A Frugal Festival

Here it is folks, the long-awaited 85th Festival of Frugality! I spent all my free time yesterday engrossed in the posts that everyone submitted, and as always, there are tons of great ones. I love reading about other frugalites – it’s nice to know that there are so many of us out there. And hosting the festival gave me a chance to read a ton of posts. I’ve chosen a few that are my favorites, and then I’ve listed the rest of the posts in the order that they were received. Enjoy the reading!

Trent at The Simple Dollar gets my vote for best post this week. His article about how maximizing frugality beats maximizing investing is right on the money. Perhaps it’s because I don’t make a 6 figure income, but I’ve always believed that the best way to accumulate wealth is to cut expenses rather than trying to find the best investments. We have money invested in IRAs, a 457 plan, and an HSA. Almost all of it is in the stock market, and I recognize the importance of investing our savings. But I don’t spend hours each week trying to “beat the market” or find that one stock that’s going to go through the roof. Instead, we stretch every dollar we have so that we have more dollars to put into our investment accounts.

Jason from We Go To Cool Places has a great post about couchsurfing. If you like to travel and don’t require 5 star hotels, this is a must read. He writes about people who travel all around the world and stay for free in the homes of other people who are part of the network of home-sharers. What a great idea. I hate paying for a hotel. I will only do so in the direst of circumstances. (We have been known to sleep in the back of my civic wagon). We almost always camp when we go somewhere, because both of us would rather spend our money doing stuff at our destination rather than paying for a place to sleep. Maybe we’ll have to give couchsurfing a try.

Ted from Campus Grotto has a very helpful post on how to go about getting scholarships for college. I finished college debt free with a lot of help from scholarships. When I was a senior in high school, my mother and I went on a mission to find every scholarship we could. I ended up having all my tuition and about half my dorm costs paid for. When I moved out of the dorms, the college would give me a refund check each semester and I was able to use it to pay rent. It amazed me how many people I knew in college who hadn’t even applied for scholarships (and were racking up $10,000 in student loans every year for a bachelor’s degree). My younger sister got a scholarship that covered all of her expenses – tuition, room and board, books, fees, plus a stipend – for four years. You can’t get what you don’t ask for, so start asking!

Amy from Saving Advice has a post about 15 ways that being uncool saves money. This is the flip side of how keeping up with the Jonses is a very expensive hobby. Here’s to thrift store clothes that look just like they came from J.Crew (because they did in their past life) and kitchens without any upgrades. I’d rather have a healthy IRA.

Melissa from SEO Aware has a post about money saving tips for the self-employed and small businesses. Melissa’s post is informative and up-to-date with all the latest internet-based tech savvy tips for keeping business expenses under control. As a self-employed business co-owner, I can attest to the importance of keeping business expenses as low as possible. Just because it’s a tax-deduction doesn’t mean you should buy the most expensive stuff you can find. It’s still better to pay tax on the money and keep the left-overs yourself.

And here are the rest of the frugal tips, stories, and tidbits:

Frugal Panda presents Top 50 Frugality Bloggers posted at Frugal Panda.

Jason Elder presents Offshore Options For Bankrupts And Those With Poor Credit posted at A Bankruptcy Lawyer’s Blog, saying, “This is a great option for people with bad credit. It might be something you never thought about before.”

Boomie writes about some budget tweaking. posted at The Wastrel Show.

Dawn presents Frugal For Life: Freezing Milk Prices posted at Frugal For Life. I had never thought about freezing milk, but I know that my breast-feeding friend pumps milk daily and freezes it for her husband to feed their son. So I guess it makes sense that you can freeze cow’s milk too. I love the picture on Dawn’s post. That’s a lot of milk!

Kris presents The Circular Game: Decoding Your Supermarket Weekly posted at Cheap Healthy Good. This is a great post. I have a bad habit of dumping the grocery store ads into the recycler without looking at them. My reasoning is that I’m too busy to be going from store to store. But this post has given me a new challenge.

Katie presents Eliminate the Things that Irritate You posted at Aridni. How about all that debt that irritates us all so much? Seriously, I know exactly what she’s talking about – the pile of papers under my office table needs to go.

Annette Berlin presents How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt posted at Frugal Journey, saying, “I haven’t owned a credit card in over 20 years. But, that six month period when I did have one, caused financial problems that lasted for years.” Annette takes a pretty harsh stand against using credit cards at all, and suggests going to Debtor’s Anonymous for help with debt. I love our one credit card, monitor its balance daily, and pay the bill in full every month. We get cash back rewards, a simplified statement that shows where our money goes, and no trips to the ATM. But for someone who has a hard time using credit cards wisely, I would say that Annette’s advice is tough love worth reading.

