Frugal Friday, June 2012

Once again, the first Friday of the month is upon us. Time to review what we have learned about The Frugal Way in the past month.

We start with a warning. The recent IPO of a company called Facebook might inspire curiosity about its product, which is a website that may appear to be  free to use. (Other than showing you a tiny bit of advertizing that could not possibly generate Doritos dress - Maura Pozekenough revenue to justify a market cap of $60B, never mind the loopy $100B it went public at. We digress.) In fact, it is a scourge that will “push your savings to the edge of a dangerous precipice.”

You see, in the good old days big spenders were segregated away from the frugal types and we were not led to temptation by seeing their fancy vacations and store-bought clothes. Now, in this decadent digital age, we are “connected” to all sorts of people, some of whom post pictures of themselves on Facebook. So beware.

On to happier tips.

Mother’s Day once again fell in May this year, so there was the usual round-up of frugal gifts for the occasion. Most of them, a home-made card, a phone call, etc., were pretty obvious. But Yes I Am Cheap had a list that began with lottery tickets. “Nothing says, ‘I love you’ like the chance to win money.” How true.

Speaking of frugal gifts for loved ones, Mikey Rox at Wise Bread shared a list of 20 Frugal Ways to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day. #3 was take on a chore, #9 was wash the car, and #20 was to just leave your partner alone for a few hours, for crying out loud. Mikey is always the romantic. We did think that #18, “Pitch a Tent” was a bit too intimate, but then this is the guy who has a big bowl of condoms in his living room.

Saving money on your spouse is hard enough, but what about dating? Thousandaire had a helpful post How to Save Money on a Date. You should keep an eye on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, looking for activities that are both inexpensive and interesting. For example, laser hair removal. The author concedes he is unsure how enjoyable this would be as a date at full retail. “But offer them for half price and I’m in!”

The approach of Memorial Day is usually a time for angst over the cost of gasoline and other travel expenses. But this season’s crop was a bit poor, at least in the States. Luckily we had two useful tidbits from across the pond. A post at Help Me to Save (actually it is H£lp M£ to Sav£) shared three False Economies on Car Running Costs. The last was Not Using the Car, which is not really a savings because it depreciates just sitting in your driveway and you have to pay for insurance anyway. So it is more frugal to drive it.

And an author who goes by the implausible pseudonym Alex Manson-Smith gave us 5 easy ways to cut the cost of your commute. #2 was take a flask with you, which sounded a lot more exciting until we realized that flask is British for a thermos of coffee.

May and June are also, of course, graduation season. So it is time for advice for grads and frugal gift ideas. For the new high school grad moving on, BeingFrugal shared a list of no fewer than 52 Ways to Save Money in College. Not enough room to cover them all here, but included were #45 use candles instead of electric light, #46 wash your clothes infrequently, and #49 wash your hair infrequently so that it will “embrace its natural oils.”

On the gifts for grads front, FrugalDad suggests dehydrators, canning kits, and compost buckets.

May is also prom season. We are sure that everybody has heard by now about the 18-year-old boy in un-frugal Minnesota who is being prevented from bringing his rather cute 19-year-old date to prom just because unlike most 19-year-olds she works for a living.

Of course, prom is often not frugal. And one of the biggest non-frugal bits is the dress. But from uber-frugal NPR, we got a report on a girl in Missouri who has made a series of dresses from re-purposed household items, including card-board, soda cans, and, by far our favorite, Doritos bags.

We found the NPR piece at blog that was new to us, Birmingham Bargain Mom. It is just chock full of useful tips, including such posts as 11 Uses for Old Toothbrushes, Trash to Treasure: 5 Frugal Uses for 3D Movie Glasses, and 100 Ways to Reuse a Cereal Box. Embarrassed as we we are for not finding BBM before, we are looking forward to featuring tips from it here for many months to come.

BBM also pointed us to an item in Reader’s Digest, 9 Uncommon Uses for Bananas. Apparently, banana peels can be used to polish silver and shoes. So go ahead and polish your husband’s work shoes with one, thus relieving him of a chore. His day will be brightened.

[Photo – Maura Pozek]

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