Becoming a frugalvore: How to eat well for less
Hey hey, y'all. Here's a guest post from former GRS staff writer (and perennial reader favorite) Donna Freedman. This piece about becoming a frugalvore contains material that originally appeared at Donna's site, Surviving and Thriving. It's been modified for GRS. Enjoy!
The "locavore" movement is based on the idea of eating only foods grown within a 100-mile radius of where you live. Vicki Robin, for instance, might be best-known for her money manual Your Money or Your Life, but she also wrote a book for locavores in which she advocates a ten-mile diet.
I'm not a locavore but I have my own system, and I think it deserves its own name: I'm a "frugalvore". Becoming a frugalvore is pretty simple. You shop mostly (or completely) for what's on sale.
This isn't exactly a new idea. Plenty of people shop that way their whole lives. But it might be new to you if you grew up in a home where no one read the supermarket ads, created menus, and then worked to get the most bang for each grocery buck.
Becoming a frugalvore both simplifies and complicates your approach to eating.
On the one hand, it's easier to shop because you plan menus around that week's most affordable foodstuffs. However, if you're the kind of person who always shopped by grabbing whatever looked good, then you'll need to rethink your supermarket habits.
Fortunately, it's fairly simple. Not always easy, but simple. Here's how you can become a frugalvore.
Fighting lifestyle inflation: Hopping off the hedonic treadmill
Frugalists aren't averse to spending. They're just canny about how they buy, or whether they buy at all.
That's a tough sell, so to speak, in a country where we're persistently pressured to keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians). Flash sales, one-click shopping apps, deal websites, and near-weekly sales at brick and mortar stores make it soooo easy to buy.
Haul photos on social media, hot deals shared by friends, clothing or cosmetics worn by favorite celebrities, that bling your sister-in-law sported at Christmas – spending triggers, every one of them. Continue reading...
11 frugal ways to prepare for an emergency
According to the U.S. government, all citizens should have enough supplies to survive for at least three days in an emergency. Depending on where you live, "emergency" could mean tornado, earthquake, blackout, flood, wildfire, hurricane, ice storm or zombie apocalypse.
How ready do you feel?
It is possible to put together an emergency kit without breaking the bank. In fact, you may already have some (or much) of what you need already.
Keeping a Pet Healthy on a Budget
There's no such thing as a free puppy. Or kitten. Or hamster, lizard, fish or rabbit. Even if someone hands you a critter outright, you can expect to spend between $580 to $875 a year for basic expenses, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Oh, and that doesn't count things like purchase price/adoption fees, collar, leash, crate, spaying/neutering and other "capital costs." Or for any of the myriad (and sometimes silly) ways we profess love for our animals. The American Pet Products Association says that U.S. pet owners spent a little over $58 billion last year on our critters; this year the estimate is $60.59 billion.
Who says you can't put a price on love? But keep in mind that:
35 tips for packing a lunch your kid will eat
About four in 10 elementary school students bring lunch from home. But it's not likely to be a good one, according to a 2014 study from Tufts University.
Not one of the lunchboxes examined met all five National School Lunch Program standards, and only 27 percent of the meals met at least three NSLP recommendations (fruits, vegetables, low- or nonfat dairy, whole grains, and meat or meat alternatives).
Almost 25 percent of the brought-from-home meals lacked an entrée and, instead, were made up of packaged snack foods and desserts. Only 5 percent of the meals contained any vegetables.<
Strategies for an affordable college education
As you gaze at your newborn or newly adopted son or daughter, one of these thoughts may run through your head:
- "Will I be able to afford to put you through school?"
- "Am I required to put you through school?"
- "Right now it's all I can do to pay for Pampers and child care. I'll worry about college later."
Time has a way of sneaking up on us. Seemingly overnight, that gurgling infant morphs into a 12th-grader looking at college or vocational education.
According to The College Board, tuition and fees (but not housing) at U.S. colleges in academic year 2014-15 ranged from $9,139 (state residents at public college) to $22,958 (out-of-state residents at public universities) to $31,231 (private colleges).
What will you do when your debt is paid off?
I've been in debt just once: during and after a two-year-long divorce, a time during which I was also a midlife university student. Good times!
Nineteen months after the divorce decree, I zeroed out my legal debt. I also took a deep breath for the first time in years. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do with the extra money each month.
What I should have done: Visit a fee-only financial planner.
Christmas gifts that keep on giving
Anyone who has lived on the margin has likely felt the anxiety that comes with having just about enough to get by. That's why I'd like to suggest a holiday present that can make a short- or long-term difference in someone's life -- the gift of breathing room.
Got a barely-afloat friend or family member or one who is inching toward the red side of the ledger? Even a small amount of leeway could be extremely helpful (maybe even life-changing) to unemployed or underemployed friends and relatives, single parents, retirees or recent college grads.
The freeing-up of even $20 from someone's budget could become seed money for an emergency fund, an extra payment toward consumer debt, the sneakers her kid needs for gym class.<
What to buy on Black Friday
Want to start a fight? Announce that you'll be shopping on Thanksgiving Day.
A whole bunch of folks will likely sigh and mourn the once-was-sacred Thanksgiving dinner with family. Why, they'll ask, would anyone want to shop on this day? Why would anyone force retail clerks into manning their posts even though they'd rather be home melting marshmallows atop sweet-potato casseroles?
One such pearl-clutcher, hearing that Macy's would open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, suggested to a Chicago-area newspaper that an obituary was needed. "I think this death needs to be acknowledged," she said. "It is the death of Thanksgiving."<
What older children need to know about money
Post-secondary education has never been more important. Personal finance writer Liz Weston notes that “a college degree today is what a high school diploma was 60 years ago,” i.e., the bare minimum for remaining in the middle class.
Whether a teaching degree or HVAC certification, it's going to make a difference in your child's life. The big question is how to pay for that training.
Making college more affordable