A Frugal Friday Fourth

Fireworks Adam Berman It is July already here at BMA World Headquarters, and we all know what that means. Seasonal posts about winter and Christmas.

There was Ten Ways to Keep Energy Costs Down in Winter at My Personal Finance Journey. And one of the few blogs with a comma in its title, Call Me What You Want, Even Cheap, shared a story about saving money buying Christmas gifts for relatives at a dollar store. That went well until one of the cousins complained. The post does not say what she got, but it was apparently either a “cute toiletry gift basket” or socks. We guess there is no making some people happy.

Of course, buying very inexpensive gifts is a half-measure. As Donna Freedman tells us at MSN Money in Summer’s almost here: Think Christmas, “A no-gift holiday really is an option.”

We also came across another blog post from Ms. Freedman, this one from March at Get Rich Slowly, 27 Frugal Uses for a Dead Phone Book. Most of them were pretty obvious, using it as a cutting board for cheese, for example. But she also told us that they can be used to look up the phone numbers and addresses of local businesses and people. Who knew? We have not seen a phone book here for 5 or 10 years, but when we do we will be sure to try that one out.

Wise Bread had its usual heavy contribution to the world of frugalism last month. Kelly Kehoe suggested that adults pay themselves and/or their spouses an allowance in exchange for performing household chores. While we are against paying allowances in principle, the money making opportunity of getting paid to clean up after ourselves has a strong appeal.

Carrie Kirby had a counterpoint to a tip we shared last month, that when relocating, you can save on the cost of moving your stuff by getting rid of it instead. She recently moved across country and regrets abandoning her laundry detergent and window cleaner, as she has yet to find an appropriately good deal on those items in her new area.

And Mikey Rox makes a record-setting third consecutive appearance in Frugal Friday this month with a post that rounds up the discounts and promotions available at the 29 Major League ballparks that are not Fenway. Apparently, in other cities the local teams offer discounts on tickets, give-aways, fireworks, and sometimes even provide parking. Also, many of those teams are not in last place.

Mr. Rox likes a day at the ballpark because of “The cheering crowd, the grilled hot dogs, [and] the well-fitted uniforms…."

Moving on to the more controversial topics in frugalism, Parenting Squad carried Why Making Your Own Baby Food is a Waste of Time. Their argument is not that making your own baby food is not preferable to buying it, which would be absurd given the savings involved, but that spoon feeding your baby baby food is counter-productive. Instead “your focus should be on foods baby can feed himself.” Just put it in front of him and let him figure it out. He will thank you someday.

On the wrong side of the frugal tracks, as far as we are concerned, My Family Finances asked Should You Take Out a Student Loan for College or Save Up and Pay With Cash? and came up with the obviously wrong answer that you should go ahead and borrow the money rather than spend a few years working to save up tuition first. They seem to think that at an average 8.3% annual increase, you had better buy a college degree now rather than wait. As if.

Young Family Finance asked Should You Hide Money From Your Spouse? and answered, incorrectly, that you should not. It is for their own good. If they knew about it they might spend it.

Wealthy Turtle passed on a tip which it then immediately condemned as being “dishonest.” When visiting a fast-food restaurant, ask for a free cup of water, and then use that cup to get soda at the fountain. Brilliant. No need to root around in the trash for a cleanish used cup.

But we did change our minds about one frugal practice, buying counterfeit goods. The discounts from the real thing are impressive, but as Money Crashers tells us, sales of these items fund drug rings, are directly responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs, promote child slavery, and, worst of all, can lead to the identity theft of purchasers. Good to know.

We would also like to tip our hats this month to frugal bloggers who save time and money on proofreading and education with a few links. 5 Full Proof Ways To Beat Rising Gas Prices. 5 Best Money Move that You can Make. And Half of American’s Save Nothing for Retirement.

As if we needed another reason not to spend money on vacations, and certainly not to borrow that money, How to be Debt Free had a post Should you Finance Vacations? in which it added another reason. There is just no way you could enjoy yourself on said vacation knowing you borrowed the money. Obvious, but so true.

And finally, Frugal Zeitgeist asked Does buying in bulk make you eat in bulk? We certainly hope not. Stocking up is a pillar of the frugal lifestyle. But how are we to curb our natural desires once we have the 50 lb bag of sugar in the pantry? Frugal Zeitgeist offers some tips, including “cook on a full stomach.” That is a great tip, and a natural extension of the old frugal principle, never shop when you are hungry. But it may not go far enough. We suggest eating only on a full stomach. Now that is frugal.

[Photo – Adam Berman]

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