FMF writes about Becoming Michael Jordan for fifteen bucks posted at Free Money Finance. We don’t have kids yet, but I can appreciate the bargain here. FMF makes a good point, in that an 11 year old is going to outgrow shoes long before the support wears out, so buying $80 shoes for a kid is probably not such a good investment. I would say that the exception would be a rising track star or athlete who is putting in serious hours in the shoes, but that’s not most kids.

Amy Allen Clark presents Ask Frugal Momma: How Do You Organize Your Pantry & Cupboards? posted at MomAdvice, saying, “Organizing your pantry helps to save your family money because you are not spending money on items you already have. This entry explores new ways to organize your pantry and your cupboards.” I love the pictures. They make me want to tackle my own kitchen pantry, but alas, I’m too busy putting together this carnival.

KCLau presents When is the Perfect Time to Rebalance our Investment Portfolio? posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “Rebalancing should be a standard operating procedure for every investor since it is relatively easy to restore a portfolio to its original allocation mix. Regardless of your objectives and risk tolerance, the major benefit of periodic risk management is significant reduction in portfolio volatility.” Well said.

Stephanie presents Embracing the Plaid Couch posted at Stop the Ride!, saying, “Making do is sometimes the best frugal tip!” I couldn’t agree more. This is what it’s all about. The reason fashions change is that it’s the best way that marketers have come up with to get us to keep parting with our money. If a couch is still comfy and not falling apart, the design should not be a deal breaker. Throw pillows in neutral colors and fleece blankets (usually less than $10 at Ross and TJMaxx) are a great way to cover up a couch. Good for Stephanie for taking the most frugal path of all – keeping what you already have.

Larry Russell presents Summary Table of Traditional IRA and Roth IRA Tax Rules posted at THE SKILLED INVESTOR Blog, saying, “For your convenience, the table provided summarizes 2007 rules for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. The table has a left-hand column of questions and 12 columns of information. Read the first four questions in the first four rows to determine which of the twelve columns would apply to you. Be careful to distinguish between the rules about whether you can make a contribution and whether an allowable contribution is tax deductible.” This is a supremely helpful post. It’s self explanatory, so take a peek and figure out your best options.

Paid Twice tells about Reorganizing my pantry by expiration date posted at I’ve Paid For This Twice Already…, Anyone who has ever sent someone to the store for flour in the middle of a recipe, only to later find two bags behind the sugar needs this post.

story explains Why I shouldn’t buy a hybrid car (but want one anyway) posted at My money and my life. Great post. Everyone seems to be talking about the money saving advantages of a hybrid car lately. I admit that I would love to have one, but it’s not practical for us to pay for one, and we don’t drive much anyway.

Shannon Tani presents For Richer or Poorer–When to Spend and When to Save posted at Save to Quit. I guess everyone who reads my blog knows that we eloped and consider it to be one of the best decisions we ever made. For anyone looking to cut wedding costs, Shannon has some good ideas.

R.Pettinger describes 10 Painful but Effective ways to reduce Debt. posted at Mortgage Blog, saying, “10 Painful but highly effective ways to reduce debt. Is living with your parents worth saving rent money?” I like the ideas here, although I would not call them painful. Frugality only workslong term if you enjoy it, and these are great tips that will lead to less money stress – no pain in that!

Steve Faber presents - 3 Quick Money Saving Tips for Your Car posted at DebtBlog.

Laura writes about Frugal Fridays: Do it at home! posted at OpinionMom. We tend to have most of our “date nights” at home, and we love it.

MoneyNing presents Waste Miles Per Gallon of Gas posted at Money Ning, saying, “Watching for waste is better than many other gas saving methods.” I agree completely. I ride my bike to my job at the library, and to the bank, post office, etc. Great exercise and no gas used at all.

Cade Krueger presents Facing Student Debt With A Home Business Opportunity posted at Write To Right. I’m curious as to what business Cade was involved in during college. Sounds like it worked out well though.

K T Cat presents The Road to Financial Peace Gets Rocky posted at The Scratching Post. I think most people see getting out of debt as high priority, but tend to scale back their frugal ways once the debt is gone and the goal shifts to savings.

Lazy Man and Money writes about his wife’s hair care expenses in Women: What is your Hair Budget? posted at Lazy Man and Money. I’m a low-maintenance girl, I’ve never done anything to my hair except wash it and get it cut (plus a few curling irons and cans of Aqua Net in the early 90s). I go to Cost Cutters or Fantastic Sams – wherever I have a coupon – and I would be too afraid of the chemicals in hair dye to use it (I’ve never even highlighted my hair). That said, I find it fascinating how much money people spend on their hair. Lazy Man’s post has drawn lots of comments, and the amounts people spend are all over the board.

Mr Credit Card presents Spending Money at the Laundry posted at Ask Mr Credit Card’s Blog. Raises the question about what our time is worth. I do all my own laundry, but I sort of enjoy it too.

