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Frugality is an approach to managing personal finances that focuses on saving money through smart choices. To be frugal, you need not always opt for the lowest cost, but the best quality for the price. Consumerism Commentary offers many frugal living tips.

Frugal Living Tips

Frugality is an approach to managing personal finances that focuses on saving money through smart choices. To be frugal, you need not always opt for the lowest cost, but the best quality for the price. Consumerism Commentary offers many frugal living tips.


Having my own business, and an eventually successful one at that, has changed my life — but it hasn’t changed it much. I was forced into frugality by necessity in 2001, a few years after I graduated from college and was growing deeper into debt. I needed to fix my finances for the sake of my future, so I started spending less than I was earning, got a new job, saved money on rent, used a budget, and entered the most frugal phase of my life.

I got rid of my car, opting for the bus and the train to get to and from work. I relied a little on my roommates for transportation, too. My share of the rent, with three other people in a three bedroom apartment, was about $350. This was my life for about a year. I hadn’t started earning any money from my side business yet, but I was earning enough from my day job that I could move out, live without a roommate, and have a car again.

Since then and over the last decade, I slowly learned to accept the fact that a website I created and community that surrounded it could be a profitable business. Even when I started receiving impressive checks each month, I maintained my attitude that it could all end suddenly. I didn’t count on this income for anything important; it remained in savings, and I based my spending on money earned only from my day job.

Eventually, I felt comfortable enough with the business that Consumerism Commentary had become, and I began focusing more of my time growing that business, and I allowed myself use of its revenue. I didn’t even quit my day job until my own business was earning three times my day job salary. From there, revenue skyrocketed, and while I let the principles of frugality remain inspiring most of my decisions, I gave myself much more latitude.

As a result, I now have a number of expenses that I wouldn’t been able to afford at the low point of my life. I’m still saving a great deal of the money I earn. My goal is to leave my nest egg, boosted by the sale of the business, alone, and base my spending on only new income. That income is not exactly where I want it to be, though. I can avail myself of the income generated by investments, but I’m reinvesting dividends and interest as much as possible.

But of the income I do have, I’m spending more now than ever before in taking care of myself.

1. I pay a cleaning service to clean my apartment every two weeks. I’ve never been a fan of dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning. I guess most people aren’t fans, but left to my own devices, my apartment can get a little cluttered. Hiring a maid service has been great because not only is my apartment presentable to guests almost all of the time, but the knowledge that the maids are arriving gives me motivation to keep the apartment presentable.

The service costs about $150 every two weeks. I could probably save a lot of money if I cancel the arrangement with the national chain and looked for an independent cleaning service. At one point, one of the employees of the cleaning service company seemed to offer to clean the apartment outside of the franchise, on her own, for a lower price, but I didn’t even consider it.

2. I pay a personal trainer on top of my gym membership. I’ve had my gym membership for about two years, and used it actively for the first few months. The winter weather in 2012 resulted in less motivation for getting to the gym, so I stopped. I started again early in 2013, and decided to take advantage of the gym’s personal training options. I’ve been much more motivated to get into shape, and working with a trainer has been much more rewarding than spending my time running on the treadmill.

The gym membership fee is about $20 a month, and in addition to the membership fee, I pay about $30 for a training session. The sessions are supposed to be a half hour but they sometimes go as long as an hour. My goal is to attend personal training sessions three times a week, but it often works out to two due to travel or, recently, roads that haven’t been plowed or de-iced. The training is styled like Crossfit, but I get to avoid some of the more cult-like attributes of a program like that.

3. I get weekly massages. This is one way to treat myself a little bit, but it’s also therapeutic. I started just recently; the personal training I was working with a few months ago suggested it. The massages help my muscles, many of which get a lot of use during the personal training sessions, and at the same time, it keeps me feeling relaxed and is a healthy way to deal with stress, both physical and emotional.

