Archive | Introduction to Frugality

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Oatmeal, Floss, and Other BOGO Virtues

Oatmeal epitomizes virtue. One serving each morning helps lower total cholesterol, including the nasty LDL cholesterol that can clog arteries. As Wilford Brimley once said “it’s the right thing to do.” But Brimley ignored a major downside: oatmeal not only sticks to your ribs, it sticks to your teeth. A toothpick can’t get rid of […]

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Why Spend an Hour Per Week on Frugality?

“Nothing comes from nothing and nothing ever could.” So warbles Maria in The Sound of Music. Captain Von Trapp agrees with her and they strike a deal on matrimony. I too believe that nothing comes from nothing. But when I explain to newcomers that a solid program of frugality takes about an hour per week, I usually don’t gain […]

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How to Get a 30% Raise Without Asking Your Boss

Let’s try a brief thought experiment. For purposes of this experiment, assume you’re an average wage earner ($50,000 per year) and typical spender ($45,000 per year after paying for taxes and social security). Compare these two scenarios. Scenario No. 1 Let’s say your employer, in an inexplicable fit of generosity, decides one day that your labors on […]

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Frugal Metrics: Compare Your 2013 Spending to National Averages

Human nature is natural. And it’s only natural to compare yourself with others, especially when it comes to spending. When mainstream consumers do this, the impulse takes the time-honored form of “keeping up with the Joneses.” New cars, smartphone upgrades, and extravagant vacations are duly noted, and many purchases are inspired by what others have already […]

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12 Easy Ways to Automate Frugality

The transformation from mainstream consumer to Frugal Fringer is difficult. Why? Mostly, it’s because the process smashes up against so many entrenched spending habits. You have to exchange comfortable routines for those that are new and unfamiliar. If, for example, you always wash clothes in warm water, for each frugal wash load you have to remember to […]

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Every Line Item Has a Story

As discussed earlier, the line item is a basic unit of analysis that helps you come to grips with your spending (see here). The next issue is this: how do you make effective use of line items so that you can start spending less than you do now. Under the classic approaches to frugality, any analysis of […]

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A Frugal Building Block: The Humble Line Item

Classic frugality programs rely heavily on numbers. People who like numbers take to these programs like teenagers to texting. To them, budgets and ledgers and spreadsheets provide endless sources of delight. But then not everyone digs digits. If you haven’t tackled your household spending in a serious way before, maybe it’s because of the tedious […]

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