Welcome to the 110th edition of the Festival of Frugality! For your reading pleasure and in the frugal spirit, I’ve sorted the submissions into simple categories–editor’s picks, frugality, home, life, budget, food, shopping, and taxes.
— ** Editor’s Picks ** —
It was hard to find the “best” this time around, since there were (as always) lots of good submissions. I went with my gut on these. I think they exemplify the good sense, creativity, discovery, and spirit of fun that’s necessarily in order to live a frugal life nowadays.
Are you looking for alternatives to freecycle? Mel of Bean Sprouts has some listed. Apparently certain people have become disenchanted with it. But the good news is that there are plenty of other groups with similar services.
Catherine of Frugal Homemaker Plus challenges our assumptions about Wal*Mart after her own were shattered. A must-read!
Are you like me–with a collection of random fancy dresses from prom and bridesmaiding (or even a wedding dress) that you really can’t find an excuse to wear again? Amy and her friends put them to good use with some good cheap fun playing BUNCO! I love it!
Four Pillars describes a house for sale by owner – the wrong way. I think this fits in well with the frugal vs. cheap debate. If you’re too cheap to buy materials and sell your house right, it may end up losing you a lot of money. You can still be frugal and sell your home yourself…just don’t be cheap.
If you’re looking for a way to surprise that special frugal someone, Coupon Fetcher has a list of 5 frugal Valentine’s Day gifts. I think half the present for me would be the frugality of it all. Actually, Amy’s BUNCO post above inspired me for V-day…but that’s a topic for later.
Stephanie of Stop the Ride! reminds us that when purchasing a home, smaller is better. You’ll spend less on utilities, furniture, cleaning…pretty much everything. I have to say that our small apartment is really perfect for the two of us. I don’t know what I’d do with more space. Except build a quilting room….and a library…ok. Still, she makes excellent points.
Lynnae shares with us her ideas for frugal outings and then gets her readers to add their very valuable two cents (one might even say $20) in You Tell Me: Frugal Family Fun.
Wenchypoo tells the story of a man who turned a $55,000 salary into a zero tax liability. I’m so impressed! Saving can save you even more money—all the more reason to find money to squirrel away.
Nadege of Fabulous Finances has great suggestions on curbing impulse buying. Prepare yourself by reading this, so you can withstand the huge marketing onslaught that hits you every time you enter a store.
The Happy Rock has a news flash, adoption costs less than you might think. A must-read for anyone considering building their family through adoption or anyone who knows someone who’s thinking about adopting.
— Frugality —
Frugality is as much a philosophy as anything else. And like any set of ideas we use in life, we define them through questions and conversations. These are the meta-frugality posts.
Silicon Valley Blogger suggests that our frugal tendencies may be in part genetic. Here’s why you may be good at frugality….or not!
Kyle of Rather Be Shopping has the top 5 frugality head-scratchers for you to ponder.
Stephanie, who is Poorer than You, has a question for you “Am I Being Cheap?” Let her know what you think. I think that if it still works, she doesn’t need to buy a new one. Maybe she should start a budget for it though.
Frugal Dad ran across a one hundred fifty dollar coin wallet. He uses it as an illustration of his frugal purchasing criteria. Of course it doesn’t pass, but it’s a useful and amusing example.
David at My Two Dollars likes to be frugal, but he came up with five things he thinks it is ok to spend money on. How do you practice your frugality? Are you frugal about everything or are there some things you value too much to cut any corners on?
Patrick of Cash Money Life asks “What Does Being Frugal Mean to You?” I think he’s right that it means different things to different people. But we also share some underlying desires and goals.
vh of Funny about Money argues that time is not money. What does this mean when it comes to saving money…and can you save time?
Aaron Stroud of On Financial Success presents 6 scenarios where being frugal simply costs more. Is it frugal if it really costs more, or is it cheap, or is it something else?
— Home —
Your home and stuff can be a huge drag on your finances. This week we’ve got some great money saving ideas all the way from the big stuff (buying the right size…ok, that one’s in the editor’s pics) down to measuring the power usage of each appliance. Think big, little, and everywhere in between!
Whether you buy the big home or Stephanie’s little one, Madison of My Dollar Plan has ten easy energy savings tips for you.