The best option I could find was a nearby location of a massage therapy chain, but the company isn’t as important as the quality of the masseuse. This started as a luxury reserved for every other week, but I liked it so much, I increased my attendance to one week and the length of the sessions from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. The one annoying aspect of the arrangement is the complexity of the membership.

The monthly plan has a maximum of two hours a month, but I’m looking at spending three hours on the massage table every two weeks. As a result, I pay additional fees in addition to the monthly plan. The cost is an average about $40 an hour.

4. I spend a lot of money on photography. I have a pretty strong photography habit. I’m just about done buying equipment, though. I bought a new lens at the end of last year, and I bought a new camera in 2012, but that’s all in terms of expensive equipment.

My current photography expense comes from materials other than equipment. I’m working mostly with film instead of digital, so I need to buy film and photographic paper. Because there are so few people who do this kind of work today and demand for the materials is so low, the prices are high. I could easily spend between $500 and $1,000 a year in film, paper, and other materials related to film photography. It would be nice to start making some money with photography to justify these expenses from a dollar-for-dollar perspective (it’s already justified from a self-fulfillment perspective), but I haven’t put much effort into being a photographer-for-hire, and I don’t see myself doing much of that in the future.

I used to take photography classes, enrolling in the local non-profit organization for about $300 for an eight-week session, but now I have private lessons with an experienced photographer for about $75 a session. The sessions should be an hour each, but they often go as long as two hours. I think it’s a good deal, especially when you consider I have use of the studio, darkroom, and all the chemicals necessary for developing and printing film.

I feel comfortable with these expenses today. I’m in a different spot financially now than I was ten years ago. People often ask how my life has changed since I sold my business. It hasn’t changed much; if anything, my life changed slowly as I began accepting that the money I was earning on the side was safe to touch. I don’t travel extensively, I didn’t buy a nice car or a big house. I still live a pretty understated life, except perhaps for these luxuries.

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There’s a good reason I can’t get into extreme savings for retirement. When desperate financial times call for desperate financial measures, there is a good incentive to cut all unnecessary spending and eliminate bad debt. Many people even wait until they hit rock bottom before reforming their approach to their finances, because the effects of bad money management aren’t always clear until they’re completely unavoidable.

After one extreme — complete lack of reasoning and complete lack of understanding consequences — there is a tendency to hit the other extreme. An obsessive spender is just as likely to become an obsessive saver. A little obsession might be good. When I realized I wasn’t saving for my future, I began tracking every cent of income and expense, and it helped me learn where I could cut back my spending and improve my income. It’s an important part of moving your life in the right direction, and I still recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seriously considered their money management skills, particularly those who aren’t left with much net income at the end of the month, if any.

There’s a danger in taking saving too far. Money is more than a number, and you are more than just your net worth. The only point in growing your bank account balances is to use that money for something at some point. Money has no intrinsic meaning; its purpose is only what you can do with it. Although it’s a problem not many will face, it is possible to save too much money.

The government encourage saving decades in advance for retirement by providing tax incentives. It’s a good way to decrease the burden on employers, who at one time offered pensions to assist their employees when they could no longer work. Pensions have all but disappeared in the private sector, replaced by 401(k) plans and IRAs. Preparing for retirement in advance is healthy financial planning, but you still have to consider there is a chance, though remote, that you won’t survive until the end of the saving-for-retirement phase of your life.

It’s a morbid thought, of course, and I wish all Consumerism Commentary readers a long, healthy life. An insurance company may use actuarial tables to determine the chances of any individual living a certain number of additional years, but it’s just an estimation. When we plan for the future we have to assume that the money we invest or save while looking at a time horizon decades in the future will be there when we need it, but we also have to assume that we’ll be there to use it. That’s a lot of assumptions, and putting money away that could be used today is a certain type of risk.

Having a will helps a saver feel comfortable with the fact that if his money outlives him, it will at least see a chance to be used, either by relatives who might save it or by a non-profit organization who can use the funds to move its mission forward. For those who have the means, however, having not completed everything on a “bucket list” could be a regret. Life is almost always shorter than we want it to be, and with many fulfilling activities, many of which require money, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to wait until retirement to do everything.

