It’s been a good long while since I hosted the Festival of Frugality, so I’m thrilled to be doing it again. There were a lot of quality submissions, and I’ve had fun reading through them. Happy reading, and may you be inspired to new frugal heights.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE POSTS:
Jennifer from Saving Advice has a list of ten things that money can’t buy. And they’re all things that most of us want, if we’re really honest with ourselves. I’d rather have a happy, well adjusted kid than one who owns the latest video games and gets dropped off at soccer practice in a Lexus. In Jennifer’s words “We talk a lot about money: How to get it, how to spend it, where to spend it, and how to save it. For all the time we devote to talking about, worrying about, and dealing with money, you’d think it was the most important thing in the world. If the time spent obsessing about money truly equated to its worth, then there would be nothing that you couldn’t do or have without money. Money would be the only thing that mattered. But is money really as valuable as our obsession level leads us to believe? ”
Grey from Frugal Fu is challenging us to pay it forward. We’ve all been on the receiving end of kindness. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life, this post is a great reminder that money is not what matters most.
Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme is moving into an RV, which will drastically cut monthly expenses. He and his wife will be saving 85% of their after-tax pay. Inspiration for anyone looking to make changes to a simpler, less expensive life.
Jaime from Cheap Healthy Good has a great post about easy, inexpensive meals for one. I love the idea of checking with beet sellers at a farmers market to see if they have beet greens that other shoppers didn’t want. (Beet greens often find their way into our green smoothies, and free is always good). It sounds like Jamie cooks like I do – few recipes, no measuring, lots of throwing together whatever is in season/in the kitchen.
Miss Thrifty has a post – complete with pictures – about her Thriftymobile. To me, this is the epitome of frugality. If you have something that’s working just fine, make it last. And from the looks of that odometer, the thriftymobile should keep on trucking for a good long while.
Colin from The Truth About Credit Cards tells how you can stop getting credit card offers in the mail. I’m slowly reducing the amount of junk mail we get, including credit card offers and those annoying “convenience checks.” I’ve taken some of the steps Colin describes, but I still have a long way to go. Especially when it comes to business-related offers that we get. We made our home office paperless a year or so ago, but every day when I pick up the mail, I’m inundated with another stack of paper. It’s frustrating, but every time I get something switched to email, or removed all together, I feel good. Must persevere.
Andy from Saving To Invest has a guest post from a professional tax advisor about tax deductions you might not know about. As always, consult your own professional if in doubt, but you can get some good ideas here, and tax deductions are always a good thing.
Robert from Wandering Tax Pro writes about the demutualization of insurance companies, and how it impacts your taxes (and of course it involves another tax form).
The Upside Trader writes about how the bail out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is likely to impact the stock market.
Uncommon Advice shares an article about how repossessions are not just for the subprime borrowers in the UK. Looks like even those with solid credit are feeling the pinch.
Money Ning writes about the new unemployment figures (6.1% – gulp!) and how to prepare yourself for the possibility of unemeployment (hint: that ever-present emergency fund is part of the strategy), while also working to protect your job.
Aryn from Sound Money Matters writes about planning ahead for Thanksgiving travel and party plans. It’s pretty much a given that if you wait until the last minute, you’ll pay more for airfare, and probably feel more stressed out about the whole thing. If you’re hosting the party, planning ahead allows you to shop and prepare early, so that you get to enjoy the holiday season rather than feel frazzled. Did I seriously just write “holiday season” – and it’s only the second week of September?
Cash Money Life writes about ways to save money in the kitchen. Lots of good ideas here – and they’ll also keep you healthier than hitting the drive thru every night.
NtJS from Not the Jet Set writes about how he makes a pb&j every day at work, and brings some leftovers to round out his meal. A coworker invited him to go out for $6 lunches daily, but he noted that it would cost $120/month. Money that could be used to go out to lunch every day, or to sent the baby to college someday. I’m squarely in NtJS’s camp here.
Be This Way from Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest Of The Time I Know You? has a heartwarming post about imperfect pancakes. They may not look like something from a Martha Stewart cookbook, but they tasted great, and that’s really all that matters (and they were a lot cheaper than breakfast at IHOP)
Kate from A Simple Walk writes about how sticking to a master menu keeps food frugal, simple, and stress-free.
