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Being Frugal


  • How four families survived lean times (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Because I couldn’t meet my self-imposed cash budget of $500 in the month of October, I had to use other sources to meet our overage. But despite having lived under tight financial circumstances throughout some periods my life, I have always had enough to get by and things haven’t been (well, usually they haven’t been) too stressful for me. But I wanted to talk to people who…

  • The pros of experiencing the cons of poverty (40 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    At the beginning of October, I slipped five crisp Benjamins into my purse. I don’t usually carry any cash at all, so I was feeling flush with $500 in my pocket. It was all part of a simple experiment: Could I save on my grocery budget if I only paid in cash? While I will share more in the future about what I specifically learned about groceries…

  • Do nice guys finish last … financially? (64 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. While it wasn’t a dark and stormy night yet, an ice storm was coming. The last time we’d had an ice storm, we were kidless, and we lost power for five days. The romance of sleeping in front of the fireplace quickly cooled off along with the temperature in the house. If we lost power again, 39 degrees just wasn’t going to be acceptable with two kids. That’s…

  • Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay (81 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Despite that I don’t own it, I like my apartment. It’s got a mountainous view, it’s comfortable, and my neighbors are few but friendly. Sure, I’d like to own a home someday. But, unless I move to another city, that probably isn’t going to happen in the next few years. I’m fine with that. Like my neighbor said, I’d rather live here than anywhere else, at least for…

  • Ask the Readers: How much does a creative costume cost to make? (32 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Whenever I’ve purchased a pre-packaged Halloween costume, I’ve usually been disappointed. They rarely fit and the material and accessories are chintzy. But I take my hat off for the clever people that make their own costumes. Extra points if it’s hilarious. Year after year, these people seem to out-do themselves. I don’t know how they do it! In 2011, April Dykman looked at Halloween spending for us. “According…

  • The most money I’ve ever lost (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Several years ago, my husband and I were planning to build a house. We bought the land and cleared the build site. We then started working with an architect, which is how we lost $12,500 in a matter of months. Here’s how it went down. Losing thousands When I hired this architect, whom I now refer to as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I thought I’d done my due diligence. The guy…

  • A better way to calculate the value of your time (20 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s both fascinating and useful to calculate the value of your time. Financial freedom gives you options and flexibility. But without time, that means nothing. Time is a precious resource that we should spend wisely. But you already know this – we’ve written about it quite a bit. Knowing the value of your time is helpful for a variety of reasons: If you’re a freelancer, it can help you…

  • Reader Stories: How to avoid borrowing from your future self (58 comments)

    This reader story comes from Paul. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I’ve always had what I term a “fluid budget”; that is, I always make sure I have more money coming in than going out and I don’t track every…

  • How to eat on $4/day (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend a lot of money on food. (More than I spend on my mortgage.) Part of it is need, of course. But much of it is want, because I’m both an enthusiastic cook and a health nut. I view food as a cross between health care and hobby. And I know I’m fortunate to be in a position to buy things like freshly pressed olive oil…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your personal finance calculus? (31 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. When Donna Freedman tackled the subject of teaching our children about money last week, GetAGrip challenged the premise that parents teach and children learn: “All sounds pretty, teach them all this information and they will use it, right? “I’m not advocating not teaching, but just don’t be surprised if they somehow seem to ‘forget’ much if not all of what they were taught and run up the credit…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you know if a vet procedure is really necessary? (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. On Monday at 8:30 a.m., I found myself at the veterinarian’s office — where, unknowingly, I would spend the next three hours. The night before, my cat Mia threw up at least five times. In the morning, I found her wedged into a corner of the bathroom. I could tell how she felt just by looking at her. I called the vet’s office near my house right…

  • Money extremes: From spendthrift to tightwad to somewhere in the middle (21 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Many years ago, when I was paying off a car loan and some credit card debt, I became really frugal. Almost obsessively frugal. I looked for every possible way to save money, and I dreaded ever having to spend money. Then one morning my husband accidently broke our coffee carafe. I helped him clean up the glass and caught myself feeling anxious about having to buy a…

  • Reader Stories: 4 ways to make money with your old junk (21 comments)

    Sharon M. shared some of her personal finance journey with us this week. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. About a year ago, I had to downsize from a 5200-square-foot house to an apartment. After my husband was laid off, we decided to…

  • Cheap ways to enjoy the sunshine (or hide from it) this summer (14 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. “You + me + swimming date at the springs.” That was the text message I sent to my friend Kacey last week. “Are you flirting with me?” she replied. “Let’s make this official.” See, every summer I solemnly swear that I’m going to spend the next several months in the water, yet I never do. (I say several months because I live in Texas, where it’s summer…

  • Getting a frugal start on summer (30 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last Friday, I had an amazing realization: It was the weekend, the weather was beautiful, and I had absolutely nothing to do. Great feeling. On Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I decided to slap some sandwiches together and head to the beach. It was relaxing and low-key, and it made me anticipate summer. But at the beginning of the year, I made some lofty savings goals for myself, and…

  • In defense of frugality (52 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Frugality isn’t very sexy. I’ll admit that. For most people, the concept of thrift probably conjures images of coupon clipping, stock photos of piggy banks, and Benjamin Franklin — none of which are terribly glamorous. Frugality, is, however, in line with the concept of getting rich slowly. We’ve learned that building wealth has much to do with living below your means. You have to increase your income,…

  • Your landline: Think twice before cutting the cord (91 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. A while ago, my wife and I did what we do from time to time — ask if there’s another cost-saving opportunity we’ve overlooked. I don’t know about you, but the quest for fiscal prudence is generally at its highest in our household after some indulgent purchase. “Hey, look! We can compensate for this luxo-foobie by slashing costs here!” (Are we the only people who do this?)…

  • Opposites Attract—What to do when you’re both of different financial mindsets (9 comments)

    This reader story comes from Tina Sullivan. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Growing up with “financially conservative” parents, I was taught to follow a budget, to save for emergencies, and to live within my means. As a teenager, I was…

  • Reader Stories: The renegade’s complete guide to personal finance (98 comments)
  • A conversation with Mr. Money Mustache (30 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course, I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts. Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which are available as part of the…

  • Giving makes us happier, but what if you don’t have much to give? (39 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s that I’m in a better financial place than I was just a few years ago, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about giving back. In recent years, it’s becoming more important to me to be socially conscious and charitable. I’m secure, I’m healthy, and I’m free. That contentment seems to urge me to check in on…

  • Pick your hobbies strategically and save (73 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. For the most part, we think of hobbies as activities that we naturally gravitate toward. The idea of being strategic in our selection of hobbies may seem contradictory to their very nature! However, I think that being strategic in the selection and pursuit of hobbies isn’t mutually exclusive with enjoying yourself. What’s more, you have options in how to strategize. The hobby-as-side-gig option One obvious method of making…

  • Ask the Readers: How will you woo your Valentine? (49 comments)

    Have you ever just gone all out for Valentine’s Day? I mean, have you ever hired a skywriter to tell your sweetheart that you’re hopelessly in love? There are so many ways to say “I love you” that it’s mind-boggling – and most of them don’t cost much, as you know. In fact, some of the best ways to woo your Valentine are also the least expensive.The trick is to make it unique and meaningful….

  • Being frugal really isn’t that hard (92 comments)

    This reader story comes to us from Bill Fay, who is a writer for Debt.org, where he is known as The Most Frugal Man in America. He spent 21 years in the newspaper business and eight more in television and radio, dealing with college and professional sports, then seven forgettable years writing speeches and marketing materials for a government agency. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved…

  • Reader Stories: A blessing in disguise (21 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Madeline Roche, who blogs at Ballingonabudget.org. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Over the past three months, my savings account has been in flux. I was faced with some serious car maintenance duties and I made a lump-sum payment…

  • Millennials aren’t as bad with money as everyone thinks (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last summer, I hung out with my brother on his college campus. He and his roommate live very much like typical college students — a fridge full of free food from my brother’s catering job, a hodgepodge of hand-me-down furniture, etc. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary with their lifestyle. They’re broke, but happy, twenty-somethings. What I did find interesting was their view of money. They had…

  • Do expiration dates make us wasteful? (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Before I dig into this topic, let me just put this out there: Expiration dates are important and you should always consider them so you don’t get food poisoning and end up in the hospital or whatever. Please don’t interpret this post as my arguing that expiration dates are total bull. That being said, expiration dates are total bull. Just kidding! Well, kind of. I recently came across…

  • Reader Story: How much frugal is too much frugal? (69 comments)

    This Reader Story is from GRS reader Mel from brokeGIRLrich.com. Mel recently paid off her student loans and is focusing on a frugal lifestyle to help her navigate the uncertain world of entertainment employment. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Like lots…

  • The power of speaking up (38 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last month, my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. We got a great deal on a hotel using a discount app. We’d stayed at this hotel before, and the view was gorgeous. The price was also reasonable and the room was clean. We checked in, unloaded our bags and pulled back the curtains, preparing to take in Seattle’s beautiful skyline, which…

  • Reader Story: Yes, you can do yoga on a budget (36 comments)

    This Reader Story is from GRS reader Charu. He loves staying physically active and has recently gotten addicted to yoga. You can check out his free e-book on yoga for beginners at his blog, strongyogi.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. In…

  • Spare change: The “I wear your granddad’s clothes” edition (30 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Readers, you’re about to witness me use dated vocabulary, talk about gas prices, and reveal my love of the elbow patch. You might wonder if it’s actually me, a gal who wasn’t alive for the Carter administration, and not a curmudgeonly old man. I have no explanation for how or why this theme emerged, other than that I’ve been middle-aged since I was 17. Let’s just get…

  • Reader Stories: On money and happiness (45 comments)

    This reader story is from a longtime GRS reader Sumitha, who blogs at afineparent.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Ever miss the good ol’ days when life seemed so much simpler? When happiness was a lot easier to access and contentment seemed…

  • Buy Nothing Year: Changing how we spend (16 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Julie Phillips was planning to move into a new apartment when a massive flood in Alberta damaged her would-be building. Suddenly, she found herself displaced. “The reason I wanted to move is I wanted to save on rent,” Julie says. “I wanted to save more, I wanted to live with another person. I wanted that camaraderie.” After searching extensively, Julie grew discouraged. “I was eating a chocolate…

  • Libraries: Good for frugality, great for community (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. This year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time at my neighborhood library. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but before this year, it had been a while. As a teenager, I remember our local library offering books and movies and magazines. But upon rediscovering the library as an adult, I’ve realized there are a ton of services I’ve been missing out on. A friend of…

  • Confession: I Don’t Track Every Penny (84 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Sometimes my personal-finance articles make my friends feel guilty. “I read your article about saving money, and now I feel bad about the shoes I just bought,” says Guilt-Stricken Friend. “I don’t need them. I think I should return them.” Perhaps she’s waiting for me to tell her that she’s right, that she should return them. And then she should take that money she almost blew on…

  • How I canceled cable and gained a new outlook on life (107 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. When my husband and I began our journey out of debt, our monthly bills were overwhelming. Of course, we were paying for all of the regular stuff like our mortgage, utilities and various insurance policies. However, we were also paying for things that we knew we wanted to live without. Credit card bills. Furniture that we had financed. Magazine subscriptions. I also like to remind myself that I…

  • Smartphone, dumb mobile plan (59 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Why do most smartphone plans require us to pay for stuff we don’t want or use? I wondered this after looking at my last three bills and plan usage. So I asked around, and it seems it’s a pretty common scenario. “I pay $190 for two phones with unlimited talk, text and data,” said Morgan S. Without a computer at home, she says, “I basically use my…

  • Can you be friends with rich people? (70 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I wanted to title this post, “Can you be friends with people in decidedly different financial situations than you?” but that wasn’t very catchy. (And I know: some of you ARE rich!) But I was reading the acclaimed recent novel, “The Interestings,” with my writer’s craft book group (we discuss books based on writing analytics rather than whether characters and stories are likable). The book’s main character is…

  • Money and values: When frugality goes too far (0 comment)

    Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Many in the GRS community have been reading the site since J.D. Roth began posting in 2006, but many of you are new to the community. We’re going to start re-posting some of the most popular — and useful articles — from the past. The financial advice and ideas are still valid, and well worth bringing back to light. Originally published on October4, 2006, this article examines ethics in frugality. J.D.’s…

  • Is there morality in personal finance? (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. A while back, my blogger friend and fellow GRS writer Holly Johnson wrote about a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation. In that article, someone made a side point that there shouldn’t be morality in personal finance — it should be about practicality. Within the comments, there was a brief but interesting dialogue going on about this topic — morality and personal finance. I thought it was really interesting…

  • The truth about being broke (79 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. It’s been a long time since I’ve been broke, but I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I can picture all the ugly details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversation with my sister still plays clearly in my mind to this day: “Hey sis, I’m coming into town…

  • Are you saving when you should be spending? (20 comments)

    This guest post is from Jacob McMillen. He likes to write about topics for men and teach people how using Save1 Eastbay coupons can help feed starving children around the world. More often than not, the best way to save a dollar is to not spend it in the first place. There is no shortage of tips, tricks and methods available for saving $5 here and 35¢ there. Doing a quick web search for “saving…

  • The spam email strategy for savings (28 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. On Saturday, Jake woke up restless. Despite the fact that it was 112 degrees outside (argh) he really wanted to leave the house. While I would have been fine staying in, I understood where he was coming from; Jake works from home and hadn’t left the house in at least a week. “Where do you want to go?” I asked. “Let’s see,” he replied, whipping out his…

  • Ask the Readers: What lifestyle changes have you made to improve your finances? (83 comments)

    Newish GRS reader Jennifer is beginning her financial journey, and she shared her strategy so far. So here I am, mid-30s, buried in an obscene amount of credit card debt, and very little to show for it other than my piles and piles of STUFF. Man, I love me some stuff. I’ve lived in denial for years… “Yes, I have a lot of credit card debt, but so long as I can pay my bills…

  • The 5 most popular coupon sites (and one with a mission) (38 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I tried for years to be a coupon clipper. Every now and then, I’d decide I was going to save as much money as possible on my groceries, or at least on stuff like toothbrushes and razor blades. I’d gather all the coupon circulars that normally went straight in the garbage, and I’d review the ads and clip the coupons that spoke to me. Sometimes, I’d even…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you negotiate this month? (41 comments)

    This month’s challenge comes from Gwendolyn Pearce, who would rather be doing almost anything else than buying a car. Each month, we’ve been giving you financial challenges. Big or small, that’s up to you. But we believe that exercising these different financial skills will help to open up new possibilities of earning and saving. This June, we’re challenging readers to negotiate something. “You like it?” the man asks. “Yes, it’s very pretty.” “I’ll give you…

  • 13 smart ways to be frugal at work without looking like a cheapskate (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ivan Chan. Ivan teaches busy professionals simple ways to manage money and worry less in life at Wealthy Without Worry. Being frugal is hard. You’ve been so disciplined all week with your spending, you’ve kept to your budget, and you’ve even resisted buying that new thing you wanted to try. You are on target to meet your savings goals for this month, and then your colleagues at work invite…

  • My plans for a fun and frugal summer (48 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Maybe it’s the years of conditioning we receive as children to think of summer as an endless stretch of time to be filled with fun and relaxation. Maybe it’s the fact that my day job is at a university, and during the summer dramatically fewer students are on campus. Whatever the case, each spring when the semester is drawing to a close, I find myself making plans….

