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Frugality


  • Will canning your food save you money? (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I was a child, we lived on a farm that had a grape arbor loaded with Concord grapes. Each September, my mom would can jars upon jars of grape juice, and I have fond memories of evenings around the kitchen table as our family ate popcorn and drank that delicious stuff (which doesn’t taste like anything I’ve ever purchased from a store). Well, apparently, nostalgia set…

  • 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…

  • I want Christmas to be debt-free (67 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Fall is finally here, and everywhere I look I see Pinterest-worthy pumpkin carvings, seasonal door hangings, and all kinds of pumpkin-flavored cookies, breads, and pies. Homemade cornstalk creations line doorways and gourds decorate walkways; neighborhood yards are filled with figures resembling ghosts, witches, and goblins. Even *I* made a homemade pumpkin pie of my own the other day — from a pumpkin straight from my garden. With…

  • Fire: Oh, that will never happen to me (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Laughter and hooting filled the house as my wife had Karen and a few other friends over for a mid-morning tea. (Such are the joys of retired life.) The chirping of a cell phone rose from the pile of purses on the sofa. Nobody paid it any attention — whoever it is can leave a message was the general sentiment. Sure enough, the chirping stopped. But then…

  • 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…

  • Starting a garden to pay off debt: Really!?! (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Some personal finance advice is just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about the kind of advice that’s great for filling up a webpage but that had neither saved nor made anyone money ever. Or maybe you could follow it and save money, if you wanted to hate your life. I’m not entirely innocent, I admit. I’m sure I’ve espoused my share of well-meaning-yet-impractical advice in the last seven years….

  • Why I voluntarily slashed my salary (77 comments)

    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. She is currently a staff writer at Money Talks News, freelances for a number of magazines and PF sites, and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com. In January 2007, I wrote an article about being recently divorced, helping to support a disabled adult child and working toward a university degree in my late 40s. “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” went…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Weird ways our brains control our money habits (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for money psychology studies. And it’s not just because I write about money. On a sheer curiosity level, they’re fascinating. But they also serve as a great reminder that money is more about mind than it is about math. It’s interesting to see exactly how our brains work when it comes to habits like spending and saving. And not only is it…

  • 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…

  • Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap (Part II) (17 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part I is “Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough.”) For my last post, I wrote about the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To recap, researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a series of experiments and found that scarcity — whether it’s a lack of time, money or food — drastically changes our behavior….

  • Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough (Part I) (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part II is “Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap.”) I recently discovered the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To be honest, I don’t even remember how I came to find out about the book. Maybe someone recommended it; maybe I read about it somewhere. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmingly busy, and, as a result, my short-term…

  • How to negotiate when you hate negotiating (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to go negotiate. In an ideal world, the weather would be perfect, there would be no war, and your employer would simply say, “Hey, your value to our company has increased. Here’s ten thousand dollars.” If only, right? When it comes to earning more, negotiating is usually a necessary part of the equation. The negotiating masters among us have a serious leg…

  • 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…

  • Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment (95 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Divorce. It’s an unattractive yet common end to a relatively high percentage of marriages in the U.S. In fact, as many as 50 percent of American marriages end this way, often leaving catastrophic personal and financial consequences that linger for years. The division of assets. Alimony. Child Custody Issues. Who gets the Stuff? These are all things that must be dealt with during and after a divorce, whether…

  • 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 (89 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?)…

  • The only two things you need to remember about funeral costs (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When someone has to make funeral arrangements, they often look to the funeral home for help. They select one of the three coffins suggested by the funeral home. Often it’s part of a mid-priced package deal, one that includes pretty much everything you need, and then some. And in a lot of ways, it makes sense that we turn to the experts, especially if we’ve never had…

  • Reader Stories: The renegade’s complete guide to personal finance (98 comments)

    This post comes from one of our readers, Dan Stelter, who is a personal and business finance enthusiast and freelance financial copywriter. He has been published at a variety of blogs around the web, and as a ghostwriter at a print publication, The Secured Lender.   Dan learned his personal finance habits from his parents and life experience.  When you don’t find him writing about personal finance, you can find him playing practical jokes on his…

  • Is this where you can cut the most the quickest? (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. The post a couple of weeks ago about the whole income inequality thing brought out some good insights and raised several new questions. We love to play board games, and one of our favorites is Acquire, a great money game which seems to have acquired (no pun intended) quite a cult following through the years. (Good luck trying to get a good one on eBay for under…

  • 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…

  • Money challenges: Why I’m OK with them, and a few of my favorites (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’m not usually a fan of gimmicks. But if the sole purpose of a gimmick is to save some extra cash, I guess I’m OK with it. We talked about this recently, but there seems to be a heightened interest in frugality lately. Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed a whole crop of money-saving challenges popping up all over the Internet, from personal finance blogs to Pinterest. And then,…

  • 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…

  • Another visit with the real Millionaire Next Door (16 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. It was sunny last Friday afternoon, so I decided to go for a ride. Because Kim has been riding motorcycles all her life, I took a training class last August and now own a used Honda Rebel. When the weather’s nice in…

  • Spending less than you earn so the Joneses don’t keep up with you (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Why spend less than you earn? There are the obvious reasons. Spending more than you earn isn’t sustainable, of course. You can’t build your net worth unless you spend less than you earn. And spending less than you earn decreases your stress level. But is there another reason to spend less than you earn … something that doesn’t benefit you at all? Keeping up with the Joneses is…

  • Reader Stories: The Notebook (Part 1) (39 comments)

    Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back, and readers commented that they’d like to hear his story. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is part 1. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

  • The problem with the “perfect” gift (61 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When it comes to gift-giving, I like to buy gifts that are exciting, maybe something that the recipient wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves because it’s not practical. In fact, I so enjoy finding the perfect gift that I even have secret Amazon gift lists for my family members. When I come across something I think they’d like, I add it to their list for future gift-giving occasions. (Sound…

  • Finding the road out of poverty (130 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Until I reached my early 20s, I believed that my childhood had fewer financial advantages than the average childhood. Once I gained more life experience, I saw that my family hadn’t been as poor as I thought we were. That doesn’t mean we weren’t poor, though. We wore hand-me-downs, didn’t go on vacations much, qualified for reduced school lunches, things like that. But we were “poor with…

  • 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….

  • Before and after: A $6 ceiling fan makeover (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Being a homeowner is expensive. Correction: Being a homeowner who wants to tear out and replace everything in the house is expensive. But my home is also my hobby. It’s one of those expenses that falls into the “needs list” (shelter) and the “wants list” (my complete kitchen remodel). Living in aesthetically pleasing surroundings puts me at ease almost as much as a really mean massage, the kind…

  • 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…

  • Big wins: The quickest way to wealth (106 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 the difference between tenacity and talent. There’s a divide in the world of personal finance. On one side are the folks who offer advice for scrimping and saving your way to financial success. On the other are the experts who scoff at frugality and champion big…

  • Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. For the past year and I half, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for Get Rich Slowly. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a challenge. Some weeks, I’m completely run down and don’t feel like thinking too hard about anything, much less personal finance. But I do my best to jumpstart my brain and produce something that I hope at least some of you will find useful. Writing…

  • Shirt tales: How to find clothes for your kids (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When we doubled our family size, we more than doubled the amount of laundry. And let’s not even talk about the increases in stains and holes. Or the back-to-back phone calls from my son’s principal: “Hey, Mrs. Aberle, your son was playing in the snow without snow pants. He is soaked. Can you bring in a dry pair of pants for him?” And the next day: “The button…

  • Reader Story: My grandmother’s home remedies (54 comments)

    This reader story come from SB, a regular reader and commenter on GRS. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent at a Time. 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. This is my second guest post at this…

  • Saving money with my feet: The joys of a walkable neighborhood (73 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 the regrets of the dying. On Saturday, I bumped into Rhonda at the local natural food market. Rhonda is one of Kris’s co-workers and friends. I haven’t seen her much since the divorce, although we live only a mile-and-a-half apart. For 20 minutes, she and I…

  • 2014: The year of change (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few days ago, I received a text message that made me smile. “We signed up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University,” the message read. “We start right after new year’s day.” The message was from a family friend, a married father of four whose annual household income is close to $200,000, and in the top 5 percent of households in the U.S. according to the New York…

  • 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…

  • How to meal plan and save some cash (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Few questions are as unwelcome or unanswerable (at least in my house) as “What’s for dinner?” Every few months, I make futile attempts to meal plan or grocery shop smarter. I spread out cookbooks, I write down recipes, I make shopping lists, and then everything disappears (it seems) and I am back to my usual chaotic “It’s 4:45 and what are we going to eat again?!” In…

  • 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…

  • What to do when Easy Street develops potholes (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. The moral of this story is obvious: It’s a lot easier to get ahead financially before children enter the picture. Now that I have that brilliant thought out of the way, let’s get into a keepin’ it real kind of post by analyzing the last few years of the Aberle budget. 2009 – Making more money. Start targeted savings accounts. Pay off car loan. Only the mortgage is…

  • 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…

  • Things that babies just don’t need (152 comments)

    Just the other day, I was grocery shopping with my husband and kids when we made an interesting discovery. We were in the baby aisle picking up some diapers for our youngest when my four-year-old picked up a small package and asked me what it was. “What’s this, Mommy?” I picked it up and looked. And looked. And got really confused. “Ummmm…..pacifier wipes?” According to the packaging, they were food-grade pacifier wipes. “What do you do with…

  • Making memories without breaking the bank (41 comments)

    Even though Christmas is still more than a couple of months away (so sorry if you weren’t ready for a reminder), I am trying to think of ways to create meaningful family traditions for our first holiday season together as a family of four. It’s true that my husband and I have celebrated eight years together, but we didn’t do gifts most of the time (usually we paid for a house project), so I feel like…

  • 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…

  • Reader Stories: How we saved one year’s salary in Roth IRAs in grad school (55 comments)

    This reader story is from Emily, a graduate student living in North Carolina who blogs about transitions in young adulthood and living well on less at Evolving Personal Finance. 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. My husband, Kyle, and I recently…

  • When is your financial relaxation due date? (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am perched in the corner chair, cup of Chai in hand, with just hours before the deadline for this post. I have piles and piles of clean laundry that need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. I can’t recall the last time I’ve dusted any room in the house. My husband has been working 80-hour weeks for a few weeks, so I am doing…