Value For Your Life has some wonderful-sounding meal ideas that you can whip up instead of going out to eat. Cooking at home gives you more control over what’s in your food, costs less, and is a great opportunity to get the family together in the kitchen. Now I think I’m going to have to go get some nachos so that I can make a big tray of baked nachos…
Megan from Counting My Pennies shares some of her grocery tactics. She was over budget for the month, so she just skipped the grocery store. And she’s not going to starve. She’s just going to make do with what she already has.
Dave from Cheapo Groovo has a post about cheapo food. Lots of tips on how to reduce your grocery bill and get more bang for your buck.
The Happy Rock is going to be only buying ingredients this month. Nothing prepared, nothing processed. Just whole ingredients to cook at home into from-scratch meals. This is an idea that I could really get behind. I imagine there will be lots of wonderful meals around the happy rock household this month.
The Smarter Wallet writes about how you can eat out and not spend a fortune. Since we frugalites tend to be all about cooking at home, it’s good to get a reminder that eating out doesn’t have to break the bank. You just have to do it right.
Richard from Student Scrooge shares some ideas about travel discounts for students. If you’re a student and you want or need to travel, you’ll find some good stuff here.
At Mrs. Nespy’s Frugal World, get some ideas for how to live on a shoestring as a college student. I still have the sticker on my cruiser bike that I got in the fall of 1994 when I registered it at my college. That was the only college-mobile I had, and it sure was cheaper than a car.
Broke Grad Student provides a ‘what not to do’ list with stupid ways college students waste money. And a lot of these things still apply even after you have that diploma in hand.
VH from Funny About Money writes about the ins and outs of Ikea. I’ve never been to an Ikea – I’m not sure if there are any around here; I’ve never seen one if there is. I gotta vote for used when it comes to furniture. Pretty much everything we have is used, and our house still manages to look pretty good (it doesn’t resemble a college apartment, so I suppose we’re on the right track). We do have one couch that we got at a big box furniture store when we moved into our house in 2003. It’s microfiber, and I love how easy it is to clean. Red wine, baby spit up, dog slobber – they all wipe right off. We paid $450 for it, and it still looks almost new – I expect it will still be in our living room ten years from now.
Money Beagle shares about some great deals at the outlet mall.
Ryan from Uncommon Cents has sorted through the Costco coupon book and found the best deals. I love Costco, but unfortunately the stuff we buy there is rarely in their coupon book. But I always look, just in case.
Living Almost Large writes about how a sale isn’t always a deal. I agree completely. Junk food is a great example – it may be on sale, but it’s still bad for you. And if you buy something just because it’s on sale, but you don’t need it or wouldn’t have bought it if it were full price, it’s not a deal.
SAVING THE EARTH (AND YOUR BUDGET)
David from My Two Dollars shares an email from a reader about how unplugging stuff when you’re not using it really does make a huge difference in electricity usage. I’m amazed by the savings his reader experienced – I’ve been making a big effort to unplug stuff when I’m not using it, but I’m going to work even harder at it now.
Daily Money Hack also writes about how to avoid paying for phantom electricity usage, and includes tips on how to tell if a device is drawing power even when it’s turned off. If it is – unplug it!
INVESTING, BANKING, & MORTGAGES
Retire Happy from My Retirement Blog writes about finding the cheapest effective funds. The key? – look for index funds and low fees.
Jim from Blueprint For Financial Prosperity gives some advice on how to prepare for online bank access failures. A 21st century twist on the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket. We have online accounts with ING, but we also have money at a bank about a 20 minute bike ride from our house. The online funds are for mid-range savings goals (things we’ll need in two – five years) and the emergency fund. For the money we need on a day-to-day basis, we use an old-school bank.
Tracy from The Fraud Files Blog writes about how United First Financial isn’t worth the $3500 it costs. This post rang very true for me. Six years ago, my husband and I shelled out $2500 for a similar program from another company (I think it was called Smart Save). We took forever to sign up, and the mortgage guy kept lowering the points on our mortgage to entice us, so in the end it didn’t cost us that much. But as we’ve gotten older and wiser, we’ve often laughed about what a crock it was. We pay extra on our mortgage every month, and we don’t need a high-priced “plan” to tell us how to do it. You live and learn.
