Deb Morris: Fru-Gal

The Fru-gal challenges you to seven days of not spending money

Cars parked along North Limestone in Lexington were buried under snow Friday.
Cars parked along North Limestone in Lexington were buried under snow Friday. Lexington Herald-Leader

During this past snowstorm I couldn't get out of my driveway, which meant I couldn't go to a store, gas station or a restaurant. I didn't spend a dime. And, to be honest, I didn't feel as though I was missing anything. It felt good.

I am sure I wasn't the only one stranded at home during the storm. Did you have to make do with what you had at home, too?

I want to challenge you to try to have a week of no spending. I am not talking about putting off paying your bills or not paying your rent/mortgage. Those are regular fixed expenses that need to be dealt with when they come up. I'm taking about discretionary spending.

For example, what if you start by not stopping for morning coffee, by not downloading any songs from iTunes, and not buying a book or a movie or piece of clothing.

Bring your family on board, too, so everyone can experience this money-saving technique. To make this work you need to use your imagination and leave your wallet at home. Here are tips that could help.

1. A major expense for many families is eating out. Before your challenge, plan your meals. While the goal is to eat from your pantry as much as possible, you want to be sure you have a satisfying diet so you won't be tempted to make a quick run to the store. Make sure you have a week's worth of paper items and full tanks of gas in your cars. If your child buys school lunches, take that money out of the bank and set it aside with other cash for any expenses you need to pay that week.

2. Use this week as a time to downsize your life. Have your family go through closets. This challenge can help you realize how much stuff you have that you don't really need. Earn money during this week by selling some of these items in a garage sale.

3. Spring, believe it or not, is right around the corner. Take time this week to clean. Open some windows and let the fresh air in. When clutter is gone and things are fresh, we feel better.

4. Free entertainment is available throughout Kentucky. Some suggestions: Go to the source of Lexington, McConnell Springs, where in 1775, frontier explorers got word of the first battle of the American Revolution at Lexington, Mass., and decided to name their campsite in its honor. It's on Rebmann Lane, off Old Frankfort Pike. (859) 225-4073 .

Do the Big Lex Scavenger Hunt. At the root of the legend of the blue horse is the famous horse of the mid-1800s named Lexington. The hunt covers 10 sites related to the horse behind the legend.

Lexington has many beautiful parks where you can spend an afternoon playing Frisbee, baseball, or simply swinging on the playground.

5. Read. One of the country's best free asset is our libraries. Today's libraries provide more than books, including DVDs, CDs, books on tape, board games, and puzzles.

I found that when I challenged myself during the recent snowstorm I ate better, I had time to get organized and decluttered. This challenge helped me realize how many small purchases I was making throughout the week.

I am not saying this challenge isn't hard, but it will make you mindful about the choices you are making. This is not about deprivation, it's about empowerment.

Other saving opportunities:

  • Fifth Third Financial Empowerment Mobile is coming. This is an e-bus retrofitted as a mobile classroom where you can get assistance with requesting your credit report, fraud awareness and prevention, Internet banking and bill payment demonstrations, plus more financial education. The e-bus will be available: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Kentucky State University Student Center, 400 East Main Street, Frankfort; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Employment Solutions 1165 Centre Parkway, Lexington; 3 to 7 p.m., March 19 at the Leestown Campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College, 164 Opportunity Way, Lexington, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 20 at Webasto Sun Roofs, 2200 Innovation Drive, Lexington. For more information, email Janet Beard.
  • Celebrate Mondays with Starbucks' Happy Monday promotions. From 2 to 5 p.m., take advantage of special members-only discounts. Next week, get two teas for the price of one; on March 23 receive a free pastry with a drink purchase; on March 30 get 50 percent off a Frappuccino blended beverage.
  • To celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday, IHOP will be offering free stacks of buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to anyone wearing green.
  • Stop by Dairy Queen on Monday to get a free small vanilla cone. Limit one per person. No purchase necessary.
  • A new P&G rebate coupon is available. Get a $15 prepaid gift card by mail when you spend $50 (after coupons and discounts) on CoverGirl, Pantene, Herbal Essences Hair & Body Wash, Olay, Secret, Ivory, Aussie, Clairol, Safeguard, Olay Body, Head & Shoulders or Vidal Sassoon Color (excluding trial & travel sizes) before April 30.
  • Print a coupon for a free order of dim sum style sliders, mac and cheese bites or doughnuts at Bonefish Grill, valid through Sunday.
  • For every $20 spent at Children's Place online or in-store through April 5, you will earn one $10 PLACE cash coupon redeemable on your next in-store or online purchase of $20 or more from April 6 to 20.
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