Frugality

Do You Save Money By Not Flushing?

Jennifer writes in: My husband grew up in an area that often had summer droughts and water rationing. Because of that, he was trained as a child to stick to the “if it’s yellow let it mellow if it’s brown flush it down” mantra. We’re married and live in an area that doesn’t have any …

Categories: Frugality

Family Dinner Night

One of my readers recently wrote to me, telling me about the “family dinner night” they host. Here’s how it works. Once a month, on a set day that everyone knows about (they do it on the second Friday of each month), they have a “family dinner night.” Once you’re invited to this event, you’re …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Seven Tiny Things to Care About and Why

Quite often, you’ll see personal finance writers talk about the big things – the single moves that will save you quite a lot per month. Downgrade your living quarters! Sell that car! Buy a used car! Change your insurance! Those things are flashy because they can save you a lot of money with one action. …

Low Calorie Food and Long Term Costs

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read dozens of articles that repeat the same refrain: healthy, low calorie meals cost more than high calorie meals. Fresh, healthy foods with a low caloric density are more strongly affected by inflation and carry a higher cost per ounce than processed foods with a high caloric density. A …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Don’t Buy Stuff to Try to Create a New Habit

Jennifer writes in: I’m getting very frustrated with my husband. Every few months he will come up with some new personal project he wants to work on. He tried woodworking a few years ago. A few months ago he tried cooking. Now it’s exercise. As soon as he gets into that mindset, he goes and …

The Cost of Overuse

All of us use a lot of household products every day. Soap. Shampoo. Conditioner. Toothpaste. Hand soap. Dishwashing detergent. Laundry detergent. The list goes on and on. Many of these items are used so routinely that we don’t even step back and think about them. We squirt some toothpaste on our toothbrush. We use a …

Categories: Frugality

Enjoy Your Hobbies with Minimal Spending

One big problem that many people have when they adopt a frugal lifestyle is the perceived reduction in enjoyment they’re going to have in their hobbies. Entertainment spending is one of the obvious places to cut in a budget because it’s not a base need, but it is a very painful cut. If done recklessly, …

An Argument for Secondhand Store Clothes, Even If You Must Dress Nicely

Monica writes in: I don’t understand how you can recommend that people shop in thrift stores for clothes. The stuff there is usually worn out and just looks bad and outdated. I would never wear that stuff to work. It sounds to me like you’ve made up your mind about thrift stores and secondhand stores …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Convenience Foods: What They Really Cost

Every time I visit the grocery store, I’m amazed to see how much of the fresh produce aisle is taken up with prepackaged fresh foods. You know what I’m talking about – bags of prewashed lettuce, pre-cut apples, pre-cut celery, pre-cut pineapple, and so on. I understand why such items are for sale – they’re …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Review: Bargain Junkie

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. You can check out my reviews of hundreds of personal finance books (and other related books of interest) all on one page. Bargain Junkie is an unabashed frugality book, focusing mostly on maximizing your “bang for the buck” when spending …

Shopping When You Need an Immediate Replacement

Yesterday, while in the middle of a conference call, our home telephone dropped dead. The phone’s small screen went black, came back on, and then refused to connect to the base. I switched to another phone – and the same problem occurred. I called back into the conference call using Skype, but afterwards, I continued …

Maximize Your Return On Investment, Guaranteed!

I have discovered a surefire way to maximize the returns you get on all of your investments, no matter what you’re investing in. If you follow this advice, I guarantee that if you have a winning investment now (even if it’s just barely in the positive), my tip will strongly improve the cash that investment …

Categories: Frugality, Investing

When Living Cheap Catches Up With You

Julia writes in: What do you do when frugal living catches up with you? As a family we had a much lower income from 2002 to 2007 (layoffs in the IT industry led to trying to survive on short contract work). We did not move home as that would have cost a fortune in fees …

Categories: Frugality

Frugality and Being Social

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about some of the things I write about here on The Simple Dollar. Even though she’s struggling with some serious debt issues, she told me flatly that she didn’t want to take most of the advice given on The Simple Dollar. When I asked her …

Categories: Frugality

Trimming the Average Budget: Personal Care and Hygiene

Personal Care – $588/year Personal care is an area where you don’t “win” by cutting things out. Keep yourself clean. Brush your teeth. Basic hygiene keeps you clean and keeps you presentable, too. Yet, even here, there are ways to trim a little bit of spending without affecting your cleanliness or appearance. Here are a …

Categories: Frugality

Trimming the Average Budget: Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic Beverages – $457/year The solution to cutting this element of your budget is easy. Don’t drink. For many of us, though, that’s not really a solution. I often enjoy a glass of red wine with my dinner and I like a mixed drink once in a while, particularly on social occasions. I know I’m …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

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 …

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