It’s not a good idea, though, to take this “life is short” mantra and use it as an excuse to spend money with wanton abandon. This is a toxic financial attitude, even though it could be considered the opposite of putting your financial concerns off until the future, another toxic attitude.

While I fully agree that everyone should seize the day in as many opportunities as possible, this approach should be balanced with enough consideration for the future. I don’t think that balance can ever be perfect, though. All anyone can do is make an educated guess, and aim for an approach to finances with which one is comfortable. One that provides a chance for thriving when income from work is no longer a factor while taking advantage of opportunities today for enjoying life.

The good news is that we can enjoy life today while saving for the future. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, although when you’re living paycheck to paycheck or worse, the smart decision is to focus on getting out of that situation and beginning to build wealth as the primary and only priority. Once you are building wealth, you are in a better position to have that flexibility. The frugal approach to life assists with this goal. You can find ways to enjoy life on a budget while keeping the automatic investing plan in full force.

Although I save for retirement to cover myself in the likely event I’ll eventually want to stop working in exchange for money — likely well before I reach the government-suggested age of retirement — I want to make the most of my time today. That doesn’t always require money, but sometimes it does.

  • I see people putting up with terrible bosses and jobs they don’t like. Life is too short to waste your time in situations that aren’t ideal, or at least moving in that direction. It’s a myth that we need to just accept what we have and be happy when we’re treated poorly at work. When the economy is bad, people are brainwashed into thinking they should be lucky to have any job. Get out and find something better.
  • Unhappy marriages and personal relationships are similar to bad working situations. Life is too short to spend your life with someone who doesn’t make you happy or to force yourself to spend time with people who don’t share your values. There are seven billion people in the world.
  • Why waste your time watching television when life is so short? Well, while reading a novel might better flex your neurons, seeking entertainment is a part of enjoying life today, so don’t be too quickly to accept the productivity refrain that mindless entertainment is a waste of time. There may be better ways to be entertained, but life is not worth living if you have to be productive every waking minute of every day — especially if that “productivity” is for the benefit of someone else.

Recognize that life is short and that we might lose our chance to enjoy life if we wait around for retirement or financial independence to start living. We can’t use the fact that life is short as an excuse that prevents good decision-making, which takes the idea to the extreme to the detriment of important goals like saving for the future.

How do you balance the need to plan for your financial future and to achieve financial independence with the need to make use of what you have and enjoy life today? How do you make the most of what is a relatively short life without sacrificing your future? How do you prevent “life is short” from becoming a toxic financial attitude that takes away your ability to save?

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Fees and surcharges seem to be an unavoidable part of living in a world where banking is big business. If you keep your financial situation simple, diligently shop around, and keep an eye on your money, you can avoid may of the more common fees. In theory, you could increase your fee-avoidance ability by keeping your money outside of the banking and investing system, but that’s an extreme approach that just isn’t feasible for modern life in the United States.

Even the most diligent savers and frugal minds can find themselves faced with fees. They tend to lurk behind corners, waiting in the fine print, for the right time to strike, taking consumers by surprise. Other times, the fees present themselves up front but seem unavoidable.

Grabbing moneyThe fees banks charge their consumers serve several purposes. The first purpose is simply to increase revenue. The second purpose is to modify their customers’ behavior. Well-publicized fees can dissuade customers from partaking in an activity the bank would like to avoid, while the purpose of carefully hidden fees is generally to increase profit. Rationalizations for fees fall into these two categories.

The reason banks charge a variety of fees is simple. They do it because they can. Customers like to complain about paying more money than necessary for the services banks provide, but unless they’re willing to close accounts and find alternatives, banks can continue to operate as they are. And don’t worry; if you want to vote with your feet, there’s probably a fee for that.

