3 Ways I Live Frugally Without Feeling Deprived

Fellow blogger Mapgirl recently shared a list of what she does to live frugally. What I liked about it was that the list was done in a very positive light. Too often when you read about living frugally it feels like you are depriving yourself of something… I don’t buy this, I don’t buy that. I find it easier to save when I focus on the benefits of the action, in addition to saving money.

Everyone has their own way of living below their means (I absolutely refuse to give up my TiVo), but here’s a sample of things I do which don’t constantly remind me that I’m being frugal:

Buy dependable, quality, used cars. My wife and I both drive cars which were acquired when they where 3-5 years old, after most of the deprecation had kicked in, but while there was plenty of life left in them. Both have plenty of horsepower, run reliably and have never broken down, and have all the common features like keyless entry, air conditioning, and power everything. Accordingly, our cars depreciate in value by $1,000 a year or less, which keeps our total cost of ownership very low. Since the values are only about $3,000-$6,000, our insurance payments are only about $100 a month for both.

Take advantage of public parks and amenities. You’re already paying for them through your tax dollars, so why not also try to take advantage of all the public recreation opportunities available to us. For example, you could take a hike in a nearby trail, pack a bag lunch and take a picnic by a nearby lake/river/ocean, play some tennis at the park courts, or jog on the local high school track. Drive to the beach! Recently, we have also discovered the local public pool. I stopped looking for a local gym when I found that I could get a great workout by swimming laps for 30 minutes a day.

Along that same vein, I remain a huge fan of the public library and all it’s online perks.

Making cooking at home fun. Everyone knows that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out. But you can actually eat better tasting, customized food too if you’re willing to try. I buy fancy honey wheat walnut bread and make my own extra-thick peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – still less than $1 each. (I secretly like smoked turkey and peanut butter sandwiches as well.) Look up the recipe to real macaroni and cheese (not from a box!) and make it using all the cheddar you like…. so good. Buy some random veggies and try to make your own tempura. Craft a quick burger with whatever funky toppings you want – I like mine with slightly burnt onions and gobs of hot, melted blue cheese.

My next step is to get up the courage to invite my friends over to eat my cooking instead of meeting at a restaurant, I’m always afraid it’ll taste horrible but they’ll be too nice to tell me…


  1. Great post. I agree with you on the tivo. Cooking is a simple way to save money. All this year, I’ve spent less than $90 each month on groceries. As for dining out, I do that about once a week. I went overboard last month and spent $58 total for 4 meals out.

    Typo alert: You missed the “s” in “3-5 year old.”

  2. For me, the biggest money savers happen at work.

    1. Bring your lunch everyday. If you can’t do that, eat out once a week and that’s it. Eating out everyday is not only expensive, but I actually get tired of the food I’m going out to eat and spend so much money on. Might as well get tired of the cheap food I make at home!

    2. Resist the urge to buy coffees when cruising into work. I love coffee and so do my co-workers, so at my last job we bought a french press to make coffee every morning. It wound up saving us all a LOT of money and turned out to be a lot of fun. Different people would take turns making the coffee (I even negotiated a promotion/raise while cleaning the press!). But it was fun because people would always bring back a bag of coffee if they went away for the weekend or vacation, so we got to try coffee from all over the world!

    So now that I’m at my new job, I brought the tradition with me and it’s saving our new office money now too! Also, my boss told me I can expense any coffee I buy, so it’s free coffee now! Yes!

    Anyway, those two methods have saved me a lot of money, hopefully they can help you all too!

  3. Joseph Sangl says:

    Camping outside at state parks is much cheaper than hotel rooms! State parks have excellent amenities, people designated to keep it clean and secure, and have great activities available (hiking/biking/swimming).

  4. Don’t forget local festivals (which might fall under amenities). Where I live there are several cultural festivals with no-cost admission, or only cost of parking. It’s a fun way to get some culture without needing to shell out the dollars 🙂

    Another way I’ve managed to live frugally is to spend some time each week/month cleaning something. Having a clean working/living space keeps your attitude better, and helps you appreciate not having tons of stuff. There is elegance in simplicity.

  5. i always cooked during the week….on the weekends i took a break but cook once for dinner, eat twice for lunch! best way to get through the work week…

    on another unrelated vein, i have 3 citi cards and one has a 0% offer but for only 1000! my other cards have a combined 16000 on them. is there a way i can join all the credit onto that 0% card?