And then Jeremy of Destroy Debt has given us another list of 20 ways to save on your utility bills.
Argonautica of the Golden Fleece Blog encourages not to waste winter dollars by winterizing our homes. I’m sometimes shocked at how cold our exterior walls get.
GP if Innside Montana is surviving winter simply. Some great tips on prepping your home and yourself for saving money on heating and such this winter.
JP Davidson at Green Deals Daily reviews how Kill A Watt helps you decide what to unplug. If anyone feels like sending me theirs, let me know! We don’t have too much plugged in, but I’m sure we could make things even more optimal.
— Life —
The most eclectic of categories, “Life” is a reflection of our daily life. There’s computers, laundry, insurance, catalogs, travel…these are the sorts of things we just run across all the time. These are those “little” things that end up adding up to quite a bit, so a frugal approach is critical. And since the topics are so diverse, you’re almost certain to find a few useful posts in here!
Gibble at Gather Little by Little has a great list of free software you can use instead of buying name-brand products. I’m a big fan of Open Office, since Word and my computer just don’t get along.
K of Small Cents (now Almost Frugal laments the evils of laundry. Alas for laundry, however you handle it you have to spend time and probably money. But look at it this way, laundry is much more frugal than buying new clothes every few weeks. I met a man who used to do the latter. He had the money and not the skills. What I didn’t ask is what he did with the old shirts…
juicefairy of Girl Living on a Budget came up with 5 important tips when paying dental bills with insurance. Insurance is a tricky matter—make sure you’re very aware of what your policy includes and how to get it covered. Read this article to get started!
Jacob of Early Retirement Extreme answers the question “If I retire with a million dollars how well can I live?”. Frugally—that’s the best idea. Start now, too, so you can figure out what’s right for you and don’t suddenly start depriving yourself. Jacob actually has some numbers for you.
JvW invites us to also live the Good Life on a Budget by sharing her top ten favorite free things to do! 10 free things sounds good to me.
Free Money Finance thinks that you can save money by watching less tv. Probably true, though I think the numbers from the article he found are off. Do you think you spend an extra $260 for every hour of tv you watch? I don’t…that’d be $2600 for every 10 hours…which is more than I spend and less than I watch in a month. Join the discussion over there.
Raymond of Money Blue Book suggests that if you travel a lot, you should join and participate in hotel rewards programs to earn free hotel stays. I’m really not fond of hotel rooms, but for some people they’re a necessary evil.
Kristin a.k.a. the Financial Engineer explains how to opt-out of mail-order catalogs to save money and the planet! Not having them there is a great way to not buy anything from them. And if you don’t want to buy anything from them, you might as well save the printing.
Michelle of Frugal Parenting reuses greeting cards to make bookmarks, gift tags, and more. My mom does this too–she can’t bear to part with the prettiness of Christmas cards and the like. So they pop up all over her house in reincarnated forms!
Brooke of Dollar Frugal has been bicycling. Is that an option for you?
Andy the Tight Fisted Miser advises us to drive a Hoopty and save money. For those of us who aren’t familiar with the term, a “hoopty” is apparently a cheap, old, or broken-down car.
Aryn at Sound Money Matters reflects on lessons from celebrities and the importance of life insurance. If you have dependents, have you set up some kind of policy? Aryn goes over whole and term insurance and the advantages of each. I believe that term is the more frugal choice, especially if you can find a good way to invest the money.
— Budget —
One great way to stay frugal is creating a budget. The only question is, how do you go about it and how do you stay on it?
Debt Prison’s Michael Bass explains how staying within budget is all about focus. How do you keep your daily focus so you can stick to your budget and even enjoy your frugality?
Alison explains how she budgets. Her set-up is pretty simple and straightforward.
— Food —
Food’s just one of those things we can’t get away from. Maybe you’re like me and periodically find yourself wondering whether you could save money by just not eating. Yeah, that’s not really an option. Fortunately, plenty of people submitted posts this week with ideas for eating well and staying well within your budget!
Kris of Cheap Healthy Good makes the case for frozen food. Does the price tradeoff have to mean a nutritional tradeoff too? She doesn’t think so. But she doesn’t recommend hot pockets or “Hungry Man” meals!
