• Don’t Go In!

    The other day, I stopped at a gas station with my children in tow. Ordinarily, this would be a simple visit – I’d gas up, pay at the pump, jump back in, and we’d be on the road again. That day, though, my youngest one announced very loudly that he had to go to the …

  • Does Brown-Bagging Your Lunch Really Save You Money?

    I was fascinated by this recent discussion at Lifehacker about whether brown-bagging your lunch is really much of a money saver. There were enough good points made on both sides that it really made me question whether or not brown-bagging really is a money saver. After thinking through the question and running the numbers on …

  • Some Thoughts on Store-Sponsored Free Activities for Children

    As you’re reading this, my children are (probably) at Lowe’s (a hardware store) engaged in the store’s regular Saturday “Build and Grow” project. This time, they’re going to make “Spooky Stackers,” which is apparently a Jenga-like stacking game made out of wooden pieces. On the first Saturday of each month, Home Depot does a similar …

  • What Are You Buying? Another Way of Looking at “Cheap”

    You need some cheddar cheese for a recipe you’re going to make, so you head to the store. The cheapest block of cheddar cheese costs… let’s say, $1.99. It’s got the logo of a giant multinational corporation on it. You don’t know where it was made. You don’t know what kind of milk is in …

  • Fourteen Ways to Save Money This Coming Week

    If you’re like me, you thrive on to-do lists and a carefully planned schedule. I find that having a few things each day on my to-do list at the start of the week helps me to keep moving forward on the things I want to achieve. In that spirit, here’s a list of fourteen things …

  • Four Simple Slow-Cooker Recipes Our Family Loves

    It’s no secret that I think a slow cooker is a great tool for frugal meals for a busy family. There are quite a few evenings where our family will be filled up with activities in the late afternoon and evening, so having a slow cooker with a meal in it ready to go when …

  • Meal Planning for Busy Families

    Five long years ago, I wrote a post outlining our process for planning meals for the upcoming week. It was mostly composed of six steps: 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 a Shopping …

  • The Hidden Holes: Revisiting Rocks and Sand

    Let me run you through my schedule for today, just using a simple example. I wake up at 6 AM to shower and make sure the kids have everything they need for school. At 6:45, I wake them up and get them started on their day with breakfast and a hug before they head off …

  • The Gift Economy and You

    I want you to think for a minute about the last time you enjoyed a Thanksgiving or a Christmas or an Easter dinner wtih family and friends when you were not the host. You went to someone’s home (most likely), enjoyed a delicious and deeply filling meal, and spent several hours in leisurely conversation with …

  • The Holiday Prep Plan (Inspired By Halloween Ads That Come Far Too Early)

    On September 5, I stopped by a local pharmacy to pick up a prescription only to be greeted with a giant orange and black display with pumpkins and witches and all that jazz. Halloween? Already? Yes, almost like the changing of the tides, stores have moved from the “back to school” displays to the “Halloween” …

  • Starting a Facebook Book Club

    Several months ago, a few of my old college friends started a book club using Facebook. We’re all spread across the world and we wanted an opportunity for us to read a book and share our thoughts with each other. All of us were once very avid readers, but some of us have fallen into …

  • The Ballad of Joe and Mike: How Expenses Hold You Back

    Joe earns $40,000 a year at his job as a software developer. He has a 1,200 square foot home and a new car to drive to work. His expenses total up to $38,000 per year – the other $2,000 go into retirement. Mike earns $40,000 a year at his job as a software developer. He …

  • Reader Tip Tuesday #7

    In a country where sex is used to sell everything from cars to yogurt, you’d be hard-pressed to find an ad, movie or TV show portraying frugality as particularly sexy or exciting. Luckily, it turns out that in real-life, having control over your finances is pretty attractive. As we’ve mentioned before, a growing number of …

  • How to Frugally Ship Packages

    As many of you know, I actively trade (and sometimes sell) quite a few things thanks to the internet, which means over the course of the past several years, I’ve become intimately familiar with how the different package shipment services work. In the past few years, I’ve used the postal service, FedEx, and UPS to …

  • Frugality Regardless of Money

    Several years ago, there was nothing better than going out to eat in the evening with my wife. We didn’t have any children, so we’d often go out to a nice restaurant, order a few drinks, have a wonderful meal, and pretend not to think about the outrageous balance of the check. Doing anything else …

  • Reader Tip Tuesday #5

    For any parent on a budget, back-to-school shopping can feel more like a back-to-school spending free-for-all. It’s the same every year. Teachers send out those foot-long lists of “required” and “recommended” supplies, and kids are eager not to be the only student who isn’t touting the latest and greatest backpack, lunchbox, pants, or pens on …

  • Ten Things You Can Do This Evening to Save Money

    Frugality isn’t a handful of big things that you do every once in a while to save cash. It’s a steady routine of little steps that, over time, add up to a big difference. Best of all, those little steps are the ones you choose. You can skip over the ones that impact your particular …

  • Eight Tactics for a More Effective Grocery List

    One of the best tactics a person can have for cutting their food and household supply expenses is to always have a grocery list when they go to the store. If you go to the store without a list, you’re far more prone to buying things that you don’t really need. Here’s the thing: just …

  • Want to Save Enormous Amounts of Money? Change Where You Live

    One of the most mystifying things that readers write to me about is when they’re living in a very expensive urban area and struggling with a minimum wage job or just above it. I received a note not long ago from “Jenny,” who lived in San Francisco and made only $22,000 a year. She shared …