Frugality

“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

Experiments with Homemade Dishwashing Detergent: What Works Best?

A few weeks ago, I was greatly inspired by this HouseLogic article where several different homemade dishwasher soap recipes are compared. I have struggled in the past with finding a homemade dishwashing detergent recipe that worked well, so I had high hopes for these recipes. Note: I took several pictures for this post, but most …

Categories: Frugality

“Buying It for Life” in the Kitchen

Sarah and I are subscribers to the “buy it for life” philosophy. In short, it means that we’re willing to pay more for a product that does its job well but, just as importantly, will last a very long time, preferably for the rest of our lives. Here are six principles of “buying it for …

Categories: Frugality

“Savings Per Hour” and the Power of Frugal Intuition

Whenever I go beyond intuition and try to evaluate the exact savings found in a particular frugality method, the first thing I do is figure out exactly how much that method saves me regardless of how long it takes. Is this method providing a big savings or a little savings? For me, the tactics that …

Categories: Frugality

4 Ways to Minimize Your Home Energy Bill This Spring

This post first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Winter is over! Spring is here! Spring offers many opportunities to save money. Spring makes it much easier to go outside and get some exercise. You can start a vegetable garden. Plus, when you’re outside, you can turn off all of the lights and …

9 Free Resources For Exercises To Do At Home

My recent article, Five Inexpensive Gym Alternatives for Exercise, resulted in a small flood of feedback from readers offering up their tips for home exercise. I reviewed the many links and ideas that readers provided and found nine really great free resources if you’re trying to get in shape (or stay in shape) at home. …

Avoiding Doing It Yourself

I like doing things myself, whenever I can do it. Yesterday, when I posted a list of eight DIY tasks for spring, I relish the opportunity to do things like that. Sometimes, I even go beyond what I think I should be doing … in fact, that’s why our basement toilet has the water supply …