That happens to be the first fee I’ll discuss in this compilation of the five most annoying banking fees. These are all fees that I’ve experienced, even after I was more attuned to my personal finance situation. The fees I’ve included in this list are pervasive; many, but not all, institutions may assess these charges. In addition to their pervasiveness, these fees are unnecessary from the customer’s perspective. They are usually avoidable with some research or planning, but once you find yourself faced with a fee, there is often little you can do to avoid it.

1. Account termination or closing fees.

Account closing fees are prevalent with investment accounts, although some savings banks will also charge account closing fees if you don’t maintain your account for a minimum period of time. I experienced this unfortunate event when I came to the realization that I was paying too much for my weekly investments with Wachovia’s discount brokerage. At the time, Wachovia announced a $50 annual fee, making the account too expensive for my tastes, especially when there were free options available.

I had been progressing on a path towards making better financial decisions, and I wanted to transfer my relatively small investment out to a better discount brokerage. I selected Scottrade. Wachovia was also planning to increase their account termination fee from $75 to $95, creating more of an incentive for investors to keep their accounts open and pay the $50 annual fee. I transferred my money out of Wachovia as soon as possible, and I sent a sharply-worded but ultimately ineffectual letter to the CEO.

Account termination fees aren’t limited to just banking. Cell phone and cable television operators use these in their long-term contracts. The rationalization is that mobile phone companies sell phones at a loss (or at least less than market price) with the intent of earning a profit on the monthly service plans for a predefined amount of time. But like in banking, these fees serve mostly as loyalty-enforcers, preventing customers from deserting one brand for the competition in a highly competitive marketplace.

2. Savings account monthly maintenance fees.

Banking is an interesting concept, and since the growth of major national banks and especially during and after the recent recession, we’ve forgotten why banks exist. It may not be apparent since the credit crunch, but the purpose of banks is to lend money. When you open a savings or checking account, you are doing the bank a favor. You are increasing the bank’s ability to give out loans. The loans, in turn, help businesses thrive, moving the economy forward. At the same time, banks in theory earn revenue from these loans, which they can, relatively easily, turn into profit.

The bank should be thanking you, not charging you for your money. And they often do thank customers in the form of interest. In return for your generous deposit, the bank offers an interest rate. With the Federal Reserve still looking to influence the economy, banks can borrow from the central banking system and pay less than if they had to pay interest to depositors. As a result, customers face lower interest rates.

Combine this with the fact that banks have not been lending as openly as they have in the past, their profits are down. In the end, these banks, especially the largest national banks, replace the lost loan income with fees for their depositors, with the rationalization that they are providing a service that customers should pay for.

3. Convenience fees for online payments.

Put yourself in the position as the individual in charge of collecting vehicle registration fees, insurance premiums, or business taxes. Would you rather pay the salaries of a team of employees to go through payments sent through the mail or pay to establish an online presence and payment capability? The latter in many cases is going to be much more affordable. In reality, it’s rarely a choice of extremes, but a combination. Nevertheless, the more you can encourage people to pay online, the less manual labor is necessary.

This is surely a convenience and money-saving endeavor for businesses and the government in the long run. Yet when citizens attempt to pay for these services online, they are often faced with an online convenience fee. Merchant services enabling businesses to accept credit cards can be expensive, and some entities did not accept credit cards at all until they began accepting payments online.

That, plus the IT costs of building an online system, is the rationalization for these fees. When businesses can’t increase the cost of your services to compensate, they try to recover these costs through fees, conveniently ignoring the long-term savings benefits of accepting online payments. And when you’re a government entity and have a monopoly on vehicle registrations, for example, you don’t have to worry about competition driving your costs down.

4. Fees for using coins.

When is a dollar not worth a dollar? When one of those dollars is in coin form. The tried-and-true method of daily saving, the coin jar, has taken a hit. There was a time you could take the jar to the teller in your local bank and they would deposit the money dollar for dollar into your account. You probably still can, but not without nasty looks from the tellers who don’t want to count your change.