Ana at DebtFREE-Revoltuion has discovered that crock pots can be really good for your budget. At the end of a long day, one of the last things you probably want to do is cook. It’s easy to go out or order in instead. But if you use your crock pot, you’ve got warm yummy food when you arrive. She also has ideas for leftovers.
LJ at Mommy Gets PAID doesn’t have to pay as much for an expensive hobby. Sort-of…once you factor in the savings on buying meat. I love venison, too!
PaidTwice is taking advantage of loss leaders and broadening her meat horizons. Do you think loss leaders are worth it in your area? Do you shop for them or not?
Laura/Green Panda suggests that to eat healthier & save money, you should brownbag your lunch. The key is finding a way to brownbag without feeling deprived. I find I eat better, because I don’t find myself obsessing over ordering something cheap.
New Old-Fashioned Gal has a recipe for fantastic deep dish pizza dough. It could save you a fair amount if you have a hankering to order pizza.
Penny Nickel of Money and Values ponders the equation Frugal + Fine Dining = ? Add your two cents.
If you have to eat out, Katie of Novel Experiences lists some cheap lunch ideas. I’m thinking that I should go to a lot of restaurants on my birthday, just to take advantage of the free food. The bad news is that my birthday isn’t for another 9 months.
— Shopping —
Shopping—the nemesis of frugality. This category includes principles of frugal shopping as well as specific deals and ways to save money right now.
At the Bargain Queen, Meg has found you a cheap alternative to overpriced makeup brush holders. I have to say “Holy crap! Would anybody spend $25 on makeup brush holder?” If you’re going to use a makeup brush holder, you should follow her suggestions and spend less.
Free From Broke evaluates a completely un-frugal American Doll and ponders what a smile’s worth. Well, for my parents, smiles weren’t enough to spring for the doll. Wise decision in their case, I think. But it can be hard to be the kid with the frugal parents.
Terry of Savvy Frugality explains what a price book is and how it can save you money. We base our shopping more on distance and availability, but I’m working on a mini-price book to prepare us for exploring a new store.
Now that you’ve already shopped…Hank of My Wealth Builder reminds us that if you own a diamond, you should check your eligibility for a settlement payment. Mine was second-hand, but I expect a number of people might be eligible for this.
plonkee is unfortunately struggling to not buy magazines. Do you have a solution for her?
Betsy of Money Changes Things experienced a drop of reuse amidst an ocean of disposables. One has to wonder how drilling for petroleum, creating stuff in factories, buying it in stores, throwing it in landfills for zillions of years is “easier” than just washing a few dishes.
Ginger of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds submitted the first part in her 3-part series on cheap alternatives for the must-haves in your life. Can you cut back without giving up things completely? Can you find a way around it?
Over at PrimeTime Money, consider trading for free books at BookMooch.com. One of my friends has had good results with this. In fact, I should return the book I mooched off her that she mooched off someone else.
Remodelingthislife was very excited to discover her frugal side this week when she went shopping for something to wear to the poet Burns’s birthday party. Remodelingthislife is in fact like a red red frugal rose! (is anyone else familiar with the phrase “Expunge the poet Burns from your mind, Jeeves”? Of course, she did anything but that.)
Grace writes about her dollar store bonanza. Do you ever find good buys at dollar stores?
And Meg of All About Appearances apparently stinks at not shopping. Been there, Meg. But at least you’re aware and working on it!
hank wants to know Do you still clip coupons? Do you ever get any of them online? If you’re looking for online coupons, he has some ideas to get you started!
At Money Crashers, you can find 5 steps to use if you’re planning to get a new tv soon, like an ICD or plasma screen sometime soon. If it’s already on your list, consider taking advantage of the pre-Super Bowl sales. But don’t buy one just for the sale. That wouldn’t be frugal at all!
Ashley at College of Cash is planning on putting her tuition cards to good use. I wasn’t even aware what a tuition card is…
— Taxes —
Hustler $$$ Blog has a list of tax deals and resources so that doing your taxes doesn’t have to be expensive.
Thanks everyone for participating this week! If you like the selection, consider taking the time to submit it to some form of social bookmarking (e.g. StumbleUpon) to share the resouces.