unplanned sabbatical is that, frankly, I’m tired of writing about myself.I’ve spilled a lot of digital ink delving into my own finances, my financial psyche, and my approach to everything from making oatmeal to index fund investing. And it’s been fun! And rewarding! But as my kids get older, I’m less comfortable mining my life for content and less comfortable sharing the nuances of their lives. I also think I’ve probably said just about everything I have to say–if not here on blog, then in my book.

That being said, I want to continue our Frugalwoods community and continue serving as a resource for people at every stage of the financial journey. I envision that happening in a few ways going forward:

  1. Through a monthly Reader Case Study here on the blog, where we’ll read through a reader’s real live finances and offer compassionate, productive feedback and advice. I also have a new search tool for the Reader Case Studies (of which there are 104) that enables you to search for specific Case Studies based on age range, income level, retirement plan, marital status, profession, location and more! I hope this will help folks find Case Studies that reflect their own financial situations and questions.
  2. Through the archives of this blog. There are 737 published posts on Frugalwoods in addition to my book, Meet the Frugalwoods. If you’re curious about my thoughts on any given topic, check out the new categories on the blog homepage. I did my best to re-organize old posts into consolidated categories to help with searching. Hopefully this is more easily navigable than my previous 8,000 different categories :).
  3. Through my one-on-one financial consultations and financial plans.If you’d like my help with your money, you can read more about what I offer and hire me here. I’ll help you understand your entire financial situation, set clear goals, and provide practical solutions for managing your money.
  4. Through being interviewed on podcasts and the radio. I enjoy being on other people’s podcasts and, if you’re a podcast listener, you can keep up with the shows I’m on via this page.
  5. Through my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM).As most of you already know, you can take the Uber Frugal Month on your own at any old time. As you may also know, we take the UFM together every single January. This January will be our 7th annual UFM Group Challenge. Sign-up in the box below to join me!

Does This Mean You’ll Never Write About Your Life Ever Again?

Nope! I’ve learned to “never say never” since I often practice the art of changing my mind. I very well might come across a new challenge or discovery about myself in the future that’ll warrant new posts (or another book) or… who knows! But at present, I’m settled and content on my peaceful rural homestead with my husband of 15 years and our two daughters, now ages 5 and 8. I’m in a phase of deep gratitude for what we’ve built and, in many ways, I have less to write about versus when we were in the striving-for-this-goal phase. We’re contentedly boring at this point, with no major news or financial revelations to share. Life’s good and I’m grateful. But, as all my fellow writers know, boring and happy often doesn’t translate into interesting content for readers. Life is long and unpredictable, so I may yet surprise myself and return to full-time blogging. Or not. Time will tell! But, I wanted you all to be aware of where I’m at in this journey so that you can continue to walk alongside me–if you want to–in this new iteration of Frugalwoods.

It’s Time To Sign-Up for the January 2024 UFM Group Challenge!

The UFM is a tradition I want to continue since it outlines the process my husband and I followed to kick-start our own frugal journey. It’s also the roadmap we used to reach financial independence. I also want to continue the UFM because I’ve heard from thousands of folks that the Challenge changed their financial lives for the better. If you haven’t taken the UFM before, check out my FAQs:

Q: What’s the UFM?

Not to be confused with Underwear Fang Monkeys or Universal Folk-dancing Moths, the Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM) is my FREE, 31-day, holistic, emailed-based money re-vamp program. You can sign-up to take it at any time, but we take the UFM as a group every January.

From January 1-31, I’ll send you an email a day with specific steps on how to improve your finances. There’ll be motivational mantras thrown in, but the primary purpose of the UFM is to give you detailed, straightforward, easy-to-follow financial action items. Woohoo!

A lot of people (me included!) take the UFM every single year as a refresher course to help get back on track or to confirm that they’re still in great financial shape. Other people come to it as money beginners and end the month with new confidence about their finances. Still others are at expert level and take the course as a way to connect with the broader Frugalwoods community and offer encouragement and advice to newer community members.

It’s fun (I mean, at the very least, it’s not painful), it’s free (totally free), and it’s written in plain English (no financial jargon allowed).

The Uber Frugal Month isn’t just about saving money. It’s a holistic re-evaluation and re-structuring of our human relationship with one of the most polarizing, stress-inducing, divorce-causing, fear-mongering things: our money. Money does not have to be any of those things. Money can be a beast you tame, understand, and make work for you–not against you. You can either master your money or it can master you. Join me and take charge.

A few years ago I launched a private Facebook group for UFM participants to share ideas, discuss challenges and be in community together, which means your next question very well might be…

Q: How do I join the private Uber Frugal Month Facebook group?

You’ll receive a link to join after you sign-up for the UFM. If you’re already in this private Facebook group–which thousands of you are–don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything. Just keep being awesome and supportive in the group!

Q: Do I need to use Facebook (or other social media) in order to participate?

Nope! The Challenge is conducted entirely via email and here on Frugalwoods. The UFM Facebook Group is an optional bonus. No need to sign-up for Facebook in order to participate in the UFM. All you have to do is sign-up with your email address in the box below.