In the United States, coins are considered inconvenient. People would rather walk around with bills neatly folded in wallets than with change jingling in their pockets. When faced with a collection of change, people are interested in exchanging their coins for dollar bills. Bank tellers don’t want to deal with this, so in many circumstances, they’ll take a fee out of the exchange, usually only if you don’t have an account at that particular bank. Coin exchange machines in stores, like CoinStar, take a cut from the exchange as well.

If I give someone $30 in change, I expect to receive $30 back. Coins are not worth less than bills.

5. Account inactivity fees.

Investment banks are going to earn money off you in whatever method they can. Brokers love active traders; for the most part, the brokers earn money with every transaction. Transaction fees are expected and even tolerated. Many discount brokerages offer plans that offer a monthly fee in exchange for leniency with transaction fees, but for the most part, profits are derived from those who buy and sell often. It’s no surprise that most investment advice agrees that investors should not trade often, as fees and bad timing hurt your long-term investment returns more than anything else.

You have to be careful when you buy and hold in certain investment accounts, however, due to inactivity fees. If you aren’t adding to your balance or making any number of other changes to your account, some brokers will charge you an inactivity fee. This fee could appear on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

When investment accounts are able to change their account terms on a whim, an account you’ve had for years, just sitting and growing in value over time, could begin to leak its value. This is the primary reason it’s worthwhile to read every notice you receive from your banking institutions, regardless of how unimportant the envelopes might appear. It’s also a good reminder to keep your address current with all of your accounts, reducing the chance you’d inadvertently miss a notification.

What banking and investment fees do you find the most annoying? How do you avoid fees?

Photo: CarbonNYC

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Learning to Say No

This article was written by in Frugality. 13 comments.

Earlier this week, I appeared on HuffPost Live, an online television channel, to talk about saying no to spending. Social situations make it difficult for people to admit among friends that they can’t afford whatever the social activity might be, such as dining out or going to a club. The discussion was couched in fashion. Working in the fashion industry, there seems to be quite a bit of social pressure to have the right clothes and accessories to fit in with colleagues. I don’t know anything about the fashion industry, but I do know how important it is to look the part when your goal is to move forward in any social or business environment.

I participated in a panel hosted by Nancy Redd that included Christina Anderson, the Fashion and Style editor for Huffington Post, Dr. Nancy Berk, a psychologist and author, Nathan Morris, a financial planner, and Veronica Dagher, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal whose article It’s Really OK to Say, ‘I Can’t Afford That’ inspired the topic for the show.

American consumers face pressure every day, whether from friends, the media, or societal expectations, to fit in. The human drive for the feeling of comfort in an environment or some kind of community drives us to make choices that move in that direction, even if those decisions can be harmful in the long run. It’s not a case of ignorance. We knowingly do things that harm our health every day, but we continue. The same is true about financial harm.

In order to feel accepted in a group, we want to act like a group. The problem is we can’t really see the true financial condition of those we emulate. If everyone on the block owns a Mercedes, it’s understandable that the one remaining household on the street feels inadequate for not being able to afford the same car. Many of the families, despite the outward display of wealth in the form of a car brand that has put a lot of marketing effort into making sure its vehicles are perceived as high-class, may be struggling financially. The car may be leased, and they might not be able to afford the payments. The families outwardly displaying their wealth might have no retirement plans, and their children might require loans to attend college. The pressure to appear the same as everyone else is strong enough that the financial priorities that aren’t outwardly facing often assume a lower priority.

This type of pressure manifests itself in early adolescence. Children at this age are often judgmental and cruel, and the pressure to be like others in a particular social group manifests in a big way. Kids who either refuse to conform to others’ expectations or can’t fit in due to their families’ financial constraints can become social outcasts. This doesn’t need to be damaging in the long run, but it can make life difficult for middle-schoolers. For some, this feeling — the need to fit in by adjusting outward appearances to be like others — never goes away.