Greg from Blood Hound Blog writes about real estate agent commissions only benefit the agent, and about how we can raise awareness and bring about reform in the real estate industry. If you’re looking at buying or selling a house, don’t miss this one.
FIRE Finance explains how you can live rent free as a caretaker, including information about where you can find caretaker jobs. I’ve known people who retired and took their motor homes around the country, working as campground hosts in exchange for a free campground spot. Some of the hosting jobs involved little more than greeting new arrivals to the campground, while others included a Cinderella-style chore list of bathroom maintenance and litter removal.
Squawkfox has a convenient first apartment checklist. Great for students, and anyone who’s moving out on their own for the first time. Could also be a useful guide for someone looking to downsize and get rid of a bunch of superfluous junk.
Christine from Chicago Cheapsite has some insider tips on how to move to Chicago.
Silicon Valley Blogger from The Digerati Life writes about the sweet deal they just got on a new-to-them Volvo sports wagon.
Steve from Super Gas Saver writes about brewing your own biodiesel, and says “Here’s the ultimate way to save on your fuel bill; brew your own. Biodiesel, that is! You can cook up your own biodiesel for less than $1.00 a gallon, if you’re of a mind to. Only the intrepid few should probably take this route to fuel savings however. Are you one of them?” Pretty sweet – especially if you’re driving a gas-guzzler.
The Sojourner writes about how renting a car saves her family money. She’s done the math, and a fuel-efficient rental is less expensive than driving her own van on long trips. Plus, she gets a more reliable car for the weekend.
Kevin from No Debt Plan shares about the changes he made to his auto insurance policy. I think this is a great idea. More overall coverage, higher deductible, lower premium. Makes sense to me. We’re in the process of adding a liability umbrella to our home and auto insurance, and we currently have the highest deductible we can get on our home insurance. I’m all about high deductibles and high coverage limits.
Ryan from Debt Reduction Formula writes about how frugality can kill if you take it to an extreme with food. I agree wholeheartedly (and whole-grain-edly… sorry). I shop only at thrift stores, ride my bike everywhere, haven’t been to the movies in at least three years… I’m pretty darn frugal. But food is my one exception. I always look for bargains and sales, but only on whole, organic foods that are as close to the way they came out of the ground as possible.
Nickel from Five Cent Nickel gives some great tips for saving money on prescription drugs. With ever-increasing copays and prescription prices, it pays to put in some effort here.
Randy from Fiscal Zen writes about how you can save hundreds on your next pair of glasses. A little DIY spirit and some shopping around online can get you some pretty deep discounts on specs. I should probably look into this, since I haven’t been to the eye doc since 2001… (I hardly ever wear my glasses, but still, seven years might be time for a checkup)
Greener Pastures also has a post about buying eyeglasses online. Seems like this is the bargain-hunter’s trick for glasses.
Joy from Happy To Be At Home writes about how her family has dropped their traditional health insurance and joined Samaritan Ministries.
Sandy from Future Nest Egg writes about credit card tricks. It pays to understand exactly how credit cards work (including how they suck people in), in order to be able to beat them at their own game.
Shadox from Money and Such writes about rewards cards, and whether cash back or airline miles is a better option. I’m a fan of cash back, although our loot doesn’t even come close to $853 in a year (wow!)
Hank from MiB Smarter Money has figured out how to get around Costco’s restriction on using credit cards. Buy Costco gift cards online, then cash them out at the store. Sounds crazy, but apparently it’s working. Seems that the gift cards can be bought with your rewards card. and of course I hear about this now, after we finally got the Costco AmEx card…
Thursday Bram from Wise Bread shares some frugal tips for the start of another school year. Brown bag lunches, volunteering instead of coughing up money, and sharing child-care with other parents will all help make the school year less of a budget buster.
Free Money Finance gives lots of good ideas about how to save money on your kids sports. Sheesh – $2000/year on sports-related expenses? No wonder the parents are stressed out at their kids’ games!