Penny Nickel presents Money and Values: Watch some free outdoor movies this summer! posted at Money and Values. The outdoor movies in our town are only about a mile away, and they have one every Wednesday night. We’ve been meaning to go all summer, but haven’t made it there yet. But we get all our movies from the library anyway, so they’re free. I just think the outdoor movie would be fun. Maybe this week…

Silicon Valley Blogger presents Save Money When Buying Those Cool Electronics and Gadgets You Hanker For posted at The Digerati Life. Lots of good tips from an insider.

Jonathan tells us about 3 Ways I Live Frugally Without Feeling Deprived posted at MyMoneyBlog. Here at the FrugalBabe household, we do all three of these things.

Dawn Miklich presents Money Saving Tips for Pet Owners posted at affurmation.com, saying, “This article offers tips for pet owners to save money” I like the thoughts for potential pet owners too. Lots of good stuff here for anyone with a pet (or thinking of getting one).

Tricia writes Frugal Ways We Beat the Heat Today posted at Blogging Away Debt, saying, “With some hot weather, it became like a game to try to beat the heat and save some money.” We’ve had some stinking hot weather here lately, although I try to keep reminding myself of the 6 weeks last winter when our street was under 4 inches of ice. We keep our AC set to 76 or 77 degrees, and our electricity company has installed a switch on our AC that allows them to shut it off about 10 days every summer during peak usage (we never notice it, and we’ve been doing it for four summers now).

Shadox writes about pet health care expenses in Pets Can Be Expensive posted at Money and Such, saying, “Pets can be expensive. We recently found out our long time cat is diabetic. Think big bucks.” Ouch. We do have pet insurance on our dog and cat, and hope we don’t have to use it for a long time (they’re three years old). Shadox, I hope your kitty does well on the new diabetes treatment.

Moorea presents What To Do If Your Car Is Vandalized posted at Queercents, saying, “To study up on what to do if this financial hardship befalls you, read on.”

Ben presents Blockbuster vs Netflix: Why You Should Sign Up For Both posted at Money Smart Life, saying, “Enjoy free or cheap movies by playing Blockbuster and Netflix against one another!”

The Happy Rock presents Government Sometimes Save Us Money – Tire Pressure Monitors posted at The Happy Rock, saying, “Tire Pressure Monitors are law in the US. A look at how that helps us.” Ok, I’m going to put checking air pressure on the calender on the same day that we give the dog heartworm meds and clean the AC/furnace filter.

Juicefairy rates Drugstore Lip Gloss Faves posted at Juicefairy. Wow, there’s a lot of info here. But I’m still shocked at the number of lipglosses she has (80!) I have one (Burts Bees) and it doesn’t score very high on her rating. Oops.

Frugal Duchess presents How One Man Uses Price Guarantees for Big Savings posted at The Frugal Duchess, saying, “A reader named Barry sent me this piece about how he saves at different stores. Basically, he uses a combination of Back-to-School sales and price guarantees to save a lot. Here’s what he wrote. Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot are battling each other with huge back-to-school savings. As a result, the consumer saves!” Just in time for back-to-school.

The Dough Roller tells about Teaching Kids about Money in Chi-Chi Castenango, Guatemala » The Dough Roller posted at The Dough Roller, saying, “Frugality meets Fairness in this article about my daughter negotiating with street vendors in Guatemala.” I always like posts that discuss teaching money skills to children. Dough Roller has obviously done a good job teaching both money smarts and empathy.

Mer presents 11 Things You Can Do to Make Cooking SRSLY Easy posted at Living Behind The Curve, saying, “This post helps spell out the advantages of one of one of our greatest frugality tools, the SRSLY method.” Don’t know what SRSLY means? Better read the post. I am inspired to dig my crock pot out of the pantry.

Tight Fisted Miser gives a teeth-chattering description of Taking Cold Showers to Save $45 a Month posted at Tight Fisted Miser. Wow. I thought I was pretty darn frugal until I read this post.

Joseph details Coupon strategies posted at Penny Pinching.

mom & dad write about 2007 State Sales Tax Holidays for Back-to-School Shopping posted at raising4boys.com. Very informative, and very useful if you live in one of the states listed (especially the ones that offer tax-free computers!!)

Cathy describes a recent DIY project in Save Money by Changing Your Own Door Locks posted at CFO: Chief Family Officer, saying, “Who knew it was a DIY kind of project?” And it sounds like they did a better job than the last person that they paid $110 for the job. Way to go.

Kim from In A Shoe writes about making sure you look for coupons in order to get the best deal online.

That’s it for this edition. I hope you learned a few things, got inspired, smiled, and enjoyed your reading. If you submitted a post, thank you. Next week Dawn at Frugal For Life will be hosting.

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