I Challenge You… to Win an Amazon Gift Card


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February Giveaway Challenge

February is all about of love and relationships. So naturally, this month we’re going to focus on our relationship… with money. More specifically, Johnny and I are going to try to focus on changing our financial mindset in the month of February, and we’d like to invite you to join us!

The single most important aspect to having financial success is changing the way you think about money. Sure, spending $10 more than you budgeted for that Full House DVD Box Set probably won’t break the bank, BUT you’re setting a terrible precedent with your money mentality. Also, you’re awesome for buying Full House DVDs. It’s hard to progress on the road to financial independence (debt, retirement, whatever “independence” means to you) when you let your mind rationalize budget overages.

The Challenge

So back to our invitation. Here’s the deal: pick one category of your budget to spend less on this month. But remember, it’s not so much about the money saved as it is about exerting financial control. Make a budget category bow to its sensei (you) this month and show it who’s boss.

We’re going to focus on our Electricity category. Johnny’s been wanting to tackle this category for a couple months just to see how much we can save by making a more conscious effort. Our electric bill is consistently about $65 each month, and in February we’re going to try to bring it down to $50. So $15 saved… no big deal, right? Wrong!!! Being more aware and purposeful with every single dime spent is a very big deal. It’s all a mindset.

So who’s with us?! Pick one category in your budget that you want to spend less on this month. It could be grocery, eating out, clothing, etc. Then leave a comment telling us what category you chose and how much you’d like to save. Then at the end of the month we can all meet back up and share how we did.

The Giveaway

And since this is the month of love, we’d like to open our cold, money greedy hearts and show a little love to you. So just for participating, one challenge participant will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! And while there might only be one gift card winner, you’ll be a winner for saving some extra green this month by completing the challenge.

And are you a gambling (wo)man? If so, shame on you. But also, you might be able to double your chances of winning by liking us on Facebook. But we don’t condone gambling. Unless we win. Then it’s ok.

Oh, and one final, very important stipulation for the guys. The only category you’re NOT allowed to pick to save on this month is gifts for your wife. Trust me. This is for your own good.

Okay, ready? Let’s hear ’em!

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68 Comments

  • Reply DC @ Young Adult Money February 1, 2013 at 7:14 am

    We hope to save some on gasoline. I might be cheating this month, though….I’ll tell you why when we share how we did haha 😉

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      I’m intrigued! Are you thinking about becoming a scooter owner, too? Can’t wait to hear about it.

  • Reply Michelle February 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

    We NEED to save money on food!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      I hear ya! Luckily (or not so luckily), having a newborn guarantees we won’t be doing an expensive Valentine’s dinner this year! :)

  • Reply Mochi and Macarons February 1, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I pick food, because this month will be a lot of dinners and family things.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Good choice! Food is one of those expenditures that can get out of hand so easily! Good luck!

  • Reply Brian February 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Our electric and gas bills are higher this winter than I would like for two reasons:

    1. It is much colder this year (this time last year we were outside every night in the Super Bowl village and the weather was perfect and tons of free concerts).
    2. We have a baby and I can’t set the thermostat at my usualy 66 in the winter.

    So while I would like to cut down those bills it just ain’t going to happen. So instead I will cut down our food bill. This has been getting easier since with the 8 month old it is easier to eat at home than it is to go out!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Brian, I can relate with both the thermostat and not eating out anymore! I’m paranoid about keeping our house the *perfect* temperature so Baby Girl doesn’t get cold. And going out for dinner is a distant dream… it’s corn dogs and burritos for dinner these days. Yum.

  • Reply Laurie February 1, 2013 at 9:19 am

    We’re going for the food bill too. We spend $423 last month, and I’d at least like to get that down to $400.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Awesome! Sounds totally doable. Good luck!

  • Reply Rich February 1, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I’m going to concentrate on my cable bill. My provider (starts with Com and ends in Cast) still owes me a $150 credit for switching 2 months ago. They’ve been giving me the run-around for 2 weeks but I’m going to start calling more often until I see results!!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Grrr. Gotta love being given the runaround. Best of luck in taking the bull by the horns and getting your money!

  • Reply Pam E-P February 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

    DEFINITELY eating out. We have waaaaaaaay too much budgeted for this, and still end up going over. I’m going to lower the budgeted amount and STICK TO IT!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      Awesome, Pam! When life is super busy (as it always seems to be!!), it’s so much easier to just eat out. Just take one day at a time! And, you only have to make it through 28 days this month :) :)

  • Reply Tracie H February 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Absolutely my grocery budget. I stared in horror at it the end of December. This month was better, but it has to be wrangled into control!!!!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      You wrangle that crazy thang, Tracie! Like I said to Pam above, only 28 days this month! You can totally do it. If you’re like me, it will largely depend on avoiding the Valentine’s candy aisle. 😉

  • Reply melissa w. February 1, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I ate out A LOT in the month of January. Almost $150 over budget. In February, I’m hoping to only spend $60 of my $100 budgeted amount, only because I have two engagements I’m already committed to. I’ve noticed that since I’ve started using My Fitness Pal and doing some moderate calorie counting, I’ve been eating at home more because it’s easier to track what I’m eating.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      You can do it!