  • Decrease your budget’s bite by saving money on meat (68 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. J.D. has already covered ways to save money on food. But this time, I wanted to focus on animal protein. According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat makes up over 22 percent of our at-home food (not out-to-eat or alcohol) budget. Obviously, you can cut your food budget by decreasing your meat consumption. But if you want to eat meat, how can you do it most…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you trade this month? (27 comments)

    Our monthly challenges to the GRS community are meant to push you to flex those frugality muscles and think creatively about money. For those who are just starting their financial journeys, learning and practicing new ways to increase your income and hacks to save some cash each month are vital. However, for those of you who find that old hat, we want you to take creative action to break out of the burnout that can…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you save more or less than your parents? (111 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. Whenever we visit my grandmother-in-law’s house, we always leave with paper towels. Lots of them. Because our car is typically packed with vacation items when we visit, and because we usually have plenty of jumbo packs of paper towels waiting for us in our garage, there’s no good reason we should cram 14 rolls of these things into our back seat for…

  • New recipes on the cheap: The Pinterest strategy (78 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. When I became a vegetarian 10+ years ago, I bought two cookbooks: a 20-minutes-or-less cookbook and a five-ingredients-or-less cookbook. I was trying to keep things simple. I got by on these two cookbooks for a long time, mostly because while I was cooking as a student I lived in places with antique gas stoves. I was afraid to use anything but the stovetop, my toaster oven or the microwave…

  • Extreme weather and recreational costs (45 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Although I live in Arizona (where it’s sunny and 65 right now), this has been a nasty winter for much of the country. The storm known as Nemo led to power outages, flight cancellations, and at least nine deaths. As I write this, Winter Storm Saturn is still pummeling the Northeast, to say nothing of what the weather has been like in Chicago and elsewhere in the…

  • Reader Story: Costs and savings of having a stay-at-home parent (82 comments)

    This post comes from Lynn Svenson, who blogs at The Photographer’s Wife. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. One of the biggest impacts to my wallet (and heart) this past year was having a baby. Of course, there are plenty of…

  • Romanticizing poverty and learning financial independence (103 comments)

    In high school, I babysat a kid whose parents were pretty well off. And by “well off,” I mean they were crazy rich. One day I decided to take the kid out for ice cream — my treat. When we got to the ice cream shop, I only had enough money to buy him the small, and he wanted the large. What then followed wasn’t exactly a temper tantrum; it’s probably better described as a…

  • Ask the Readers: Why will you teach your children frugality? (46 comments)

    This is a guest post from Suba. She believes in living life instead of existing and she shares her thoughts at Wealth Informatics, a personal finance blog focused on living a high quality of life by intelligently leveraging knowledge, time and money. “Kids these days feel so entitled,” said my childhood friend. “Remember the good old days when we never asked our parents for anything?” she added, as we sipped a cup of coffee and…

  • Getting rich slowly on my own terms (47 comments)

    Over the last six months, I have had several articles published at Get Rich Slowly. However, I have never had the pleasure of formally introducing myself. My name is Holly Johnson, and I am a 32 year-old wife and mother of two young children. I work alongside my husband at a small family owned mortuary in the rural Midwest. I began my own journey out of debt a little over two years ago, and it…

  • The power of proclaiming your frugality (92 comments)

    Last week, I was paying for purchases at a store I frequent in my neighborhood. Routinely, the sales clerk asked me if I’d like to sign up for a store credit card. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked me; thus, it wasn’t the first time I scrambled for a polite way of saying no. I’ve been on the other side of the counter — it’s not like you want to ask this question. On…

  • Resisting the holiday spending trap (73 comments)

    Every year, I fail to really account for the cost of Christmas. “A few hundred dollars,” I think, for gifts, and then by the first few days of December I’ve bought several pounds of butter, and lots of my favorite seasonal chocolate, and the big size of maple syrup because I’ll be baking and pancake-making a lot this winter. And suddenly I’ve already spent a few hundred dollars, and not a gift among them. And…

  • New life for old DVD movies: The answers to scratches and breaks (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward. DVD games and movies For several years, we’ve fought the occasional skip, fingerprint or ding in our DVD movies, and have typically been able to resolve the damage with our Skip Doctor repair kit, however, sometimes bad (very bad) things happen to good movies. Last month, my 7-year-old daughter got careless with some of her favorites and in the end, two had cracks all the…

  • Once-a-month cooking made easy (76 comments)

    Stephanie Cornais found a cooking method that saved time and money, but it left her exhausted. Stephanie, who blogs about parenthood and healthy living at Mama and Baby Love, would cook a month’s worth of meals in one day, then store them in the freezer. It’s an idea that’s been around for awhile. In fact, J.D. wrote about it back in 2007. By batch cooking, not only do you have healthy, home-cooked meals when dinner…

  • Be thankful for the present amid planning the future (18 comments)

    In 2008, I decided to travel to Europe. I’d never been, and I was just about to make a big change in my career, so the opportunity might not present itself for a while. Thanksgiving fell near the end of my trip, when I was beginning to feel homesick. While eating Moussaka on a patio in Santorini, I missed my family dearly; it was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I pictured the scene at…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you build an inexpensive care package? (39 comments)

    This guest post was written by Jenny Saikwa who was inspired by Veterans Day. I’m not exactly sure how Spit made his entrance, but the little stuffed camel certainly meant a lot to my son during the waning days of his first deployment in Afghanistan. The object of countless “missions,” Spit’s uncanny ability to sneak into a photo or weasel his way onto a helicopter was the stuff of legends. Spit celebrated his first Christmas…

  • Beyond money: How my community saves me, part two (32 comments)

    After I turned in my last article, I thought of so many other instances of how my community pays big dividends: We got a 50-pound bag of free flour when a warehouse had a fire which slightly damaged the packaging At an auction, an acquaintance wanted a single item, but she had to buy the whole box to get it. Inside the box was a bag of clothespins that I’d been looking for. I offered…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your favorite ‘no-money fun’? (89 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce. While I’ve never seen J. Lo. wearily balancing her checkbook in the “Celebrities are just like us” section of the tabloids, I assume most of us deal with frugality burnout occasionally. And even though we know that we’re supposed to budget for fun and allow some wiggle room for the sake of our sanity, I know far too many people right now who say…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you keep holiday tipping in check? (243 comments)

    This post comes from J. Whiton. I’m preparing a holiday gift budget for family and close friends and realize I should factor in year-end gifts and bonuses to myriad people who provide services to us throughout the year. I’ve gotten the memo that “it’s the thought that counts,” but I’m not sure my newspaper delivery person has. He continues to enclose a self-addressed envelope with our paper in early December, and I’m pretty sure he…

  • Bid for savings at an auction (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt Ainslie. He is a reference librarian and auction  animal. His interests include blacksmithing, learning new obscure facts and saving money. He lives with his wife and children in Philadelphia. Some months back I was at an auction, and was chatting with the auctioneer. I asked how things were going. “All right,” he said, “but we’re having trouble getting people out here, some days.” “I would think you’d be…

  • Mutual mooching: How my community saves me money, part one (40 comments)

    One of the greatest assets in my life is a priceless community made up of my friends, family, and other community members. My community is greater than the sum of its parts. Saving me money is just one benefit. Mutual mooching I first read about mutual mooching in Amy Dacyczyn’s “The Complete Tightwad Gazette,” but I paid little attention to it. Doing favors for people and getting favors back? Mmm, no thanks. I hate feeling…

  • Learning how to work a student discount (18 comments)

    This guest post from Steve Robinson is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Steve writes for Homesales.com.au, an Australian real estate portal that caters to student shared housing. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. With the new academic…

  • Free Box Economics (88 comments)

    On my way home from selling some magazines at Powell’s, I happened upon a whole street’s worth of free piles. First one, then another, then another. The second one was the jackpot, though. I saw the chair, a tall swiveling kitchen chair; it was just what I’ve been looking for, meant for my youngest son. He loves to swivel and has been asking me for a chair like that. “We’ll keep our eyes out!” I’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Maximize Store Loyalty Cards? (58 comments)

    Today’s “Ask the Readers” comes to Get Rich Slowly from Luke Landes, founder of Consumerism Commentary. Retailers are eager to turn their customers into raving fans, and business owners, whether proprietors of the local delicatessen or CEOs of multinational corporations, will do whatever it takes to bring shoppers back into the store. Customer loyalty is a prized asset, and companies are finding more sophisticated methods of tailoring their specials to the needs of each shopper….

  • Frugality and Financial Independence (99 comments)

    This is the first article from new staff writer Lisa Aberle, who has replaced Tim Sullivan. When I first started reading Get Rich Slowly in 2007 or 2008, financial independence was only a dream. At that time, my husband and I were struggling financially. We had: two mortgages one car payment no emergency fund nothing left over after each paycheck a zillion home improvement projects to do – and no money to do them I…

  • 25 Ways to Give (Without Breaking the Bank) (113 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. In the past nine months I’ve found $12.89 in singles and specie. The cash has shown up in a number of places, but most of it is from coins I picked up. As usual, I’ll squirrel away the found funds until Thanksgiving, at which time I’ll…

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 2: It Takes Money to Make Money (121 comments)

    This is the second installment of a series. The first article can be found here. Last week I spent a thousand bucks on a phone.  I paid full price for it, in cash, no contract.  It’s not the phone I originally intended to buy though. I had first picked a little HTC phone that was cheap and had an old version of Android in it, and it was on sale for $180.  A modest, frugal smartphone.The…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Alternatives to Cable Television? (179 comments)

    I’ve written two major articles here at Get Rich Slowly about how to cut costs on cable television. In March 2007, I wrote about cheap alternatives to cable television, and in February 2009, I followed that up by describing how I cut my television bill in half. But it’s been more than three years since I visited this topic, and I’ve started to get email from readers who want an update. But it’s not just…

  • Rethinking Luxuries: How Luxurious Are They? (76 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, my boyfriend and I took a somewhat last minute trip to Seattle. The goal was simply to get away from the grind for a few days and explore a new environment. In the spirit of frugality, we decided to relinquish one big luxury: car rental. Yes, we thought the convenience would be nice, but it would’ve cost upwards of $300, and we figured we could…

  • Seize the Summer (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Sometimes, my summers feel like any other season. Other times though, I do the season right. A couple weekends back, I sat out on a dock with my family, overlooking a small lake in Michigan, our bathing suits still wet and our t-shirts sticking to our backs in the heat. My brother had made a pitcher of lemonade. My sister was strumming along on her ukulele. It…

  • Can’t Afford to Socialize? Compromise! (63 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. A friend invites you for an evening out or a weekend away that you just can’t afford. Which of the following responses sounds the most like yours? “I’d love to, but…” (Too many late nights already that week/feel guilty leaving Junior with a sitter after being…

  • Be a Budget Traveler…in Your Own Town (30 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. When I’m planning a vacation, I usually pick up a copy of a “cheap and free” guidebook that lists inexpensive attractions and secret-gem restaurants. A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my friend Frank, who is a recent transplant to the East coast, and he saw my guidebook. “I need something like that so I know what inexpensive stuff there is to do in my own…

  • 27 Frugal Uses for a Dead Phone Book (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. While consulting a professional about writing-related aches and pains, I was asked to describe my work station. When he heard that I used a laptop flat on the desk he told me that changes must be made. Among other things, he wanted me to get the…

  • Reader Story: Home Haircuts Can Save Time and Money (133 comments)

    This guest post from Shannon D is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. My wonderful husband likes to keep his hair short and precise. He works outdoors but dislikes hats, so keeping his hair looking proper is…

  • 8 Questions to Help You Save More (63 comments)

    This is a guest post by Fiona Lippey. Fiona is the author of the bestselling book The $21 Challenge and founder of Australia’s largest frugal website, SimpleSavings.net. If you want to save money, and I mean really save money, then you’re going to have to stop buying Stuff. You have reduce the amount you consume. Today I want to share the system I’ve been using for the last 15 years to reduce my spending and…

  • The Calculus of Convenience (232 comments)

    For several years now, I’ve lived in a sort of financial sweet spot. After paying off my debt, I realized that Kris and I had everything we really wanted or needed, so we never had to buy much for the house (except when something broke). But now that I’m on my own, I’m finding all sorts of little things I need to buy again. And those little things add up. Last Friday, for instance, I…

  • Reader Story: A Frugal, Happy Life (94 comments)

    This guest post from Clara is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This story seems especially appropriate after the news I shared this week. Two and a half years ago, my marriage ended. I left a comfortable…

  • Frugality Advice from Millionaires (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire. After paying off $70,000 and quitting a six-figure job, Jaime became a business coach. She also interviews millionaires every week for tips and advice. Jamie has appeared on CNN, MSNMoney.com, Fortune.com, Success Magazine, the Yahoo homepage, and more. Ever since I was little I’ve been curious about the idea of having one million dollars. My mom told me to marry a rich man (!),…

  • 20 Ways to Spend $20 (77 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Since she just found out she is going to be a grandmother, expect to be bombarded with cute-baby anecdotes about seven months from now. If you draw a paycheck, you’re due an extra $160 in January and February thanks to the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation…

  • Expectations and Your Money (56 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I started wrapping my gifts in old newspaper years ago. I know. It sounds so cheap it’s almost bah, humbug! Please don’t roll your eyes and stop reading now. Wait! I started doing it because I couldn’t stand the silliness of it all. Most Christmases I wrapped my gifts hours before they were opened, often late at night on Christmas Eve. I’d have a bag full of…

  • The Night That Mama Cried While Angels Sang (25 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my cousin, Tammy. I first posted this in 2006. Tammy has also shared information on how to raise a family on one income (part two). This story is set ten years after my aunt’s six-dollar Christmas and involves the same family. It was the year 1968. That year was an exceptionally hard year in every way. Pop was laid off due to too much snow in the woods. He was…

  • That’s a Wrap: Some Alternatives to Traditional Gift-Wrapping (140 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Looking for a greener Christmas? Re-think your gift wrap. According to Stanford University: If every U.S. family wrapped three gifts in repurposed materials, the gift wrap saved would cover 45,000 football fields. If every family reused two feet of holiday ribbon per year, the ribbon saved…

  • Cashing in on Craigslist: How I’ve Saved Thousands of Dollars Buying Used (77 comments)

    In August, I wrote about Ryan Finlay, who makes a living through Craigslist arbitrage. Many readers wanted to hear more about how Ryan uses Craigslist to make and save money. In this guest post, Ryan explains how to use Craigslist to save money on high-ticket items like appliances and furniture. If there’s enough interest, he may share more Craigslist tips in the future. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his new site: ReCraigslist.com. “A penny…

  • Drugstore Price Comparison: Online vs. In-store (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about her desperate attempt to find authentic tacos al pastor in Austin, Texas. I used to buy most of my drugstore items online. One reason was convenience — I typically have to go to two or three stores to find everything I use, especially since I favor earth- and people-friendly personal care items. But health food stores don’t always carry other basics we use,…

  • How Much Do We Owe Others? (And When Should We Walk Away?) (239 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Last January I loaned money to a friend who was in financial crisis: Her vehicle was about to be repossessed. The transaction troubled me for a number of reasons, which I detailed at my personal website in a post called “I’m not a payday lender. But…

  • Why Austerity Hurts: The Government’s Budget is Not Like Yours (276 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. GRS readers liked Gilbert’s recent post on economics and current events, so today she’s offering more of the same. Unlike “entitlements,” the word “austerity” has come to mean something akin to “godliness” in modern political circles. And along with austerity goes the concept of running the government’s balance sheet like a personal budget. Everyone, from President Obama to his bitterest rivals, have been known to stick…

  • Reader Story: Geographic Arbitrage in Real Life (38 comments)

    This guest post from Alice is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Over the years on GRS, I’ve encountered a number of articles on the benefits of geographic arbitrage, which basically means making your money in…

  • How to Save on Your Cell Phone Plan with Secret No-Contract Deals (132 comments)

    This is a guest post from social-media maven Laura Roeder. Laura first told me this story in January, and I used it as the basis for one of my columns for Entrepreneur magazine. Over lunch recently, she offered to write a guest post about her experience. I told her I’d be glad to share it. Secret phone plans? No contracts? Unadvertised payment plans with no interest? These are all available. But you’ll never know until…

  • More Thoughts on Frugal Beauty (116 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Last week Sierra wrote about how to look good on a budget with some great tips for the frugal and the do-it-yourselfer. It was popular, too — as of Sunday, her article had a whopping 275 comments! It seems most readers fell into one of two camps: the DIYers who enjoy making salt scrubs and don’t mind getting a haircut from a helpful friend, and those who…

  • Frugal Beauty: How to Look Good on a Budget (291 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Pinching pennies doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself pretty. Yes, it’s true that personal-care products and services can take a big bite out of your budget. By the time you’ve paid for your salon visit, your skin cream, your hair product, and your lip balm, you can easily be out $100 or more in any given…

  • Reader Story: The Product of Frugal Parents (99 comments)

    This guest post from Simon Cunningham is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. A lot of reader stories featured on Get Rich Slowly are from people who got “saved” from bad financial habits, who were burned…

  • How to Spend Money (Even If You Think You Shouldn’t) (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Last year the zipper on my winter coat broke. Not before time, mind you; I’d had it so long that I couldn’t remember exactly when I bought it. My best guess is 25 years. Gut reaction: Oh no! I…

  • 10 Ways to Build a Gift Closet That’s Both Deep and Cheap (109 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. The holidays are about six months away. Why wait until the last minute to shop? Answer: You shouldn’t. And you won’t have to if you have a decently stocked gift closet. Some people I know keep their eyes open…

  • Reader Story: The Costs and Savings of Bicycle Commuting (186 comments)

    This guest post from Duran Valdez is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. For the past two years, I’ve been riding a bicycle to work. Mostly because I’m cheap. My commute is a 12-mile round trip…

  • Discounted Gift Cards: The New Coupon (49 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I’m currently house-sitting in Anchorage, where one of my duties will be kid-wrangling while my niece does the Alaska Run for Women. The first order of the day: Breakfast at IHOP, my treat — and at 8% less because…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Handle “Required” Office Spending? (215 comments)

    “Money is more about mind than it is about math.” — That’s one of the fifteen tenets of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. By this I mean that psychology and emotion and relationships play a bigger part in our financial choices than the pure mathematics of any given situation. This manifests itself in lots of ways. Sometimes, it even crops up in the workplace. A reader we’ll call Erin wrote recently with the following dilemma:…

  • Celebrating Frugal Role Models (94 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Saving money and controlling your spending can be hard. Really hard. I’ve been consciously managing my money and getting out of debt for a couple of years now, and I still struggle with it every day. Some days I’m a recyclin’, reusin’, thrifty rock star. Other days I splurge on take-out just because I’m too frazzled…