  • A wine guide for frugal folks (31 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Kim and I first connected on a wine tour 18 months ago. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that we’ve continued to build our relationship over glasses of chardonnay and carménère and (especially) Champagne. We enjoy wine, and we’ve had…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 (77 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…

  • Money speaks the same language, but with different accents (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle, who’s been away for about eight weeks. We’re happy to have her back! The name of her travel destination has been withheld to protect her children’s privacy. I’m ba-ack. While you probably didn’t miss me, my family and I just got back to the U.S. after spending almost two months in Europe. Our trip was unique: While we did a few of the normal touristy things, most…

  • Travel on a budget: The all-inclusive vacation (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. Last year, I was talking with a friend right after she had returned from a relaxing week in the Caribbean. “We did an all-inclusive,” she said to me with a glimmer in her eyes. “A what?” I had no idea what she was talking about. After chatting about it for a quite a while, she clued me in on how an all-inclusive vacation works and what some…

  • 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…

  • Save money by cutting food waste (44 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I barely brushed the surface of combating food waste in a recent article, but the comments added so much to the article that I thought I could stop at just one. And then I found some more statistics. In the U.S.: We waste 40 percent of edible food It costs $750 million just to dispose of the food we waste And when you consider the extra costs of packaging, transporting,…

  • Reader Stories: Bicycle commuting and frugality (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Catherine. She is 27 and was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn. where she resides with her cat, Monty. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is trying to figure out her career path. 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…

  • Money highlights while traveling (27 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Last week, I got back from an amazing 10-day trip. Brian and I saw Stonehenge, sailed the Irish Sea, and I threw up three times. It isn’t a true vacation unless I’ve thrown up. During our journey, we had a few money-related experiences, and I took the time to journal them. We were frugal. We learned about tipping. We talked to bartenders about taxes. I enjoyed these money…

  • 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…

  • Reader Stories: How I became a home entrepreneur to get out of debt (37 comments)

    This reader story is from Kelly Crawford. Kelly is a “mompreneur” and contributing author for five blogs, including her own, Generation Cedar. 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 had left my job to raise my two children and was now expecting…

  • 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…

  • Defining a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation (100 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. On April 1st, I got an unpleasant surprise, and it wasn’t an April Fools joke or gag. I found out that one of our renters didn’t have enough money to pay all of his rent. Since nothing like this has ever happened before, I was definitely caught off guard. Still, it wasn’t the end of the world. Since I pay all of our mortgages ahead of schedule,…

  • 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…

  • My student loan story: How I paid it off in a year (115 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Today I pulled out a file in my cabinet that’s been gathering dust since 2007: STUDENT LOAN. In 2007, I paid that sucker off, and I haven’t looked back since. Well, except to check my credit report. I wanted to make sure the nightmare was really over, after all. It wasn’t too much of a nightmare, really. With interest, I owed a little over $12,000. But when…

  • 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…

  • Minimalist parenting: The frugal choice (77 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. The woman on the radio sounded panicked. She lived in Los Angeles, and because of her neighborhood (weird homeless guy on the corner; busy streets all around) she didn’t trust her kids to play outside. So she spent her time driving them to activities where they would get… physical activity. It sounded a little awful, and it sounded expensive. I had been interviewed for this piece (my…

  • The sneaky sales strategies of your local grocery store (97 comments)

    It’s Thursday, and I’ve been to the grocery store five times this week. This isn’t normal for me. Usually, I take the time to plan and list what I need and get everything in one frugal, fell swoop. Not this week. Nope — this week I battled with work, deadlines and 14 days’ worth of laundry. They all won — I surrendered. In fact, after I write this, I’ll be making yet another trip to…

  • A spring-cleaning discovery (79 comments)

    It’s amazing the number of things we can throw out and not miss. I do not wish to backpack through Third World countries living on a dollar a day, I hate the tiny house fad, and I am staunchly against miserliness, but I have to say: I find the slavery of things to be more of an encumbrance every day. Really. I’ve had it with things, and I’m starting to detest them. Well, almost all…

  • 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…

  • Food fight: Waging a war against food waste (93 comments)

    Back in December, I decided to eat more fruits and vegetables. No matter what, I was going to eat more of them. And that’s saying something, especially since I’ve created a few excuses to avoid eating healthy food. Even though my main excuse wasn’t the expense, it’s still an obstacle to healthy eating. At least, that’s a common excuse I hear when eating better food comes up in conversation. And I wanted to know if…

  • Professional shoe repair: Save money, time, and your feet (74 comments)

    While on my way back from getting some hot tea in the break room at work, I noticed that one of my shoes was making a strange noise. Upon getting back to my office, I saw why: the heel cap had fallen off and was lying next to my chair. Hmm, I thought. Maybe that’s why I’ve been tripping so much lately. Because I had been tripping. Enough to be embarrassed. I had jokingly chalked…

  • My New Year’s resolution: lowering the bar for happiness (68 comments)

    A blog to which I contribute recently won a contest, and upon finding out, my boyfriend suggested that we celebrate. “Oh, no, it’s not a huge deal,” I told him. “It was just a small contest.” He responded, “But if you wouldn’t have won, you’d be upset, right?” “Yeah,” I admitted. “So why not be happy now?” My friends, I have set the bar for happiness way too high. I’ve made happiness an emotionally expensive…

  • Battle of the toy bulge (102 comments)

    By now, most families have taken down their trees and house lights. And if you’re like me and live in the Midwest, you might be counting down the days until the first signs of spring. A new year of goals, hopes and beginnings has begun… Meanwhile, a battle is taking place in many homes. Many people with children, like me, are finding that they have been overrun by an absurd number of new toys and…

  • 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…

  • Preventing freezer burnout (87 comments)

    My husband and I get along well with few disagreements. That’s why it was a surprise to both of us when something came between us a couple of weeks ago and, of all things, it was our freezer. And things got downright frosty for a few hours. I had a long list of things to get done when I got home from work – and cleaning out our stand-alone chest freezer wasn’t one of them….

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • We all have our Joneses (88 comments)

    When I wrote last week’s post, I admit to feeling a bit pleased with myself when someone made a comment about wanting their furniture to all match (and thus free pile-ism was hard for them) now that they were fully adult. “Who cares!” I thought to myself. “That’s just the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses stuff the rest of you are talking about!” And then Monday afternoon one of my husband’s friends came over with his wife. The house…

  • 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: What odd things have you done to save money? (254 comments)

    This is a guest post from David Bakke. David is always looking for ways to save money and live frugally. He shares his tips and strategies on Money Crashers Personal Finance. During my journey to escape $30,000 worth of personal debt, I wore my frugality like a badge of honor. I had no problem bragging to people about all the ways I saved money, regardless of their quizzical reactions. I was on a mission, and…

  • Why I hate consumer contracts (63 comments)

    A problematic prepay I was going over my old files the other day and found a bill for “Sunrocket,” a long-defunct Internet phone company that charged me $244 for a year’s worth of service and proceeded to close shop a couple of weeks later. They just disconnected service and stopped answering the phones. No message, no warning, nothing. I was literally robbed, but luckily I had paid with a bank card, so I initiated a…

  • Ask the Readers: Do Your Morals Cost You More? (163 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce. I’m considering building a chicken coop. I’m thinking about this choice because paying over $5 for a dozen eggs seems ridiculous. Especially when compared to the carton of bleach-white generic eggs beside them for $1.04. But I take the $5 eggs every time because they are free-range and organic and (despite the debate on whether organic is actually better) I feel they are worth…

  • The Value of an $8 Little Black Dress (123 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lucy Lazarony, a freelance writer based in Florida. You know that wardrobe staple that every woman is supposed to have? The little black dress? Well, I’ve finally got mine! And I found mine on the sales rack at Target. The price $7.58! The regular retail price was $29. The dress from Target’s own Merona brand is washable so there is no expensive dry cleaning needed. And I live in…

  • 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…

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 1: Housing (210 comments)

    Spending less than you earn can be accomplished by earning more, spending less, or both. Yet most people in the personal finance world tend to support one strategy over the other with greater fervor.  It’s not a logic thing: it’s a personality issue that may have to do with risk tolerance, optimism, entrepreneurship, class background, religious outlook, cultural practices, and other unknown factors. Sometimes this can be situational. When work doesn’t deliver one might focus…

  • Frugality: Welcome Challenge or Only a Chore? (95 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Kristin Wong. As a kid, it was my job to pull the weeds in our embarrassingly overgrown backyard. No, my parents didn’t believe in doing or paying for yard work. They had children, after all. I hated pulling weeds, especially during the hot and humid Texas summers, so I did what anyone in my position would’ve done: I decided it was my little brother’s job. But, being four,…

  • 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…

  • Which is Cheaper: In the Kitchen (87 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. Her first audition piece was about surviving student loans. Here at GRS, we’ve…

  • Cutting Costs on Transportation (Even When Biking and Walking Aren’t Options) (83 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. Her first audition piece…

  • The Reckoning (or, What Mint Revealed) (298 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Honey Smith, who says she’s at the beginning of her debt-reduction journey. Honey’s first audition piece was…

  • 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…

  • (Yes, You Can) Learn to Cook (188 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. This article is from popular GRS commenter, El Nerdo. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. Most of us know from learning about personal finance that reasonable DIY…

  • One Lesson From a Financial Whiz Kid (103 comments)

    When Zac Bissonnette writes about how savvy he was about money in high school, I know his unusually precocious wisdom is not a put-on. I knew him back then. And, with his new book, How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents, I think you should listen to him. Even though, admittedly, he only has one lesson to teach you. I Knew Him When Zac was one of the first writers I contracted…

  • Thinking Outside the Lunchbox: Brown-Bagging Without Boredom (101 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 few years ago I challenged MSN Money readers to carry their lunches two to three times a week for a month, and then figure out what they’d saved. The most common reaction? Shock. The most common refrain? “I just never added it up before.” When…

  • Reader Story: How I Use Superfrugality Month to Curb Lifestyle Inflation (52 comments)

    This guest post from Marisa Bell-Metereau 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 with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Every year in February, once the holidays are over and life is slowly returning to normal, my boyfriend and I…