  6. GrantParish says:

    I think the key to living frugally in a positive happy way is to “know thyself.” Know the things you really enjoy (Tivo?) and splurge on them while you cut out spending on things that don’t really make you happy.

    This can take some introspection. For example, in college I used to go to the movies frequently because I had movie loving friends. I didn’t really think about whether I liked going to movies – it just seemed like the thing to do. After college I kept going to 2 or 3 movies per week because that is what I had been doing.

    When I got serious about saving and realized how much it cost to go to a movie I started looking at the value proposition – is this expenditure really worth it. to me? Slowly I began to realize that I didn’t really like going to the movies all that much. But I didn’t like feeling left out when friends talked about the latest releases. I discovered that reading movie reviews kept me up to date for conversation and saved me tons of time and money each week. I am ashamed that I spent so long just going with the flow of what others wanted to do before discovering what makes me happy.

    Now if you really do love movies, by all means spend your money there and cut back somewhere else. If you are getting to spend on something you enjoy while cutting back on the things that don’t matter as much to you – it feels a whole lot less like scrimping.

  7. Here is where knowing how much you spend is handy. Look at the things you spend the most on and work to reduce those by half. Often, small splurges don’t really impact the overall budget.

    Oh, and eliminate (or reduce) as many recurring subscriptions (cable, cell phone, etc.) as you can. Those suck up dollars without a second thought from you.


  8. I like your library comments. I wrote a post about using netflix with my local library’s surprisingly good dvd selection to try to match the blockbuster online/store plan without actually using the evil, movie censoring blockbuster.

    I use Replay but between netflix, which just lowered its price, my library and Replay, I do not actually get cable which saves me $30-$50 a month easy.

  9. it all depends on how you want to live and what you want to do in your life. we do the cooking thing, but i’m sure we spend more than we are saving on cooking at home. that’s what we get for inviting the whole neighborhood over, but we enjoy it and we enjoy the company.

    we live frugally by asking if it is a want or a need. if a want, then we delay.

  10. Yes, it really is all about value and trade-offs. I still love to eat out, but we focus on the local, small, ethnic restaurants instead of the big chains. Better taste, often cheaper. Trying out a new Indian spot today!

  11. I’m a huge proponent of your first point. Aside from your mortgage, car payments likely make up the hugest chunk of most people’s debt obligation (unless you are up to your eyeballs in credit cards). It’s just a no-brainer. Congrats for seeing that!

  12. One of my favorite frugal fixes it to buy stuff used, whether it be clothes from Goodwill to Furniture from Craigslist. There is some really nice stuff out there if you are willing to look. For some people they would feel like less of a person doing this as a habit, but I get a weird sense of satisfaction from NOT boosting Abercrombie & Fitch or whoevers bottom line.

  13. You can reduce your costs on item #1 and take advantage of item #2 if you commute via bicycle. Much cheaper than driving and parking, and most cities have publicly funded bike lanes or bike routes as well.

    Never worry about getting caught in traffic. Bicycle commuting may not be an everyday thing for you if you live more than 10 miles from work, or have to go up and over the canyon, but even riding once a week (just in the summer even!) adds up to save quite a bit.

    I’ve been a year-round bicycle commuting for over seven years now, in New York City, Boston, Madison WI, and now Los Angeles, and would heartily recommend it as both good for your health, the environment, and your wallet.

  14. I found a semi-frugal practice. I generally like to eat out, but a couple of years ago my wife had a stroke. Restaurants are now pretty hard as a rule, so eating out isn’t really a treat for her.

    We transitioned to delivery for a while, but some of our favorites don’t like to deliver as far out as we live. Over time, we’ve switched almost totally to carry-out. I usually carry out on my way home from work once or twice a week from restaurants we used to eat at.

    When you carry out:
    1. you don’t tip a waitress
    2. you don’t tip a driver
    3. you don’t buy drinks

    It is surprising how much drinks and a tip add to the price of a meal. So we still eat out a decent bit (except that we eat in) but it really is a good bit less expensive. It’s not exactly frugal, but semi-frugal.