      And I’ve heard good things about the My Fitness Pal app. Once I start back exercising to get back in shape after Baby Girl’s birth, I think I might just get that app!

  • Reply debtperception February 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I’m going to try cutting down on groceries and dining out. Between just my husband and I, we spent nearly $500 on food in January! I may be cheating a little because my husband is going on a month-long underway (Navy) and won’t be home to want to eat out or buy expensive sugary energy drinks…unless he plans on stockpiling for his underway…eep!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Cheat away! I won’t tell. 😉 Saving money is saving money no matter how you end up being able to do it!

  • Reply Erin February 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Food and alcohol! I stopped tracking it this month after we hit $600…

    I would like to keep it to $400 this month. :( I like food.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      We like food, too! Major understatement in our house. And totally been there in going so far over that I just stop tracking all together. :) But you can do it… just take one day at a time!

  • Reply Sam February 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Our fast food budget. We spent $55 last month and we are hoping to keep it under $30 this month. Love the honesty and writing on your blog :)

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Thanks, Sam! And $55 isn’t too shabby in the first place… I’m super impressed with your $30 goal! Johnny and I love ordering from Wendy’s dollar menu, probably a little too much… but there’s nothing like spending only $5 or $6 for dinner! :)

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I need to stop buying race entries. Every month I seem to say “I’m done buying races for this season”, and yet in Jan I bought two more that extends my road race schedule through April. Surely I’m done now, right? =D

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      That’s a good guilty pleasure to have, Mrs. Pop!… it keeps you healthy! But see if you can hold off on this *terrible* habit for just one month! 😉

  • Reply Jen February 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I think we will be focusing on our food/eating out bill as its the only one I really have any control over! Not much I can do about gas or cell and electricity can’t go any lower than 60 with the baby. As it is, I turn it off all day while we are working!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Awesome, Jen! Yeah, it should be interesting to see if Johnny and I can actually make a difference in our electric bill this month. I’ll tell you this much: Baby Girl and I will NOT be sitting in the dark all day at home! :)

  • Reply Chris February 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    My miscellaneous budget. It’s too…. miscellaneous. We got a new restaurant/brewery in a town of 13,000. Needless to say, it’s a big deal. So I’ve been spending a lot of time there soaking in the hipster cracked paint and constant open mic. This has really messed my budget up because they have awesome beer but awesome=expensive…usually. So my category is miscellaneous, and I want to conciously not spend any more than I have budgeted for.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Why is it that awesome always equals expensive? No fair. We have a miscellaneous category, too, and it’s so dangerous! I can justify putting anything in there (like these new shoes I really want!). 😀 Good luck!

  • Reply Joshua February 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Our eating out budget! Even though we only have a $100 budget to begin with, with the end of the wifey’s grant money from school at the beginning of the year, and 2 more months of tuition payments, we are HURTING.

    Let’s just say we’re looking forward to May when she graduates and my bi-weekly paychecks hit that magical 3 paychecks a month month (the other is November)!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      Totally been there with school living! You guys are so close, and then it will be heaven having two incomes coming in!

      You can do it! Two words we lived by in college with eating out (and still live by today!): dollar menu! :)

  • Reply Melissa February 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I need to stop spending so much money on eating out! I am not much of a cook, and we are on the go a lot, so we end up eating fast food too much.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Since having Baby Girl, my time for making meals is nonexistent so I know where you’re coming from. I think I’ve made *one* homemade meal in the past four weeks! There’s lots of easy frozen options at the grocery store for those super busy nights, and then there’s always the dollar menu! Good luck!!

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I want to reduce our grocery budget by $30 for the month. I think it can be done. Thanks for putting the giveaway together.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Awesome goal, Grayson. I think it really helps to give yourself a specific amount you’d like to save. Good luck!

  • Reply Sarah @ Pretty Providence February 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I want to win because I am saving up to buy a new camera from Amazon! It is a pricy item but I am going to be patient… maybe I won’t have to be quite so patient if I win…! Thanks for the opportunity!

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      I’m right their with you with wanting pricey camera stuff from Amazon. :) I’ve been eyeing a lens for a while that I dream of owning someday — *hopefully* soon-ish!

  • Reply MomofTwoPreciousGirls February 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    I want to save on coffee…I know the coffeehouse is typically taboo anyway, but it is the one and only thing I spend my blow money on! I want to cut it down…not sure of the dollars. I will go from getting a venti to a tall…should save about $30 for the month.

    • Reply Joanna February 2, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      I’m not a coffee drinker, and it’s probably a good thing because we’ve got a Starbucks right down the street from where we live! My guilty pleasure is Diet Coke… we’ve gotta have something to keep us going as Moms :) Good luck with your goal!