  • Reader Story: Saying Good-Bye to a 16-Year-Old Car (91 comments)

    This guest post from Joel Berry 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 with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I’m writing this post as a follow up to my first post about why I drove a 13-year-old car. In…

  • 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…

  • Five Easiest Ways to Save Money (97 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. This is America Saves Week, and I am writing to you sitting next to a jar. This jar is stuffed full (okay, imagine it gently filled — it’s a small jar) of five dollar bills. I do not feel proud that this is the best way I’ve found yet to save money consistently; somehow, having it sit there on the windowsill is a gentle reminder that there…

  • Reader Story: How I Save Money While Traveling (111 comments)

    This guest post from Matt Kepnes 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. You can read more from Matt at Nomadic Matt, where he shows how you can travel the world without being rich. Many people think…

  • 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…

  • Stealth Savings: Sneaky Ways to Fatten Your Account (110 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. Have trouble saving money? Time for some mind games. Hide cash via direct withdrawals. Get free money from banks. Name an account for a goal. Make your savings “one-way,” i.e., really hard to tap. The unemployed and underemployed may feel — with good reason! — that…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: The 30-Day No-Restuarant Challenge (136 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. This seems like a natural follow-up to Friday’s reader question about when to start a family. 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 family just finished a month-long hiatus from…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2011 Update (22 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while J.D. is traveling in Peru. Our gardening season is complete for 2011. After an initial burst of cold and rain, our October weather was…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September 2011 Update (32 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while I was packing for Peru. Our late summer this year meant that our crops were delayed, but when the sunshine came, it came on…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2011 Update (34 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) August finally felt like summer here in Portland. The entire month was sunny and warm, and there was very little rain. The garden rewarded us with productivity. Our harvest in August…

  • Why I Love the Megabus: A Closer Look at a Seldom-Used (but Cheap!) Way to Travel (128 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 in the middle of a month-long trip to the East Coast: a little work, but mostly tourism. Although the conference I attended was in New York City, I flew to Philadelphia because it’ll be easier for me to…

  • 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 Get Cheap Drugs (92 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. Six of the highest-selling prescription medications in the United States will be “off-patent” before the end of 2012. The costs associated with those currently pricey meds will drop faster than the Dow on a bad day. This is great…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July 2011 Update (29 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) We had a strange July in our garden. First, the cool weather lingered longer than it ought to have. It wasn’t cold and wet, but the days were cool. Then we…

  • Frugal Back-to-School Shopping (115 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. According to the National Retail Federation, we’ll spend $68.8 billion outfitting our students for school this year. Yes, I said $68.8 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, right? But the NRF actually considers this “flat.” More than 80%…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2011 Update (40 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Summer is finally here in our corner of the Pacific Northwest: The birds are chirping, the insects are humming and the garden is producing. June started cold and wet but has…

  • Best Sources for Summer Produce (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. The summer harvest season has finally begun here in Boston. Near my house, Farmers’ markets are popping up, brimming with fresh greens, ripe strawberries, and luscious radishes. Our first CSA share delivery of the season arrived last week. And my garden has started to cough up a few plump berries and herbs. Make friends with the…

  • 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…

  • My First Garden: What I’ve Learned So Far (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenny Sandman, who writes at Broke Foodie. This summer is my first attempt at full-scale gardening. This is the first year I’ve lived in a house with a yard; previous gardening efforts were limited to containers of herbs and the odd tomato plant, on windowsills or apartment patios. To complicate matters, it’s my first year living in New England, so the climate is new (and frightening). We had an…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May 2011 Update (41 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) In my mind, Oregon has mild springs: plenty of rain, sure, but also lots of sunshine and hints of the summer to come. Since we started the garden project, though, that…

  • 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:…

  • Reader Story: How I Built My Own House — Without a Mortgage (147 comments)

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader 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. It dawned on me…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2011 Update (39 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) After a long vacation in February and a wet, dreary March, Kris and I finally were able to do a little work on our vegetable garden in April. Sort of. The…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2011 Update (30 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) March is usually a time for Kris and me to get back to work in the garden. The weather warms, and we get to watch as our first sprouts poke through…

  • Emergency Preparedness on a Shoestring (130 comments)

    This post is from new 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. Images of devastation emerged after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We watched water sweep away vehicles and houses; we saw stunned men and weeping women in the ruins. But we also heard about survivors whose homes weren’t flattened or inundated, people who subsisted on stockpiled…

  • Recipe: Spicy Pickled Carrots (37 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. I’ve had the canning bug pretty bad for the last week or two. But although Spring has officially begun, our garden is months away from producing anything worth turning into jam, pickles, or other home-canning treasures. Plus, farmers’ markets and produce stands are still closed for the season. Summer harvests can be beautiful….

  • 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,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2011 Update (53 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Spring is around the corner. I think. After spending three weeks basking in sunny skies and temperatures of 20-30 degrees (yes, I’ve taught myself to think in centigrade!), it’s something of…

  • Getting Creative with Budget Travel (23 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rebecca Rosenfelt, founder of Inhabit Vacations, a curated travel site. She also blogs about creative approaches to real estate at Real Savvy Real Estate. Previously at GRS, Rebecca has shared how she generates extra money by letting strangers pay her rent and budget-friendly decorating tips. My travel mantra holds that travel should be free — or as close to free as you can get! Budget travel tips usually focus…

  • 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…

  • Compound Returns in the Garden: How Long-Term Planning Pays Off When Growing Your Own Food (52 comments)

    A lot of folks have been asking if my wife and I will be doing the Get Rich Slowly garden project this year. That’s the plan! After a one-year hiatus, Kris and I intend to track our spending and our profit for the food we grow on our land. January saw no spending and no harvest, though. To get us started, here’s a guest post from my wife about the long-term rewards of gardening. What…

  • 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…

  • Fight Rising Prices by Building Your Own Food Bank (102 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. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in 2011. Those prices aren’t likely to go back down. So why not invest in food futures, i.e., your own pantry? Put it this way:…

  • Follow-Up: Thrifting for Holiday Gifts (16 comments)

    As I mentioned earlier this week, I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’m going to start a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Note: I suspect most of these will…

  • 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,…

  • Reader Story: A Fresh Start on the Path to Prosperity (112 comments)

    This guest post from Louisa Rogers 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. Previously at GRS, Louisa told us what it’s like to have even better than enough. “May you have a prosperous New Year!” the…

  • 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…

  • Getting Paid to Tell Lies: Mystery Shopping as a Frugal Hack (56 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. Two persistent rumors about mystery shopping: It’s a scam. It’s not a scam — and you can get rich doing it! Allow me to set these rumors to rest: Mystery shopping is not a scam. (Well, sometimes it is. More on that…

  • A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown-Ups (48 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. Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store? (169 comments)

    The holiday season can test a frugal person’s patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal? Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here’s her story: Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Christmas (and Beyond!) (40 comments)

    This guest post from Shelley Turner 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. They’re coming! Like it or not, the holidays — and all the stress of buying the Perfect Gift — are just around the…

  • Reader Story: Pedaling Toward Financial Freedom (82 comments)

    This guest post from Tammy Strobel 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. Tammy blogs about simple living at RowdyKittens, and is the author of Simply Car-Free and Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself….

  • 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,…

  • Swapping Convenience for Low Costs (68 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 other day I was walking down the street when a young man approached me and asked directions to the nearest Tube Station. I live in Boston, not London. Our subway is called the T. I happened to be walking to the nearby station myself, so we walked together and got to…

  • The Joys of Home Canning (53 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. Making jam makes me happy. Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m also happy making jelly, preserves, and syrups — and I’m pretty darn pleased with conserves, marmalades, and most things pickled. No matter that I could never eat everything I make — even with J.D.’s help — the mere process is somehow satisfying…

  • Reader Story: How I Save Tons of Money by Grocery Shopping Once Every Three Months (99 comments)

    This guest post from Jenny Sandman 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. Jenny blogs about frugal gourmet cooking at Broke Foodie. When my husband and I got engaged, we knew we were going to foot…

  • Take Only Photographs: Frugal Souvenirs (82 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. Travel is a gift. We get to see new places and cultures, meet new people, and expand our lives. Most of us, when we’ve put the time and money into traveling somewhere special, want to treasure the memories. There’s a large industry to support that desire. Gift and souvenir shops in the…

  • 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 (199 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…

  • How to Save Money While Traveling (76 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. When I was packing for my trip to Argentina, a friend advised me, “Put everything you’re taking on the bed. Now put back half the clothes, and take twice the money.” Good advice. I tried to follow it and still ended up bringing more clothes than I could possibly need. I didn’t…

  • The Savvy Blogging Summit (59 comments)

    I’ve been a bit quiet around here lately, but for good reason. Over the weekend, I attended the Savvy Blogging Summit in Breckenridge, Colorado. This gathering of roughly 65 women (and three men) is a new event designed to help participants build better blogs. I was honored to give the keynote talk (“My Life as a Blogger”) on Thursday evening, and to present workshops (“Building Community” and “Effective Monetization”) on Friday and Saturday. During the…

  • What Should You Buy Used? What Should You Buy New? (143 comments)

    Though the Get Rich Slowly community has expanded in the past couple of years, there are still a few folks who have been around since the beginning. It’s always a pleasure when one of them drops me a line. Last week, Vintek — who contributed this introduction to mutual funds nearly four years ago — sent me an e-mail to let me know how he’s doing, and to share a recent article he liked. My…

  • Save Money by Baking Your Own Bread (64 comments)

    Ah, at last: The sun has arrived in Oregon. It’s not hot, but it’s warm, and we’ll take it. The coming of summer means I can stop whining about the rain, and it also means that Kris and I have started baking bread more often. (During the winter, our house is too cold for the dough to rise.) We’re still using the easy and cheap home-made bread recipe we stumbled upon a couple of years…

  • 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…

  • Save Money by Carrying a Water Bottle (63 comments)

    I’ve intended to begin featuring entries from the recent GRS video contest, but things keep getting in the way. Let’s change that! Starting today, I’ll use Saturdays to highlight some of my favorites, both winners and not-winners. To begin, here’s a tip that didn’t win a prize. Austin from Foreigner’s Finances is teaching English in Japan. He says that one of his favorite ways to save money is to always carry a water bottle with…

