Frugality

What’s Your “Frugality Tastefulness Line”?

A few weeks ago, I was riding shotgun on a lengthy road trip with a friend of mine when we made a stop at Taco Bell. We ordered our food and sat down when I noticed that he had a small mountain of sauce packets on his tray. I asked him whether his burrito was …

Categories: Frugality

Eight Little Ways to Easily Save Money on Holiday Expenses

The month of December seems to always be a month of nickels and dimes slowly eating away at a family’s budget. There are always little expenses that need to be handled due to the holiday season, whether it’s related to gifts or to food or to travel or to … well, countless other little things. …

Categories: Frugality

Why Thoughtful Presents Always Trump Expensive Ones

When I was younger, I worried quite a bit about the gifts that I needed to get for some of the people I cared most about in my life. I’d worry and worry about picking out an item that would really show exactly how much I cared for them. Inevitably, that meant spending quite a …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Use It Until It Breaks?

Jerry writes in: “I was reading on another blog about replacing things that work with better versions of the same item like clothes hangers. To me, it makes more sense to just keep using something until it actually breaks, then replace it, but that’s just my sense of wanting to get every last drop out …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Twenty Simple Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving. Hanukkah. Christmas. The holiday season can be painfully expensive, with gifts and meals and beverages and snacks and lodging and travel revolving around many of us. With all of those incidental expenses floating around, there are also a lot of ways to save money. Here are twenty ways that we’ll be saving money this …

How a Slow Cooker Can Save Your Family Hundreds of Dollars

This article first appeared on U.S. News and World Report Money. When most people think of a slow cooker, they think of a device of convenience. It saves time, after all. You can put your ingredients into the pot in the morning, come home from work, and find a meal already prepared for you, saving …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Reflections on a Child’s Birthday

Our oldest child celebrated a birthday this week. He received several gifts and had a small party, which is almost exactly what he asked for. Over the years, we’ve had big parties and small parties. Our children have received many gifts at once and just a few gifts. We’ve had elaborate celebrations and simple ones. …

Living on Ramen (for a While)

When I was a college student, I would often buy mass quantities of ramen noodles, particularly when the local store had a sale. Every once in a while, the store down the block from where I lived during my later college years would sell ramen noodle packets at a rate of 12 for $1. I …

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 …

Categories: Frugality

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 …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Meal Planning Ideas 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 …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

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 with 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” …

Categories: Frugality

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 …