Frugal Friday for the Holidays

November brought a wealth of new frugal tips, many of them seasonally themed.

Wise Bread kicked the month off right by reminding us, as if we needed it, thatCattle Crop early November is  the right time to  buy Halloween costumes and decorations. But beware of those topical items that may not work next year,  e.g. the white sequin glove coming out of a grave.

Wise Bread also shared a timeless list of 20 Money-Saving Ways to Reuse Old Pantyhose.  Sure, some of them are pretty obvious, like using them to store onions and potatoes, but several are of the forehead slapping why-didn’t-I-think-of-that variety. Used nylons can be used to make homemade soap-on-a-rope, as plant ties, and even as storage for those "menacing foam packing peanuts."

With the change of seasons came a raft of posts on how to save on heating bills. Not Spending Money shared Seven Ways to Stay Warm in a Cold House. The best of the bunch is the suggestion that you spend more time outside, so your house will seem warmer when you go in. Of course, I have to take these tips with a grain of salt as the blogger in question confesses that properly heating her home in winter is one of the "little luxuries" that she splurges on. I wonder what else she refrains from not spending money on. Food? Clothing? Medical care?

If you really want to learn how to spend less for heat, ask a Canadian. This month The Canadian Finance Blog shared no fewer than 15 ways to save money on heating. Insightful highlights for me were ways #3 and #4, closing your exterior doors and windows. I guess that sort of thing is just second nature North of the Border.

Not exactly seasonal, but a sign of a changing climate of a sort, was the resurgence of posts about the joys of buying houses. Bible Money Matters made 2 Compelling Reasons To Buy The Most Expensive House In Your Neighborhood. Not to give the whole thing away, but the reasons are that you’ll spend less if your neighbors are poorer than you, and buying a house that would be worth a lot more in a better neighborhood is a bargain. That second principle strikes me as a good way to evaluate any potential purchase. A BMW 7 Series may not seem frugal at first, but consider how much more expensive it would be if it were a Bentley.

Switching gears from big purchases to small ones, Out of Debt Again asked How Much Do You Care About Expiration Dates? "One of the hallmarks of being frugal, at least in my opinion, is not caring a great deal about expiration dates." I couldn’t have said it better myself. And the author also reminds us that while regular milk will go bad, raw milk "will just sour naturally and is actually a rather delicious product." Yum.

Another great pillar of frugality is coupon clipping. Recently, however, many stores have switched to electronic coupons you have to print out yourself. As The Sun’s Financial Diary points out, this presents problems because of the added costs of ink and paper. That’s quite a conundrum, but the post does share a good tip: fill your printer’s paper tray with old junk mail.

And then there is DIY. Lifehacker told us how to make our own medicine ball (they "can run well over $20" in stores) by slicing a basketball open, filling it with sand, gluing it closed with Liquid Nails, and covering the whole thing with a lot of duct tape.

But the biggest thing in frugal DIY this month has got to be Provident Planning’s monthly update of their project Raising a Cow for Beef. To be fair, this is not something we city dwellers can do easily. The Provident Planning author lives in a rural area full of dairy farms, so he knows a little something about cattle. For example, he shows off his inside knowledge by referring to his male bovine as a "cow".

The young steer in question, appropriately named "Bambi", was received for free by his current owners when 10 days old. At that time he "faced a grim future". But now he can look forward to 18 months of living alone, chained up in what appears to be a small concrete yard, before being slaughtered.

And finally, this month’s survey of the frugalosphere ends with news of an Opportunity to Pay Zero Federal Income Tax in 2010 from My Wealth Builder. It’s complicated, but the key trick is that to reduce federal taxes to zero, all a married couple needs to do is earn less  than $24,917 in taxable income.

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