Frugal Friday, Finally

Due to the confluence of a holiday and an internet access snafu, as unlikely as it may seem, this is the first Friday post of the month. That means it’s time to round up the best frugal tips from the frugalosphere from December.Christmas Tree

Needless to say, December is dominated by what is politely referred to as "the holidays" but which we all know to be that most un-frugal of occasions, Christmas. This annual orgy of unnecessary expenditure comes ’round each year and hypnotizes otherwise savvy people into parting with their precious cash.

Can there really be such a thing as a frugal Christmas? I’m not entirely convinced, but many bloggers gave it a try. Many of the tips were, like the seasonal music piped into all public spaces starting on November 1, familiar and repetitive. Give dad a book of "coupons" for hugs, wrap presents in newspaper, shop for decorations after the 25th, etc.

My Super-Charged Life did share the revelation that there are 7 Free Toys Your Kids Will Love More Than Expensive Gifts. They are a cardboard box, a cape made of an old pillow case or towel, a balloon, two sticks, a fort made of sheets or blankets, empty paper towel tubes, and a paper airplane. Click on the link for details. It’s probably too late to swap that bicycle you got your son for a pair of sticks, but now you know better for next year.

Other, admittedly more expensive, ideas came from Engineer a Debt Free Life, which shared 16 Frugal Christmas Gifts, six of which were laundry drying racks. Now I will concede that a drying rack is more frugal than a clothes dryer, but wouldn’t a true frugalist drape their wet clothes on furniture and light fixtures?

There is one decidedly frugal aspect to Christmas, the tendency for others to give you stuff. And that part of the holiday can be used to counter the cost of the other side via re-gifting. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Centsable Momma laid out the basics in Holiday Re-gifting: Dos and Don’ts. Be sure and keep careful records of who gave you what. Otherwise "you might end up re-gifting it to the person that gave it to you."

Moving away from Christmas into the general topic of winter, many blogs shared tips on keeping warm. The Festival of Frugality added to the science of frugal thermodynamics with the tip that after you bake something you should leave the oven door open so it can help heat the house. (For more frugal thermodynamics, see this with a cooling tip.)

And as a reminder to us all that spring will someday arrive, Life on the Balcony had a post telling us about Composting on the Balcony: The Easy Way to Environmental Virtue. Because nothing makes more frugal sense than to use some of your apartment’s small balcony to make nutrient rich soil. Which has dozens of uses in an apartment.

December was also the month we all got free golf carts from the government. My Wealth Builder explained how this worked and then, the very same day, posted on how it wasn’t a good idea anyway. His main argument seems to be that an electric car that only goes 25mph isn’t very useful. As if. What part of "free" don’t you understand?

Similarly missing the big picture was a post from Frugal Dad on Affordable Home Security Techniques. They include getting a dog, which is not exactly frugal, and a gun. However, as the blog points out "guns are one of the most sought-after items in burglaries, so it makes sense to keep them somewhere safe like in a locked safe bolted to the floor in a closet."

The properly frugal way to avoid burglaries ought to be obvious: don’t own anything worth stealing.

So December was a bit of a disappointment frugal-wise. But there is hope. On January 1st Wise Bread carried the post 12 Cool Things to Do with Used Dryer Sheets. Granted, the first one was to use them in the clothes dryer to soften clothes, but number 8 was to make your bookshelves smell better and number 12 was to "keep a marriage fresh" by doing a "Dance of the Seven Fabric Softener Sheets".

So, you see, there is hope.

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