  15. Nony-mouse says:

    Dollar menu baby!! 🙂

    I dont spend more than $3 or $2 (without fries) at a fast food chain. If im doing a drive thru, i bring a can of coke from home and then just buy a dollar burger.

  16. I think that GrantParrish has the core idea with Know Thyself, living frugally is all about making conscious decisions to extract the most enjoyment from the things that we do.

    Everything else is just small “edges” in the game of life. I mean, hey, “reduce subscriptions” is only good if you have a bunch of subscriptions that you don’t use. Buying used cars is only good if you’ve decided to live a “driven life”.

    I mean let’s face it if you wanted to be really “wealthy” you’d live as close to work and amenities as humanly possible. You’d live walking distance from the office and you’d have a grocer/pharmacy/post office/gym/restaurant/video arcade across the street. And heck you wouldn’t waste money on “going out” the gym is across the street and it’s open until 10. You’d never own a car, you’d find a place that costs less to rent every month than a house costs to maintain and you’d squirrel away cash like it’s going out of style. (but this doesn’t suit everybody)

    Don’t get me wrong I like the “tips”, but it’s worth noting that all of these tips have some significant attached “value judgements” and may be wholly inappropriate for others.

    It’s awesome that Tom bikes to work, but most people have created a life completely centered around car ownership. They can’t just bike, they probably don’t even live close enough to work to bike. So it’s easy for guys like Jonathan and PFOdyssey to say “hey no brainer, buy 3-5 year-old used cars”, but someone like Tom or myself are just going to walk up and say “hey, no brainer, move close enough to the office so that you can bike or use public transit every day, ditch one of the cars and use the other for weekends, keep it for longer b/c it’ll get a 1/10 of the miles!

    It’s great that ProfessorB has dropped his grocery bill to $90/month, but at what point do you decide that maybe you want to eat well today rather than save the money to eat well tomorrow? I’ve already poached Matt’s coffee idea for one office place (and he’s right about the bringing home coffee thing), in fact, I actually bought a couple of bags of Starbuck coffee (gasp), b/c we got really sick of Nabob and Folgers and realized that it was worth purchashing the odd premium coffee.

    I even took that one step further with my current office, I started a lunch program. We’re all young guys, many of whom were buying lunch 5 days/week. So I asked everyone to ante up $10 and now I bring in sandwich bread, quality meats and fixings (sliced pickles, dijon mustard) and we all eat well (no more frozen burritos). And hey it’s a great idea if your office is anything like mine (but let’s face it, it’s probably not, we play poker and video games at lunch and our average age is 26 🙂

    Netflix is a great idea unless you’re addicted to TV serials, skipping the cinema multiplexes is a great idea unless your #1 hobby is big-budget action flicks. Buying stuff used is great, but usually only applies to those things about which you are least passionate. “Saving money on food” is usually irrelevant b/c someone else is saving more by adding more manual labour (“I do everything from scratch”) or they’re spending more b/c they’re just plain eating better (“My ground beef is extra lean and my vegatables are farm-fresh not canned”, you probably can’t lift significant weights on $90/month).

    So, I love this stuff, but please take it all with a grain of salt (even my suggestions ;). There’s always a point where “frugal” becomes “cutting corners”. At some point, feeding yourself cheap food and providing yourself with second-rate consumer goods becomes self-defeating. If you run 5 miles every day, buy new shoes, heck go out and buy one or two of those Nike Dri-Fit outifts. If you spend 3 hours/day on the computer, grab one of those 24″ monitors and a decent computer, just skip the Starbucks to pay for it. It’s great to say “share manicures with your friends” or “get massages from your partner”, but at some point you realize that your friends probably aren’t professional manicurists or massage therapists, so maybe it’s worth spending some money. 🙂

    The ultimate goal is to spend more time doing more of the stuff that makes you happy, to get the “biggest bang for our buck”. The easiest way to do this is to cut corners on those things we deem “less important”. Everyone has their favorite corners, but I guarantee you that someone else has done it one better, at some point, you just say “I’m frugal enough” 🙂

  17. saladdin says:

    I think you nailed it Gates.

    When I first started to read financial blogs I was looking for people “like me.” But I soon found out that my definition of frugal was different then others.

