• The Last Bit in the Container

    It happens over and over again in life. You’re using a tube of toothpaste and you’ve used enough so that it’s becoming difficult to squeeze out the remainder. You’re eating a bag of chips and all that’s left are a bunch of crumbs at the bottom. You turn over your shampoo bottle to get a …

  • The Greater Implications of Frugality

    Maria writes in: Do you ever write about the political and social implications of frugality? When you choose not to spend and instead invest your money, you’re either supporting the banking industry or brokerages. Every dollar you have makes some sort of statement, even when you choose to save it. Maria makes a good point. …

  • The Crossover Point and Frugality

    A long time ago, I wrote about a concept called the “crossover point”. The “crossover point” describes the point at which the returns from your investments exceed your living expenses, which means you can begin to fully live on your investment income and not have to work. To give you an idea of what the …

  • Letting Up

    When people find themselves first recovering from financial disaster, they often bear down very hard on every dime. They scrutinize every expense and every receipt, looking for a way to squeeze a few more dollars out of their life so that they can push down those debts a little bit. At that point, fear is …

  • Seven Tactics to Avoid Wasting Food

    I was stunned by this article in the Washington Examiner that states that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food each year. That adds up to about 400 pounds of food wasted per American man, woman, and child each year. If our family met that American average, the five of us would waste a ton …

  • Failing at Frugality … or at Life?

    It’s easy to look back on my history of frugal experiments and see a lot of failures. Not too long ago, I attempted to fix the toilet on our main floor. After three hours of grumbling and several broken pieces, I wound up calling the plumber, which would have been cheaper to begin with. Once, …

  • The Fleeting Luxury

    I’m not a big fan of sweet stuff. I’ve always been the type of person that prefers savory flavors, and my favorite thing in that regard is cheese. I love trying new kinds of cheeses. Every once in a while, I’ll splurge and buy a chunk of cheese that I’ve never tried before. Extra mature …

  • Handling Social Reactions to Changes in Your Spending

    When I first started cutting back on my spending, a significant portion of my social group took notice. They saw that I was less interested in expensive excursions like golfing and that I was sometimes skipping after-work meetups (and drinking only water at most of the ones I attended). Quite a few of the people …

  • Don’t Cut Where It Hurts (At Least, Not at First)

    The one part about turning around your personal finance situation that everyone dreads is the cutbacks. It’s easy to see why. Your normal, everyday life is what has led you to this financial corner. In order to turn the ship around, you’re going to have to make some changes to your normal, everyday life. People …

  • The Ultimate Guide to Making Meals in Advance (with Five Recipes!)

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a person can save a ton of money by preparing meals from scratch at home. Restaurant meals are incredibly expensive by comparison and even convenience meals at home can be costly compared to preparing them on your own. If you can get into a routine of …

  • The Risk and Reward of Generics, Store Brands, and “Best Buys”

    When Sarah and I were really straining to get our finances under control, we went through a phase where we bought the cheapest versions of every food and common household product. We bought cheap coffee, cheap cereal, cheap dishwashing detergent – you name it. As we used this stuff, we found that most of it …

  • 5 Tactics for Getting a Better Cell Phone Deal

    This article first appeared on U.S. News and World Report Money. Cell phone companies want you to sign up for expensive two-year contracts. Why wouldn’t they? It’s money directly in their pocket. They’ll use every sales technique they can to get you to sign on the dotted line for a new contract. Sometimes, that contract …

  • Building an Electronic Price Book

    When Sarah and I were reassessing our finances, we looked around for as many tips as possible on how to save money. One of the best resources we discovered was The Complete Tightwad Gazette. One of the best suggestions that we found in the book was to use a logical system to determine where the …

  • How to Trim Expenses without Losing Things You Enjoy

    As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, I spent a lot of 2006 and 2007 cutting major expenses from my life. During that period, my family’s finances were in peril, so I felt a strong need to come up with every single dollar that I could. The solution was to cut my spending, then …

  • The “Cheap Neighborhood” Problem

    Connie writes in: “Right now, we pay $1,000 a month in rent. About ten minutes away, there are houses available that are as low as $300 a month in rent and they’re perfectly fine houses. The problem is the neighborhood. The area is loaded with people on welfare and most of the yards are really …

  • Is Premium Gas Worth It?

    You’re standing at the gas pump. There are multiple fuel types available – a low-cost type that’s marked with an 87 octane rating that also has 10% ethanol, a medium priced gas that’s 87 but more expensive than the ethanol gas, and a premium fuel that has a 91 octane rating. (Note that you may …

  • Frugality as a Life Preserver?

    In April 2006, our lives were in crisis mode. We had a ton of consumer debt and student loan debt, yet we didn’t have enough cash in our checking account or savings account to pay the bills. We had a small child at home and all we could see around us was financial disaster. In …

  • Replacing Regular Purchases With One-Time Purchases

    Going to the grocery store is an exercise in frustration. Why? Almost everything you buy there is consumable. You buy it. You eat it or use it. Next week, you have to go back to the store and buy more. It’s an endless funnel of money straight out of your pocket. My solution to this …

  • When Price Per Unit Fails You

    A few weeks ago, Sarah and I were dining at a nice restaurant. As we were ordering, the waiter told us a bit about their wine cellar and showed us a wine list while also making recommendations for good pairings with our food. We looked at the list and eventually decided to order a bottle …