  • 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: Traveling Cross-Country Dirt Cheap (66 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle Russo 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. This story is perfect for Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the summer holiday season in…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2010 Update (39 comments)

    Kris and I aren’t repeating our annual garden project this year. We’re too swamped to take the time to track our expenses and harvests. In fact, our garden will probably be a bit smaller than usual this summer because we just won’t have the time to care for it. Still, the yard is an important part of our daily lives. Plus, there’s a certain segment of the GRS community — the die-hard gardeners, I guess…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January 2010 Update (28 comments)

    It’s been a l-o-n-g time since Kris and I gave an update on our garden project. I’ve been too wrapped up in writing a book to pay attention to anything else. Now that I’ve pulled my head out of the sand, I can finally devote some time to other projects — like the garden. To be honest, we’ve done nearly nothing in the yard since October. Literally. We haven’t found time to cut back the…

  • 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 Art of the Potluck (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Today’s my deadline for turning in the manuscript for Your Money: The Missing Manual (which has an official cover now!). I still have to finish the retirement chapter, so I’m hunkered down in the word mines. While I’m spending all of my time at the office, Kris came to the rescue with an article about one of our favorite frugal pastimes: potlucks with friends. J.D. and I…

  • Energy-Efficiency Tax Credits Could Be Your Personal Government-Bailout Package (38 comments)

    David Kaplan wrote with the following: “A lot of personal finance blogs cover the same material. I’d like to see some quality content on the value added by investing in energy efficiencies. My prime interest is in windows/insulation and other items eligible under the current tax credit, perhaps you can consider several options.” Since I’m not an expert in windows, insulation, or energy tax credits, I asked around and received the following. This is a…

  • 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…

  • Five Festive Christmas Cookies to Share with Family and Friends (33 comments)

    What’s Christmas without cookies? A plate of warm Christmas cookies can help you bond with the neighbors, and taking a tray to the office is a sure way to win points with your co-workers. Christmas cookies can also be a fun part of frugal holiday gift-giving. Every year, Kris and I assemble holiday gift bags to give to our friends. We fill these with candy and cards and candles and books and other small things…

  • How I Cut my Comcast Cable Bill by 33% (Without Losing Any Service) (249 comments)

    Last week, I wrote that you can negotiate anything. This guest post by G.E. Miller gives a real-life example of using negotiation to save money. For more from G.E., check out his personal finance blogs 20somethingfinance.com and microfrugality.com. For the third of the country who has no choice but to turn to Comcast for cable television, the thought of price haggling is about as appealing as a root canal. Comcast has a notorious reputation for…

  • Is Frugality a Necessary Evil? (118 comments)

    In the comments on a recent post about peer pressure, I mentioned a quote that I’d edited from the original draft. (I write a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it into final articles. It’s as if there should be “bonus features” for GRS, like on DVDs.) Anyhow, I re-read John T. Reed’s Succeeding recently, and was struck by this passage, which does an excellent job of encapsulating my current philosophy on frugality. Reed writes:…

  • 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…

  • The Best Pot Roast Ever: A Frugal Recipe for November (48 comments)

    “It’s been a long time since you shared a recipe at Get Rich Slowly,” I told Kris last week. “What about that pot roast recipe?” she asked. “You love that.” “Yes. Yes, I do,” I said. This guest post from my wife may be the best thing I’ve ever shared at Get Rich Slowly. It’s certainly the tastiest. I’m usually a from-scratch kind of cook, and the sort of “semi-homemade” ingredients for this pot roast…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2009 Update (20 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, it’s been a l-o-n-g Saturday filled with all sorts of misadventures. Murphy’s Law has been in full effect this Halloween. I’d meant to post this month-end garden summary around noon, but now will have to…

  • 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…

  • Small Amounts Matter (60 comments)

    This article is the fifth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Getting started with smart personal finance isn’t always easy. It’s one thing to read about the steps you should take, but it’s another thing to actually do them. Your debt is so overwhelming or your saving goals so lofty that you begin to believe that the only way you’ll ever get where you want to be is…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September 2009 Update (28 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) After a long productive summer, our September in the garden was kind of anticlimactic. Sure, we continued to harvest our home-grown food, but neither of us was particularly “in” to the garden this month. It was a chore instead of an obsession. September can be that…

  • Slash Your Grocery Bill With Store-Brand Products (136 comments)

    The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 20: Spending Smart with Greg Karp (7 comments)

    On this week’s installment of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I spent the hour talking with nationally-syndicated financial columnist Greg Karp. Greg is the author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan, which I reviewed last week. We had a wide-ranging conversation about spending smart. Spending Smart One of Karp’s mottos is, “You can’t outearn dumb spending.” Some people believe they can always just earn more money to sustain their lifetyle — but their lifestyle often…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2009 Update (41 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) After late July’s blistering heat, August has been relatively cool around Portland. Our fruits and vegetables have been producing excellent crops. Kris is constantly busy in the kitchen, canning and preserving food. We’re eating fresh salsa all the time. And hard as it is to believe,…

  • 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,…

  • Frugality in Practice: Alternate Modes of Transportation (118 comments)

    I’ve always been a car guy. It’s not that I’m mechanically inclined or that I get into the latest makes and models — neither of these is anywhere close to the truth — but that a car has always been my primary mode of transportation. When I was a boy, my family lived in rural Oregon, six miles from the nearest town. Automobiles were our only real option for getting around. Even when I went…

  • 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…

  • A Visit to the Island of Misfit Foods (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

  • How to Use Couchsurfing to See the World (108 comments)

    This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. What if I told you there was a different way to travel? A way to see the world outside of the…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July 2009 Update (34 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) Welcome to Oregon, where for the past week it’s been hot. How hot? Here’s the temperature graph from the National Weather Service for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: The heat hasn’t prevented us from working in the garden. We’ve been watering the thirsty plants, and we’ve begun…

  • 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…

  • Two Frugal Summer Recipes: Thai Tuna Salad and Asian Pickles (12 comments)

    On Monday, I wrote about our frugal weekend. One of the little things I mentioned doing was mixing up a large batch of Thai tuna salad to use for sandwiches during the week. Yum! Several readers asked me to share my recipe, so I tracked down the cookbook that served as the original source for this Thai tuna salad. It’s Thai Cooking Made Easy by Sukhum Kittivech (which contains both Chinese and English text). This…

  • 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 —…

  • More Month Than Money: Tightening Your Food Budget While Feeding Your Family Well (42 comments)

    The July/August issue of Countryside (one of my favorite magazines) contains an article from Tracy Rimmer about how she saves money on food. In the article, Rimmer mentions her website, New Century Homestead, where she describes her family’s quest for self-reliance in southwestern Manitoba. Her philosophy: Homesteading is an attitude, an approach, not necessarily a lifestyle. We believe that one can start small, and still make a difference. Indeed, that starting small must be the…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2009 Update (27 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) It’s the beginning of summer, and that means our garden is lush and green and growing. It also means there’s nothing exciting to write about. We’ve begun to harvest a couple of things, but mostly our chores have become routine. We weed and fertilize while we…

  • 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…

  • Eating Organic on a Frugal Budget (48 comments)

    Is it possible to eat local organic food on a food-stamp budget? That’s the question Salon’s Siobhan Phillips set out to answer recently. For one month, Phillips and her husband gave themselves a budget of $248 to “eat ethically” in New Haven, Connecticut. She writes: I had wondered about the elitism of ethical eating ever since I started reading about the movement in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and Food Politics. When…

  • 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…

  • 3 Easy and Delicious Ways to Preserve Your Berry Harvest (20 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own fan club around here. “You should have a section at GRS called Kris’ corner,” one reader wrote recently. That’s unlikely to happen, but she’s happy to drop by now and then with recipes and helpful hints. Here’s what she has to say about fresh berries. Berry season is beginning in Oregon. Strawberries ripen first, and they’re followed quickly by raspberries, blueberries, currants, and…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May 2009 Update (50 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) What a difference a year makes! Our fruits, berries, and vegetables had a slow start last year (and then were further slowed by a cold, cold June). This May was warm — very warm. Our food crops loved the weather, and they’ve shown explosive growth. As…

  • 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…

  • Learning to Do It Yourself (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I am not handy. Given a garden tool or a kitchen gadget, I can usually find success. But I have neither the talent or inclination for wiring, plumbing, or carpentry. I come from a long line of un-handy people, too, so there’s no phoning home when the car’s making a funny noise or the garbage disposal is on the fritz. And, unfortunately for me, I also married…

  • How to Live Well on Less in Retirement (65 comments)

    Though I’m not close to retirement myself, one GRS reader recently sent me a link to an article from the monthly newsletter from AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). In the April 2009 issue of AARP Bulletin, Elizabeth Pope wrote about how to live well on less money. Pope profiles three families who have structured their personal finances in order to pay for necessities — and luxuries — now that they’re finished working. One…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2009 Update (36 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) April was a slow month for our garden. We didn’t do much. Part of this is because we’ve become more efficient. But another part is because we did some of our chores earlier this year. Kris has been antsy to get plants in the ground. I…

  • 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…

  • Saving Money and the Environment: Where Green and Frugal Meet (62 comments)

    This is a guest post for Earth Day from Beth H., who writes about saving time, money, and the environment at Smart Family Tips. Going “green” has a bit of a bad rap. As soon as marketers realized it was profitable to be green, suddenly all sorts of products flooded the marketplace with eco-friendly claims. It can be overwhelming. Is it really necessary to buy all this “stuff” to be green? Are these products really…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2009 Update (34 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2009, which was written by Kris. (Here are the results for 2008.) In Oregon, the month of March is unpredictable. Every gardener is itching to get outside, but it’s wet and cold with a few precious — and fleeting — moments of sunshine. In those sunny moments, you can bet you’ll hear a…

  • 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…

  • How to Save $100 (or More) at the Grocery Store This Month (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Erin, who writes about frugal food at $5 Dinners. When gas prices were soaring in the summer of 2008, my family was scrambling to find ways to save money. We could not reduce the prices at the gas pumps, we were locked into the lowest interest rate on our mortgage, and our budget was maxed out. I knew the only way we could continue without running into the red each month…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