    I read 3-5 blogs daily (with this being one of course) and now see that most are more interested in finding better “deals” for their situation then anything else. By this I mean, for example, that people with cell phones are trying to find the best plans to use to save a few dollars but I have never owned one and see it as a waste. If they can find some secret promo code, save $15, they see it as frugal but are still paying $40 a month and even still keep a line at home.

    The same for cars. I see repeatedly on various blogs the “New vs Old Car” threads. I call 5-7 year old car used but I see most think that if you can buy a 2005/2006 model and “save” that first year or so of depreciation you are being frugal or making a “smart” money decision. Some of the most interesting entries are those along the lines of “Monthly Expense I Can’t Live Without” and see people write about Netflix, HD TV and the like.

    I think it is just the trade off factor mentioned in other posts. People that carry no consumer debt from month to month use the interest that they would normally pay to afford Netflix etc.. Trading the $$ in interest for another service.

    Now I just find myself using blogs to keep up with new credit card offers, mortage rates or business news in general instead of frugal living tips.

    My opinions only. Spend your money however you want.

  18. I have used a bicycle for commuting for years, keeps you in shape and costs very little. In other times I’ve used scooters. I’ve never owned a car. For those who can’t ride a bicycle because of distance or topography, consider a scooter. Say, instead of two cars, perhaps two scooters for commuting and quick errands and one car for joint rides, big stuff and weekend trips. Scooters get great mileage, can park almost anywhere, zip around traffic jams and are plain fun to ride. In big cities with decent weather and topography you should focus on ways to avoid driving.

  19. I forgot to mention that I do use a car sharing service. ZipCar and City Car Share work great for the occasional need.

  20. I think the idea of blogs is to share opinions. I like reading what others do, even if I don’t agree. You read, adopt the suggestions that you like, and ignore the ones that you don’t.

    If everyone was the same, life would be boring. But if nobody expressed their opinions, we wouldn’t be able to debate or learn either.

    As for biking, I try to walk wherever I can, but biking just doesn’t feel safe in lots of areas.

  21. In most places, a quick look at google maps will let you find great routes on secondary streets for biking, ones you wouldn’t drive because there are too many stop signs or are too slow in the car. But some places really do only have those 40+ mph arterials, and those aren’t great for biking.

  22. Buying used car is not a good idea since it does not come with any warranty and you do not know if it has any problems.
    I have never bought an used car.

  23. Save by not tipping servers and not putting tips in tip jars. You can save a lot.

  24. Wow Aditya, that’s almost a troll.

    You can say that you don’t like used cars, but try to keep in line with our worl here. You can definitely buy “factory-certified” used cars from every major auto manufacturer. These are cars that have been driven for a few years that the manufacturer is still willing to warranty for a few more.

    New cars really have no more “guarantees that they are working” than used cars. I’m only 26 and I’ve seen my share my share of lemons come straight from the dealership. The only “guarantee” there is that the dealer will eventually replace the car for you, but you’ll likely have to waste time bringing it like 6 or 7 times before they’ll just give in.

  25. I think a lot depends on one’s income. As thetaofmakingmoney mentioned in one entry – in some cases a new Honda Civic is a lavish choice and in some cases it’s a frugal choice. If you can afford to pay cash for a new Lexus without seriously depleting your savings, new Honda Civic is a frugal choice. If you don’t have enough in your savings or if you have to pay a large percentage of your savings for a new car, than used car is the way to go.

  26. labyrus says:

    Shak, if you’re getting to a point where you can save by not tipping, you just can’t afford to eat out. Your servers need to eat, too.

    Taking money from people who are propably worse of than you isn’t frugal, it’s cruel.

  27. Roger (Mighty Mortgages) says:

    Canceling magazine subscriptions and taking them out of the library is a good money saver as well.

  28. I’m all about cooking at home. It has saved me a lot of money and bring joy into my home life 🙂

  29. Nony-mouse says:


    in my 12 years, I have ONLY bought used cars. I doubt i will ever buy a new car ever in my life. The closest I might ever come to is perhaps a car that is 1 or 2 years old. For camry’s, even if its 12 years old, i still trust them. Had 3 camry’s so far.

  30. mapgirl says:

    Hi Jonathan!

    Thank you so much for the link. I am glad you liked the positive tone. I wrote it specifically at the request of Sistah Ant and I wanted to explain that I do all these little things, which feel like nothing to me. It’s not hard to live this way if you make it part of who you are.