  • Breakfast on the Fly — and on the Cheap (145 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Everybody talks about the cost of lunches out. But what about breakfast? How much are those bagels or egg-and-cheese burritos costing you each week? The first meal of the day can be challenging. Some people aren’t hungry when they…

  • When Does Minimalism Go Too Far? (124 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate, a blog about frugality, food waste, environmentalism, simple living and finding thrift-store bargains. She describes herself as a “mother, utility bill scholar, laundry hanger-upper, library patron, frequent napper, and Buffy enthusiast.” When not blogging (or napping) Katy works as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. Katy’s blog has been featured in many major media outlets, including The National Enquirer, which featured Whitney Houston…

  • Reader Story: How I Learned About Frugality from De-Cluttering (121 comments)

    This guest post from Claire Brown is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I’m writing to you today from sunny London about how I learned frugality by throwing things away. This may sound counter-intuitive; if being…

  • Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without (178 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. My shower is broken. The water comes out just fine, and it doesn’t leak. But the temperature control is busted, so it only comes out at one temperature: as hot as it gets. Here’s the embarrassing part: It’s been like this for a year. Frugal or lazy? When the temperature thingy broke (and here you see…

  • Ask the Readers: A Fool and His Money… (138 comments)

    It’s April Fool’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the day I get to share the story of some foolish thing I’ve done with money in the past. This year, though, April Fool’s Day falls on a Friday, which is when I traditionally field reader questions. So, I thought it would be fun to mix things up. Instead of me telling you how stupid I can be…

  • Becoming a Groupon Groupie (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. I have a pretty idyllic Friday evening planned: I’m going to yoga class, and then taking my husband out for dinner. These are both fairly spendy activities for me, but I got a great deal. I’ve already paid for both my yoga class and my date night with Groupons. Groupon is the mother of all daily…

  • Living Below Your Means Is Like Saving for Retirement Twice (80 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Hello, GRSers. Today, let’s revisit something I tacked on to the end of my…

  • How to Spend Your Money (256 comments)

    Yesterday, as I was otherwise occupied (I spent five hours writing a post about programmable thermostats, a post nobody will even like!), the conversation on Donna Freedman’s article got a little cranky. Donna wrote about pinching pennies on some things so that she could splurge on others. In Donna’s case, that meant a trip to England. Tyler K., who’s always a little cranky, wrote in response: I’m just waiting for the post where someone’s passion,…

  • Frugality and the Long-Distance Relationship (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kelly M., who writes about long-distance relationships at Long-Distance Life. Long-distance relationships can be exciting, challenging, fulfilling, and all sorts of other adjectives…but “frugal” rarely makes the list. And for good reason — the transportation costs alone in maintaining a relationship with someone in a different city, state, or country can pack a powerful punch to your pocketbook. So how do you embrace frugality as a value without devaluing…

  • Five DIY Valentine’s Day Ideas for Frugal Sweethearts (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday, but I say, “So what!” Sure, you don’t need a holiday to show appreciation for your significant other, but why miss out on the extra chance to do it? Besides, you don’t have to celebrate the way the commercials tell you to, with boxes of cream-filled chocolate, stuffed animals, jewelry, or an overpriced prix fixe menu. A cold and miserable V-Day…

  • In Praise of Thrift: An Old Idea for a New Economy (42 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lori Blatzheim, a writer living in Chanhassen, Minnesota. For more information about National Thrift Week, visit NewThrift.org. If there was a coat of arms for my family, it would display a golden lion standing on his back legs on a field of dark olive green. He would be clutching bags of gold coins in his front paws and, emblazoned across his chest would be three words: God, Family, and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Motivate My Boyfriend to Save Money? (104 comments)

    Although we cover the topic once or twice a year, I constantly get questions from people who are frustrated by the financial habits of their spouses and partners. Some people are Spenders, and some people are Savers. What can you do to get both partners on the same page? Linda is the most recent GRS reader with a relationship issue. She wrote to ask how to get her boyfriend motivated to save money. Here’s her…

  • Beyond Tupperware: Frugal Food Storage (100 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. To hear the storage industry tell it, every kitchen needs plastic containers in a dozen sizes. You need specialized storage, too: triangles for wedges of pie, say, or deviled-egg sarcophagi with little divots to cradle each demi-oeuf. Oh, and lots of foil,…

  • My $132,683 Comcast Bill (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool. He’s substituting for Robert Brokamp, the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Brokamp generally contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks, but he’s had the audacity to take a vacation over the holidays, so Hendley is filling in. $132,683 — That’s how much I’m paying for cable. Now, I do have HBO, Showtime, and 386 other…

  • How to Feed Your Soul for Cheap: 12 Ways to Enjoy High Culture for Less (36 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality, intentional living and lifeitsownself at Surviving And Thriving. The Seattle Art Museum is hosting a show called “Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musee National Picasso, Paris” through 12 January 2011. It costs $20 to see the 150 paintings, sculptures, prints and photos. This is an important show and no doubt…

  • How to Lower Your Heating Bills This Winter (88 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. The chilly season is upon us. If you live in North America, you’ve probably had at least a few cold nights by now. Up in my neck of the woods — in the Boston area — we’ve had our central heat running for a few weeks. Which means we’re in full swing…

  • Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips (26 comments)

    In April, Rebecca shared a guest post about how she generates extra income by letting strangers pay her rent. She has homes in Portland, Oregon and New York City. When she’s in one city, she rents out her place in the other. By doing this, she’s able to subsidize her housing payments. Rebecca’s full of good advice. Soon after sharing her story, she also entered the Get Rich Slowly video contest. In her two-minute video,…

  • Man to Live Off Coupons for One Year (65 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Josh Stevens of Chicago might win $100,000 — if he can keep from spending a single cent (literally) for a year. Stevens accepted internet coupon company Groupon’s “Live Off Groupon” challenge, beating out 400 contenders, and since May he’s been using only online coupons for food, lodging, and other expenses. With strict rules, he’s had to be resourceful. Guidelines include the following: Stevens had to leave…

  • Save Money on Shipping with Free Boxes from USPS (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured an article on his own blog entitled “How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my Stuff on Ebay“. There I was, bustling around the kitchen making lunch for my daughter when our late morning routine was interrupted:Boom! Boom! Boom! Milligan and I glanced toward the front door where the thunderous pounding had originated. “Holy cow!” I thought to myself, “There are…

  • Surprising Secrets of the Cheapskates Next Door (98 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Yeager, author of the newly-published The Cheapskate Next Door. Yeager calls himself the Ultimate Cheapskate — and his wife agrees. Yeager is also a contributor at Wise Bread and on the Early Retirement forums. “Sure, we could afford to spend more, but why would we? It wouldn’t make us any happier.” — Those are the words I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years traveling the country to hear. It’s…

  • How to Use a Food Dehydrator to Preserve Your Harvest (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. It’s been a long time since she chimed in around here. Have no fears: She’s the frugal heart of our homestead, and she’s always looking for ways to grow and preserve our food. As Get Rich Slowly readers know, J.D. and I have a thriving garden with maturing fruit trees, monstrous berry plants, and an annual vegetable garden. Much of the time, I turn the garden bounty…

  • Reader Story: Rich Dad, Stingy Dad (200 comments)

    This guest post from Anna is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. My experience with money is probably the opposite of many readers here. I’ve always had money. I got a…

  • The Rewards of Frugality and Thrift (or, Why We Scrimp and Save) (139 comments)

    Over the past couple of weeks, more than a few GRS readers have complained about the site’s tone. These folks are afraid that Get Rich Slowly is turning into a column that’s only about frugality and self-denial, one that is neglecting the “rich” part of the blog’s title. These concerns came to the fore in last week’s article about remembering to appreciate what I already have. In that discussion, ObjectiveGeek wrote: I want the best…

  • Living on (a Lot) Less (58 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I spent last weekend at a lake house in Maine with a broken water pump. For three days, we had no running water. Being beside the lake gave us ample access to water, but nothing flowed from the taps. To get clean, we swam in the lake or bathed with damp cloths….

  • Dress Yourself For Free: How to Host A Clothing Swap (72 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I spend almost nothing on clothes. According to Mint, I’ve spent $199.50 to clothe my family of five this year. They say the average U.S. household has spent $1258.62. That’s more than six times my spending. It’s been years since I walked into a clothing store, tried on styles I liked and…

  • Frugal Babe, Rich Life (56 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. “A rich life without a lot of money.” — That’s the tagline of a blog I’ve read almost as long as I’ve been reading Get Rich Slowly, and long before I had an emergency fund or paid off my consumer debt. Frugal Babe (FB) is the blog of a 31-year-old woman living in the suburbs of a fairly large city. She started the blog while she…

  • Reader Story: Surviving and Thriving (36 comments)

    This guest post from Donna Freedman is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. A few years ago I had about $130 to my name and was struggling to balance…

  • Casting Stones: When Is It Okay to Judge? (239 comments)

    I’ve been stewing over something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. I’m not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I’m human. Like everyone, there are times I can’t help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn’t productive, sometimes I’m at…

  • Finding Frugal Fun with Board Games (110 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katie Boes, a self-avowed nerd. As kids, many of us loved playing board games. I was a child of the eighties and, as such, grew up playing Candy Land, Sorry!, and Monopoly. But somewhere along the path to adulthood, most games that we’re familiar with seem to lose their appeal. Sure, we might enjoy occasional trivia games or party games, but the fact remains that most of the traditional…

  • Daily Links: Empire Builder Edition (6 comments)

    Howdy, everyone. I’m writing to you from my sleeper compartment aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder train, which runs from Chicago to Portland. Chris Guillebeau and I have been traveling westward for 24 hours now, and have passed through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. We’re now entering Montana (our train is behind schedule), and have another day or so left to ride. It’s fun, and surprisingly productive. Chris is using this trip to launch his Empire Building…

  • Carnival of Personal Finance #243: Valentine’s Day Edition (54 comments)

    Welcome to the 243rd Carnival of Personal Finance! What in the world does that mean? Well, a blog carnival is a weekly round-up of articles on a particular subject (in this case, money). The carnival moves from blog to blog, and gives readers a chance to find new writers they may enjoy. It’s been over two years since Get Rich Slowly last hosted a carnival (it takes many, many hours to put this together), but…

  • My Discretionary Spending for January 2010 (61 comments)

    For a personal finance blog, Get Rich Slowly hasn’t been very personal in recent months. That’s partly because of the book project, but also partly because I’ve moved to a stage in my financial life where not a lot happens. I’m not repaying debt, I’m not learning lots of new stuff; mostly, I’m “getting rich slowly”, letting my savings accumulate, and pursuing long-term goals. One goal that Kris and I share is to take a…

  • Reader Story: How I Got Married on the Cheap — And Loved It! (122 comments)

    This guest post from Lars is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. I got married last month. It was a bit of a whirlwind romance — at the beginning of 2009, we’d been talking about an…

  • The Basic Law of Frugality (90 comments)

    April’s post this morning about renting designer purses and other luxury items raised a few eyebrows. Because the focus here at Get Rich Slowly is on frugality, it’s not often that we delve into the world of high fashion. In the comments, for example, Ami wrote: I thought this was the Get Rich Slowly site, not the fritter your money on fripperies site. For me, Getting Rich Slowly is about changing your mindset about what’s…

  • 9 Ways to Give — Even When Times Are Tough (91 comments)

    This post is part of the “The Spectrum of Personal Finance”. In this one-day event, comic-book nerd Brian from My Next Buck, will discuss eight different emotions (taken from the Green Lantern comics) and relate them to personal finance. Here at GRS, Brian looks at Compassion. One of the most rewarding parts of personal finance is being able to give back. Giving is powerful, and it’s contagious. But maybe this year times are too tight…

  • Creative Cleaning with Everyday Products (69 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently shared an in-depth video example of how you can save $521 when booking airfare online. Recently my 19-month old daughter managed to get her tiny hands on a ballpoint pen. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a major event. This time was different. In the 30-45 seconds it took for me to notice, she’d thoroughly covered two-and-half cushions of our microsuede couch with a beautiful masterpiece in…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do for Frugal Fun? (144 comments)

    I used to wonder why my colleagues’ blogs became strangely silent when they were working on their books. Haha. I don’t wonder anymore. Writing a book is an all-consuming process that’s difficult to describe. I’m thankful I recruited April and Baker as staff writers before I began working on my own book. Progress on Your Money: The Missing Manual actually ground to a halt this week. Well, that’s not strictly true. I did miss my…

  • The Art of Improvising: Alternatives to Buying New (53 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. When you have a need or a problem, there’s usually a solution that can be bought. Buying a solution is often the easiest and fastest way to solve a problem — but it also can be the most expensive. When my husband and I were in debt-repayment mode and had our discretionary spending locked down, I began to see that there are alternative solutions to problems…

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Black told us about sweating the big stuff. Buying in bulk is great, right? You get the things you want and need, and pay less for them. As an added bonus, you don’t have to shop as…

  • Sweating the Big Stuff (73 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader. She writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. When my husband and I first got married, we bought a house in the suburbs and promptly had a baby. Buying that house meant buying a piece of the American Dream — but we both figured out pretty quickly that it wasn’t our dream. I will never forget…

  • How to Shop at an Estate Sale (38 comments)

    At 10am yesterday morning, Kris and I climbed into the Mini Cooper and to head for the county fair. We’d only been driving for a few minutes when Kris pointed at a sign. “Look! An estate sale,” she said. “Let’s stop.” Kris and I like estate sales better than garage sales because they usually feature nearly everything a person has ever owned — not just the cast-offs. Family members have generally pulled the plum pieces,…

  • A Few Notes About Clotheslines (104 comments)

    Howdy, folks! Staff writer tryouts still have a few days left, but I jotted a quick post this morning and thought I’d squeeze it in this afternoon just to break things up. I wrote a MAMMOTH post about taxes yesterday, but I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day. It’s a sort of tedious subject. See you again on Monday! I had to smile to myself as I walked up to my…

  • Beyond Frugality: What I Learned from Failure (63 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. He’s 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. I’m the son of a man who advises people on retirement planning. I…

  • Where to Find Free Activities and Events in Your Area (65 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynn, a long-time reader of personal-finance blogs. Lynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. She is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of her family, and is working hard to increase her financial health after years of many poor financial choices. Our family has been going through a transformation from a paycheck-to-paycheck family to a family that has money in the bank.  While I wouldn’t say we…

  • Saving Money on Everyday Stuff (19 comments)

    I haven’t made the time to piece together a “links roundup” lately, which is too bad. I’ve collected a lot of articles worth mentioning, even if they don’t merit full posts of their own. I try to share many of these stories on Twitter, but I’ve collected three that deserve special attention. They’re each packed with money-saving ideas for everyday shopping. Real Simple’s “Save on Everyday Stuff” Last week, Real Simple published a collection of…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Daniel Suelo, The Man Without Money (82 comments)

    Previously in my semi-regular Extreme Personal Finance series, I’ve highlighted: A couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years People who live on $12,000 a year Don Schrader, the man who lives on $10 a day Rina Kelley, the reporter who lived for one month as a freegan Yesterday, my friend Castle sent me the story of a man who makes these other folks look like spendthrifts. The man without money Writing for…

  • Our Frugal Weekend (77 comments)

    I haven’t written much about frugality here lately. Because of that, you might think it’s become less of a priority for me. That’s simply not the case, although sometimes it feels that way — even to me. “I’m worried about our spending,” Kris told me early last week. “I feel like it’s a little out of control.” “Really?” I said. We’ve had a couple of big expenses lately — painting the house, for example —…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 15: The Simple Dollar (6 comments)

    Join Jim and me at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) this afternoon for the 15th episode of The Personal Finance Hour. Today we’ll be interviewing Trent Hamm, author of The Simple Dollar. Trent’s primary focus is frugality, and that will be our primary topic of discussion. But the three of us are all full-time bloggers, and many folks on Twitter have asked that we discuss our experiences, so we’ll explore that too. We would love to…

  • A Day at the Community Garage Sale (32 comments)

    Kris and I had a l-o-n-g day today. We rose early and drove to one of Portland’s nicest neighborhoods for the 24th annual Eastmoreland Garage Sale. Officially, there were 141 families hawking their Stuff. Unofficially, there were well over 200. For seven hours, Kris and I walked up and down the quiet residential streets — not so quiet today, as they bustled with a carnival-like atmosphere. (This year, there were plenty of people playing Michael…

  • Reader Story: The Secret Millionaire and the Mathmobile (43 comments)

    I keep telling myself I’ll share reader e-mail more often. You folks send me great stuff. For example, here’s Ruth’s story about her own millionaire next door. I loved reading about J.D.’s “secret millionaire” neighbor. This is a story about my own “secret millionaire” neighbor. He actually lives in the next suburb. This local middle-school math teacher retired about five years ago, and became a private tutor. Since retirement, he works seven days a week…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 11: Frugal Weekend Fun (0 comment)

    Today’s a momentous day. For the first time in the history of The Personal Finance Hour, both Jim and I should be on Skype with headsets that work. That is, of course, unless I do something stupid again. (Last week I had the microphone on “mute”. Ugh. So dumb!) This could be the first episode free of technical glitches! And what will we be discussing? On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, we’re putting…

  • An Experiment in Cheap Living (from 1872) (38 comments)

    An Experiment in Cheap Living Earlier this week, I shared some of the highlights from three years of GRS articles about saving money on food. Brett from The Art of Manliness, who knows that I collect old self-help books, sent me an excerpt from Dio Lewis’s 1872 volume, Our Digestion, or, My Jolly Friend’s Secret. Here Lewis describes his “experiment in cheap living”, during which he spends just 54-1/4 cents for a week of food….