    I love frugality. Frugality helped me to dig out of debt, begin to build wealth, and find more meaning in the things I already own. But at some point I crossed the line from frugal to cheap. I’ve spent the past few months seeking balance: allowing myself permission to spend on a few indulgences while choosing to cut back in other areas. There’s new research that indicates this sort of conscious spending really does make…

  • 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…

  • 50 Tips for DIY Savings Around the House (19 comments)

    While researching for our upcoming home repairs, I stumbled upon an article over at This Old House. Josh Garskof has put together a list of 50 nifty tricks for big do-it-yourself savings. What sort of nifty tricks? Tricks like these: Close closet doors to lower the square footage you’re heating (and cooling). Shuttering closets along exterior walls also helps to insulate the house. Get gently used tools, electronics, and furniture from Freecycle, an online community…

  • Starting Seeds Indoors: Jump-Start Your Garden Today (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has received several requests to describe her method for starting seeds indoors. In some parts of the U.S., vegetable and flower seeds can be successfully planted directly into the garden. But in many areas, the growing season is too short to allow this. Cool spring soil temperatures and cold weather can prevent seeds from germinating or kill young seedlings. If you wait until the weather warms,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2009 Update (53 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) We spent a lot of time in our garden this month, which was unusual considering that it’s February. In fact, the twelve hours we spent working on our food crops was the most we’ve worked in a month since I began tracking the numbers in January…

  • 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…

  • Confessions of a Butcher: Eating Steak on a Hamburger Budget (39 comments)

    Every week, I receive a couple of books in the mail from authors and publishers. (This week there were six!) They’re hoping that I’ll find time to review their work at Get Rich Slowly. I do my best, but it’s impossible to read everything. When John Smith offered to send me his book, Confessions of a Butcher, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read a few niche books like this, and they’re usually uninspiring. As a…

  • 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…

  • Quick Tips for Eating Organic (63 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with Lou Bendrick, who writes the Checkout Line column at Grist, a site devoted to environmental news and commentary. Bendrick answers reader questions about making “green” food-choices. Recently Karl wrote to ask her: With the economic crunch, how is it going to be possible to afford healthy foods for my family, especially organics. Before the interview, I surveyed my Twitter followers for help. I asked: “Do you eat organic? How do…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January 2009 Update (40 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for January 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) Even with the other stuff going on in our lives, Kris and I found time to begin planning our summer garden this month. Soon the winter days will warm, teasing us with thoughts of working in the yard. But true gardening weather won’t arrive for about…

  • 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…

  • Repair, Restore, Rejoice: Making the Most of Home Appliances (67 comments)

    This is a guest post from Betsy Teutsch, who blogs about sustainable living and socially-responsible investing at Money Changes Things. As any homeowner can attest, appliance longevity is diminishing. For technophiles, the breakdown of electronics can be welcomed as an excuse to upgrade to a cheaper, faster gizmo. But constant breakdowns of household appliances frustrate harried homeowners, since it’s frequently impossible or extremely inconvenient to repair them, or so expensive as to be dis-economic. Having…

  • Why I Drive a 13-Year-Old Car (266 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joel Berry. I recently had a talk with a friend about why I haven’t purchased a new car. He can’t understand why I still drive a 1995 Geo Prizm. I can afford to buy a new car, but I choose not to. The fact is, driving an older car saves me money! To prove my point, I ran some numbers. I was surprised by how much money I’ve saved…

  • 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…

  • 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden (75 comments)

    Early January. Though it’s the dead of winter, many of us are dreaming about our summer vegetable gardens. The seed catalogs have begun to appear in the mailbox. Kris and I received eight of them today: Images of summer… It might seem crazy to start thinking about a vegetable garden in January. It’s cold outside! But believe it or not, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for a successful autumn harvest. Over the…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: Winners and Losers for 2008 (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Our gardening for the year came to a close around Halloween. Although we’ll harvest herbs all winter — I’ve started an indoor herb garden with clearance-sale seeds! — the cold and wet Willamette Valley winter makes outdoor work miserable. And this year we’ve even had snow and ice: The garden in winter The garden in summer But the gardening cycle will begin anew with a seed order…

  • 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…

  • Learning to Live Modestly (36 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, a Canadian financial writer and host of the television series ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. Frugality is all the rage. And a good thing too. With the economic situation as it is, we had better learn to take pleasure from the simple things if we want to keep our sense of balance and be able to sleep at night. The rise of materialism…

  • December 24, 1958: A Six-Dollar Christmas (21 comments)

    I’m on vacation. This is a guest post from my aunt. It’s sort of a real-life “Gift of the Magi”. My aunt and uncle (who is called “Pop” in this story) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past October. On Christmas Eve 1958, I had been married two months and seven days.  We were sixteen and eighteen — young but in love.  Pop had a good job in a mobile home factory. The pay was $2.10…

  • 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…

  • Embracing the Thrift-Store Ethic: 18 Top Tips for Buying Used Clothes (131 comments)

    If the national media is any indication, more people are embracing the notion of buying used clothing from thrift stores and consignment shops. Last week, USA Today ran a story describing how secondhand stores are reaping the benefits of recession: As Americans look for ways to cut spending, they are scooping up bargain clothes, accessories, toys and furniture once owned by someone else. “We’re sorry about the economic situation, … but it is a good…

  • The Good Consumer (36 comments)

    In my favorite section of David Mitchell’s brilliant Cloud Atlas, Sonmi-451 is a clone who works in a fast-food restaurant in near-future Korea, a society ruled by corporcracy (a government of corporations). In this seemingly utopian world, citizens are consumers, and their purpose in life is to spend. Commonplace items are known by their brand-names: a theater is a disneyarium, a video display is a sony, a vehicle is a ford. Television is not TV,…

  • 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…

  • Finding Good Wines at Great Prices: Expert Advice for Frugal Wine Lovers (70 comments)

    I love wine but I’m not a wine snob. I don’t speak the lingo, and I don’t want to. All I know is that some wines taste better than others, and that some wines cost more than others. For me, the best bottle of wine is one that tastes great but doesn’t break the bank. With the dinner party season coming up, how can I find good wines at great prices? I turned to Gary…

  • The GRS Garden Project: November Update (30 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for November. This month’s garden update is small. As winter approaches, there’s less for us to do, and all that we harvest are herbs (and those only occasionally). Our major garden task this month was raking leaves. For most people, this is simply yardwork, but for us it’s a chance to work on the…

  • 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…

  • Can You Save $1,000 in 30 Days? (54 comments)

    Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich has announced his Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. During the month of November, he’s urging people to get off the couch and actually take steps to reduce their spending. Here’s what he writes: Right now, people don’t care about proper asset allocation or understanding average stock market returns. The people I’ve talked to want to know how to save money right now. [...] Each day…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October Update (39 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October. October can be something of a relief for gardeners. The bulk of the harvest is finished, and all that remains is to pick the last straggling fruits and vegetables, and to begin cleaning up. While it’s sad that the harvest is winding to a close, it’s comforting to know there’ll be a…

  • 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…

  • Old Clothes for the New Year (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from The Frugal Duchess, Sharon Harvey Rosenberg. Rosenberg writes a column for the Miami Herald about saving money. Her new book is The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money.   Almost every year for Rosh Hashanah — the New Year according to the Hebrew calendar — my family buys new clothes. With a few new tags, we make symbolic and fashion statements. And the same message is…

  • “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…

  • Ask the Readers: Favorite Frugal Christmas Ideas? (124 comments)

    I made a trip to Costco yesterday to buy index cards. (Believe it or not, index cards are the building blocks of this blog.) The store didn’t have any, but it did have four long aisles stocked with Christmas supplies: lights, laughing Santas, and artificial trees. “Are people thinking about the holidays already?”, I wondered. Turns out they are. In the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums, Samantha is asking for frugal Christmas ideas: We sat…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September Update (62 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September. September generally brings the largest harvests for our garden. That was true again this year, but not by as much as we hoped. The bad weather at the beginning of the season means that things just aren’t ripe yet. Kris has been encouraging her tomatoes for weeks. I’m dying for the grapes…

  • 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.”…

  • 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…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home Canning (58 comments)

    “What do you do with all that produce?” one reader asked recently about our garden. “Do you really eat it all, or does it go to waste?” We eat it, but not at once. Though we enjoy a lot of the food fresh from the garden, we preserve most of it for later. I’m fortunate that Kris loves to can, and so we enjoy the fruits of our labor year-round. Canning was once a vital…

  • 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…

  • Quick and Easy Car Maintenance: Change Your Oil and Inflate Your Tires (37 comments)

    “The value of proper car maintenance is priceless,” writes Liza Barth at the Consumer Reports auto blog. “Regular maintenance of your vehicle can save you money on vehicle repairs and keep it running smoothly for many years to come.” In particular, Barth encourages readers to keep on top of two easy (but critical) components of car care: oil changes and tire pressure. Change your oil The “quick lube” places want you to change your oil…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August Update (31 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August. The berry harvest continued this month at Rosings Park, our happy half acre south of Portland. Blackberry time is my favorite time of the year. And though August is often too hot for me, I’m willing to suffer the heat because I know it means the start of canning season. Sure enough,…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July Update (29 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July. It was a berry, berry good month at Rosings Park (as we call our happy half acre). Gloomy June faded into memory, the sun came out, and the berries ripened. This is the time of year when there’s little to do in the garden but water the plants and harvest the produce….

