Make Do Month

If there’s any month when you’re most likely to wonder if all the bills will get paid it’s usually January. After the feverish rush of the holidays and all the unexpected expenses that popped up, no doubt things will be a little tight. Add the extra cost of heating and the jump in “fresh” food prices and you’ll be looking for ways to trim back.

Enter Make Do Month. This is the month when you stretch everything a little farther so you spend a lot less. If you get invited to a party, you don’t rush out and buy something new, you get creative and shop your closet. And if you need a little something different, you shop a friend’s closet. Or hold a clothing exchange. What you don’t do is spend money.

When the weather is warm, it’s easy to do lots of free things. When it’s cold, entertainment gets more expensive. Sure there’s that great movie you’d love to take the family to for a night out of the house. For a family of four, you’re probably looking at $100 or more with popcorn and drinks.  Recycle a movie you already own or do a movie swap with friends, add some home-made popcorn and a 12-pack of pop and you can probably do it for $10. Now that’s making do.

January is also a good month to experiment with a new routine as you make do. If you’re used to buying coffee every day, brew your own at home or work and save big-time. If you regularly go out for lunch, pack one from home for four out of every five days and not only will you drop those holiday pounds, you’ll be able to pay off that holiday debt.

But what if you have family or friends whose birthday falls in January. You’ll have to buy something. No you don’t. You can give something of yourself instead of something purchased. Make their favorite cookies, offer to cook them a meal or a bunch of meals for the freezer for those extra busy workdays, or create a coupon for three nights of free babysitting. Maybe you’re a computer genius and can offer to do maintenance or repairs. Perhaps you’re a mechanic and can offer a tune-up. Substitute your energy for spending money.

After the buzz of the holidays you’ll no doubt be happy to stay home for the first couple of weeks. Then you may start feeling itchy. You’ve got to get out. You can feel the walls closing in. Time to hit that great new restaurant that just opened up, or head out to the clubs. Wait a minute. This is Make Do Month.

Call up a couple of friend and throw a pot-luck game night instead. See if you can do it at their house this time. Start a tradition of once a month game or poker nights and rotate from one friend’s home to another. No one says you can’t have fun in Make Do Month. You just can’t spend gobs of money.

Make Do Month is a conscious decision to stretch every dollar as far as it’ll go. Try it and see if just becoming conscious save you money. I’ll bet your pleasantly surprised.

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