  • Ask the Readers: What Makes You Feel Rich While Being Frugal? (162 comments)

    Earlier this week, Aaron asked whether repaying debt should be an obsession. I replied that for some people, “gazelle intensity” makes more sense. (Trent from The Simple Dollar is one of these folks.) For others — including myself — it’s important to exercise balance, to allow a budget for fun. Everyone who opts for a life of thrift can benefit from finding one or two things that make them feel “rich”. These indulgences don’t have…

  • How to Save Money on Food: Great Tips from Three Years of Get Rich Slowly (35 comments)

    While driving to our monthly book group discussion on Saturday, Kris and I had a conversation with our friend Courtney. Courtney’s family is beginning to feel a financial squeeze. Her husband’s employer is cutting jobs. To keep working, he’ll have to take a pay cut and move back to the position he left a couple of years ago. “I’ve started to read personal finance books,” Courtney told us. “We know we’re going to have to…

  • How to Live a Rich Life — On a Budget (23 comments)

    This is a guest post from Philip Brewer of Wise Bread. For today only, Wise Bread is giving away $15 Ebates bonuses and a chance to win one of five Flip Cams with the purchase of their new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. A bon vivant is a person who lives well — someone who enjoys the best things in life, especially with regard to food and drink. The stereotypical…

  • The New Age of Thrift (68 comments)

    Over the past few months, the mainstream media has been filled with stories about the New Frugals and the return to thrift. People who once lived beyond their means, financing their lifestyle with debt, have “found religion”. They’ve begun to embrace frugality, and have discovered the joy that can come through spending less. The new age of thrift Not everyone is happy about this. The March issue of Redbook contained an article called “The Upside…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Save Money on Books? (127 comments)

    Most of the questions I receive from readers are about their specific financial situations. But occasionally somebody writes with something a little different. Yesterday, for example, Joshua wrote to ask my advice on shopping for books. He wants to know how to find personal finance books for cheap. He writes: I’m big book fan, mostly financial, entrepreneur, leadership, personal development, etc. Sometimes I buy books off Amazon, but I visit the local library first to…

  • The Secrets of Financial Freedom: An Interview with the Millionaire Next Door (141 comments)

    Today is the last day of Financial Literacy Month. To tie everything together, I thought it would be fun to share an interview my real millionaire next door, a man we’ll call John. He used the basic tenets of money management to build wealth and to retire early. Here’s how I described John when I first wrote about him last year: John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house…

  • A Very Small Adventure: Riding the Bus (119 comments)

    I had a big day today, though I’m sure many of you will laugh: I rode the bus for the first time. Actually, I’ve been on buses many times before. I rode a school bus as a child, and I’ve used public transportation in other towns. I’ve even used the light-rail trains here in Portland. But I had never used the city’s bus system until this afternoon. Brave new world I took my new-used Mini…

  • 84-Year-Old Social Worker Saves $1.4 Million (78 comments)

    Over the weekend, Kevin and Nathaniel both sent me an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that tells the story of Jane M. Buri, an 84-year-old social worker who quietly amassed a $1.4 million fortune. How did she do it? She practiced the art of thrift. From the article: In retrospect, friends say Buri’s savings made sense. They say she drove a 30-year-old car, watched an ancient TV, lived four decades in a house bought…

  • Start a SwapLuck to Share the Things You Make and Do (25 comments)

    When I wrote about homesteading magazines in February, several people praised Countryside as the best of the bunch. Intrigued, I subscribed. I’ve received my first issue and I have to say: I’m impressed. Countryside isn’t for everyone. It’s very much geared toward those interested in getting “back to the land”. When I read the magazine, I couldn’t help but think of my father. He loved this sort of thing. But even though I live in…

  • A Frugal Dinner with Friends (67 comments)

    Kris and I had dinner last night with our new acquaintances friends, Chris and Jolie. Dinner was fun. This was in part because our hosts made a point of preparing a frugal meal. “If you bring wine,” Chris told me on the phone, “bring something cheap. I can’t tell any difference from the good stuff.” I happily complied. I love good food and good conversation, but the truth is I’d rather have a great talk…

  • Reader Comment: A Lifetime of Doing the Right Thing (60 comments)

    It’s been a while since I highlighted an individual reader comment, but I wanted to draw attention to some advice that Kenny left for Sara in Friday’s “ask the readers”. You’ll recall that 24-year-old Sara feels overwhelmed because although she’s making the “right” decisions, she doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Here is Kenny’s response, reproduced verbatim. (Well, I’ve done some formatting, but the text is completely Kenny’s.) I have the BEST answer for you…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When Frugality Gets You Nowhere? (166 comments)

    In general, the frugal person who saves and invests will slowly build wealth, and will find herself far ahead of her peers. But sometimes the progress is slow — or even non-existent. When this happens, good financial habits can seem frustrating. Sara wrote to ask what to do when frugality seems to be getting you nowhere: Although I practice extreme frugality, I feel that I cannot get ahead financially. Every month I seem to be…

  • Some Thoughts on the Return to Traditional Skills (105 comments)

    I give several media interviews each month. As the economy changes, so do the questions. Recently, as you can imagine, reporters have been asking me what people can do to save money. This question gets boring after a while. There are only so many ways a fellow can say, “Spend less than you earn by reducing unnecessary expenses.” Lately I’ve been trying to spice up interviews by promoting what I call “traditional skills”. When I…

  • Magazines (and Websites) About Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency (107 comments)

    When I was a boy, my father used to buy Mother Earth News from the grocery store. The magazine was filled with stories about self-sufficient country living, the sort of thing my dad aspired to. I’d read the magazine after he was finished, but never really understood the appeal of building your own greenhouse or raising goats. Now, as an adult, it makes a little more sense. Kris and I are not radically self-sufficient, but…

  • Outside Looking In: How Others View Our Spending (80 comments)

    Last week, I went running with my friend Mac. As we ran, we talked. Mac asked me how it felt to be out of debt, to actually be saving money. Like many of my friends, he’s watched my financial turnaround with interest. “It feels great,” I said. “I should have learned from you and Pam earlier.” Mac and Pam have always made smart financial choices. They’re not misers, but they’re thrifty, carefully choosing where they…

  • Books with True-Life Stories about Frugality (43 comments)

    In the olden days — before I wrote this blog full time — I was a regular at the wonderful AskMetafilter, a collaborative site for answering reader questions. I don’t have as much time to hang out there anymore, as evidenced by the fact that it took a reader to point me to yesterday’s question about frugality books. Catch wrote: I’d like to read some good books, preferably autobiographical, about managing a household in hard…

  • Recession Romance: Make a Delicious Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home (59 comments)

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, I polled my Twitter followers for their favorite frugal and romantic date ideas. Some of the great responses included: From @Finc_Confluence: “A photo scavenger hunt worked well for us recently. Inexpensive, memorable, and a great conversation piece!” From @MrsMicah: “Borrow an old movie from the library, enjoy with blankets and maybe hot chocolate. We had fun with The Awful Truth recently.” From @JoyfulAbode: “Go for a walk and hold hands (very…

  • The Best of Get Rich Slowly: January 2009 (3 comments)

    Wow. Am I glad that month is over. January started off with a bang and flew along full-tilt until the fifteenth. In the two weeks since my friend Sparky died, my life has been a confused mess. I delegated to guest authors while I dealt with my personal life; fortunately, they provided some great articles. Now, however, I’m looking forward to finding some semblance of normalcy again. Here are some of the best posts from…

  • Your Thrift Habits: Money Tips from 1948 (21 comments)

    For this final day of Thrift Week 2009, Get Rich Slowly revisits a short thrift film that I first featured in May 2007. Over the past few years, I’ve shared a number of old cartoons and educational films about sound money management. I love these old videos. My favorite of the bunch is probably this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun…

  • Which America? The Possibilities of American Thrift (36 comments)

    As National Thrift Week winds down, I’m pleased to offer (by permission) a short essay from author David Blankenhorn. This is taken from the end of his 2008 book, Thrift: A Cyclopedia, published by Templeton Press. (Read more about the book here.) I’ve altered formatting slightly to make it more readable in blog format. Emphasis is mine. I want to conclude this book by asking you to reflect briefly on this 1957 observation on successful…

  • The Razor’s Edge: Lessons in True Wealth (160 comments)

    Our friends have a profound effect on our personal finance habits. Some friends can lead us to spending and to debt. Others offer insight into the virtues of thrift. For me, my friend Sparky has been the latter. Through his example, I learned that frugality can help me achieve my goals. “Develop a plan that is so amazing, so glowing, that you are willing to walk blurry-eyed to work every day to make the money…

  • Happy 303rd Birthday, Benjamin Franklin! (26 comments)

    Today is the first day of National Thrift Week. It’s also the 303rd anniversary of the birth of America’s first — and best — personal-finance writer. Benjamin Franklin was born on this day in 1706. Franklin was an amazing man, a polymath, and a great advocate of industry and frugality. “Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich,” he wrote in 1768, more elegantly expressing my own notion that to gain wealth you must…

  • National Thrift Week: January 17th to 24th (26 comments)

    I recently finished reading Thrift: A Cyclopedia by David Blankenhorn. I hadn’t intended to review the book on this site, or even to discuss it much. It’s simply not the sort of book that the average reader would enjoy. (I loved it.) Thrift: A Cyclopedia contains 300 pages of quotes and images exploring the nature of thrift. A typical chapter offers a short biography of a thrift advocate (Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, movie director Frank…

  • Book Review: 365 Ways to Live Cheap! (28 comments)

    Today I am reviewing new books written by two colleagues: Trent from The Simple Dollar and Leo from Zen Habits. As you read these reviews, please remember that I am friends with both authors. Mary Hunt bills herself as America’s favorite cheapskate. In 2005, she published a little volume entitled Everyday Cheapskate’s Greatest Tips, which contained “500 simple strategies for smart living”. Hunt’s book didn’t offer any sort of narrative or broad overview of money…

  • In Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Ann Zerkle, a Get Rich Slowly lurker, and the founder of Heroes of Capitalism. I know J.D. has posted many times about how going to the library saves money, but I personally love to buy books. Even after reading the arguments about saving money over the year, going to the library and everything else, I still think buying some books is good for me. This…

  • Alternatives to Buying New (21 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from The Thrifty Homeowner. There are a couple of things in life that I think I do well: saving money and decreasing my household’s waste. Obtaining a great value or helping out the environment are both excellent things to do separately, but I often try to combine them for maximum benefit. Used or new? Before I make almost any purchase, I first consider options other than…

  • How to Afford Anything (But Not Everything) (61 comments)

    You can have anything you want — but you can’t have everything you want. That’s the lesson I learned from a recent conversation with my cousin. And that’s the lesson photographer Ken Rockwell imparts in an essay that explains how to afford anything. Our ability to buy expensive toys has nothing to do with how much money we do or don’t earn. Like everything in life, it has everything to do with how well you…

  • Things It’s Cheaper to Do Yourself (97 comments)

    I’m driving down to my mother’s house this morning to work on her roof. Over the years, the shingles have been overrun with moss, so my cousin and I are going to spend a couple of hours scraping the stuff off. We could hire somebody to clean the roof for us, but this seems like an easy way to save a little money. The entire project reminds of a recent article from Liz Pulliam Weston…

  • Could You Eat Healthfully on One Dollar a Day? (94 comments)

    “How much does it really cost to eat a healthy diet?” asks Tara Parker-Pope in a recent New York Times article. Among other findings, she notes: Nearly a billion people, or about 15% of the world population, live on a dollar a day for food. [Note: Obviously the cost of living varies from country-to-country — spending a dollar a day for food in Portland is different than spending a dollar a day for food in…

  • How Low Can You Go? Cutting Back to Minimum (192 comments)

    I was sick again yesterday morning. To console myself, I made a cup of cocoa. As I was preparing to add the required three tablespoons of chocolate powder, it occurred to me that maybe I could get by with two tablespoons. I’d be saving calories and money at the same time! The cocoa wasn’t quite as good as usual, but it was good enough. And by dropping to two tablespoons instead of three, I saved…

  • Consumer Reports Introduces Tightwad Tod (12 comments)

    Consumer Reports is the best money magazine in the U.S., but most of its web-based content is behind a paywall (even for magazine subscribers!). Fortunately, the site offers seven blogs that allow you to keep tabs on some of the organization’s findings for free. Today, one of those blogs — the CR Money & Shopping blog — is starting a new feature called Tightwad Tod. Tod Marks is a senior editor at Consumer Reports, where…

  • “Our New Bookstore is the Library” (83 comments)

    On our vacation last week, Kris and I stayed at a nice bed & breakfast on San Juan Island. One morning, we spoke with Debbie, our hostess, and the conversation turned to books. I mentioned that I liked the used bookstore in town. I also mentioned that I have too many books. Debbie laughed and told us that she and her husband have too many books, too. “When we lived in Arizona, we had a…

  • Faces of World Poverty: 20 Arresting Photographs (34 comments)

    What do we picture when we think about poverty? What stereotypes do we have about what poverty looks like? What do they mask from us? What do they keep us from seeing? While putting together my two main posts for Blog Action Day, I came across a number of arresting photographs depicting poverty around the world. It became clear to me that poverty takes many forms — poverty has many faces. These are a few…

  • Once-a-Month Shopping: Save More by Shopping Less (147 comments)

    How often do you go to the supermarket? Could you get by making only one trip per month? What if it saved you money? My wife and I are both reading America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. During his time as an ad salesman, Steve was “shocked to read in a food industry publication that grocers expect six of ten items consumers pick up in the store to be unplanned purchases.” Steve and…

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

    Speaking of weddings, Kate F. wrote the other day to share a tip: I am just starting the wedding planning process and have been really disheartened by the wedding industry and the realization that what to me is a lot to spend ($5000) is literally laughable by most involved in the industry.  I finally came across a blog that I feel fits with my vision of a simple, debt-free wedding: A Practical Wedding. I’ve never…

  • Making and Doing: The Value of Productive Hobbies (62 comments)

    I spent a couple hours this morning performing what ought to have been a simple home-maintenance task. The light fixture on our front porch had gone faulty, and I needed to replace it. I’ve done enough wiring projects now that the electrical aspect of the job didn’t bother me. But the woodworking? That was frustrating. As I fumbled with the jigsaw (“Drat! Another blade bent!”), I wished again that I practiced woodworking more often. I…

  • Burn After Reading: The $22 Movie (157 comments)

    I’m going to sound like a crotchety old man for a minute here — but it’s my blog and I can write what I want. Movies are too damn expensive. One of the luxuries of working from home is that when a friend calls me at 2 o’clock to go see a movie, I can do it. So when Paul called yesterday to ask if I wanted to see Burn After Reading, I said, “Sure.”…

  • Museum Day 2008: Free Museum Admission This Saturday (14 comments)

    Looking for some frugal fun this weekend? Saturday is Museum Day in the United Sates — a chance to get into local museums for free. This event is presented by Smithsonian Magazine and a handful of sponsors. According to the magazine’s website: Enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums and cultural venues nationwide Saturday, September 27, 2008. Present the Museum Day admission card to receive free general admission at…

  • The Power of Attentive Spending (26 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt with a plan at No-Debt Plan. Saving money and the frugal mentality are all about awareness. If you’re in the dark about where your money is going or how much something costs you each month, you can’t do anything about it. Life will continue — and you’ll keep spending as you always have. The truth will set you free…

  • Fighting Food-Budget Killers (78 comments)

    At MSN Money, Liz Pulliam Weston has an article about fighting what she calls food-budget killers, those items at the grocery store that can put an extra strain on your pocketbook. Weston’s story gives tips for how to save money on the five foods with the biggest price jumps in the past year: flour, eggs, sweet peppers, milk, and dried beans. But the article got me thinking about food-budget killers in a different way. High…

  • Daily Links: Work Ethic Edition (10 comments)

    This week has been amazing. Since removing World of Warcraft from my computer (and making a couple of other similar changes in my life), I’ve been tackling my responsibilities with a fervor. It’s almost like I’m a grown-up! I’ve been exercising, eating right (mostly), and, best of all, I’ve been writing all day, every day. It’s fantastic. Sometimes the best way to do the right thing is to actually choose the right thing. While I’m…