  • Reply Christine February 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    We are going to try to cut down on food. We tracked all of our expenses last month for the first time ever after 12 years of being married (thanks to the great HomeBudget app you guys recommended) and I was shocked at home much we spend on food. We are going to see if we can cut about $75 off, yikes!

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      That’s so awesome to hear that the app is working out for you! And congrats on keeping track for your inaugural month! Even if the expenses were higher than you expected, I hope it felt liberating to know where all your money was going — and where you think you can do better.

      Look forward to hearing your progress, Christine. Good luck!

  • Reply Sarah February 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Yup, food for us, too. Can we stay under $400 this month? We’re going to try!

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      That’s exactly the amount we’re hoping to get to at some point. It’s a deceptive amount of money. It seems like a pretty high number. And then $450 later with a week left in the month, you wonder where it went. And then we go buy food to eat away our sorrows.

      Maybe that will be our category for March. Look forward to hearing your results.

  • Reply Alyssa February 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I guess I’m with the masses in saying that we are going to try and eat out less. A difficult one!

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      It appears that way. We’ve struggled with that one since the day we moved away from Del Taco and their 3 tacos/$1 Taco Tuesday. But on the flipside, our bodies probably hate us less, so that’s cool.

      Good luck with our goal!

  • Reply Nicole @ Liberty Belles February 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    definitely gas this month. yay to that!

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Yay, indeed! I’ll resist the urge to try and pretend like I have good gas saving advice for you. Because I don’t. I’d probably say something stupid and dangerous like “Coast on the freeway.” Yeah, don’t do that.

  • Reply Melissa February 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Coffee!!! I got $100 in gift cards for Christmad to Starbucks and they’re already gone :/. I’m trying to limit myself to twice a week this month.

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Gift cards… the ultimate, guiltless splurging tool.

      Resist!! Schedule your coffee trips like you’d schedule a meeting. If it ain’t on the calendar, it ain’t happening.

  • Reply Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin February 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Definitely eating out! Our daughter has been under the weather the past couple days so we’ve been eating out almost every night.

    • Reply Johnny February 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Eating out will likely be our category for March. We’re only two days into February and we’ve already dented that category.

      Hope your girl gets feeling better lickety split.

  • Reply tamara February 3, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Clothes! I have way too many and not much money — it’s not worth it for me right now, so I need to cut back. : )

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Good luck, Tamara! Luckily, we’re not quite at the start of a new season for clothes shopping so hopefully it will be easier to resist! :)

  • Reply Budget and the Beach February 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

    For me it’s always groceries. If I can shave even a little bit off it would be so helpful (but still eat healthy!)

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Eating healthy can get expensive, but it’s totally worth it. Good luck finding that balance this month!

  • Reply Denise February 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I am challenging myself to make and take lunch for work every work day this month. The real challenge is remembering to pack it the night before! The saved $ goes towards our dream of living in Bend, Or in the next couple years.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 1:15 am

      Awesome, Denise! Mornings are always so hectic, so packing the night before will be key!

      Since we had Baby Girl, Johnny’s been buying his lunch much more because I don’t have time to make it for him anymore. That boy’s gonna have to learn how to do it himself!

  • Reply Claire Mizukawa February 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I think we will try to save more on food this month. My grocery spending seems to have gotten out of control lately. I put too much of a priority on having something new and exciting every night, when simple food would do. And I buy stuff I already have at home and just forget about….eek!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 1:16 am

      Totally been there, done that, Claire! If I don’t look through my cupboards before going grocery shopping, we end up with duplicates of everything. Good luck with your goal!

  • Reply Arlene February 4, 2013 at 12:20 am

    I *really* need to be better about packing my lunch for work…that’s my February money goal!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 1:19 am

      It’s tough because actually packing a good lunch takes a lot of time! But the weeks when Johnny buys more than he brings really hit our budget hard. The money saved with bringing is totally worth it! Good luck!

  • Reply Caryn February 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I’ve really got to get my grocery budget under control! It really seems to have gotten out of control lately. I’m not very good about eating/cooking what I have before stocking up on new, more exciting looking things!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Totally been there, Caryn! Sometimes I have ingredients for easy meals, but I avoid them because of how boring it sounds! Sometimes I sacrifice eating a boring meal by fixing a yummy dessert to go with it! :)

      Good luck this month!

  • Reply Christina February 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    We’re going to try to cut back on take-out food this month!

    • Reply Johnny February 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Four days in and I’m already beginning to regret that we didn’t choose take-out as our category this month. Luckily February is a shorter month. :)

      Go get that goal!

  • Reply Laura February 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Eating out! It’s probably because I lump it into entertainment, but in January I went a little overboard, especially since grocery spending stayed consistent (you would think there would be a little give there….). And I’d love to take the money saved and put it toward charity, which is something I’ve been trying to more regularly fit into my budget.

    • Reply Johnny February 11, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Usually there’s a little give-and-take between grocery and eating out for us, but we’ve definitely seen dual-surges. And those ain’t pretty.

      I love that idea of putting the savings toward charity! That would be such an awesome goal. Hope you’re cool with us stealing your idea next month. :)

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