    As far as the comments go, the discussion here has been really interesting. We all come from very different perspectives and it’s important to ‘know thy self’ and what is going *too far* with frugality. It’s also important to know that many people survive on tips. It’s how a lot of folks pay their way through college, waiting on tables, or survive between jobs. So anyone who pays nothing to their waiter or waitress is patently cruel. Might as well kick a puppy. Tip jars are another story because Starbucks pays much more than the $2.00 an hour that most table servers make.

    That’s just my 2 cents for your virtual tip jar. It’s always entertaining when I end up here.


  31. I like blogs because I like to type things.

    I save my money by not spending it.

    The sun is shining today, sure my kids are eating oatmeal for dinner…but Mister Bank Account is full and content. Yum!

  32. When I began living a frugal lifestyle we were forced into it as the fourth child arrived. That was 22 years ago. Now it is a chosen way of life. I do all of the above and more and love the challenge.

    Here’s something I have recently decided. I am appauled at the price of patroleum products. Not just gas for the vehicle, but all products. I refuse to purchase softners of any kind for our clothes. Not only do they leave residue that greys material but I don’t feel it is healthy wearing clothes that have a patroleum product against skin. With these three factors in mind I began using white vinegar as a rinse. Does a great job and is a miracle product!

  33. daydreamr says:

    Knowing your self is a huge part of being frugal. It isn’t a one size fits all deal either. I own a car for several reasons. I have always bought used ones, my current car, a 1998 VW, was fairly inexpensive and I have barely put any $ into it over the last 1.5 years. I have never had to spend on major repairs for any used car. But there’s always the chance. Cars are often a status symbol and with any frugal lifestyle (including cars) you have to have that ‘I don’t care’ attitude. Now it used to be the norm for people in China to bike around, but cars are now becoming a status symbol for the Chineese.

    I do subscribe to the newspaper but I clip coupons, use only the ones for products I would normally buy, compare the price on an item w/a coupon to the generic or another brand, and select the best deal. I have found that I save more than the cost of the paper. Making your own meals can save a lot of $$ and you don’t have to malnourish yourself or your family, just make wise choices. It is a lot healthier than prepared foods with higher levels of preservatives, artificial colors/flavors and also lower sodium. I don’t think anyone can get away from these additives completely but it’s quickly becoming a fact of life anyway.

    I also agree with the comment on opting for takeout when possible. I don’t think that takes food from another person’s mouth. First off, a tip, in my opinion, is only for those who do their job. The better the job, the more the tip. If a wait person plunks the food on the table and comes back to collect the $, well they better think twice. Along the same line, if you order takeout there is no sevice to really tip on. The same with buffet’s too. I don’t eat out much anyway. It’s just not practical, I make it better myself for less anyway.

    The subject of frugal living seems to conjure up a lot of negativity. I don’t know why some people get so defensive. These ideas are not being enforced, only suggested. if someone can find a way to use a particular idea, great. If others take one idea and modify it to work in another way, that’s good too. If none of the ideas fit a certain persons life/style, no hard feelings. Like with TV, some get downright panicky, even at the idea of their precious TV going away. No worries. Just don’t do it then.

    Having an open mind to the possibilities, even if few of them are used is what makes the art of frugality sucessful. It’s the flexibility, being able to improvise and compromise where needed. It’s about taking care of things to prevent having to buy certain items more often than needed (like a TV, sterio, car, etc.). It’s also about using some products sparingly, if it doesn’t compromise health, safety, comfort. I have found that putting m shampoo in a foaming soap dispenser with water (about 60% shampoo to 40% water) makes the bottle last 3~4 months instead of 1. Also, hand satitizer, one of my favorite products, can be diluted with rubbing alcohol, perfume, or body spray to make it last longer. After all, it is mostly alcohol.

  34. daydreamr says:

    The author mentioned macaroni and cheese, I wanted to share my personal recipe. Although the box variety is cheaper, no matter how you look at it, nothing compares to this version.

    What you’ll need:

    8 oz dry elbow, shell, or other favorite shape macaroni
    3/4~1 LB Cheddar cheese
    2 C milk, evaporated milk makes it even more creamy
    2 T flour
    2 T butter or margarine
    salt, pepper, any other seasonings to taste
    bread crumbs, crushed crackers, chips, etc. for topping.

