365 day personal challenge: $500 total in discretionary spending.

I am challenging myself to spend no more than $500 for an entire year, in the discretionary expenditures category.

I am going to do this starting Feb 15, 2023 and ends on Feb 15, 2024.

My discretionary expenditures include the following subcategories:
Clothing (discretionary as opposed to non-discretionary clothing)
Convenience Store Food
Fast Food
Hair, Salons & Spas
“Health” (does it really help or is it just a waste of money… questionable items here)
Home Upgrades
Movies & TV Shows (cinema, movie rentals, streaming subscriptions)
Museums & Zoos
Music & Concerts
Outdoor Recreation & Parks
Performing Arts
Political Contributions
Subscriptions (all other discretionary subs)

I just finished a $0 spend on discretionary food (coffeehouses, convenience store, fast food, dining) this past year from Feb 8, 2022 to Feb 8, 2023. Was a great experience for me – I really don’t crave fast food anymore.

But I don’t need to refrain from fast food / dining this coming yearly challenge, I just need to make sure I spend no more than $500 total discretionary which includes fast food, hobbies, etc… (I will definitely will be taking my BF to the fancy restaurant downtown on his birthday – will be $125 for that meal.)

I am not planning on traveling this year so I should be able to do this, to spend only $500 in discretionary for a full year. Even though I spent $0 on discretionary food this past year, I spent nearly $2000 in discretionary expenditures, so if I can cut discretionary down to $500 that will be a 4X improvement in discretionary spending.

If anyone else wants to do a similar thing it’d be cool. Whenever :slight_smile: Whatever set amount you like.

EDIT: Examples of some of my non-discretionary items: necessary household items including towels, non-stick fry pan, replacing a broken dish, repairing/replacing broken appliances; house/auto repairs/maint; needed clothing. Anything that is absoulutely necessary is not discretionary. I do try and DIY all I can and buy everything used if possible. Some other non-discretionary items: upgrading very old or broken smart phone with a used newer model. Upgrading a very old computer or replacing a broken one, with a used newer model. Same with iPad. The iPhone, iPad and Computer are all fixed assets for me and necessary so I don’t consider them discretionary at all.


You are badass.


I’m digging this challenge! It sounds like a REAL challenge


Kudos to you- I could not do $500 it’s those categories! Very impressive that you did the no fast food challenge!

Good luck with this new challenge, I’m rooting for you!


Okay I’ve decided I am going to try hard to spend $0 discretionary the entire year; I think I can do it. But no guarantees, my challenge is still to spend $500 or less. I’ll share my progress every so often :slight_smile:


I want to clarify regarding the “subscriptions” subcategory under discretionary spending:

I do have a Subscriptions (Non-Discretionary) category outside of my Discretionary category. There are some mandatory subscriptions I need, although few.

E.g. Google drive for $1.99 per month.

Also my yearly journaling software subscription… $32.99 for that – allows me to share my journal on mac/ipad/iphone, so I have access to it on the go etc… It’s also very fast and well designed… I don’t like any other software.

My Torguard subscription… 6 months for $15.

That’s about it.

P.S. I do have a monthly $10 Patreon donation I gift a friend and since I’ll never stop donating it, I leave it out of the discretionary spending. I have it under my non-discretionary subscriptions category. This is my only expense like this.


In addition to this 365 $500 discretionary challenge, I want to also attempt the following:

  1. As already mentioned I am gonna aim for a $0 spend instead of $500 if I can get away with it.
  2. Save $20,023 in the same time period: Feb 15, 2023 to Feb 15, 2024. (I failed the $20,022 in 2022 because I had an unexpected $7000 HVAC replacement for our house.)
  3. Reduce my average grocery bill from $588 month (last year’s average) down to $400 per month. Doing okay so far at $414… not buying anything more this month at grocery store. Learned about a clever rationing idea they used in the great depression and well instead of portioning 8 oz of meat per meal for the two of us, I’ll instead portion the meat to 6.5 oz – saving about 20% on meat costs – I need to lose weight anyways, so a double bonus. I’ll just weigh 6.5 oz and wrap it up in plastic wrap and freeze in gallon zip locks. (I’m sure glad eggs prices are down from $4.69 per dozen to $3.15; they need to go back to $1.25 per dozen like it was just 18 months ago.)
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So far so good. $0 spent in discretionary for the past 2 months. Not feeling any deprivation at all.

Doing well with savings, 49% net income saved – $1935 per month on average; set for the $20,230 saved in 2023 challenge it appears :slight_smile:


$130.49 in Discretionary Expenses so far from 2/15/23 to 11/5/23.

(I met my save $20,230 in 2023 goal as well, with currently over $22k saved. Most I’ve ever saved in a year by far.)