  • Use a No-Spend Month to Become Mindful of Money (45 comments)

    Yesterday, Amy Jo pointed me to a site called SmallNotebook.org where Rachel is nearing the end of a self-imposed No-Spend Month. Though the name is something of a misnomer — this exercise is more of a Spend Less Month — it’s still an interesting concept. For the entire month of July, Rachel’s family of three set a budget of $250 to spend on food, gas, clothing, household items, and entertainment. They’re doing this “to stretch…

  • Urban Fruit Gleaning: Harvesting Fresh Fruit in the Middle of the City (26 comments)

    Though Kris and I live just a few miles from downtown Portland, we’re fortunate to have three-fifths of an acre of land. This allows us to set aside some large spaces to grow fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Not all city-dwellers are so fortunate. In fact, millions of people don’t have access to a yard at all. For some of these, container gardening may be an option. Others might consider community gardens or farm…

  • 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…

  • Easy and Cheap Home-Made Bread (62 comments)

    I baked a loaf of bread yesterday. It was delicious. It was easy. It was cheap. Last winter, I undertook a quest to find the best whole wheat bread in a grocery store. I like sandwiches and I like toast, so removing bread from my diet isn’t an option. While trying to balance cost and nutrition, I eventually discovered Rainier Organic’s Sasquatch Grain & Seed Bread. At about 10 cents per ounce, this stuff is…

  • 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,…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June Update (36 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June. It was a miserable June for gardeners in northwest Oregon. The first two weeks weren’t just wet — we’re used to that — they were cold, too. The local media dubbed the month “June-uary”. Residents were quick to embrace the term. The cool weather pushed back a number of crops. Strawberry farmers…

  • Cheap Vacation: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown (56 comments)

    Last weekend, long-time GRS reader Vintek came to Portland. Kris and I joined him and his wife for a Saturday morning culinary tour. On our four-hour trek, we visited a bakery, a cooking store, and a brewery (where I drank beer for the first time — seriously). Along the way, I saw places and learned things about the city that were new to me. Afterward I realized how fun it would be to actually spend…

  • 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

  • The New Thrift and Seduction By Debt (40 comments)

    In today’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks writes about seduction by debt. The United States was founded on a moral structure that emphasized hard work and thrift, he says, and this helped the country grow affluent. But somehow we’ve lost our way. He writes: The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened. The…

  • How to Make Your Own Small-Batch Strawberry Jam (9 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Making your own jam doesn’t have to be a big production. While it’s sometimes most efficient to do things in bulk with all the right gear, the small-scale option can be better if you’re just starting out and want to make jam without much initial investment. Also, for the home gardener it’s common to have only a few cups of berries ripe at any one time, rather…

  • Buying Cheap Spices: Unit Pricing in Action (67 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion of how unit pricing can save you money, John made a passing comment that merits closer attention. He wrote: I use unit price all the time when shopping and it’s super convenient that the stores do it for you. I did an analysis of spices that come prepackaged versus a bulk food store here and the difference is ridiculous! John wanted to stock up on basic spices, but didn’t want to spend…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: May Update (56 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May. Today I picked the first two strawberries from our garden. They weren’t particularly good strawberries — there’s been plenty of Oregon rain lately, and they were rather flavorless — but they were strawberries, the harbingers of summer. They signify the start of five months of food harvest from our yard. Final orders…

  • 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…

  • Strawberry Fruit Dip: A Quick and Easy Recipe for May (13 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Oregonians have a thing for strawberries. After all, who doesn’t? But Oregon strawberries spoil us, and unfortunately, our season for local strawberry nirvana doesn’t really arrive until June, and even then it lasts but a few short heavenly weeks. Both before and after, we’re confronted with California strawberries in our stores, screaming out false promises. They look delicious, but they can’t compare to the ripe berries picked…

  • 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…

  • The Rise of Suburban Farming (40 comments)

    When our friends Mike and Rhonda moved into their new house a couple years ago, their yard was just like every other in the neighborhood: green grass. Chances are, that’s what the yards are like in your neighborhood, too. But over the past two years, Mike and Rhonda have transformed their lot into something different. They’ve created what might be described as a suburban farm. Mike ripped out all the sod and built stone walls…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April Update (27 comments)

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. April finally saw some action in the yard, but not the sort we’d hoped for. The hail you say! Most of the month was quiet. Our vegetable starts continued to thrive under the growlights. By…

  • 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…

  • Oven-Roasted Asparagus: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for April (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own little fan club around here. Maybe she should start a food blog! Asparagus used to be one of those foods that I loved to eat restaurants, but rarely made at home. For some reason I thought it was difficult to prepare, or that you needed special equipment to do so. Eventually I learned the error of my ways, and I’ve been happily cooking…

  • Frugality in Practice: Turn Your Junk Mail into Garden Mulch (35 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion about how to stop junk mail, icup mentioned using junk mail for mulch. Intrigued, I asked for more information. Here’s what he had to say. I’m more interested in saving money than saving the environment, but when I see junk mail piling up every day, it makes me stop to think about the sheer amount of waste that junk mail creates. As a homeowner with multiple mulch beds, I also feel a…

  • Grocery Store Mysteries: Cheap Milk (66 comments)

    We ran out of milk this evening, so I made an emergency trip to the grocery store to buy more. Generally we purchase a half gallon of one-percent, which lasts us about a week. When I went to grab the milk from the refrigerator case, however, I was startled by the price: $3.19! Usually we pay between $1.99 and $2.29. Our of curiosity, I priced the full gallons. They were on sale for $2.99. That’s…

  • 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…

  • How to Get Rid of Ants (Without Calling an Exterminator) (228 comments)

    I hate ants. At our old house, Kris and I were constantly at war with the little devils. Every time we suffered another invasion, every time they managed to find the pantry, every time they discovered the cat food, every time they ruined my chocolate chip cookies, I would berate them with colorful euphemisms. Eventually it got so bad that we had to bring in an exterminator. It seemed crazy to hire an exterminator to…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March Update (25 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. In my mind, March is filled with gardening activities. Not so much, as it turns out. I think April will also be light. Planting seeds Though we didn’t do much in March, we finally got to see some action from the plants. On March 1st, Kris planted the tomatoes and peppers (and some flowers). She…

  • 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…

  • Cinnamon Spice Muffins: An Easy, Frugal Recipe for March (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, whose January recipe for baked potato soup garnered rave reviews. March in our part of Oregon means rain, rain, rain. I’d like to be out working in the yard, but the cold and wind keep me inside where I work off my frustration by baking. This easy and frugal recipe is nice for a brunch or family breakfast. Cinnamon Spice Muffins don’t call for any exotic ingredients…

  • The Lazy Man’s Guide to Groceries on a Budget (63 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karl Katzke. Eating well is one of the small pleasures that I decided not to forego when I dug myself out of credit card debt. I’m a busy bachelor with an active social life and an absorbing job; I like food with a lot of flavor to it; and I live in a rural area without a lot of shopping or coupon options. These three things don’t usually go…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February Update (22 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) The yardwork begins Like last month, there’s very little to do in February. It was still quite…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home-Based Physical Fitness (90 comments)

    Lately, I’ve been making rumblings about getting in shape again. I want to get fit slowly. The trick is figuring out how to do it. It took a lot of reading and a lot of trial and error to take control of my finances, but I’ve finally achieved a healthy attitude toward money. Now I hope to do the same with physical fitness. But where to start? One approach would be to just throw money…

  • 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…

  • How to Prepare for a Baby (Without Going Broke) (90 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynnae of beingfrugal.net, a blog about frugal living and getting out of debt. Preparing for a baby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Magazines and TV ads will tell you that you need to spend a fortune in preparation for your little darling’s arrival, but it’s simply not true.  When my husband and I were expecting our first child, my husband was working at a small radio…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January Update (35 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) January is always a slow month in the garden, but it’s also full of promise. It’s time…

  • Some Thoughts on Making the Transition from Debt to Savings (28 comments)

    One of the most rewarding aspects of writing Get Rich Slowly is sharing success stories and strategies with the readers. In the forums, there’s an entire section devoted to financial success stories. Mostly, though, people share these via e-mail. Travis wrote today to tell me about his transition from debt to savings. Like me, he found it a bit of a challenge. Here’s our e-mail exchange: Travis I was reading about your progress on your…

  • 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…

  • Hearty Baked Potato Soup: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for January (60 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. You can find many versions of cream-of-potato soup on the internet, ranging from those made with instant mashed potatoes flakes and dried onions, to gourmet creations that use Yukon Golds and heavy cream. The recipe below is my favorite for those nights when a cold wind is blowing outside, I haven’t planned something specific for dinner, and I’m low on fresh produce. I almost always have the…

  • The Year-Long GRS Project: How Much Does a Garden Really Save? (108 comments)

    Kris and I are huge fans of gardening. We grow our own flowers, herbs, fruit, berries, and vegetables. We’re not able to supply all of our needs, but we do what we can. For the past two years, I’ve argued that this is an excellent way to save money if you have the time and the space. But is it really? An actual weekend harvest from August 2006. During the next year, Kris and I…

  • 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…

  • The USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Connection (21 comments)

    The United States government has a host of useful web sites. Even the IRS site is informational. I’ve written about various government resources in the past, such as: The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics on minimum wage workers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s information on the cost of food. Today I discovered another USDA site: The Food Stamp Nutrition Connection. Though ostensibly designed for low-income audiences, this site is probably worth visiting for others interested…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Taco Soup: A Cheap and Delicious Use for Ground Beef (32 comments)

    Last December, I described how Kris and I join three other couples to buy a side of beef every year. After crunching the numbers, I concluded that buying beef in bulk can be an excellent deal, but not for everyone. Buying a side of beef is a good choice if you like to cook, you eat a lot of meat, you have storage space, and quality is important to you. Last year we paid $300…

  • 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…

  • How Much Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Cost? (132 comments)

    Valerie writes: “Someone in our family recently suggested that compact fluourescents weren’t worth it due to their high initial cost compared to incandescent light bulbs. We’ve switched all our lights to CFL, so my husband looked into the actual costs. I thought you might like the results” In this guest post, she lays out the numbers. It makes good economic sense to switch from Incandescents to compact fluorescents (CFLs) — it’s not just a bunch…

  • 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…

  • How to Eat at a Swanky Restaurant Without Blowing Your Monthly Food Budget (81 comments)

    Kris and I joined some friends last weekend for a 40th birthday celebration at Bluehour, a swanky Portland restaurant. While the other couples spent $150 to $250 for their meals, we escaped paying only $52, including tip. We hadn’t planned to do this, but our unintentional parsimony taught us a few ways to save the next time we dine out at a fancy restaurant: Eat a healthy snack before you go to take the edge…

  • 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”…

  • Money-Saving Ideas for Working Parents (18 comments)

    Over at The Dollar Stretcher, Pamela wrote looking for money-saving ideas that won’t burden an overfull schedule: I need some tips from women who work outside the home and drive to a workplace everyday then have to come home after a long work day and take care of house and family. I often can’t use tips from women who stay home because they require too much time. For instance, I don’t have time for gardening….

