Frugal Friday for Fall

NCM_logo There were two big and obvious seasonal trends in the frugalosphere this past month. The arrival of September means it is time to get serious about Christmas shopping. And it was, as we all know, National Coupon Month. But did you know that NCM is only 13 years old? Seems like it has always been there, but it was just in 1997 that it “was first introduced by the Promotion Marketing Association, Inc. (PMA) to heighten awareness to savings and increase coupon usage.”

In celebration, there were the usual pro-coupon posts, but also at least one in the this-has-gone-too-far vein. Coupons for Lottery Tickets – Seriously? from Provident Planning informed us that just because you get a two-for-one coupon for lottery tickets in the mail, that doesn’t mean that it is a good deal. As the author points out, the Pennsylvania Lottery (who sent out the coupons) only pays out 61% percent of their revenue in prizes, so a $2 ticket is really worth only $1.22. You would have to get a serious discount to turn that into a good deal.

Housing and living arrangements were another big theme this month. Financial Samurai kicked it all off with some useful tips on How To Get Girls If You Live At Home With Mom & Dad. Obviously, moving back in with the ‘rents is a deft frugal maneuver, but it has some drawbacks, particularly for the young man looking that special someone. One strategy: tell her that you own the house and that your parents are staying with you.

I guess I could understand that ploy working for a guy looking to close the deal on a given Saturday night, but for me it does not make sense in the long-term. If you are looking for a life partner, then naturally that person needs to be frugal and attracted to others who are frugal. If the girl you just met is turned off by finding out you live over your parent’s garage and ride a bike to save money, then she wasn’t right for you anyway.

Of course, as frugal an idea as moving back home is for the grown child, it is an un-frugal problem for the parents. Donna Freedman at SmartSpending responded to Financial Samurai with this side of the coin. The basic idea is to make living at home much less of a compelling deal for the little darlings. She suggests 1) that the child be forced to share in housework 2) that the child pay rent and 3) that “Parents have the final say on visitors and sleepovers.” Of course, the kind of parent who would wield a veto over certain sleepover guests would attempt the same thing even if the child lived in a different time zone. But then there would be more of an enforcement issue.

For the recently ejected child, life in the first apartment can get complicated. Wise Bread brought us the cautionary tale of one young lady whose condo became home to six and a half people, none of them her parents. On the other hand, Squirrelers brought up another advantage to urban life: the constant sight of homeless beggars will motivate you to save.

Other tips this month included how to save money at farmer’s markets. (Go late and negotiate a deal on what ever is left over.)

How to Get Two Free Credit Reports a Year involves living in one of seven states (CO, GA, ME, MD, MA, NJ or VT) that require credit agencies to give you one free look a year, and then creatively interpreting those laws to mean that the state mandated report is a different thing than the federally mandated one.

WiseBread told us how to foil pickpockets and muggers by carrying a second decoy wallet containing “a few small bills and a few cards” including an inactivated credit card. (What could possibly go wrong?) The post also suggests tossing in a Blockbuster membership card. I knew that had to useful for something.

If you need last-minute ideas, Woman’s Day told us how to save money on Halloween costumes for your dog. There are three adorable DIY suggestions, each illustrated with a photo of a surprisingly unenthusiastic canine.

And finally, Not Made of Money had a list telling us how to lower your water bills. Number three is to take your car to the car wash instead of washing it yourself at home. Brilliant! That will save a lot of water and unquestionably reduce your water bill. And this same outsourcing principle could be applied to other parts of your life. Consider all the water you could save on dishwashing by eating out more. And if you stayed at a hotel you could shower there instead of at home.

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