Frugality

Spend Less? Earn More? Which Is the Best Path?

Pretty much everyone who writes anything about personal finance will agree that the best way to get ahead financially is to increase the difference between what you earn and what you spend. There are, of course, two major ways to make that happen. You can either earn more or you can spend less. No matter …

How to Handle Being Ashamed of Being Frugal

The simple maxim of spending less than you earn stands at the heart of personal finance success. If you can consistently do that one thing, you’re going to succeed when it comes to personal finance. I repeat that idea all the time because it’s so true – it’s the core of everything. People get into …

Categories: Frugality

The Value of Handwritten Notes

Whenever I happen to stop in a Hallmark store, I’m just astounded as to the wide variety of greeting cards on display in there. There are cards for birthdays, wedding anniversaries, bridal showers, engagements, weddings, new babies, job promotions, new jobs, good-byes, graduations, passing a big test, recovering from illness or surgery, sympathy, apology, christenings, …

Categories: Frugality

50 Fun Free Activities My Family Enjoys

One of the most popular articles I’ve ever written for The Simple Dollar is 100 Things to Do During a Money-Free Weekend. In it, I touch upon the idea of a “money-free weekend” – one in which you consciously avoid the active spending of money – and then drop a long list of activities you …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Are Ethanol-Blended Fuels a Bargain?

Ethanol Added and Premium Fuels Are a Questionable Bargain Over the last year, I’ve been keeping careful track of the fuel efficiency of my 2004 Honda Pilot. You know the vehicle – it’s the one I bought off of Craigslist a few years back. My driving in the vehicle is an almost equal mix of …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

The Razor Experiment: Smart Tactics for Razor Blades

I’ve been clean shaven for almost my entire adult life (aside from a disastrous beard experiment in college). Over those years, I’ve tried a number of different solutions for keeping a clean shave and, over the last several years, I’ve focused on ways to keep my face cleared without breaking the bank. These experiments have …

Categories: Frugality

My Timeless Strategy for Buying Electronics

I write for a living, mostly for websites. It’s not surprising that I have a great deal of use for a number of electronic items. I have a smartphone, a reasonably modern computer, a laptop, and an iPad Mini. Almost since the day I graduated from college, using computers and other electronic devices has been …

Don’t Waste Food! A Ten Step Strategy to Avoid the Expense of Food Gone Bad

One of the biggest frustrations I have as a money-conscious person is when I toss something out that could have been used if I had just planned better. It’s painful whether I’m tossing out something that’s rusty, something that’s water damaged, or something that’s spoiled. This “tossing out ‘could have been used’ stuff” phenomenon happens …

Categories: Food, Frugality

The Free and the Priceless

What is the financial value of a hug from one of your children? You might scoff at this question or think that it’s somehow foolish, but I’m serious. What is a hug from one of your children worth? Five dollars? Ten dollars? Thousands? Nothing? It probably has a lot to do with your own internal …

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak

I really enjoy a big gulp of orange juice. That mix of tartness and sweetness across my tongue is just sublime. I relish the feeling I get from pulling the plastic off of a new board game and popping out all of the pieces. The smell, the sound, and the tactile feeling all bring me …

5 Soda Alternatives That Can Save You Money

This article first appeared at US News and World Report Money. Drinking soda (or pop or coke, depending on the region of the United States you reside in) can add up surprisingly quickly, particularly if you have several children. Even worse than that, soda is a way to add a bunch of extra calories to …

Categories: Frugality

Eight Great Free (Or Nearly Free) Summer-Long Projects for Children

Last summer, my two oldest children embarked on a summer-long project that they ended up taking a ton of pride in. In fact, we expanded that summer project and are repeating it again this summer to their great enthusiasm. (What project was it? It’s the first one on this list.) We learned a few lessons …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Parenting

Keeping the Pantry Organized

As I’ve mentioned before, our grocery routine is pretty straightforward. I’ll just pull it straight in from our Meal Planning for Busy Families post from last fall: Step 1: Get a Flyer Step 2: Find Sales on Fresh Ingredients Step 3: Do Some Recipe Research Step 4: Create a Week-Long Meal Plan Step 5: Make …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Reducing the Cost of a Summer Road Trip

This summer, my family is going on a very long road trip to multiple national parks, a stop at Disneyworld, visits with relatives, and many little side trips and journeys along the way. We are going to see large parts of the United States and do it all in an automobile. No matter how we …

The Unhappy Call

A few days ago, I called my internet service provider. I had an issue I wanted to discuss with their customer service people. Don’t get me wrong – I actually really like my internet service provider. They have fast service when there’s a problem and there’s rarely a problem. The speeds are consistent and don’t …

Categories: Frugality

6 Ways to Save Money at Summer Concerts and Music Festivals

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Bonnaroo. CMA. Firefly. Lollapalooza. The summer calendar is filled with amazing festivals for music fans, where attendees have the opportunity to hear live performances from dozens of great musical acts in just a few days. Unfortunately, attending concerts and festivals can really add up. …

Categories: Frugality

Using an Inexpensive Streaming Video Box to Replace Cable Television

There is an astounding amount of quality movies and television series available on Netflix. There’s a shocking number of great channels available on Youtube. Add on top of that the many, many other streaming services out there, both free and paid, and you begin to realize that there is far more than enough television content …

Five Weekend Adventures That Teach Your Kids Frugality

Almost every weekend, particularly during the summer when I’m working at home and Sarah is on break from teaching, we plan some sort of family “adventure.” The goal of these “adventures” is to either visit some location or engage in some large project at home that will teach the children something useful. They might learn …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Parenting

Eleven Tactics from the Meal Assembly Line

A few months ago, I posted a detailed guide to making meals in advance. It’s a very useful guide for preparing full meals, but quite often that’s not exactly what you want. You want an individual meal you can pull out when you want. I want this, too. Often, I eat leftovers, but lately, I’ve …

Categories: Food, Frugality