Pinyo from Moolanomy has a post about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and frugality, and makes the observation that “by overspending money on “wants” and not addressing your physiological and safety needs, you could jeopardize the fulfillment of love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs.”
Redd from Distilled Rose Personal Finance has a list of frugal tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Mother Hen is taking the challenge to not spend money for 30 days. If you’re looking for motivation to curb the spending bug, join her in the challenge.
Retired At 47 shares how Quicken can make you frugal. I was still keeping track of our finances, both personal and business, with a pen and paper until about two years ago. But I’m reformed now.
How To Me has a great post about making drawstring storage sacks from old pillowcases. When I was a kid, we called these “ditty bags” and used them to hold our little plastic army men and Lincoln Logs. I envision a lot of them in my future as our little guy gets older…
At Debtopedia, you’ll find an article about how to build habits that will create the discipline you need to spend less, and get out of debt (or keep from going into debt in the first place).
GLBL Guy from Gather Little By Little writes about creating personal budget categories. If you sit down with your spending reports to make categories, and end up with $1500 in the “misc” category, this post is for you.
Cathryn from Money To Spare does the math to figure out what your time is worth, and whether a frugal endeavor is worth it or not. A lot of “convenience” items end up costing dramatically more and only saving a small amount of time. So before you reach for the pre-chopped onions or pre-washed salad mix, check and see what the unchopped and unwashed versions cost. You might be able to save a lot of money by spending a few extra minutes.
Amy from the Q family adventure has 13 painless ways to save $100. I’m impressed that they saved $1000 by reapplying for life insurance. That’s huge!
Glowing Face Man writes about avoiding the trap of justifying excess spending after a windfall. Better to budget a little splurge and then forget about the windfall and carry on as you were.
Monroe On A Budget has a post about condolences on a budget. Very thoughtful – if there was ever a situation when it really is the thought that counts, it’s a funeral. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to show you care. And Paula, I’m so sorry for your losses.
J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy has a post about standing up for yourself, and how you never know when money will just show up. He and his wife helped his mom stand up to a nursing home to the tune of $75 grand!
Destiny from Freebeez and Dealz writes about how to get free make-up samples. If you like make-up and free things, check it out.
Free Wi-fi is getting to be more and more common these days. Hustler Money shares a pretty good list of places that have free wi-fi access. My husband and I occasionally take the laptop with us when we’re going to be out for the day, and then hit a lunch spot with wi-fi to catch up on work.
KC Lau has written a post about writing an ebook – the hows and whys. And you can get an ebook that tells you how to go about writing your own ebook, for the bargain price of $2.95. All you writers out there, take heed.
Love Lust & Life shares her financial history in Bad Credit Blues, including the mistakes she made along the way and what she’s learned about money.
Wenchypoo writes about preparing for an emergency without breaking the bank. Originally posted in 2005, but still pertinent today.
Karen from Living Well On Less has an article about how to protect your frozen assets in a power outage. Our freezer is jam-packed with frozen berries from Costco – it would be a red and purple mess if we lost power for a long time!
AND FROM THE FRUGAL BLOG NETWORK
Andy from Tight Fisted Miser ponders the question of how much you should save for retirement. His time frame is shorter than most (he’s 41 and wants to retire by 50), but his savings percentage is pretty impressive.
Not Made Of Money reminds us that it’s not too early to start saving for Christmas. A little planning ahead helps to make the holidays merry rather than stressful. And it’s nice to have the money in the bank ahead of time, rather than getting a bunch of bills in the mail in January.
Kelly from Almost Frugal gives step-by-step directions for cutting a little boy’s hair (and uses her super-cute little boy as a model). I’m quite impressed with the result. I cut my husband’s hair, but I use an electric clippers and buzz his whole head very short, and then do it again a few weeks later. Not quite as skillful…
Frugal Zeitgeist writes about some of the things that really do make sense to buy in bulk, and stock up on when they’re on sale (things that won’t expire in your cupboard and end up getting tossed).
Have a wonderful week, and be sure to check out Living Almost Large next week for the 143rd Festival.