Frugality

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

11 Tactics For Meal Planning That Will Save Money

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: Frugality, Meals

4 Inexpensive Ways to Enjoy a Holiday Weekend

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. With Memorial Day coming up – and with a summer that has a Fourth of July weekend in the middle and Labor Day weekend on the far end of things – there are many opportunities for people to enjoy the freedom of a three …

Categories: Frugality

The Air Conditioning Battle

Summer is approaching (though from the unseasonably cool temperatures here, you could have fooled me) and with the approach of summer means summer cooling bills. Many, many households across the United States will be trying to maximize the cooling they can get from their central air units, window air conditioning, and fans in order to …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Moving with Minimal Money: Nine Tactics for Frugal Relocation

The process of moving from an apartment to our home in 2007 was a big learning experience. We did some things right with that move – but some things we did quite poorly. Since then, we’ve had ample time to reflect on our own move as well as help others with their moving experiences and …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Energy Saving Tips & Mortgages

A casual acquaintance of mine completed an interesting project several years ago: he covered his roof in solar panels with the goal of generating adequate energy for his home. At the time, the solar panels were more expensive than they are right now and they were also somewhat less efficient. At the time he invested …

“Free” Upgrades Aren’t Always Free

A few years ago, I was stuck in a situation where I needed to rent a car. I had a bit of time before I had to rent the vehicle, so I shopped around. I only needed the vehicle to drive myself around, so I honestly wasn’t really concerned about having a giant vehicle. So, …

Seven Simple Tactics We Use to Keep Summer Energy Bills Low

During the winter, we use a number of tactics for maximizing the effectiveness of our energy use. In Iowa, winters can get quite cold – we reached -20 F at our home several times this winter – and knowing how to maximize the energy that your furnace uses can make a huge difference when the …

Categories: Frugality

The Coupon Rotation

Over the years, I’ve talked about several different methods Sarah and I have used to manage coupons at the grocery store. At first, I wasn’t really convinced that coupons were worth the time investment. We clipped them leisurely, mostly as a Sunday morning breakfast activity. A bit later, we started getting really organized. For me, …

Large Portions and Doggie Bags

There’s a small family-owned restaurant that Sarah and I take our family to regularly. We like the employees and the owners there and have become something like “regulars,” as it’s a place we’re comfortable taking our children to for a pleasant and peaceful meal. Anyway, as we were examining the menus during our last visit, …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Creating a Problem Where None Exists

Recently, I was in a doctor’s office waiting for an appointment with my youngest son (who had a strange rash that he apparently contracted during a hike in the woods). As he sat at the kid’s table and played with a few toys, I flipped through a magazine. While browsing, I came across a brief …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Reflections on a Tiny House

Over the past week, I’ve been fascinated by a number of articles describing tiny houses – those measuring 100 square feet or smaller. Here’s an example: This type of house is outside the realm of possibility of most families. It would work for many single people and some couples, but I can’t imagine the five …

Living Life

One of the biggest arguments against being “frugal” is that it restricts you from “living life.” Whenever I hear that argument, I usually think that the person involved isn’t actually being frugal at all. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that making frugal choices actually does the opposite – it enables …

Discover the Forest

One of the coolest online tools I’ve seen in a long time came to my attention this past weekend as I was thinking about our family’s weekend plans between now and Memorial Day. With the arrival of spring, I was looking for outdoor activities, when I came across DiscoverTheForest.org. DiscoverTheForest is a website that allows …

The Costs of Potty Training

I’m proud to say that our youngest child is potty trained. He occasionally has an accident in the night time, but he hasn’t had a daytime accident in a long time. We’ve taken three children through this process and I felt it was worthwhile to share some thoughts on what products were actually necessary for …

Categories: Family, Frugality

The Pasta Sauce Conundrum

Two or three times a month, my family enjoys an evening meal that features pasta of some kind. We might enjoy spaghetti or lasagna or something else, depending on the mood. However, when I go to the store to buy pasta sauce, I absolutely cringe at the prices. The “cheap” sauces are loaded with high …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Drawing the Line

I define “frugality” as meaning “cutting back on the things that aren’t as important to you so that you don’t have to compromise on the things that are important to you.” For example, I don’t particularly value anything about laundry soap except for whether or not it gets my clothes clean, so homemade laundry soap …

Categories: Frugality

Heating, Cooling, and Saving

I really enjoyed this talk from Paul Wheaton on the reality of energy savings at home: Essentially, Wheaton breaks down the various ways to heat and cool your home into three groups. He mostly focuses on heat, but these ideas apply almost the same as cooling. The first group includes things that you touch for …

Categories: Frugality

Price Per Unit Isn’t Always Useful

The idea of “price per unit” is a pretty useful one to have when you’re shopping for goods. It’s a simple idea that many of us know about, but it never hurts to break it down again for new readers. When you’re at the grocery store and you’re considering items, you’ll compare a lot of …

Categories: Frugality