January “Focus on Finances” Challenge #1…Cash-Only in Jan!

I'm getting focused in '14

Happy New Year! Who's ready for to get started with the best year of your life??  January is our new “Focus on Finances” month. Click HERE for a calendar you can print out and use to follow along. We will be adding things as the month goes on so be sure to write in to-do's, tasks, and additional challenges by hand. And don't worry, I'll go over the calendar soon so you know what the heck I'm talking about on there. But first, the moment you've all been waiting for…

… it's time to introduce our first Focused on '14 challenge…

Cash-only spending in January!

That's right folks. Me, the queen of “credit/debit cards only” is holding us to CASH ONLY SPENDING CHALLENGE this month. And yes, this starts today! (Jan 1) Here's how to make this successful:

First, Figure out your budgets. Since we're using cash only, you need to know how much cash to give yourself because once it's gone, it's gone – no getting more. That defeats the purpose here, folks! Here's how to figure out your budget if your income varies. For everyone else, here's how to figure out your budgets:

  1. Divide your spending in three categories- grocery, other, and family. Read what goes in each of those categories HERE.
  2. Calculate how much you spent on each of those categories from the last 3 months. Divide the total by 3 to find the average for each category.
  3. Cut those budgets in half! (Well, for “grocery” and “other” that is. “Family” budget is for bills and gasoline which are hard to control. Still average gasoline out for the last 3 months so you know how much you need cash-wise, but for “grocery” and “other” cut them in half!) Why? For one, we most likely spend way more than we need to. For two…

Stepping on my soap box…For two, hello, this is supposed to be a CHALLENGE! That means it's going to be hard so we are going to need to PUSH ourselves! The purpose of this exercise is to catapult us ahead and give us the best year ever. If you're going to do it, DO IT RIGHT. Go full-steam. Don't half-crap your way through these, or you'll find yourself half-crapping your way through everything else in life. Whoa, sorry about the feisty french there. I guess I'm all sorts of jazzed about this 😉

Moving on…


Rules for Cash-Only Month:

  • The #1 rule for the week is…no spending money NO MATTER WHAT. Fill up your car, buy eggs and milk now becaust no spending money, NO MATTER WHAT!
  • Use the envelope system to track your spending for the entire month (and every month from here on out). The best part of the system is that it breaks your budgets down weekly so you're less likely to run out of money by the end of the month. Print the 2014 envelopes HERE. If you'd like to print multiple envelopes to separate out cash for your separate budgets, that's a great idea! However you want to do it…(see next point)…
  • You MUST TRACK EVERYTHING YOU SPEND. If it's $0.50, track it! Do not let even a single penny be spent without writing it down. For this exact reason is why I usually promote cards-only (keeping track of cash is a nightmare). But the benefit of cash is that when it's gone, it's gone – overspending is impossible (unless you cheat, which is a no no my friends).
  • Leave your cards at home. Don't even bring them with you! With the exceptions of utilities and bills, don't even swipe your card(s) for an entire month. Yes, you'll be losing out on credit card points…but it's only a few weeks. It won't kill you. The savings will be worth it, I promise!
  • If you don't have the self-control to leave your cards at home, freeze your cards in a cup of water in your freezer so you're not tempted to use them. Not kidding.
  • Keep every receipt for everything you spend inside your envelopes. If you start running out of money and need more, return things! It will also help you in case you lose track of spending (but really try not to…it's a messy mess otherwise)

By using cash-only this month it will force you to stick to your budgets. It will also get you in the habit of only spending money that you have, rather than relying on credit cards. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so that's why we really need to stick with it all month long. WE CAN DO IT!

Are you with me??

Reminder…post your photos, stories, updates, and progress on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest for a chance to win $100 prize this month!

Let's do this!



Be sure to catch up on all our other Focused on 14 posts HERE


  1. Oooh! I am excited and ready for this challenge! One question tho-does next weeks spending freeze include groceries?? I hope not…my poor family will starve! 🙂
    I will get my cash out tomorrow, and hope for the best!!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Haha I know, right?! I actually use the free cheap-o ones that come in the mail with medical bills 😉 But otherwise standard legal-sized envelopes are pretty cheap.

  2. I would love to hear a recap of how your month of cash budgeting went. Are you going to continue with using cash or are you returning to credit card purchasing? What went well, what didn’t?

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