    Preheat oven to 350 or 375, depending on the oven. I often

    Heat enough water to boil macaroni and cook until almost done (it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain and rinse in cold water to completely stop the macaroni from cooking and remove some of the starch that makes the macaroni from sticking.

    Using low~med. heat, melt butter in a med. pot. Add flour and stirr, cook for a few minutes until the flour turns light brown. Add milk and stirr. A wire wisk works well for this. Stirr often, making sure the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. when the milk mixture starts to bubble, but not boil, add the cheese. If you want to speed the process up, shred the cheese instead od increasing the heat. Keep the heat on low~med, to let the cheese melt into the milk. Stir often until cheese melts and the mixture thickens a bit. Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste. I will put a dash of garlic and/or onion powder in it or some dried parsley, depending on my mood and who I’m serving it to.

    In a greased caserole dish, pour the macaroni and cheese sauce together, mix well. Greasing the dish (you can use a cooking spray, butter, etc.) will keep it from sticking for easy cleanup. Greasing the dish and then dusting it with a bit of flour (tap our any extra that doesn’t stick to the sides) works even better.

    Cover the top with the topping of your choice. I like ranch flavored corn chips the best. You can crush them easily by placing them in a bowl or baggie and using a cup, rolling pin, even your hands to crush them, or crush directly over the top ot the dish. Make sure to evenly cover the entire surface.

    Bake, covered, for 30~45 min. Check after 20 min to lower heat if needed. It will be done when it bubbles and the top is crispy. Let it cool for 20 to 30 min. (it will be very hot and will fall apart if this is skipped). Sometimes I think it’s even better if it has time to set for a few hrs, and is wonderful as left overs

    A really quick and fairly inexspensive way to to doctor up boxed mac n’ cheese is as follows:

    Preheat oven to 325~350, depending on your oven.

    Boil macaroni according to package directions and preference. In a caserole dish (greased, floured-if desired) put down a layer of macaroni, dust the top with some of the cheese powder, add a layer of shredded cheese (cheddar, american, swiss, etc. although some of the stringy cheeses work best if mixed with cheddar/american). Add another layer of macaroni, powdered cheese, shredded cheese.

    Try to devide the macaroni into at least 3 layers. I’ve never measured the cheese, but I’d say at least 4 oz. if you want to cut back on fat. For a more cheesy taste, I’d use about 8 oz. You can dot the layers with butter if you wish and add a top layer of cheese. Drizzle the caserole with about 1/2 cup milk (another thing I’ve never really measured). Add a topping like crushed chips or bread crumbs (like the recipe above).

    Place it in the oven,covered, for 30-40 min. When it gets bubbly and the top gets crusty, it is done. Let it cool for 20 min or so.

    You can also make this by using zuchinni, summer squash, or both either with layers of macaroni, or for a veggie side dish. I have done it both ways and using the squash and macaroni makes a great 1 dish meal. I have never tried it, but I know of people who have used cooked rice in place of the macaroni too.

  35. Keeping the grocery bills low is a great plan … but eating well and taking care of your body will likely, in the long-term, lower your medical bills. We plan our meals for the week over the weekend and buy what we need to make them. We also pack lunches every day and eat breakfast at home. We have healthy snacks built into the eating plan. All this costs us about $50-60 per week, but it is worth it to stay healthier. We could live on mac and cheese and Ramen noodles, but the body is not happy eating just carbs.

    We don’t eat a lot of meat (the soy stuff doesn’t cost any more and is often on sale), and when we do, we split it. For example, most chicken breasts are more than a serving, so we’ll share one and load up on veggies and whatever else we have to go with it.

    Also, whenever something that we eat regularly (and isn’t fresh) is on sale at the grocery store, we buy a small ton of it. (We don’t do the bulk-food places because they don’t carry items we eat most.)

    I would LOVE to bike to work, but the neighborhood I work in is not one I would feel safe in on a bike, even during the day. Also, there are many days that I have a lot of stuff to carry (I teach music and often bring instruments), which wouldn’t work well on a bike (trombones don’t fit in bike baskets…).

    We buy used cars with good gas mileage and keep up on routine maintenance.