  • EARN: Helping Low-Wage Workers Learn to Save (25 comments)

    It can seem impossible to get ahead when you’re earning minimum wage. The idea of an emergency fund is nice, but to save for one, you must have money left at the end of the month. MarketWatch recently published a story about a San Francisco program that helps low-wage workers begin to save and develop better money skills. The Earned Asset Resource Nework (EARN for short) is a non-profit organization providing financial assistance and education…

  • Daily Links: Frugal Tips Edition (3 comments)

    Most of my on-line financial reading lately has been about frugality and saving money. I think I’m subconsciously avoiding investment articles because I know I have to make some big decisions regarding my 2008 retirement savings by the middle of next month. Of course, that means a few weeks from now, all the links I share will be about investing! In the meantime, here are some stories I’ve liked lately: Scott Burns says you can…

  • U-Pick: The Next Best Thing to Growing Your Own (25 comments)

    Though Kris and I are growing our own green beans this summer, we don’t have nearly enough for her grand plans. “I need more beans,” she told me last week. “I want to do some canning.” I hate green beans, but I agreed to lend a hand. On Friday, we braved the heat to make a trip to Hartnell Farms, where we picked 18 pounds of beans. Many Get Rich Slowly readers have indicated that…

  • Energy Conservation in Alaska: What Worked? What Did Not? (30 comments)

    Last April, Dan wrote to ask GRS readers for help with a sudden energy crisis. Because of a natural disaster, electricity costs in Juneau, Alaska jumped from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.53 per kilowatt-hour. In this follow-up, Dan explains how his family coped with high energy costs. It’s been over three months since an avalanche knocked out our hydropower supply in Juneau. At that time, Get Rich Slowly readers provided plenty of great comments and…

  • Missing the Target: Lousy Store Policies Can Thwart Frugal Intentions (81 comments)

    This is a guest post from The Tim at the Seattle Bubble blog, a site about the housing bubble. He also writes The Naked Loon, a Seattle-centric satirical publication. One way our family keeps the entertainment budget slim is by not buying new release DVDs, but waiting to buy movies until they drop below $10. About a month ago, my wife purchased the DVD movie “Never Been Kissed” for $5.50 from the discount shelf at…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

    One of my favorite personal finance bloggers is Philip Brewer at Wise Bread. He writes long, thoughtful articles about the philosophy of money, not just on tips and tricks to save at the grocery store. Brewer recently posted a piece called “What I’ve Been Trying to Say” that summarizes his philosophy. Explaining why he believes voluntary simplicity can be a great choice for many people, he writes: You can choose how you want to live. If…

  • Frugality in Practice: Air-Dry Your Clothes (Even Indoors!) (110 comments)

    Tiffany wrote with a quick energy-saving tip: I hang up my wet clothes inside during the day to let them dry. When I get home from work, I put them in the dryer for about five minutes to get rid of the wrinkles.  I don’t have a clothesline, but this works just as well. I’m not familiar with hanging clothes to dry indoors, but I like the idea. Kris and I have actually begun experimenting…

  • Saving at the Supermarket: 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips (73 comments)

    Kris and I went grocery shopping this weekend. We stopped at Bob’s Red Mill — a local health-food store — to use some “buy one, get one free” coupons. “You can get anything you want,” Kris told me, “except hot cereal.” “Why can’t I get hot cereal?” I asked. “I love hot cereal.” “I know,” Kris said. “But you buy it all the time. You buy it faster than you eat it. Just last week,…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Socially Obligated Spending? (147 comments)

    Allen recently attended a family wedding that put a hole in his budget. He wonders how to cope with societal pressure to spend: How do you deal with social situations where you have to spend? I just had to spend $300 to go to a cousin’s wedding. I couldn’t not go — it’s family. But I couldn’t get in wearing what I own, because it wasn’t “good enough” and I couldn’t just go rent something…

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

    Christine just sent me a National Public Radio story about the frugal artists of New York City. Columbia University recently released a study of 213 visual artists over the age of 61. Their average income? $30,000 a year. According to the NPR story: Most of them said they were satisfied with their lives. However, many reported that they also have had to make daily economic compromises. They don’t eat out, buy clothes at flea markets…

  • A Small Bite: The Sensible Way to Splurge (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I need dessert. After a fine meal — home-cooked or dining out — I simply don’t feel satisfied without a bit of something sweet. The slowing metabolism that comes with encroaching middle age means I must do one of three things: fight the urge and feel deprived give in wholeheartedly to my craving and regret it later find a middle ground With dessert, I’ve discovered a middle…

  • Frugality is Important (9 comments)

    Here, via reader Karen L., are some words of wisdoms via a Chinese fortune cookie: Do you have a fun personal finance story or photo you’d like to share? Send it to

  • Unit Pricing: Get More Food for Less Money (66 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charlie Park at PearBudget. Recently, Get Rich Slowly readers got upset at the idea of spending $6 on a gallon of milk. Reading that, I had to chuckle a little bit: Shortly before we had to give it up, our milk went up to $11 a gallon. Yup. You read that right: $11. A gallon. Technically, the milk was free, but the boarding and care of the animals that…

  • Bargain Summer Vacation Destinations (40 comments)

    My recent series of interviews with author Tim Ferriss has given me the travel bug. I find myself plotting grand vacations (or mini-retirements). But I don’t have the money to spend on a trip to London or a cruise to Alaska. My sights are set a little lower. Fortunately, several recent articles have addressed this subject. On Sunday, The New York Times published a list of 31 places to go this summer. “The summer of…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Car or Pay Off Debt? (124 comments)

    Earlier this week, April wrote with a personal finance predicament. She and her husband need to buy a car, but it’s not something they’d budgeted to do any time soon. Fate intervened: My husband and I are trying to pay down our debt and to save money. This morning he called to tell me that he had been rear-ended in traffic. He’s fine, thankfully, but he thinks they’ll total his car, which was paid for….

  • How to Save Hundreds by Playing the Drugstore Game (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, cooking, and parenting at Chief Family Officer. I love the philosophy of getting rich slowly by doing the fundamentals: spend less than you earn, pay off debt, and invest wisely. One way that I save money is with what I call The Drugstore Game. The Drugstore Game involves combining manufacturer and store coupons, and taking advantage of a store’s best deals. When played…

  • Use Raspberry Leaves to Make Your Own Herbal Tea (18 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I drink a lot of herbal tea, but until recently I hadn’t considered making my own. When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was prepare an area in the yard for cane berry crops. We planted blackberries, marionberries, and raspberries. Now, four years later, the canes have grown humongous in Oregon’s favorable climate. They’re so long that we’ve criss-crossed them on…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Crissy Thompson, the Coupon Queen (56 comments)

    Changed the title and URL, everyone. Sorry. I hadn’t planned to post anything this afternoon, but about a million people (maybe a million-and-a-half) sent me a story about Crissy Thompson from Gainesville, Georgia. Crissy sometimes spends just $10 a week on groceries. For her family of five. How does she do it? Coupons. Jay Watson spent a day with Crissy to learn the secret of her success. Crissy was pregnant with her third child and…

  • Get Quality Stuff For Cheap from Local College Students (35 comments)

    Almost a year ago, a reader named Emily wrote with a great tip about finding good deals from local college students. I lost her e-mail until recently, but that’s okay. Her advice is perfect for this time of year. Here’s what she says: If you happen to live around a university, the end of the semester (especially the end of the spring semester and during the summer) is the absolute best time to get great…

  • A Real Millionaire Next Door (135 comments)

    Kris and I love our neighborhood. People are friendly and helpful, yet mostly mind their own business. It’s a perfect combination. One of our favorite neighbors is the old guy next door. Let’s call him John. John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house on half an acre, the same house he’s had for over forty years. He has an old barn filled with salvaged lumber, outdated appliances, and…

  • Save Money on Food with the Sixty Minute Plan (26 comments)

    Kris at Cheap Healthy Good recently wrote how 60 minutes a week can save hundreds of dollars on food. This kind of stuff never occurred to me in my early ‘20s, and The Boyfriend and I are much better for it now. We eat like the dickens and haven’t had to sell any major organs to finance peanut butter purchases (lately). To keep her costs down and to reduce the time involved, Kris has created…

  • Ask the Readers: Energy Conservation Tips? (76 comments)

    Dan wrote with a question unlike any I’ve received before. He lives in Alaska, where the residents of Juneau have been confronted with a sudden energy crisis (more here). Here’s Dan’s story: I am facing a unique energy situation. I live in Juneau, Alaska. Last Wednesday, we had an avalanche which affected the electricity generation within our community. Our energy costs went from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.50 per kilowatt-hour instantly. Imagine your electricity bill…

  • Secrets of the Extremely Thrifty (29 comments)

    Yesterday Adam at Lifehacker unearthed a Bankrate article in which extreme savers share their secrets. While the tips profiled in this story aren’t as radical as some I’ve shared, they’re much more applicable to average people like you and me. Author Elaine Appleman Grant writes: These days, as the cost of food and gas skyrockets, credit becomes more difficult to get and consumer confidence reaches an all-time low, saving has become a must…There’s a whole…

  • Frugality in Practice: The DIY Footrest (41 comments)

    I’ve been working at home for a month now. I like it. The first week was a little scary, but the past few weeks have been immensely productive. I’ve caught up on e-mail. I’ve conducted and given some interviews. And I’ve planned some posts for the future. Most of my day is spent at my desk writing. The first few days were awful. My wrists hurt. I couldn’t find the right chair height to match…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Splurge On? (161 comments)

    I write a lot about frugality, about saving for the future. But what about enjoying life today? My friend Matt recently asked, “Amid all the saving and sacrifices you make to keep your financial life in order, what is your one extravagance that you deem worth spending money on? I know with you it’s that Filson clothing stuff, right? Maybe Apple products?” He’s right. I love both Filson and Apple. I don’t often splurge on…

  • Gourmet Cooking with 99-Cent Food? (41 comments)

    Earlier this week, the always-interesting kottke.org pointed to a couple of pieces on 99-cent fine dining. First, from the March 21st episode of National Public Radio’s Day to Day, comes a story about cooking gourmet with 99¢ food. These days, the idea of making a three-course meal for a family of four for less than $20 can seem impossible. Unless, that is, you shop at the 99¢ Only Stores. There are more than 200 of…

  • “Golden Boy is Slowly Dying” (79 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion about how to live frugally without looking like a loser, a few people chided me for wearing frayed clothing. MissPinkKate wrote, “Wearing a frayed sweatshirt isn’t a sign you’re frugal — it’s a sign you’re too lazy to buy cheap clothes that look nice, which can be done.” And Shirley said: J.D., I promise I am not picking on you, really, but I laughed out loud when I read your comment that…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Live Frugally Without Seeming Like a Loser? (164 comments)

    In Wednesday’s discussion about how to live on less and love it, Steve left an interesting comment: One topic I never see covered is “extreme finances” or even simple frugality in relationship to being single. I’m not talking about being a cheapskate during dinner, but maintaining a low-powered lifestyle while seeking a mate. Like it or not, first impressions count and first impressions are often based on superficialities, even by nice and otherwise deep people….

  • How to Live on Less and Love It (64 comments)

    Charlotte forwarded a great article from Mother Earth News. (When did they go online? It seems so antithetical to their nature!) In “Live on Less and Love It!”, Craig Idlebrook describes 75 ways that his family enjoys life while spending and consuming less. And he should know. He’s a practitioner of extreme personal finance: On paper, my wife and I are poor. How poor? In 2005 we made $4,303.84 combined; in 2004 we made half…

  • How My Net Worth Went from $-40,000 to $285,000 in Five Years (118 comments)

    This is a guest post from FrugalTrader, who blogs about personal finance from a Canadian perspective at Million Dollar Journey. In 2003, my girlfriend (now wife) and I graduated from university with nearly $50,000 in debt. This debt was a combination of my wife’s $30,000 in student loans and her $20,000 new car loan. Since I learned fundamental saving habits at a very young age, I managed to graduate university debt-free with $10,000 in savings. Combined, however,…

  • Lessons from Literature: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (60 comments)

    This is the first of an irregular series. I love to read, especially the classics. From time-to-time I’ll share nuggets of personal finance advice I find buried in the pages of the past. This month, our book group is reading Betty Smith’s 1943 classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The book describes what it’s like to live in poverty, and how that mindset affects a person’s choices. I love it. In the following excerpt, it’s…

  • Another Reason to Be Wary of Gift Cards (35 comments)

    Did you know that when you buy a gift card, you’re essentially loaning money to a company? Chris H. forwarded a MSNBC story that describes how after bankruptcies, gift cards can be worthless: The Sharper Image announced late last month that it was suspending the acceptance of gift cards, at least temporarily. It urged shoppers to check the company Web site later this month for an update. That is typical of businesses that reorganize under…

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do If My Girlfriend Isn’t Serious About Money? (90 comments)

    In the Get Rich Slowly forums, DannyBoy has a question that I think many people face: “What can I do if my girlfriend isn’t serious about money?” He writes: I’m the sort of person who essentially looks into every area of his life to save, start investing, and be smart about money as much as possible. Do you think that somebody like myself, who cares so much about where his money goes, can be happy…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Choose VOIP Telephone Service? (78 comments)

    Lauren recently wrote with the sort of technical question I usually route to the Get Rich Slowly forums. (The forums are a great place to get help with your specific financial situation.) She’s looking to ditch her landline for VOIP (voice over IP) telephone service. I’ve had several friends ask me about this subject, so I figure it has fairly broad appeal. Lauren writes: I’m trying to find real information on savings for phone service…

  • Dumb Money: The Movie Theater (106 comments)

    This is a Guest Post from Kevin at No Debt Plan, a blog about living debt-free. This is part of Kevin’s Dumb Money series. I was recently thinking about my first real job — doorman at the movie theater. Ah, the days of minimum wage. I thought movies were expensive back then, but nowadays they cost a fortune. Let’s look at some numbers. Assume a family of four (two adults, two children) goes to the…

  • Minimalist Meals: Fantastic Food in Ten Minutes or Less (38 comments)

    One of the best ways to save money on food is to eat more meals at home. Better yet, eat more meals that you prepare instead of foraging from boxes and cans. With today’s busy lifestyles, this can be a difficult transition to make, especially if you’ve never been much of a cook. But quick, cheap, healthy food is possible. Mark Bittman bills himself as “The Minimalist” — he’s all about simple, informal meals using…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: America on $10 a Day (76 comments)

    I love stories of extreme personal finance. In the past I’ve written about a guy who was homeless by choice, how to pay off your mortgage in three years, and about the most fuel-efficient driver in the world. Regular readers know of my fondness for these stories and sometimes e-mail other examples. None, however, compares to the story Dave recently sent to me: In Albuquerque, New Mexico, there’s a guy who lives on less than…

  • My Frugal Valentine: Cheap Ways to Say “I Love You” (33 comments)

    I don’t like Valentine’s Day — it fosters the notion that romance is something for special occasions. Worse, it’s yet another commercial holiday filled with cards, chocolates, flowers, and gifts. I reject the idea that romance is only for special occasions, and I reject the idea that buying stuff somehow demonstrates affection. I believe it’s important for couples to find ways to express their love year-round. If you do choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, don’t…

  • How to Cope with Frugality Burnout (27 comments)

    Sara Noel at the Frugal Village blog recently shared some excellent advice about avoiding frugality burnout. “If you’ve been focused on frugality for a while,” she writes, “at some point you’ll probably feel discouraged, frustrated or even think about giving up.” It can be tough to stay focused on your goals when it seems everyone around you is spending like there’s no tomorrow. [...] It can get tiring to make cheaper choices or overthink small…

  • 2007 Discretionary Spending: The Highs and Lows (76 comments)

    I write a lot about personal finance, but how well do I practice what I preach? For the most part, I follow my own advice. Much of what I write here is based on personal experience. But my financial life is not without weaknesses. Last January, I tallied my discretionary spending to see exactly how much these weaknesses cost me. This year, I’ve done the same. Looking at the Big Picture, 2007 was an amazing…

  • 21 Money-Saving Sites from Around the Web (55 comments)

    Marshall Loeb at MarketWatch recently shared some tips for online coupon clipping: A recent study by comScore, an Internet information provider that tracks consumer behavior, found that 53% of consumers say they regularly visit brand Web sites to find promotions. Visiting a manufacturer’s web site is a great way to find coupons (or other promotions) for products you plan to purchase. But, as Loeb notes, there are many web sites that amalgamate deals into one…

  • A Life Well-Lived is Not About the Bling (81 comments)

    I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work. Navone never attended high school. He began working in local glass factories at the age of 16. In 50 years, he never made…

  • Penny Pinchers: Mart and the $10 Boots (13 comments)

    I love family reunions. My cousins are bold and brassy. They’re loud, and quick with a funny story. They’re also cheap. At a New Year’s Day reunion last week, we swapped tales of extreme penny-pinching. One of my cousins told this story, which I thought was hilarious. A couple of years ago, my cousin Mart decided to buy a new pair of boots. On his way to the Oregon Coast, he stopped by the Wilco…

