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30 Great Gifts for $5 (or Less!)

Gift-giving can be an expensive proposition. Most of the ideas that tend to pop into people’s minds when it comes to exchanging gifts are expensive

Christmas in July

The average American family spends $749.51 on Christmas gifts. That’s a painful amount – it’s approximately 2% of the annual take-home income of an American


Shop Smart Using The “Shopping Hierarchy” Method

Last month, I wrote a popular article for U.S. News and World Report about “shopping hierarchies.” Here’s how I defined “shopping hierarchy” in that article:

Simplify Your Life: Stop Collecting and Start Experiencing

In the old apartment Sarah and I used to live in, I had one whole wall filled with books. The bookshelf stretched from the floor


6 Tactics for Saving Big on Your Next Major Appliance Purchase

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. It’s a big expense that everyone dreads. Your washing machine gives out. Your refrigerator

The Little Perks You Pay Big For (That New Car Smell, For Example)

Several years ago, Car and Driver had an excellent article about how car companies put in a lot of extra effort to engineer the right


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

Shopping and Tunnel Vision

One feature that Sarah and I have decided to add to our dream home is a “den” of sorts. This den would serve as a


When to Skimp and When to Spend More for Quality

Two of the biggest principles of frugality often seem to point people in opposite directions. On one side, we have the idea of minimizing the


Why “Buy One Get One” Sales Often Don’t Work

On the surface, a “buy one get one” sale sounds like a good deal. “I really want two shirts and if I buy one shirt,


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


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


Using Amazon Price-Matching to Save Money While Shopping

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. The holiday shopping season is upon us and, for a lot of us, that

A Gift That Matters

As we approach the gift-giving season for many families, with Hanukkah starting on November 28, Christmas on December 25, and more than a few families

Reader Tip Tuesday #6

As a freshman in college, you’re never quite sure exactly how much of everything you’re going to need to get through that first year away


The Art of Figuring Out “Bang for the Buck”

For me, frugality means figuring out which products do the job they’re supposed to do well, then finding those products for the lowest price. In

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


Using the Decoy Effect to Your Advantage

First, let’s talk about what the decoy effect is: The decoy effect is the phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a specific change in

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