    We don’t have cable. (If it was up to me, we’d have no TV at all, but that’s not a monetary decision…)

    We have an evaporative cooler so we don’t need the A/C except in July and August mostly (in Phoenix).

    We got great deals on gym memberships and pay about $35/month for the two of us.

    A chunk of paycheck money is direct deposited to the credit union, taking it out of play for regular spending. It’s to live on in the summer (we’re both teachers) or for large emergencies (we had a huge sewer leak).

    We don’t often buy clothes, and for both, hygiene is pretty low-maintenance (no makeup, 2-in-1 shampoo for both, etc.).

    We pay bills on time and credit cards in full to avoid spending money on late fees and interest.

  36. Love the post. I was forced into frugaldom when I started law school. There’s nothing like leaving a great paying job and returning to starving student status that will force you to reevaluate your financial priorities. So I know what I like to spend money on (books and food) and I go from there. For example, I like my cappuccinos so instead of 5 or 6 a week from Starbucks, I treat myself to one a week, I also cook at home, patronize Big Lots and the 99ct store for common household items (paper towels, cleaning products, etc) and get my produce from Farmer’s Market when it’s cheaper than mainstream supermarkets. I have found from comparing my bank statements that little things like that add up and free up more money to meet my other financial goals.

    Oh, I also carry cash which helps me to track what I spend easier than using the trusty ATM card.

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    retired, they do not get enough for the life style they are use to.
    They got a large amount of money from a medical negligence a few
    years ago and i advise them to invest in small house when the real
    state market was bloming but they said that they were to old and did
    not needed to buy property, they s pend all the money in clothes jewely that they later sold for halve of what they paid
    and now they are broke, they are always asking me for money .
    also my daughther ask me for money all the time. just because
    i have some money in the bank for emergencies, they think i have
    money. i can not have a relationship with my family anymoore
    and my life is a nightmare, even my grandauther is in my house and
    using one of my income rooms. i cut the grass in my yard to save and
    reward my self with the money i would have paid to do it. I am getting
    very tired of all this. my daughther do not want me to sale the house because she think it is her inheritance. i feel like selling the house
    and rent a small apartment and have a stupid job and just relax.put
    the money in a cd or somenthing, and get monthly interest. that
    way no body has to worry about my house any moore.i am desperate
    and don’t know if i should hold on to the property until i get to be 62.
    thank you in advance for your response and i tell you moore details
    in the future because there is a lot moore to this story oh also i do all the work and painting around my home since i have no husband and get help from no body, bruji

  38. Brujilda: Since it appears you are soliciting advice, here’s mine…

    Firs of all, be proud of what you’ve been able to build up for yourself financially; don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty for your monetary success.

    Your parents are responsible for themselves. Giving them handouts will not help them one bit if their money-management skills are lacking (which appears to be the case). Instead, teach them about money and what it means to save, invest, and live beneath one’s means. If they have to file for bankruptcy, welfare, etc., so be it. It is not your fault.

    Same goes for your adult children. Explain that the house is not their inheritance and that the money you’ve saved is for your retirement. If they’re told directly that they won’t get any money out of you, maybe they’ll stop asking. And just maybe they’ll start taking action to get what they want. (I’m all about tough love.)

    If you are 100% sure it will make your life easier, sell the house. But give the decision the consideration it deserves. Will you be happier living in an apartment and dealing with neighbors/noise/HOAs, etc. More importantly, will selling the house really solve the issues with your family? A Dr.Phil-like voice in my head says it won’t.

    Above all, stay strong, stay positive and visualize a happy ending to the conflict.

  39. Brujilda: What Banon said, with one add-on.

    Show them the bills! And I mean it, you’re working two jobs, renting out rooms (3 jobs?) and you’re obviously still short on cash. That’s crazy!

    So write everything down and sit down with your parents AND your daughter all at once. Show them all of the numbers and then tell them that you cannot help them any more. Tell them that you want to be able to work only one job and to spend some time/money on yourself and then ask them how they would do that with your budget?

    The catch here is that there is no good answer that doesn’t involve them no longer asking for money. There are obviously a lot more going on here and I’m sure there’s a ton of family guilt and other associated unresolved issues.

    But when you open up the books and then close the door to giving out any more money, then you can start resolving the real issues. I can guarantee you that your parents and your daughter will then start complaining or opening up about all kinds of other issues that are probably the true cause of this whole problem.