  • The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Book Contest (253 comments)

    Let’s have a little fun. On Sunday, I reviewed Jeff Yeager’s new book, The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Guide to True Riches. Yeager has graciously offered to give away three copies to Get Rich Slowly readers. Rather than just do a random drawing, I thought it would be fun to share stories of extraordinary cheapness. It’s the Ultimate Cheapskate’s book contest! Here’s how it works: By tomorrow night, leave a comment on this entry with a true…

  • Frugality Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrificing Quality (88 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. I grew up poor: single-wide trailer-house, shared-a-room-with-two-sisters, garage-sale-wardrobe, government-cheese, worked-full-time-in-high-school, and paid-for-my-own-cap-and-gown poor. You might think that growing up poor would have made me frugal. Not so. While I do have an overwhelming urge to get the “most” for my money, I often see “most” as only quantity, and that’s not smart financially. Quality trumps…

  • The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Guide to True Riches (24 comments)

    Jeff Yeager calls himself the Ultimate Cheapskate. He’s serious about saving money. He’s the sort of guy who soft-boils his morning eggs by putting them in the dishwasher while it runs. In a package he sent me recently, he included his business card, which is simply a rubber stamp printed on a piece of a brown paper bag. His wife calls him the cheapest man in America, and he’s proud of it. The road map…

  • Sweating the Small Stuff (62 comments)

    Two readers sent me a New York Times story from M.P. Dunleavey that addresses a problem many of us face, especially this time of year. We do our best to set budgets, to track our spending, and to make smart financial decisions, but when we sit down to run the numbers, somehow we’ve spent too much. Dunleavey writes: I [totaled] the extra and unexpected costs that had cropped up throughout the year: $4,900 for new…

  • Frugality in Practice: Keeping Warm in Winter (96 comments)

    Cold cold cold — I am cold. Remember George Bailey’s “drafty old barn” in It’s a Wonderful Life? Our place is like that. This 100-year-old farmhouse is cold all winter long. There are drafts at the doors, there’s inadequate insulation, and we have 30 windows in 1800 square feet. (Our old house had eight windows in 1400 square feet.) Every year, we do a little more to make this place energy efficient, but it’s a…

  • How 15 Minutes Saved Me 15% on My Television Bill (58 comments)

    This is a guest post from Stephen Ward, who writes at Project Paradox. Although many frugality experts decry the need for television, my wife and I enjoy it too much to give it up.  That didn’t stop me from getting a better deal, though!  Just the other day, I called up my provider to get my rate reduced.  It took about 15 minutes on the phone to get a rate that was 15% lower.  Here’s…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep Frugality Fun and Interesting? (55 comments)

    Thrift is an essential skill for overcoming debt and building wealth. Even a billionaire like Warren Buffet preaches the virtues of pinching pennies. But can a frugal life be fun? What do you do when smart spending gets boring? That’s what Sarah wants to know: How do you stave off frugality-induced boredom?  In the short-term, I always find frugality to be a challenge, and I enjoy saving money and finding bargains where I can, but…

  • Cheap Healthy Good (16 comments)

    One of the most popular topics at Get Rich Slowly is how to eat well for less. It’s not enough to only consider cost without also considering nutritional value — you could eat fast food every day, but it wouldn’t be healthy. Past articles on the subject include: Tips and tricks to save on food How to feed yourself for $15 a week Healthy food on an unhealthy budget 16 ways to eat healthy while…

  • Get More Bang for Your Buck by Using Coupons and Sales Wisely (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. My conversion to frugality began about a year ago, but it’s only been recently that I’ve become good at it. We’ve been saving money by being aggressive with a cash-only purchase plan. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. This only works if you know ahead of time what you need and how…

  • Frugality is NOT a Dirty Word (69 comments)

    From a few of our recent discussions, I get the sense that some people are uncomfortable with the notion of frugality. These are some actual comments: “Frugality should not be about a total excision of quality of life. Unfortunately, this is how it seems most personal finance writers talk about it.” “I dislike this philosophy of ‘work hard all your life so you can retire and live a modest but comfortable life’. That’s an awful…

  • Use it or Lose It: Getting Value from the Things You Own (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. Two key tactics in our strategy for frugality have included moving to buy only what we need and will actually use, and to only pay cash for purchases. Despite good intentions, we have backslid a few times.   We started down the slippery slope while attending a wedding near Rocky Mountain National Park last Memorial Day. As a “couple-time-treat”…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: One Month as a Freegan (34 comments)

    Would you scavenge your food from somebody else’s garbage? A group of people who call themselves freegans do this (and more) every day. This video describes their methods: The current issue of Newsweek (dated 01 Oct 2007) features a story by Raina Kelley describing the month she spent living as a freegan: I had nine rules: I would be a vegan who bought nothing but local and/or organic food. I would use only ecofriendly transportation,…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home-Made Grape Juice (26 comments)

    Kris and I don’t grow a lot of our own food, but we grow enough to make a difference. In the fall of 2004, the year we moved into this house, we planted a row of grapes. Using only a shovel, I tore into the sod, double-digging a row about three feet by thirty. One of our neighbors had collected and split an old telephone pole, so he gave us some of these massive logs…

  • Classic Cat – The Free Classical Music Directory (6 comments)

    When I was a boy, my father liked two types of music: Neil Diamond and classical. Unsurprisingly, as an adult I’ve come to love both. Classical music can be expensive, though, especially if you don’t know what you like. During the 1990s, I spent a small fortune acquiring a library of Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms. The latest issue of Newsweek notes that the classical music industry is at the forefront of online distribution. This is…

  • Words of Wisdom from the Frugal Zealot (11 comments)

    Today at Zen Habits, Leo reviewed “the cheapskate’s Bible,” Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I love this book — it’s one of my favorite inspirations for money-saving ideas. Leo also pointed to a 1990 article from Dacyczyn that describes how she made the leap to frugality, and how it helped her to achieve her dreams: I am a compulsive tightwad. People who know me believe that I worry too much about money, that I…

  • The Frugal Collector: 10 Ways to Curb the Habit (29 comments)

    I spent my Labor Day weekend scouring my bookshelves, sorting thousands of books and comics. I tried not to think about how much I’d paid for things, instead dividing them into two piles: Books and comics I intend to read in the future. Books and comics I have no intention of reading. I was alarmed by how many volumes fell into the latter category. Our living room floor is now flooded with books, most of…

  • 100 Things You Can Make Yourself (9 comments)

    When was the last time you made something? Deborah Ng at Simply Thrifty took it upon herself to make something rather cool: a hyperlinked list of 100 things you can make yourself. Deborah writes: It seems the more we advance, the more stuff is done for us. I don’t mind letting someone else do all the work for me — the problem is of course, that convenience is expensive and we’re getting really lazy. I…

  • Why I Love the County Fair (9 comments)

    It’s the middle of August, which means that my hometown is playing host to the county fair. I’ve always loved the fair. As a boy, I loved it for the rides and attractions: the Ferris wheel, the Spider, the Fun House, the games. As a teenager, I loved it as a place to take dates and to hang out with friends. But as an adult, I love it as a showcase of the skills and…

  • What Developing Nations Can Teach Us About Personal Finance (117 comments)

    This guest post from Terry M. contains strong language. Most readers of this blog are from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. We have an extraordinarily high standard of living compared to most of the world, and I feel there are a lot of lessons to be learned from how people live in developing countries. I have traveled a bit, mainly in Latin America, southeast Asia, and India. In most of these regions,…

  • Save on Groceries with ‘Strike-Point Shopping’ (30 comments)

    DM wrote to share his favorite grocery tip. As the primary cook and grocery-getter in our household, I’ve discovered that there are certain pantry and household items that we use more than others. In our case, it’s things like: canned chicken broth, canned tomatoes, frozen ground turkey, and Diet Pepsi. These are things that I use several times a week, if not daily. I think it’s useful to know your “strike point” at the the…

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Chris Heiska, The Yardsale Queen. Some people believe the myth that there’s only junk at yardsales and thrift stores. That is absolutely not true. Buying at yardsales doesn’t necessarily mean that you are buying someone’s used, dirty castoffs. I often find Christmas wrapping paper still attached to the box, or a wedding card tucked inside of a box that was probably a duplicate wedding gift (and now the present that…

  • How to Start a Family Without Breaking the Bank (87 comments)

    This guest post is from Nickel, author of Raising4Boys.com and FiveCentNickel.   I recently received an e-mail from a reader asking about the “real” cost of raising kids. In short, she’s heard a lot about the high cost of raising kids, and was wondering if it’s really as bad as people make it out to be. More than anything, this question seemed to have been born out of angst over what it takes to be…

  • Frugality in Practice: Small Victories (23 comments)

    Sometimes I get giddy when I save just a little bit of money. The cyan ink in our printer ran dry yesterday. When I went to the store today I had the option of buying name-brand ink for $8 a cartridge or off-brand ink for $6 a cartridge. And the off-brand stuff was on sale at a 50% discount. Of course I bought the off-brand stuff. In fact, I stocked up. I cleared the store…

  • How to Save a Dollar (44 comments)

    Here’s a guest-post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. She previously shared information on how to raise a family on one income (here’s part two). The third part to that series will appear here in August. It’s another gorgeous morning filled with birdsong. It’s also the beginning of another busy week. We spent all Sunday afternoon running from store to store in search of a TV. Now we didn’t just go out all willy-nilly. Oh no!…

  • How To Escape the Gift Trap (60 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. Amanda recently sent J.D. an e-mail looking for advice about gift-giving: My husband and I have made huge lifestyle changes since our son was born with congenital heart disease four years ago. He’s had five open-heart-surgeries, and we’ve had some killer medical bills. My husband stays home with both of our kids to help prevent Liam from getting sick too often, so we’ve gone down to one income,…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Living on $12,000 a Year (67 comments)

    How much do you need to earn to be happy? Could you get by on $12,000 a year? The folks at W4 Resistance advocate withholding all or part of your Federal income tax in order to resist the war in Iraq. I am not interested in the political motivations here — Get Rich Slowly is a personal finance blog, not a political blog — but I am fascinated by these techniques. Here’s how it works:…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You’re Frugal But Your Roommates Aren’t? (62 comments)

    Eleanor wrote with a question that could test even the mightiest personal finance expert. “What,” she asks, “can you do when you want to save money and your roommates don’t care?” I share a house with four roommates.  This saves me at least $200 a month from what I would be paying if I lived in an apartment.  But roommates raise expenses in other, unexpected ways.  I have been trying to cut down on monthly…

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Once-a-Month Cooking (41 comments)

    Many people complain that they don’t have time to eat healthfully or frugally. It’s easy to lapse into convenience food, which is both expensive and a poor nutritional choice. This tip at Bankrate suggests one way to combat these two problems is to practice once-a-month cooking: Our family cooks all the dinners for the month on one day. [...] For a family of 4 (soon to be 5), I’ve been able to keep the cost…

  • Reader Story: Necessity is the Mother of Frugality (34 comments)

    Daniel wrote with the following story: I work across town, which means I have to fill up my tank at least once a week. With the rising cost of gas, this comes to about $50 a week. What can I do, though? Work is too far to walk or ride my bicycle. Recently, while riding my bike, I was hit by a car. After the doc fixed me up I had my arm in a…

  • Commandment #4: Be Frugal (20 comments)

    Last night while cleaning the house, I found some old papers. Among the many memories, I found a document entitled “J.D.’s Ten Commandments”. I can’t tell exactly when I wrote this, but I’d guess it was back in 1992 or 1993, just after I’d graduated from college. My ten commandments were: Be physically fit. Be attractive. Don’t waste free time. Be frugal. Maintain the automobile. Be curious. Be loving. Be productive. Have fun. Be rational….

  • Personal Finance on Film: The Farmer’s Wife (34 comments)

    “It makes me feel so greedy and selfish to see these people struggling, almost losing it all, over a $100 debt, and I go out and spend $100 on yarn.” — Kris, while watching The Farmer’s Wife last weekend Since starting Get Rich Slowly, I’ve been searching for movies and television shows that highlight the financial struggles of real Americans, shows about personal finance “in the wild”. The first one that I can recommend without…

  • Crossing the Line from Frugal to Cheap (51 comments)

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell when I’m being frugal and when I’m just being cheap. One side effect of losing weight — a positive one, mind you — is that I don’t fit into some of my favorite clothes anymore. Like most people, I have certain garments that I love more than others. For example, my favorite pair of pants are these lightweight dark-green things with a zillion pockets that I purchased for $6 at…

  • Festival of Frugality #75 (20 comments)

    Welcome to the 75th edition of the Festival of Frugality. Here you’ll find a mass of money-saving tips from 44 different bloggers. I’ve organized the entries into broad subject areas, and noted my favorites with a happy star: . Thanks to everyone who participated! (And tune in next week at Blogging Away Debt where Tricia will host the 76th installment of this roadshow.) The frugal kitchen Vanessa, the Christian Thrifty Mom, shares 8 tips to…

  • Why Frugality is an Important Part of Personal Finance (41 comments)

    I began reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette last week. “This is pretty good,” I told Kris. “It’s like a frugality weblog from before there were weblogs.” The Tightwad Gazette was a newsletter published during the early 1990s by Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced “decision”). Eventually the back issues were collected into a series of books, which were in turn collected as The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Dacyczyn wrote articles like: Used Shoes: Are they Good or Bad? Budget…

  • Call for Submissions: Festival of Frugality (1 comment)

    Get Rich Slowly will be hosting this week’s Festival of Frugality, an ongoing compendium of cheap living. If you’ve written about frugality at your blog recently, feel free to submit a link. But please: don’t submit anything spammy, and only submit your best work. Festival visitors prefer quality over quantity! You have ’til Monday afternoon to get your entries in.

  • Frugality in Practice: One Man’s Trash (27 comments)

    On my drive home from work yesterday, I passed a stack of wood along the side of River Road. On top of the pile was a hand-lettered sign that read: FREE LUMBER — HELP YOURSELF. I drove past, not paying it much mind. (I was singing along to Kelly Clarkson at the top of my lungs. “Since you been gah-ohn!”) But then it occurred to me that a stack of free wood might be useful….

  • Your Thrift Habits: Budgeting Lessons from 1948 (13 comments)

    Recently I stumbled on some old instructional films at A/V Geeks, including this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun to watch, too. “Your Thrift Habits” highlights some important aspects of budgeting and thrift: “If you can do without extravagances, you can save regularly.” Be aware of your budget-breakers and try to avoid them. In the film, Jack’s budget-breakers are movies, candy,…

  • The Thrifty Food Plan Challenge: Eating Well for Less (56 comments)

    Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski recently spent a much-publicized week eating on a food-stamp budget. His motive, he said, was to gain a new appreciation for the working poor. Rebecca Blood notes that “the Governor’s stunt is a little misleading”: No one expects food stamp recipients to eat on only $21 a week (though I’m sure some people try). The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (from which food stamp allotments are derived) is spartan enough, but the…

  • Easy Ways to Spend Less on Your Computer (52 comments)

    Here’s a guest entry from reader Cliff Barbier, who gives us the low-down on the world of cheap computing. Computers permeate our lives. We bank on computers, we buy with computers, and we communicate using computers. Yet these machines still hold an element of mystery that makes some people apprehensive about how to spend less without getting shortchanged. I have been repairing and working on computers for a living for a decade now. Currently, I…

  • Frugality in Practice: Planting Time (11 comments)

    “Wow,” I said to Kris at dinner last night. “This pasta sauce is great.” She smiled: “I made it. From tomatoes we grew last summer.” I give Kris a hard time for all the attention she pays her tomatoes during the spring. She treats them like babies. She pampers them. But if the payoff is pasta sauce like this, I shouldn’t complain. The next few days are important for our household’s frugal agenda. The first…

  • Frugality in Practice: A Cheap Defense Against Weeds (35 comments)

    Spring is here, and that means lawn chores. “Grass is a weed,” my wife and I tell each other. But with 3/5 of an acre, much of it lawn, we have a lot of grass to care for. Aside from mowing, one of my first tasks every year is weed control. I’m not anal-retentive about this — though I used to be — but I do like to eliminate most of the worst offenders. Dandelions…

  • The ThriftShopper.Com (7 comments)

    Thrift stores are an excellent source for inexpensive books, furniture, and clothing. I visit the local Goodwill about once a month to browse my favorite sections for bargains. (I’m wearing a $3 sweater as I type this. My personal finance library is built around books purchased at thrift stores.) Some people are wary of thrift shops — they think they’re dirty and cheap. Others don’t know where to begin. If you’re in the latter camp,…

  • Frugal Easter Egg Decorating Tips (19 comments)

    Tina sent in a timely article from The Dollar Stretcher, one of the oldest and best money-saving sites on the web. (It’s been around since 1996, and looks like its design hasn’t changed since!) Jenny Wanderscheid has some suggestions for creating Easter decorations with stuff you probably have in your kitchen. Wanderscheid’s recipe for naturally-dyed Easter eggs: Put eggs in a single layer in a pan. Pour water in pan until the eggs are covered….