  • 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…

  • Baby Boom: The Shockwaves of a Lifestyle Change (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. I’ve been following Get Rich Slowly and Wise Bread lately, and I find myself fascinated by the reasons people have changed their lifestyles. If karma hadn’t kicked my butt, I wonder if I would have ever moved away from the consumerist culture in which I once reveled.   Once upon a time, my husband and…

  • Frugality in Practice: Do-it-Yourself Home Maintenance (26 comments)

    I hate plumbing. Whenever a faucet begins to leak or a drain clogs, my stomach sinks. I know it means hours of frustrating work. It’s not that plumbing is difficult — it’s just that I’m not well-versed in the ways of home-improvement. Somehow I missed that part of Manhood Training. Despite my apprehension, over thirteen years of homeownership, I’ve made it a point to do as much repair work as I’m able. It has saved…

  • How to Feed Yourself for $15 a Week (204 comments)

    Our discussion about how to eat for cheap generated a lot of great tips. Daiko shared a detailed explanation of how he once got by spending just $15/week on food. This is a great real-life example of how it’s possible to eat well without breaking the bank. I’m posting it here so that more people will see it. Although I don’t do this now, I once lived on $15 a week for food in the…

  • 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…

  • From the Frugal Kitchen: How to Make Bread-and-Butter Pickle Slices (27 comments)

    Here’s another frugal recipe from my wife. This easy and delicious recipe for bread & butter pickles is perfect for a beginner. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll produce canned pickles that you’ll be proud to serve. Because of the high acid level in pickled foods, you can process them in a pot of boiling water, rather than a pressure canner. And packing slices into jars is much simpler than organizing whole pickles like dills…

  • 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…

  • Every Penny Counts: Saving for Big Goals (29 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly readers submitted a couple dozen articles while I was on vacation, but one story was mentioned more than any other. Several people sent me a New York Times piece by Christine Haughney called “Every Penny Counts“. Haughney writes about six New Yorkers who scaled back their lifestyles to save for a larger goal: homeownership. Here’s how one couple did it: In a city synonymous with luxury and spending, Ms. Lee, 30, and…

  • 16 Ways to Eat Healthy While Keeping it Cheap (193 comments)

    This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. If you enjoy this post, check out his site. Eating healthy is important. . Eating healthy: Lowers disease risks Increases productivity Gives you more energy Makes you stronger You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest — it is. But there are tricks to spare your savings account and keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping…

  • 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…

  • Pick Your Own: A Brief Guide to the Berry Patch (20 comments)

    Picking berries is one of my favorite parts of summer. Kris and I grow much of our own fruit, and we’re snacking from June to September. Our garden includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, marionberries, boysenberries, lingonberries, elderberries, currants, apples, prunes, pears, and a whole slew of vegetables. It’s a summertime cornucopia! Not everyone has the time, space, and energy to grow their own food. Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s easy and…

  • 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:…

  • Simple Homemade Chicken Stock Using a Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken (27 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. In our house, rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a time- and effort-saver. A whole fryer chicken usually sells for less than $1/pound. A typical rotisserie chicken is about double the cost, but we often get three weekday meals off it, so it’s worth it to me. The chicken meat is used in salads, pasta dishes, quesadillas, sandwiches, pot pies and stews and, when the carcass is…

  • The Frugal Traveler: American Road Trip (29 comments)

    Kris and I are deep in preparation for our upcoming trip to England and Ireland. We’ve spent the past two months researching frugal travel options, including digital cameras, walking shoes, and — I kid you not — travel underwear. We meet with our housesitter tonight. A close friend, amused by our packing, pointed me to a series of articles by Matt Gross, the New York Times “frugal traveler”. Last summer, Gross toured the world, chronicling…

  • 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…

  • Christmas in June: Save Money with Homemade Gifts (17 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. Each December, I put together gifts for friends, co-workers, neighbors and family. My list is long, and I don’t want to break the bank. Homemade gifts go the extra mile to express my affection to the people in my life, while also allowing me to save some money. If you’re thinking about making gifts from summer’s bounty, and are willing to put in some elbow grease in a…

  • 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…

  • Student Cook: Eat Healthily on a Student Budget (10 comments)

    When I first left home, my diet was awful. I mostly ate pizza and ramen, with a lot of hamburgers added to the mix. I didn’t prepare much food myself because I didn’t know how. Besides, I didn’t think I could afford it. Student Cook is a site designed to help young adults get started in the kitchen while keeping an eye on costs. Student Cook was formed in late 2005 to offer a unique…

  • 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…

  • 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,…

  • Frugality in Practice: The Garden in Spring (18 comments)

    On Sundays, I’ve been sharing how to earn money from hobbies. Some hobbies can also save you money, which is just as good. Like many advocates of frugality and simple living, Kris and I take pleasure in growing our own food. We started planning our garden in February. Today, on Easter — a day of rebirth — we paused to examine our work. Kris’ tomatoes and flowers are healthy and strong: In the vegetable garden,…

  • 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….

  • Small Amounts Matter (14 comments)

    Sometimes I’ll be talking about frugality with somebody who says, “Why bother? Pinching pennies all the time makes me feel lousy. Besides, you can’t really save that much money. You really save money on the big stuff.” This is a common response to frugal living. I have some standard replies: It is true that it’s important to save money on the big stuff, like a home or a car. Any time you make a large…

  • 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…

  • Save Money on Laundry Day (19 comments)

    At Curbly, the DIY Maven has posted advice on how to save money on laundry day. When the Spray ‘n’ Wash runs out, make your own. If you use dryer sheets, only use half at a time. If you’re shopping, consider a front-loading washer. Pick up a pair of dryer balls. (I’d never even heard of these before reading this.) I confess to having no idea how much it costs to do laundry. My wife…

  • 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…

  • How to Save for the Trip of a Lifetime (17 comments)

    Ian publishes an online travel magazine (a.k.a. “a blog”) called Brave New Traveler, which is dedicated to providing information for world adventurers. He pointed me to a recent guest-post from Lucia Byttebier, who has some tips on “saving money for the trip of a lifetime”. The five steps Byttebier recommends are: Reconsider your living situation. Can you find a cheaper living arrangement? Remind yourself that it’s only temporary, that you’re saving for a goal. Byttebeir…

  • 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…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Homeless By Choice (10 comments)

    Several readers wrote to share this story of extreme personal finance from the pages of the Los Angeles Times: 26-year-old Andy Bussell has been living in his truck, homeless by choice, for the past year-and-a-half. The odyssey began in 2005. Bussell was working full time as a “Mac genius” at the Apple Store in Newport Beach, sharing a $1,600-per-month apartment in Aliso Viejo. He had racked up more than $10,000 in credit card debt and…

  • 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….

  • How to Eat Vegetarian on the Cheap (41 comments)

    I recently posted two articles for frugal carnivores: a guide to cheap cuts of beef and another on on how to buy a side of beef. GRS-reader Sally has produced an introduction to eating vegetarian for cheap. Though her tips are for herbivores, many are useful to omnivores, as well. About a year-and-a-half ago, for health reasons, my husband and I committed ourselves to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. At home we eat entirely vegetarian; when…

  • Rich or Poor? Sometimes It’s All in Your Head (16 comments)

    I recently shared the story of a woman who wondered, “I make $6.50 an hour — am I poor?” The author had lost a good-paying job, moved to rural Montana, and was struggling to get by. Several readers forwarded a similar story about a woman who is surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year. The authors of both articles live on about the same income. What is remarkable to me is the difference in the…

  • Gardening 101: Plan Today for Summer Success (44 comments)

    Raising your own berries, fruits, and vegetables is a fun and rewarding way to save money. Our grocery bills drop dramatically during harvest season, and the food cannot be beat. (I love our salsa recipe.) But my wife notes, “February is the time to start planning your vegetable garden.” This post contains her advice for starting a garden that will produce a bounty of delicious food. This was an actual weekend harvest from our garden…

  • 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…

  • Making the Most of Cheap Cuts of Beef (17 comments)

    You don’t need to buy a side of beef to get cheap, great-tasting meat. Excellent inexpensive steaks and roasts are available at every supermarket. Here’s a brief guide to common cuts. The information in this article is derived from two Cook’s Illustrated pieces: “An Illustrated Guide to Beef Roasts” (Nov/Dec 2002) and “Tasting: Inexpensive Steaks” (Sep/Oct 2005). Inexpensive Steaks These steaks were priced $6.99/pound or less when Cook’s Illustrated tested them in 2005. Best Cuts…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • DIY Microwave Popcorn (38 comments)

    Back in the Olden Dayes, we made popcorn on the stove. If we were good, then Sunday night before The Wonderful World of Disney, mom would heat some oil in a skillet and pop the corn. It was delicious. Then, of course, came the microwave, and with it came popcorn in a bag. It’s all so very convenient. But sometimes I miss the Olden Dayes. Here’s an old AskMetafilter question (found via frykitty): “Is it…

  • Cheap Ways to Stay Warm this Winter (52 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…

  • How to Buy a Side of Beef (105 comments)

    Kris and I grow our own berries. We harvest walnuts from a tree in the yard, and glean hazelnuts from a friend’s orchard. We keep fruit trees and a vegetable garden. For city folk, we try to grow as much of our own food as possible. But one thing we cannot grow is our own meat. We’ve discovered the next best thing, though: we buy beef in bulk from a local rancher. Every year, we…

  • Five Fantastic Frugal Tips for Christmas (13 comments)

    In my recent Christmas article, I asked you to submit your favorite ideas for saving money during the holidays. Your suggestions were great. Among the best were these (which I’ve edited slightly): Samuel’s tip: “Give your ‘favorite things’ as gifts. Find items you love and use everyday, then share these with others. By giving favorite things, the focus is on sharing things you like rather than how much you spent. For example, my ‘favorite thing’…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Get Started in Life? (18 comments)

    Over the past week, I’ve received a barrage of messages from people seeking specific personal finance advice. While I’m willing to offer help where I can, many times the questions lay outside my area of expertise. I’m just a regular guy who is learning about personal finance and sharing the information with the world. I’m not a trained financial advisor. I can offer generalities, but the specifics are sometimes beyond me. Lifehacker has a feature…

  • Cheap Clothing Jackpot (9 comments)