  40. I was forced to live frugally in my early 20’s. I still had fun with friends and was proud to find bargains. Over the years, as I have made more and more money, though I have been some what decent about saving for retirement, and didn’t go over board to buy the most expensive things, I still seem to have amassed a lot of “stuff”. I have more clothes than I could possibly wear in a lifetime, books that I will never read again, nick nacks and jewelry and shoes and CDs and things just jammed packed in any storage area I have. Now I am about 5 years away from retirement (I’m 52) and I find I just want to rid myself of all this stuff. A lot of things just gather dust and become more of a responsibility to keep them then not. I personally don’t need more ideas on how to save a bit more here and there (my last 2 cars were certified used late models & I am saving almost max that the governent allows me to save for retirement). What I would like to hear more about is from those that are tired of a society that crams consumerism down our throats. I am looking for a more balanced life of having the “needs” met, but letting go of all the other things that seemed so desireable at one time. On the one hand I want to just give it all away to the Good will, on the other hand I have a hard time letting go. I have at least started by just NOT BUYING stuff all the time. (Though, I found myself eyeing some cook ware in the paper this morning). Has any one else gone through a transformation of slimming their possesions way down? How did they do it? What did it feel like? How do they keep a life style of not wanting to buy the latest fashion trend that comes along? Thanks!

  41. Priscilla:

    I went through a major slimming-down four years ago when I moved cross-country. Anything that didn’t fit in my Hyundai Accent (with two of us riding) was mailed. So for every item, the question became: is this worth what it will cost to ship it? The answer, much of the time, was NO! Anything that I wasn’t taking (including all furniture) was sold in a yard sale or given away.

    It was nice to get rid of the clutter, and only a few times have I gone looking for something that “didn’t make the cut.”

    I’ve never been into buying the latest fashion trend, so that’s not been difficult for me. But I stave off purchase cravings the same as I do food cravings: I set a wait time. If I still want it after that much time, I’ll buy it. If I’m out shopping, the wait time is usually a day – is it worth it to come back to the store to buy it? Will I even remember tomorrow that I wanted it?

    At this point, I have acquired more crap from other people than I have amassed myself. So it goes.

  42. Hey Priscilla, here’s a good link for you:
    http://zenhabits.net/. This place is pretty rich with “slimming down” ideas, including neat stuff like the 100 item challenge 🙂

    I’m 27 and still running through many of these processes, I lost a bunch of weight, moved cities and emptied lots of excesses, but I keep finding more that I really don’t need. My fianc? and I live in a 900 sq ft, 2 bedroom apartment (with in-suite storage and lots of closet space) and stuff is slowly moving out (not in). Turns out that even with a huge book collection and a few hundred DVDs and boxes of Magic cards, we still have tons of space. And I’m still cleaning out “crap”. It’s amazing how little space we really do “need” even with the belongings we actually treasure close at hand.

  43. FRENCH PRESS WARNING via wikipedia

    Some studies have found that drinking large amounts of coffee made by the French press method increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, while drinking filtered, percolated, or drip coffee does not [1]. The French press method allows certain Diterpenes, such as Cafestol and Kahweol, to remain in the coffee while other brewing methods either remove or limit these chemicals.

  44. hey i am a server for two years while i am going to college full time with two kids to support don’t be that cheap that you do not tip your server we make much much less than minumum wage and depend on our tips to pay our bills!!!!

  45. Mary Welden says:

    The guy above that gets carry out food to save on tipping is actually wrong. If you get carry out from a restaurant/bar type place, the servers still get the food all bagged up with the condiments and such and a tip IS appreciated. I never knew this until I had a friend that worked at a bar & told me.

    Another friend complained to me how people would run her bottom of on an all you can eat meal deal and not take into consideration when leaving a tip that the wait staff made 10 trips for food/drink refills and they’d only tip the percentage on the bill. Tip your server accordingly when you run their bottom off. Be aware that servers usually make just over $2.00 an hour and DO depend of your tips.

    I have never been a server but do appreciate someone waiting on me and will tip nicely for an extra good job and will tip the normal “appreciated” percentage for “normal” service received.

    Mary in Camden, MI

    During the holidays I try tp tip a wee bit more too for good service, kinda like a bonus.


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