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid (54 comments)

    “A fool and his money are soon parted.” — Thomas Tusser Jason Kottke recently pointed to a Sports Illustrated article about LeBron James’ new 35,440-square foot house, a house that features a movie theater, a bowling alley, a barber shop, a two-story walk-in closet, and a six-car garage. James, with a large salary and lucrative endorsement deals, can probably afford this, but one wonders if it’s not a foolish choice. History is filled with examples…

  • Un-Frugal: The Curse of Forgotten Leftovers (15 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who thinks the following story is simply hysterical. J.D. and I are fairly good at eating our leftovers. I often intentionally create leftovers for my sack lunches or an easy weeknight dinner. J.D. has improved at remembering we have them since instituting his leftover list on the fridge. But last night he returned to his evil ways, and I thought I’d share it with his readers. For…

  • Frugality in Practice: Fashion on a Budget (37 comments)

    When I was in high school, I was enthralled by the world of fashion. This was the era of Miami Vice, of Tubbs and Crockett and their pastel suits. Of Footloose-inspired skinny ties (and knit ties, too). Of Alex P. Keaton. For several years during the mid-eighties I diverted a portion of my precious comic book money to purchase GQ every month. I was trying to absorb the Cool by osmosis. The trouble was I…

  • The Budget Wino: Advice for Frugal Oenophiles (13 comments)

    Buying wine at the grocery store can be a crapshoot. The local Safeway has hundreds to choose from, yet I know from experience that not all these wines are good. In fact, a few I hope never to drink again. Sometimes I try to increase the odds of turning up a good bottle buy paying $20 or $25, but even then I’m taking a risk. As disappointing as a bad $7 bottle of wine can…

  • Money Blueprints: What Our Parents Taught Us About Money (20 comments)

    I had dinner with two friends from high school last night. We shared good wine, good food, and, especially, good conversation. Much of our discussion focused on our shared history: the things we did twenty years ago (or 25!) that now seem as if they might have been done by a stranger. (Yet those strangers were us.) We talked about how we perceived money when we were younger. Sparky and Stew grew up down the…

  • Save Money with a Magazine Exchange (18 comments)

    One magazine subscription isn’t expensive, but when you take more than a few, the costs can add up quickly. I’ve been addicted to magazines in the past, and I know how easy it is to oversubscribe. When you take so many magazines that you can’t read them all, you’re essentially throwing your money away. One way to keep subscription costs down — no matter how many you have — is to share the expense via…

  • Voluntary Frugality vs. Frugality of Need (10 comments)

    Sloganeering posted a response to my recent story about allowing yourself to splurge. The author makes an excellent observation: There are two ways to wind up living a frugal life-style: because you want to (middle-class slumming and self-esteem boosting), or you need to (you’re just fucking poor). If you are the former, then yes, it’s okay to splurge now and then. Splurge away! But if you are the latter, then even the most occasional and…

  • Frugality in Practice: Bundle Up to Stay Warm (43 comments)

    A few years ago we bought a century-old house. It’s poorly insulated. There are many windows. There are cracks under the doors. As you might expect, it’s cold. To conserve energy, we use a programmable thermostat to keep the temperature at 54 when we’re not around, and at 64 when we are. Still, that’s chilly. We’ve gradually been making things snugger but it takes time and money. Meanwhile, we’ve developed a couple of coping mechanisms….

  • Frugality in Practice: Cheap Neighborhood Entertainment (10 comments)

    When we still lived in a small town, my wife and I would sometimes walk the half-mile to the high school to catch the latest drama production, or to hear an orchestra concert. These performances were often free (or at least very cheap), and could be just as entertaining as driving into Portland for a night on the town. During the summer our town hosted a music festival in the park on Sunday evenings. A…

  • The Cost-Per-Day Expense Chart (25 comments)

    Elizabeth has a lifehack that allows her to manage both money and space. She writes: “This helped me curb my lifestyle choices when I was in high school and first on my own.” Here is her guest entry. Possessions scare me. My parents are pack-rats, and their house is full of things that have no right to be there. Desk space is taken up by dirty coffee cups, stacks of notebooks, and priceless, irreplaceable piles…

  • 10 Ways to Save Money on Books (76 comments)

    I used to spend thousands of dollars a year on books, most of which I never read. Recently I’ve begun to trim my book spending. I spent nearly $3000 on books in 2003, but that number dropped to $700 last year. How did I do it? Through self-discipline and some commonsense tricks. Avoid new releases New releases sell at a premium. Sometimes you can get them cheap at Costco or Amazon. It’s best to avoid…

  • I Make $6.50 an Hour — Am I Poor? (41 comments)

    Karen Datko at MSN Money writes that she had “a comfortable life with decent pay and health insurance”. Now she finds herself in survival mode. She wonders: “I make $6.50 an hour. Am I poor?” I lost my job as a managing editor at a small newspaper in Montana after the ownership changed hands. Six months later, I moved to Pennsylvania to take a similar job. My living arrangements fell through, and as I searched…

  • Manage Your Finances Like a Professional Gambler: Small Things Add Up (60 comments)

    Here’s a guest entry from Tynan. This is the first of a series of posts about how a professional gambler looks at money. Look for additional installments in coming weeks. I was eighteen, and a freshman in college. For the past few years I’d been making a few hundred dollars a month selling Palm Pilots on eBay. It was a lot of money for a teenager with no real expenses, but of course I spent…

  • Throw Away your TV and Save a Bundle! (49 comments)

    Guest-writer Paul Gonzalez believes that giving up television can save you big bucks. Paul and his wife run One Year Exit Plan, which provides coaching and personal project management services to people seeking long-lasting change. Going “NO-TV” can save you money. In our “Your Relationship with Money” workshops, we advocate living without television. There are many benefits to NO-TV. There are obvious benefits to personal growth (better self-esteem, more time for family and friends, etc)….

  • The Regift: Friend or Foe? (7 comments)

    Christmas is over. You received some thoughtful presents, but also got some duds. That collection of cooking spices from your Aunt Madge? You hate to cook! Here’s some sage advice from Marie, a self-confessed re-gifting addict. Regifting has a tarnished reputation in today’s consumer-driven society. Perhaps it’s driven by businesses hoping to convince us to spend more money, or by a misguided quest to shower our loved ones with extravagances we can’t really afford, or…

  • Cheap Ways to Stay Warm this Winter (53 comments)

    Winter weather has arrived in Oregon — it’s rainy and cold. This time of year, Kris and I search for ways to keep warm. A lot of guides to saving money on heating contain impractical advice: “consider heating with solar energy!”. They offer good suggestions for the long-term, but they aren’t useful if you want to save money now. Here are some frugal ways we stay warm in our drafty old house. Let in some…

  • Frugal Cuisine: Eating Well for Less (11 comments)

    One of my goals is too eat gourmet food on a budget. To that end, I’m happy to have discovered Frugal Cuisine, which chronicles the author’s attempt to eat well while spending $2 or $3 a day on food. The site features recipes, tips, book reviews, and more. I asked the author for some background: Frugal Cuisine began when I was out of work briefly, earlier this year. The basic background strategy is to buy…

  • Curbly: A Community-Based DIY Site (8 comments)

    Jeff V. writes: I just came across this budget-minded DIY site and I thought you and your readers would be interested in it. Curbly bills itself as a “web community for people who love where they live”. It’s a site designed to help users create do-it-yourself projects to improve their home and environment. In a way, it’s a social community designed to help people with home-improvement. The site includes the following sections: How-To — Articles…

  • A Collection of Reader Contributions (1 comment)

    I have several reader-submitted items languishing in my mailbox. Rather than let them grow stale, I’ve grouped them into a single entry. Sean Blanda at College v2 is starting his “College Money” series. I’m soliciting all tips and tricks you use to make your life financially stable. How do you manage your bank accounts? Do you invest? How much money do you spend on food? fun? Topics to be covered include: personal finance blogs, an…

  • Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job (13 comments)

    Wesley writes: I wanted to share a book that really hit home with me in my collegiate days. It’s called Possum Living. Now granted, these folks take living cheap to extremes, but they make good points periodically. I’ve taken their advice, and I’m close to paying my house off at the ripe old age of 28….it seems to be working well. Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With Almost No Money…

  • One Small Step (7 comments)

    Kris and I walked to the grocery store this morning. This saved us money in at least three ways: Walking two miles helped me get some exercise as I move toward better fitness. Walking limited what we could buy. We were forced to stick to our grocery list. I wanted to buy a big jug of orange juice, but I refrained. I didn’t want to carry it home. We did not drive a car. (Though,…

  • Whatever Happened to Seattle Simplicity? (12 comments)

    MissPinkKate has lost a favorite site. Does anyone know what happened to it? She writes: Wondering if you know what happened to the site Seattle Simplicity? It was a great personal finance blog that now appears to have been eaten by spammers. Do you know what happened? I thought the site was good, too — full of useful info on frugality and simple living. I also enjoyed her podcast interview. But I don’t know what…

  • Frugality in Practice: The Library Book Sale (23 comments)

    Hi. My name is J.D., and I’m a biblioholic. I gather and hoard books. I have shelves full of them. I have boxes full of them. One of the high points of my life was the day I saw the marquee in front of a used bookstore: ALL BOOKS FREE. (The store was going out of business.) I believed I had died and gone to heaven. It used to be that I spent more on…

  • Save Money with a Frugal Buyers Club (3 comments)

    Here’s an intriguing idea from Bankrate.com’s monthly frugal $ense contest. Douglas Jost Saint Louis suggests: Form a group of frugal buyers in your local area, preferably from people you are willing to shop with and trust. Assign tasks to each member to find the lowest price for certain everyday products. In some cases you may be able to shop together to save money by buying in bulk or may be able to save time if…

  • Money and Values: When Frugality Goes Too Far (79 comments)

    Title changed to more accurately reflect post content. Thanks for pointing this out, guys! Frugal folks are often condemned as cheap, but these things are not the same. But sometimes there is a danger of becoming too concerned with money. Tawra Kellam warns about crossing the line from frugality to something less ethical. There are times when it’s tempting to lie, steal or break one of the other 10 Commandments to get a good deal…

  • The American Frugal Housewife (4 comments)

    What can a housewife writing in 1832 teach us about frugality and thrift? Plenty, it turns out. In my recent interview on the Money Blogger Podcast, I mentioned a two-hundred-year-old book called The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Francis Child. This book is in the public domain and freely available via Project Gutenberg. GRS-reader Tracy pointed me to The American Frugal Housewife in July, and I’ve been reading snatches of it ever since. Americans…

  • How Not to Be Frugal: Too Many Magazine Subscriptions (26 comments)

    Sometimes a great deal isn’t. Because I have a small computer consulting business, I’ve been placed on a mailing list for “corporate rate” magazine subscriptions. Corporate rate subscriptions are unbelievably cheap, on the order of $10 or $12 a year for many magazines. Being the frugal fellow that I am, when I received my first offer for a corporate-rate subscription, I signed up. Sure, it was a subscription for Business 2.0, a magazine I’d never…

  • The Good Stuff: Choosing Quality Over Price (32 comments)

    Saving money doesn’t have to be dull. It’s possible to be too frugal, to deny yourself too much. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy the good life — eating out, spending time with friends, indulging yourself — while exercising thrift. The key is balance. One way to practice financial prudence while living the good life is to buy quality products, products that are a pleasure to use, products that will last…

  • Save Money by Asking for a Lower Rate (9 comments)

    GRS-reader Fritz writes with a money-saving tip: I just wanted to share a way I saved some money on my digitalphone bill. I live in Wisconsin and have TimeWarner cable TV/Internet/digital phone service. The phone service costs $39.99 a month with unlimited long distance calls in the US. I thought it was a good deal when I signed up for it a year ago. Since then I have been thinking about switching to Vontage since…

  • DIY: Buying It vs. Making It Yourself (14 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: What things are worth the time and cost of doing or making myself? For example, tomatoes from the store are miles below the ones I grow in my garden. Fresh-baked bread is amazing. But knitting socks or a sweater seems hardly worth it, despite the fact that I can customize it, because of the high cost of the time and materials. Nearly everything is so easy to get from the store….

  • Frugality in Practice: Neighborhood Exchange (2 comments)

    Sometimes you can save money just by sharing among your neighbors. Our neighbor Tom brought over a wheelbarrow of stuff for us last night. For me, he had a box of old photography books and magazines. “I found some more darkroom equipment, if you want it,” he added. For Kris, he had two boxes of pears. Two big boxes of pears. He also brought back one of Kris’ jars — when she gave it to…

  • An Introduction to Homesteading (74 comments)

    I am a huge fan of simple living and of the do-it-yourself ethic. It’s no surprise then that I am fascinated by homesteading, the lifestyle of “agrarian self-sufficiency”. This article was written for Get Rich Slowly by Phelan, host of A Homesteading Neophyte, a blog about learning to homestead. Phelan is a regular commenter to this site. Modern homesteading is a great way to save some of your hard-earned cash. That is if you are…

  • Festival of Frugality #39 (7 comments)

    Frugality — the practice of economy, the art of thrift — is a key personal finance skill. In order to accumulate wealth, you must spend less than you earn. By instilling frugal tendencies, this becomes a habit. Get Rich Slowly is proud to host the 39th Festival of Frugality (created by Blueprint for Financial Prosperity). Here are the twenty-two articles on the virtues of frugality from bloggers around the web. Enjoy! Update! The following entry…

  • On Meeting and Resisting Temptation (12 comments)

    A friend called this morning. “There’s a garage sale near me where a guy is selling old comic books. They’re from the seventies. You might want to come take a look.” I did want to take a look, though I knew it was dangerous business. One key to managing your money is to avoid temptation. It’s foolish to purposefully put yourself into a position where you’re likely to spend. And yet I drove to the…

  • Cheap Hobbies: Getting Started with Naked-Eye Astronomy (6 comments)

    We lived in the country when I was a boy, far from the city lights. My father would take me outside at night and point to the stars. “That’s Orion,” he’d say, and he would help me trace The Hunter’s outline. “That’s the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper isn’t really a constellation, but it’s like one. And do you see that big red star over there? The one that doesn’t twinkle? That’s the planet Mars.”…

  • Frugality in Practice: Canning Season (13 comments)

    Kris and I grow a vegetable garden every year, but some summers are more productive than others. This summer has been the most productive that I can recall. We were swimming in berries from the end of May until the end of July. We had so many berries that we eventually gave up. Can you imagine? Not eating fresh berries that sit there, ready to be picked? We didn’t let them all go to waste,…

  • Ten Frugal Cooking Tips That Sizzle (11 comments)

    My wife and I love to eat. We also love to save money. Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile these competing desires. I’ve written before about learning to eat more meals at home and how to find healthy food on an unhealthy budget. Recently, Bankrate posted an article called 10 Frugal Cooking Tips that Sizzle. Cooking can get expensive if you buy too many kitchen gadgets, make poor grocery choices or panic shop for each night’s…

  • How Bartering Can Save You Money (6 comments)

    When I was a boy, we had a parrot. Sammy was a yellow-headed Amazon and quite a character. He had a wide vocabulary and an uncanny intelligence. He was a rascal. During one particularly bleak period in the early eighties, my parents traded Sammy to the local barber. They exchanged him for one hundred haircuts. This was an excellent deal for everyone involved: my parents, who were struggling financially, didn’t have to pay for our…

  • Make Some Noise to Save Some Money (6 comments)

    This is a guest post from Stephen A. Smith. When I was hired as a sales clerk in a record store, my boss said something to me that I’ll never forget. “Nobody has ever been fired from this company for being too lenient with a customer.” Not every manager has the wisdom to tell his employees that fact, but it’s generally true throughout the retail industry. Hence, the controlling principle of customer service: The squeaking…

  • Raising a Family on One Income (Part Two) (24 comments)

    This is a guest post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. It originally appeared on her site in a slightly different form. The examples I give for living successfully on one income are real ways in which I make ends meet here at my home. Every week my husband gives me an allotted amount of money to spend. This is not grocery money or money for bills. This is money for anything extra we might need…

  • Raising a Family on One Income (Part One) (92 comments)

    This is a guest post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. It originally appeared on her site in a slightly different form. I’m going to tell you just a bit about how to live on one income, but before doing that I will tell you how I’m qualified. Number one: I live on one income and have done so all our married life. Number two: we have successfully lived on one income. We are not in…

  • Frugal Tendencies on Vacation, Day One (21 comments)

    I’m in San Francisco. This is the first vacation I’ve taken since developing a frugal mindset. It’s tough for me to let loose. My pennypinching ways are causing me pain. For example, we drove to San Francisco because (a) I love to drive, and have never had a chance to do a long trip like this; (b) having our own car would allow us greater flexibility; and (c) I believed it would save us money….

