Frugality

Trimming the Average Budget: Housekeeping Supplies

Housing – housekeeping supplies – $639/year Garbage bags. Dishwashing detergent. Window cleaner. Vacuum bags. Laundry detergent. These are all housekeeping supplies and, over the course of a year, they really add up. $53 a month goes down the drain just to these supplies (and often, it quite literally goes down the drain). Fortunately, this is …

Categories: Frugality

Trimming the Average Budget: Food at Home

Food – food at home – $3,465/year Another $300 a month component of the average family budget comes from merely eating at home. This does not include food eaten outside the home, nor does it include household cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other items that typically are bunched together in a family’s budget (since they’re often …

Trimming the Average Budget: Home Energy Costs

Housing – utilities, fuels, public services – $3,477/year The average American family spends almost $3,500 a year just keeping the energy going in their home. Between heating, cooling, and running the multitude of electronic devices in our homes, we’re paying an average of $300 a month to the energy companies. Fortunately, there are tons of …

How the Average American Family Spends Their Income – And How to Trim It

I’ve often wondered how the typical household budget is spent. Several times in 2009, I came across this thoroughly interesting infographic, originally from VisualEconomics.com: The link now goes to an updated video of how the average American spends their paycheck. The picture depicts how the average American family spends their income based on Department of …

A Day with My Wife

Last Tuesday, I spent an afternoon shopping with my wife. On the surface, it sounds like something we would have done five years ago, charging out to the stores, credit card in hand. Things were a little different this time, though. For one, we came home with fewer items than we left with. For two, …

The Other Side of the Frugality Fence

In a recent post at Get Rich Slowly, J.D. defined the “basic law of frugality” as this: “Decide what’s important to you. Give yourself permission to spend on these things. Pinch pennies on everything else.” That’s a pretty spot-on definition, in my opinion. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that …

Categories: Frugality

Is Netflix Worth It?

Jenna writes in: My husband and I have been talking about signing up for Netflix, but we’re just not sure if it’s worth the extra monthly bill. Do you have any thoughts or pointers? Sarah and I have been on-again off-again Netflix users for most of the past decade. Our experience taught us a few …

Six Free Games to Dig Into Over the Holidays

One of my biggest time management weaknesses is gaming. I love taking breaks to try out a new free computer game. Most of the time, though, the game’s not engrossing enough to hold my interest. This list is filled with the exceptions. Here are six free computer games that are so filled with incredibly enjoyable …

Frugality and Your Sense of Value

Earlier this week, I offered up a post detailing how I wrap Christmas gifts, utilizing brown paper and yarn. The response was mixed – some people didn’t like the aesthetics of the packaging, while others did (obviously, I’m in the latter camp, as I love the aesthetics of brown packages and yarn). Guess what? We’re …

Categories: Frugality

15 Uses for Incredibly Inexpensive White Vinegar

One of the best bargains in your local grocery store is plain old white vinegar. You can get a 32 ounce jug of it (half a gallon) for about $1.50 and it has a multitude of uses beyond the edible ones (like pickles and salad dressings). Here are fifteen uses for white vinegar, most of …

Categories: Frugality

How I Wrap Gifts, Christmas and Otherwise

Melanie writes in: Between the wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, tags, and other things, I’ve often spent $20-25 on just wrapping the gifts at Christmastime. This seems silly. How do you wrap presents? I’m sure you’ve got a less expensive way. To me, the purpose of wrapping paper is simply to disguise gifts from the receiver …

Why Frugality Works

Marco writes in: Most of your “money tips” are stupid. Why would I waste my time doing this stuff to save fifty cents? I want to learn how to make money not how to save a nickel. Whether or not you take advantage of the huge benefits of frugality is all a matter of perspective. …

Social Supply-Side Economics

Almost immediately after my article yesterday about the costs of preparing for additional children, Eileen wrote to me with a very worthwhile comment: In that article you barely mentioned the value of family and friends who will give you lots of hand-me-downs and other items. Since you talk about the social value of things, I …

Why Are Oranges Always on Sale in December? Seasonal Food Sales and How to Take Advantage of Them

When I was a kid, each year my Christmas stocking had a large orange in the toe. I always thought of this as a bit strange, so when I was a bit older, I asked my parents about the orange. It turns out that oranges were pretty hard to get ahold of when my father …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Preparing for Additional Children

Megan writes in: Congratulations on your third child! My husband and I are expecting our second child in February. I hope you’ll write an article about how to save money when another child comes along. Your wish is my command, Megan. Here are some of the ways we’re preparing for our third child. Strategies for …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Simple Ways to Save Money on Salads

Lately, my wife and I have been studying ways to reduce our weekly grocery bill. We’ve been using several tactics to do this, which I will discuss one at a time over a series of articles. Salads before dinner are a common staple at our house. For a long time, we would buy lots of …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

How to Start a Meal Exchange

Recently, several couples in our community started a frozen meal exchange. It’s a really simple idea. On a certain day, everyone in the exchange meets for coffee and brings along a laundry basket full of frozen meals, one for each family, along with any needed instructions taped to the lid. The members of the club …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

“So, What Do You Want for Christmas?”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard this question several times from various people who find me on their Christmas gift list this year. I’m guessing they’re all thinking more or less the same thing: what do you get for a guy who doesn’t really want anything? So they ask me, and then I’m left …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

10 Tactics for a Frugal Thanksgiving Dinner

By this time next week, most Americans will have gathered with friends and family and eaten the traditional Thanksgiving meal. I’ll be gathering for three separate Thanksgiving dinners during this holiday weekend. Quite often, I’ll see people spend exorbitant amounts of money on lavish Thanksgiving spreads. While I completely understand the reason for doing this …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Become a subscriber of The Simple Dollar and get a free copy of Trent's e-book today plus exclusive updates.