Q: If I’ve already taken the UFM, can I take it again?

Absolutely! I had my tech guy (AKA Mr. Frugalwoods) set up the email thing-y such that you can sign-up to re-take the Challenge with the same email address you used to take the Challenge previously. You do, however, need to sign-up again in order to join us starting January 1st.

Real Live People Love The UFM!!!

Fun as it is to read what I write (right?!), it’s even MORE fun to read what other people (real, live people!) have said about their participation in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge. Lucky for you, I’ve collected testimonials from past Challenge participants who’ve written heartfelt notes about how the UFM changed their finances and ultimately, their lives. Here are but a few selected for your enjoyment and published with permission.

“I’ve enjoyed completing this month with you. You’re totally right about the importance of cooking at home and not eating out often. It’s good for the wallet and the waistline since we have control over what we put in our food. Our money shows our priorities. Today is my payday for January and with some unexpected expenses having cropped up in November and December I’m well-positioned to have it all paid off with the discipline from January. Thank you for the motivation!” -SK

“I wanted to reply almost every single morning with solid reaffirmation of your frugal tenets. It’s great to see such a comprehensive guide through the frugal mindset. It reinforced that I’m on the right path, but discipline is required to keep in check. I think anyone who hasn’t adopted it might not understand the very real happiness you report. They should understand that you aren’t uniquely suited to this, your advice is extremely practical!I’ll be here next year as a self check-up. Thank you so much!” -Adam

“Thank you so much for your daily emails and encouragement. It helped me to stay focused, to learn, and to implement new ideas and ways of thinking.” -Donna

“It was a delight to read all the emails from you. It made clear sense to not spend more on the things I would of spent my money on, but it was freeing to not do that….I’ve been on a frugal journey already, but to read your emails was such a delight to see all the suggestions that you gave. I’ve kept some to go back and read them again. It gave me purpose to keep right on going” -Arthur

“What was clear from the start was how many times I had to say no. It felt like every weekend there were just so many ways to spend money, but nothing was really needed. Saying no to frivolous expenditures was shocking at first, but half-way through the month it became my mission.Now I see that what I would have spent money on was just things, not needed things, just places to go, time to waste, etc. I saved some money, but that money will snowball if I continue next month, which I will! Thank you for this guided lesson, I learned so much” -Mary

“This UFM was surprisingly easy! It’s also my…third or fourth time trying it?- and none of those went well. I started out strong but fizzled out, falling back into old spending habits. This is the first time I’ve done an UFM as a working parent (my son is almost 2), so I think the extreme lack of leisure time was helpful 🙂 But I also have a better understanding of why I am interested in frugality and the many ways it benefits me, my family, and the future we want.This month has been a good reset. It hasn’t felt restrictive, it’s felt empowering.” -Meredith

Chickens: unconcerned about winter

“I am very grateful for your writing and insights, especially this month’s frugality mindset series. It was a great re-set, re-directioning for me. I have had frugal periods of life but have gotten away from it. This series was a great reminder, renewer, teacher for how I want to live moving forward.” -Sarah

“I have compared our month’s spending for this challenge month, as compared to November (as December I had some irregularities and bookkeeping variances). We have saved a bit over $1,600 on our overall spending. We have also cut our food spending by $975. Your blog and this challenge has really started us on the values spending journey.” -Samantha

“I thought I knew everything about frugality, but your articles gave me some new perspectives about why frugality and lowered consumption is important to me. ” -L.P.

“I managed to save a lot more money this time around, I think doing this challenge more than once helps to refocus on goals.” -Ashley

“This is my second year completing the Uber frugal months with you and our community. I’m on my way to living this as a lifestyle not just months.” -Maxine

“I just finished the Uber Frugal Month (again!) and it is always good to get back to basics and reevaluate what and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Being frugal is my default setting, but it is still good to reset and give some neglected areas a little attention.” -Vanessa

“This month was enlightening for me. It was mainly because of the wonderful emails. The very thing I objected to on the challenge, I found to be great! Your messages about in-sourcing resonated with me.  Those emails came after I saw the power of in-sourcing in my own life.  I’ve also surprised myself at finding things I enjoy at discount or for free! Frugality helps us quiet so much of the noise that takes us away from each other.” -D.S.

“It has surprised me how easy it was to not buy anything but food. I do have a long way to go on that front but I’m excited for the challenge. I feel this is a lifestyle to work toward & that is why I thank you. I absolutely love the Facebook community you have created also. Makes me feel warm & fuzzy!” -Jamie

“My month was great! I didn’t miss much and was able to use my savings to snowball extra money towards my daughter’s student loans.Win-win! Thank you for your inspiration!” -Christie

“This frugal challenge has been great for my wallet, my health and with my time management. I’m now also starting to evaluate my goals, what do I want in this life, being in the frugal challenge has triggered this… I really like your writing style and I’ve looked forward each day to see what is next on the challenge and reading the associated links.” -Wayne

I hope you’ll join me next month on this journey to financial wellness!



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