  • Programmable Thermostats: A Three-Month Review (17 comments)

    How much can a programmable thermostat save you? A lot, says Adam Gurno. His is the first guest-post while I’m on vacation Due to the rising cost of, well, everything, my wife and I decided to make some changes to see if we could save some money. I had always heard that programmable thermostats were an easy way to reduce utility bills, so I took the plunge and bought one. Then I sat down and…

  • Cheap Eats Every Day (4 comments)

    Cheap Eats is a weblog devoted to inexpensive food. The site features recipes, reviews, tips and more. Cheap Eats recipes include cost, instructions, and numerical ratings, as well as witty evaluations of the end product. A recent entry described attempts to make homemade Gatorade. The recipe produced two liters of the stuff for only eighteen cents. But how did it taste? I lined up one glass of Homemade Gatorade and Real Orange flavored Gatorade. I…

  • More Fun Than Dinner and a Movie (2 comments)
  • My Cheap Uncle Norman (2 comments)

    My cousin Nick remembers: My dad was so cheap that he once drilled a hole in a nickel so that he wouldn’t have to pay eight cents for a washer. My first memory of gas prices is driving home from my grandparents. We drove into a gas station, and pulled up to the pump. The guy came out and said, “Can I help you?” My dad said, “33 cents a gallon? No you can’t!” We…

  • Penny Pincher of the Year Award (3 comments)

    Nick at Punny Money (who is also doing the Blogathon right now) points to Michelle Singletary’s annual Penny Pincher of the Year award. Honorable Mention goes to a man who, when on business trips, always stays at the same small inn. Every night he stays he gets two free bottles of beer. He then takes these home and puts them in the fridge, which is fully stocked with these free bottles. Third place goes to…

  • Dollar-Bill Origami: Turn Your Money Into Art (1 comment)

    Most people just spend their money. Others turn it into art. Take a look at this creepy spider fashioned from five dollar-bills: Find more examples of this art at these sites: Clay Randall’s Money Origami Dollar-Bill Origami by Bob Nienhuis Joseph Wu’s Origami Page Sy’s Designs Instructions on how to fold a shirt out of a dollar bill Folding instructions for a Dollar Bill Door I’ve always admired people who practice origami, though I’ve never…

  • Pop Buys Pop (a GRS re-run) (0 comment)

    I need to take a break. Here’s one of my favorite tales of penny pinching, which I shared a couple months ago. It was written by my aunt. My husband likes quantity and sales. For example, we just moved, and in the process I ran across an old receipt from Wal-Mart. It’s a receipt for 366 pair of panty hose. Yes, that’s right: 366 pair of panty hose. Also on the receipt are batteries, motor…

  • 1000 Ways to Waste Your Money (6 comments)

    From The Frumious Bandersnatch (“the least trustworthy source of news on the web — free and worth twice the price”) comes this list of 1000 Ways to Waste Your Money. Weeks of research have been dedicated to the preparation of this “how to” guide to assist the American consumer in throwing away his or her money. We can absolutely guarantee that if you utilize this guide to assist you in purchasing goods or services, you…

  • Sometimes Free is Expensive: A Cautionary Tale (5 comments)

    A couple of weeks ago I extolled the virtues of free stuff. In the comments, AB warned: There’s no such thing as “free” stuff. You still have to pay to store it, not to mention fixing stuff that only needs “this or that” done to make it perfectly good. Here’s an example: My friend Andrew called me on Sunday morning. He’d found a free piano on craigslist, and wanted to get to it before anyone…

  • Beating the Summer Heat for Free (4 comments)
  • GRS Reader Success Stories (5 comments)

    I love financial success stories. It’s fine to read about Warren Buffett, but I get more excited when I read about people like you and me who are shaking off debt, starting businesses, or learning to live frugally. These personal success stories from average folks rock my world. Tom sent in this photo, writing: “Slowly but surely, we move off the grid.” Way to go, Tom! Keep up the good work. IMG_0587.JPG Originally uploaded by…

  • Cheap Ways to Chill Out (8 comments)

    It’s hot hot hot, with record temperatures expected in the Portland-area this weekend. (And, from what I can tell, around much of the rest of the United States — even Alaska!) We live in a hundred-year-old house with no air conditioner and inadequate insulation. Faced with the sweltering heat, I’ve been thinking about my favorite ways to keep cool. Drink ice water. Water regulates your body temperature. It also keeps the body hydrated, allowing it…

  • Revenge of the Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder (1 comment)

    Several weeks ago I mentioned the Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder, which highlights the best offers from freebie sites around the web. Andrew Cantino reports that he’s made some updates: Freebie Finder has evolved significantly since you wrote about it, and so I thought your readers might be interested in taking another look.  Freebie Finder still aggregates freebies from across the web while filtering out scams and referral pyramids.  It does this by detecting links that…

  • How to Get (Nearly) Free Stuff from eBay (0 comment)

    College v2 writes that eBay can be an excellent way to stock your dorm room. Make the low minimum bids on local stuff that isn’t worth shipping. Opt for local pickup. Brilliant!

  • How to Recycle Practically Anything (1 comment)

    Make Blog points to a great article on how to recycle practically anything. Some of the suggestions can actually save you money!

  • Cheap Geek Tips (4 comments)

    The Bargain Queen offers a list of ten cheap geek tips, her advice for saving money on technology. For example: Buy the best quality you can afford. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know the best options at each price-point. So you buy the cheapest option that will do the job, right? Not always. In some cases, spending more will only get you a fancier brand name and packaging. In others, it means the difference…

  • 25 Everyday Things I’m Doing to Save Money (0 comment)

    Dumb Little Man shares every day choices that save money

  • DIY Macro Photo Studio (0 comment)

    The MAKE:blog highlights a nifty $10 DIY macro photo studio

  • Frugality in Practice: Free is a Very Good Price (21 comments)

    One step you can take to becoming more frugal is to overcome our cultural resistance to picking stuff up from the side of the road. I’m not suggesting that you dumpster dive, but start paying attention to the things that people discard. The perfectly good things that people discard. After our garage sale, Kris and I put our old gas range at the side of the road and marked it FREE. We taped a note…

  • Old CDs = iPod (0 comment)

    Dumb Little Man points to a store that lets you trade your CDs for an iPod. You have to ship the CDs to them, but this is a great deal for anyone with a collection of CDs they never listen to.

  • Frugality in Practice: At the Movies (12 comments)

    It’s the peak of the summer movie season. What’s a frugal person to do? Ticket prices are outrageous, and food prices are worse. $3.50 for a package of Twizzlers? Give me a break! In the comments to Wednesday’s The Hidden Fee Econcomy, Rhea suggested: “Always bring your own water or soda to the movie theater.” This is excellent advice. Why pay $3.00 for a bottle of water when you can bring your own for 25…

  • Making a Watch By Hand (0 comment)

    In these days of “fast” and “convenient” I decided to commence a work of “painstaking” and “craftsmanship”, making my own wristwatch.

  • Financial Advice from a Founding Father (1 comment)

    In celebration of Independence Day, I’ve gathered some personal finance advice from Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers. Franklin was witty, wise, and eminently practical. He was a master of thrift and frugality. Nearly three hundred years later, his advice is still worth heeding. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Buy what thou hast no need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessities.” “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will…

  • Independence Day Break (0 comment)

    Get Rich Slowly is in the midst of an extended Independence Day break. Normal updates will resume on Wednesday, July 5th. If you’re new here, take a look at some past entries such as: How to opt out of credit card offers FOREVER Cheap and effective ways to make life easier Reader question: Cheap world travel? 17 ways to save big at the supermarket Saving electricity: How to reduce your energy costs My review of…

  • Free Online Coupon Codes (11 comments)

    Currentcodes.com is a clearing-house for coupon codes offered by online retailers. Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and Amazon.com have a place within their shopping cart for a “coupon code” that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don’t know the code, you can’t take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but…

  • Garage Sale Bargains (3 comments)

    After browsing dozens of garage sales over the weekend, it’s apparent there are some items that you shouldn’t buy new. You can find all of the following at garage sales for cheap: Exercise equipment and sporting goods. Baseball bats and gloves, bicycles, golf clubs, ski machines — all this and more Blenders. Bread machines. People like the idea of a bread machine, but it’s an appliance that rarely gets used. If you are a breadmaker,…

  • Frugality in Practice: Community Garage Sale (9 comments)

    My wife and I attended a huge garage sale yesterday. Each year, Portland’s posh Eastmoreland neighborhood holds a community garage sale. About 150 households participated this year. We spent a beautiful summer morning looking for bargains. This sale is good because it features a dense concentration of wealthy homes. The things they’re selling are generally of higher quality than at your run-of-the-mill garage sale, and most are just looking to get rid of the stuff,…

  • Don’t Confuse Frugality With Depriving Yourself (7 comments)

    Jonni McCoy’s Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy lists eleven miserly guidelines designed to help families reduce expenses. The first of these is: Don’t confuse frugality with depriving yourself. This is the most important aspect of being successful at saving money. [...] If any money-saving activity makes you feel cheap or tight, you will eventually abandon your efforts. That is not the price we need to pay to reach our…

  • Is It Possible to Be a Frugal Collector? (14 comments)

    I collect comic books. I always have. As an affluent adult, I’ve gone from collecting the comic books themselves to collecting large volumes that compile six, ten, fifteen issues at a time. But these compilations cost a lot of money, even when purchased at steep discounts. The more in-tune I become with my money, the more my monthly expenditures on this hobby strike me as a vast, bleeding wound on an otherwise healthy financial body….

  • Tip: Citrus Ice Cubes (4 comments)

    It’s summer in Oregon — warm weather is approaching. A cool, refreshing cocktail is an excellent way to unwind after a hot day’s work. Many cocktails call for a little lime juice or lemon juice. Here’s an easy way to prepare your portions in advance while also saving time and money. Buy lemons (or limes) when they’re on sale. Get them cheap. Squeeze one cup of lemon juice. Pour the juice into an ice cube…

  • Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy (10 comments)

    Don’t judge a book by its cover. Most especially, don’t judge a personal finance book by its cover. Books promising quick riches and sure-fire investment schemes are generally filled with impractical gimmicks, or lead the reader into the land of financial risk, where fortunes are lost more often than they’re made. Sometimes it’s the most unassuming of books that offers the best advice, that can actively help you on your quest to get rich slowly….

  • 26 Cheap Camping Tips (21 comments)

    Backpacking and camping are awesome frugal activities. It costs nothing to take a hike. It costs a bit more to camp overnight, but even that can be done inexpensively. While browsing the web for camping stuff, I stumbled upon a great list of frugal suggestions that were originally posted to the Usenet group rec.scouting on 03 December 1994! According to the original poster: These low-cost equipment/ideas/fixes for Scouting and camping in general [were] originally found…

  • Live Simple – Tactics to Improve Your Life (0 comment)

    Are you facing the need or desire to simplify your life? You might be newly laid off, retired, or a student, homemaker, or entrepreneur who has to make do with less. This ebook can help you restructure your life.— from Live Simple John December took a year off from life to write a book that he describes as “my Walden“, a book about living simply, about learning to make do with less. Live Simple: Radical…

  • Penny Pinchers: I Want My Four Dollars (13 comments)

    A new Barnes and Noble bookseller recently opened near us. To promote the store, they mailed out ten-percent-off coupons. I dragged Kris with me last Saturday, and spent half an hour learning the layout. I managed to hold myself to $51.93 worth of books, which, after the 10% discount, were only going to cost me $46.73. But when I went to pay for them, I ran into trouble. The clerk scanned my coupon and threw…

  • Ten Things You Shouldn’t Buy New (14 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston at Money Central lists ten things you shouldn’t buy new. Some things are best purchased new — lingerie pops to mind — but lots of other stuff depreciates quickly while still having plenty of useable life left. Here are ten items where the cost vs. use equation strongly tilts toward buying used. Books — Most books are read only once. Books are also easy to find cheap, or at your public library….

  • My Frugal Life (1 comment)

    Dawn at Frugal for Life has posted a collection of links to stories of frugality. ThriftyFun recently ran (and is still running) a series called My Frugal Life. It is a nice assortment of different people who give a quick run down of what makes their life frugal. I have linked to all of them I have found so far. I found them enjoyable and I think you will as well. My favorites are: Tips…

  • Penny Pinchers: Pop Buys Pop (2 comments)

    Here’s a tale of Extreme Frugality from my aunt. This is a true story. It’s long, but very funny, and a great example of a real-life penny pincher.

  • The Frugal Photographer (6 comments)

    Expensive hobbies and a frugal lifestyle can be tough to balance. Few hobbies are more expensive than photography. So what’s a frugal photographer to do? The three best cheap things you can do to improve your photography skill are: Learn your camera. Read your camera manual, and carry it with you. This is the cheapest improvement you can make. Learn what your camera can and cannot do. Make a lot of photographs. Take a class…

  • Penny Pinchers: More Frugal Than You (0 comment)

    “That’s a nice shirt,” José said to me today. José is my shop foreman. “You like it?” I asked. “I got it cheap!” “I’ve got one just like it,” he said. “Same color. Same brand. Same everything.” “How much did you pay? I only paid six dollars for mine,” I said proudly. “I got it at Goodwill.” “Yeah?” said José. “I paid a dollar-fifty. I got mine at the Salvation Army.”

  • Frugality in Practice: Using the Public Library (19 comments)

    Most of us have financial blindspots. One of mine is books. I love books. I have a large library that grows larger all the time. When I first embarked upon my quest for frugality, I began tracking every penny I spent. I was shocked to learn how much I spent on my book habit. In the past eighteen months, I’ve cut my book expenditures in half, and I’d like to trim them even further. One…

  • Save Money With Magazines (5 comments)

    How much do you spend each month on newspapers and magazines? How many of these do you actually read? Would you miss any if you cancelled the subscriptions? There’s something comforting about curling up in your favorite chair on a Sunday afternoon with copies of National Geographic and The New Yorker. Some magazines — Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Woodworking — can be collected as a valuable reference library. But magazines can be expensive, especially if you…

  • Lifestyle Trade-offs: Being Frugal While Having Fun (3 comments)

    Frugality and self-sacrifice go hand-in-hand. Western culture places a premium on instant gratification, but if you can give up the habits and expenses that sabotage your ability to save for the future, you will achieve wealth. Still, it’s important to choose the degree of frugality that is right for you and for your circumstances. Most of us are unwilling or unable to live ascetic lifestyles of total self-denial. We need some pleasures. We need to…

  • Frugality in Practice: The Lunch Special (4 comments)

    While practicing frugal habits, it’s easy to become absorbed in a life of self-denial: “I will not buy this shirt. I will wait for this film to come to DVD. I will not eat at the steak house tonight.” Even so, there’s room to treat yourself once in a while, especially if the treat is cheap! One treat I allow myself is the Lunch Special. I am a regular at Imperial Garden, a local Chinese…

  • The Science Fiction of Coupons? (6 comments)

    Nick over at Punny Money decries what he terms the science fiction of coupons: I acknowledge that coupons exist (much like groundhogs, oak trees, and faeries exist), but I don’t believe that using them religiously is a good way to save money. In particular, Nick complains that: Coupons make people buy things they don’t need. Coupons are rarely the best option for saving money. Coupon-clipping is not worth the time. He is going to try…

  • How to Buy Nothing (7 comments)

    Here is a little guide about buying nothing. Practice reverse snobbery. Express contempt for those who buy things mindlessly. Go window shopping, but do not buy. Try on a bunch of sweaters. Make a stack of stuff you want, but leave without buying. Get satisfaction from money saved, not money spent. Become a scrounger. Useful stuff is everywhere once you start looking. Take pride in being a recycler. Look for barter opportunities. Consider having a…

  • Frugality in Practice: Back Porch Furniture (1 comment)

    This is the first in a series of practical examples of how people put frugal notions to use in real-life. I often claim that the back porch is “my favorite room in the house”. It’s true. This is partly because it’s situated at the home’s northeast corner, which is perfect for Portland weather. But mostly I love this place because I’ve been able to furnish it cheaply and effectively. This is a self-portrait I took…

  • I Want a Freeware Utility to… (0 comment)

    Here’s a site that lists 450+ useful free utilities for Microsoft Windows that do specific jobs well, allowing you to save time and money. The site lists: 19 anti-malware utilities 24 audio utilities 27 business utilities 18 communication utilities 45 desktop utilities 11 text editors 60 file manipulation utilities 4 financial utilities 27 graphics utilities 13 reference utilities 39 internet utilities 6 macro utilities 61 system enhancement utilities 20 productivity utilities 9 programming utilities 2…

  • How to Find Garage Sale Gold (6 comments)

    Here are two lists of tips for buying at garage sales. First, PR Leap offers Five Myths of Garage Sales (and how they are keeping you from finding garage sale gold). The five myths are: Stuff at garage sales has all been used. It’s true that much of the stuff for sale at garage sales has been used, but it’s generally in good condition. There’s also a lot of stuff that is brand-new. When we…

  • Nickel and Dime Yourself (1 comment)

    Frugal For Life has a good post encouraging people to stay focused on what’s important in the quest for financial independence. We complain because companies nickel and dime us to death, but don’t search out our own finances to find hidden expenses that are causing us to come up short. If you feel like your belt is tightened to what you can stand, you may be suprised at how much more you can handle and…