    Last month I wrote about saving money by shopping for second-hand clothes. Today, in a nearby business park, our neighborhood used-clothing shop had a warehouse sale. Everything was a buck (except coats, which were two bucks). Better yet, there was an all-you-can-stuff bin — for $2, you could fill a garbage bag with all sorts of less-than-desirable clothes. I bought a nice shirt and a nice pair of slacks for $1 a piece. I also…

  • Keep Track of Food with a Leftovers List (17 comments)

    I never remember what we have in the fridge. We’ll make a pot roast for Sunday dinner, and store several servings of leftovers. But once they’re in Tupperware and tucked out of sight, they’re as good as gone to me. A month later, I’ll find a container filled with rancid beef. Wasting leftovers increases food costs, so I’ve been struggling to find a method to aid my memory. Tonight I had an inspiration — I…

  • 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…

  • Frugality in Practice: Shopping for Second-Hand Clothes (24 comments)

    On a street corner near our house is a store called The Dig, which advertises “most clothes $3 – $4 – $5″. Many of these are items of the latest fashions, which have been rejected for whatever reason. Clean and organized, the store also has dressing rooms, something many thrift stores lack. I used to mock Kris for going to The Dig. It looked like a dive. Then I joined her for a trip a…

  • 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,…

  • 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 (78 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…

  • 20 Free Ways to Save Energy (15 comments)

    Consumer Reports has a new publication entitled Complete Guide to Reducing Energy Costs. To promote the book, they’ve made twenty tips available for free online: Wash clothes in cold water. Most of the cost in running a washer is in heating the water. Hang clothes on a line. Don’t overdry your laundry. Remove clothes from the dryer while they’re still a little damp. Let the dishwasher do the work. Don’t pre-rinse dishes. (This shocks me….

  • Just Say No (to Patronizing Ads) (22 comments)

    Here’s the headline from a circular that came in the mail today. “You need to post this at Get Rich Slowly,” Kris told me. She’s right. It would take me fifteen minutes to reach the nearest Applebee’s. It would cost me several dollars in fuel, not to mention the cost for the meal. For less money and the same time I could fix a fantastic meal of steak and risotto. (Accompanied by a frosty adult…

  • 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…

  • How to Buy a Part at the Junkyard (13 comments)

    I grew up next to a wrecking yard. But can you believe it? I’ve never bought anything from one. GRS-reader matildaben wrote to share a question she posted at AskMetafilter: Should I get a car part at a junkyard/salvage yard/auto recycler, and how do I go about it? I need a side mirror assembly for a 1998 Nissan Sentra. Should I get it at a junkyard? [...] Would it be worth it to drive over…

  • 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…

  • Frugal Recipes: The Best Salsa Ever (15 comments)

    We returned from San Francisco to find a bounty of fresh produce in our garden. What can a fellow do with so many tomatoes? Make fresh salsa, of course. My wife has perfected a recipe she adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, The Best Recipe. Here’s the original, followed by her modifications. Fresh Red Table Salsa 3 large very ripe tomatoes (~2#), cored and quartered 1/2 cup tomato juice 1 small jalapeno or other fresh…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Frugality in Practice: Building a Cheap Personal Finance Library (14 comments)

    My wife and I went thrift-store shopping last weekend. She was looking for shoes. I was looking for personal finance books. I found several: The Millionaire Next Door ($3.99) The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need ($2.99) A Random Walk Down Wall Street ($3.99) The Richest Man in Babylon ($2.99) Because I received 15% off the entire order, these four books cost me just $11.87. I passed up several other good choices — $12 seemed…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Reader Tip: Save Money on Iced Coffee Drinks (5 comments)

    Betsy from My Whim is Law wrote in with a $5 pledge and a tip on how to save money on expensive coffee drinks: This isn’t particularly funny, but it is a reader suggestion! Most of the time, I make my own coffee at home — or drink it at work.  But every now and then, I need an extra kick — or I’m out running errands, or it’s hot while I’m running errands, or…….

  • How to Earn a 177% Rate of Return on BOOZE (14 comments)

    I went thrift-store shopping with Kris yesterday. I scored a pile of personal finance books, including a copy of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias. This is one of my favorite personal finance books. Tobias has a witty, engaging style, and the book is full of down-to-earth tips. Remember how cranky I was about Amelia Tyagi’s advice to not worry about the little things, to only pay attention to the Big…

  • Plan a Weekend of Bargain-Hunting with GarageMaps (2 comments)

    Garage sales are a fun way to exercise your frugal impulses. Instead of heading to the mall on a weekend, take some time to cruise the sales in your city, looking for deals. To make it easier to plan your outing, Get Rich Slowly reader Fraser is building garagemaps.com, a web-based garage-sale mapping tool. He writes: My wife and I are garage sale junkies, heading out to search for bargains every Saturday morning. She used…

  • 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)
  • 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…

  • 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…

  • A Cheaper Cup of Coffee (20 comments)

    David Bach likes to refer to the latte factor — that daily indulgence you can’t resist. For many people, it’s a cup of premium coffee from Starbucks (or a local coffee stand). These people love their coffee, and they’re willing to pay for it. Bach notes that many people think they cannot afford to make investments, but they routinely spend $5/day on a latte (or on comic books or on lunch). That $5/day is roughly…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Save Money by Switching to Compact Fluorescents (6 comments)

    How much can you save by switching lightbulbs? The Technocrat recently did the math and decided to replace all of his incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The up-front cost was huge, but he calculated the new bulbs would pay for themselves in just six months. You can get a six-pack [of compact fluorescents] that costs less than $30, with each bulb putting out as much light as a 60 watt bulb, while only using 13…

  • 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…

  • Frugal Recipes for Miserly Moms (1 comment)

    The Miserly Moms web site offers 87 frugal recipes submitted by the site’s readers. They’re all down-home meals made with cheap ingredients. Here’s a typical recipe: Grandma’s Pot Roast 3-5# beef roast (cheapest cut under $2/lb — watch for sales as low as $1.20/lb) 1 package store brand onion soup mix ($.50) 1 small onion, cut any way you like ($.50) 2 Tbsp. Worstershire sauce 1 can cream of mushroom soup ($.50) Put in a…

  • 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….

  • 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….

  • The Cheapest Way to Buy Booze (6 comments)

    SmartMoney proclaims it has discovered the cheapest way to buy booze. Stocking up on enough alcohol for a party can cost a small fortune. Your best bet — visit your local warehouse clubs, which regularly offer discounts of 10% to 30%. But what about those hefty membership fees, you ask? Thanks to some little-known state laws, nonmembers can purchase alcohol without paying a membership fee. These laws date back to the 1930s, when Prohibition was…

  • 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…

  • Workshops and Craft Rooms (0 comment)

    Phil at the Make Blog is hosting an informal best workshop contest. There’s a Flickr pool for submitting workshop photos. Natalie, Make’s “crafts maker”, also found a set of craft room photos. These pictures are fun to browse — it’s great to see what other people build and create. Frugal folks love to make things. Learning to do-it-yourself is an important part of living with less. My workshop doesn’t get as much use as it…

  • The Hillbilly Housewife (5 comments)

    In response to recent posts on eating cheaply (Healthy Food on an Unhealthy Budget and Learning to Eat More Meals at Home), several readers have pointed to a site called Hillbilly Housewife. The focus here is on low-cost, home-cooking from scratch. The recipes are all tested in a real kitchen with hungry children, stalking cats, begging puppies and a playful husband underfoot. The ingredients are affordable and readily available in most areas. There is a…

  • 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.

  • Healthy Food on an Unhealthy Budget (109 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: What’s your favorite healthy food that can be bought on a college student budget? I’ve decided that I’m really going to crack down on my poor eating habits. As a college student, I’ve always bought the food that was the most affordable. Unfortunately, this is usually generic-brand pizza, toaster streudels, and whichever soda is on sale. In order to combat this, I’m looking for suggestions for healthy, easy-to-prepare foods that won’t…

  • 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…

  • Essential Gear for a Bike Commute (5 comments)

    Many people who live frugal lifestyles swear by alternative transportation. They ride mass transit. They commute by bicycle. They walk. Many don’t even own a car. Summer is approaching. Maybe you have considered biking to work. But what sort of gear do you need? An AskMetafilter user wondered the same thing: What’s the essential gear for bike commuting? I’ll be commuting to work by bike, and I’d like to know what’s considered the essential gear,…

  • Quick and Easy Yellow-Jacket Trap (1 comment)

    Just in time for summer, here’s a quick and easy way to deal with the hoards of yellow jackets that are just waiting for you to grill those steaks on a warm evening. This trap can be built from stuff you have around the house. And a piece of fish. You will need: A dish pan or wash basin. A tablespoon of liquid dish soap (preferably unscented). Three sticks about a foot long. A couple…

  • Frugality in Practice: Shaking That New Car Itch (19 comments)

    I want a new car. An Audi. Or a BMW. I’ve got that New Car Itch. I’ve never been a fan of my Ford Focus. I like the leather seats, it’s true, and I know it’s relatively safe, but the car just doesn’t suit my style. It’s no fun to drive. Acceleration is unresponsive. Every little piece of it rattles and squeaks. Sometimes the road noise is oppressive. The whole car just feels cheap. It’s…

  • 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…

  • Quick and Easy Self-Watering Garden Planters (1 comment)

    The Make Blog has a quick-and-easy tip for all of you frugal home gardeners: how to make self-watering planters from old milk jugs. Awesome in its simplicity and utility. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back outside to plant my watermelon and to water my peas, peppers, and corn…

  • Learning to Eat More Meals at Home (31 comments)

    Cooking at home is an excellent way to save money. But if you’re accustomed to dining out for most meals, it can be a difficult transition. Fortunately, there’s plenty of help available on the web. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Eating More Meals at Home is a good place to start: If you read personal finance blogs long enough, you’re going to get the idea hammered into you that cooking for yourself rather than eating…

  • 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…

  • Frugal Fitness Solutions (0 comment)

    Chris Zdeb of The Edmonton Journal has drafted a list of Forty Frugal Fitness Solutions. People don’t think there’s an alternative to having to spend money to get fit “because I don’t think our promotion of what you’re calling ‘frugal fitness’, has been as strong as our promotion of vigorous activity at fitness centers. But that’s partly because the people who are promoting the vigorous activity in fitness centers are the centers,” explains Wendy Rodgers…