If social groups weren’t enough, businesses whose primary goal is to make money have learned how to take advantage of the need to fit in. Marketing to children is so powerful because most parents are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their children happy. If the latest toy is perceived as being this year’s must-have at Christmas, it can be difficult to say, “No, we can’t afford it,” to a sweet child who has behaved all year. Parents have the responsibility to curb expectations and lead their children in such a way that they don’t need to care as much about outward appearances, fitting in, and resisting the highly-targeted and performance-tested marketing messages from a ever-widening array of media.

The Wall Street Journal articles offers some concrete advice for adults looking for new ways to feel comfortable saying no. Not wanting to be embarrassed is only one reason people don’t say no to spending in social situations, however. The article doesn’t address another important factor — not wanting to disappoint friends. Keeping up social relationships is an important part of having a fulfilling and happy life for most people, but it’s impossible if you turn down every request to get together for dinner because your budget doesn’t allow it.

Rather than feeling you need to say no all the time, change the conversation. Take initiative and suggest other ways of getting together and socializing that don’t require expensive restaurants or $15 drinks at the fanciest clubs. Organize a pot-luck dinner or a picnic in the park. Get together to play games. Attend a gallery opening. Find event in your community that don’t require an outlay of cash but still provides for a social experience. Rather than being the person saying no, you’re now the one with great ideas for activities, and you’re saving everyone money, and you’re not disappointing anyone.

The article suggests blaming your financial adviser when you need to say no to your friends. Punting responsibility is a quick way to get out of a sticky situation when you feel you need to give some kind of an explanation beyond “no.” Depending on how much you’re willing to share with your friends, you might want to say something along the lines of, “I’m saving money for x, so I can’t fit this into my budget this month. How about next month?” This shows that you, not your financial adviser, are responsible and in command of your money, and describes a healthy attitude towards savings. Plus, the word “no” triggers such negative responses in the brain, it’s better to avoid it and turn the conversation around in certain social situations.

And who knows — if you’re genuine and non-judgmental with your friends, your approach to saving money might have a good effect on your friends’ attitudes. They may think more about savings when they hear you are taking a positive approach to your money.

How do you say no to spending in social situations or to your children? Continue reading to watch the half-hour HuffPost Live segment, “You Can’t Afford That.” Read the full article →

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For Financial Freedom: Reduce Expenses or Grow Income?

by Luke Landes
Penny

The frugal approach to growing wealth focuses on what you spend. The Millionaire Next Door, one of the most popular wealth motivation books, shows how spending wisely is the most important factor in increasing net worth. The book contains anecdote after anecdote about millionaires who live below their means and keep their wealth by maintaining ... Continue reading this article…

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Never Rent a Self-Storage Locker: One Million Reasons

by Guest Author
Storage

This is a guest article by Christine Bilger from Quizzle/Zing. Have you ever watched “Storage Wars”? It’s a real-life series on A&E which follows professional buyers as they scour repossessed storage units for treasures. The buyers on the show will bid hundreds of dollars for the lockers without even knowing what’s inside. It’s pretty hit-or-miss. ... Continue reading this article…

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The Latte Factor: Your Spending Reflects Your Priorities

by Luke Landes
Latte Factor Coffee

The concept of the Latte Factor is one of the most divisive issues in personal finance. Money gurus get so worked up over whether the Latte Factor is a valuable lesson in money management that one might think the issue were as important as war, the national debt, or capital punishment. Most of the time, ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Work Out Without Over Working Your Budget

by Guest Author

This is a guest article by Jennifer Calonia, Junior Editor at GoBankingRates. In the article, the author offers suggestions for staying fit without breaking the bank. It’s that time again: Beach season is fast approaching and franchise gym promotions are in full swing to lock you and your checking account into a pricey workout regimen. ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Be a DIYer Without Time or Talent

by Gerri Detweiler

This is a guest article by Gerri Detweiler. Gerri is the host of Talk Credit Radio and serves as Director of Consumer Education for Credit.com. She is the author or co-author of five books, including Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights. Her next DIY project is to (finally!) ... Continue reading this article…

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Spring Cleaning Tips: Finding Items for Sale to Earn Money

by Guest Author

This is a guest article by Jennifer Calonia, Junior Editor at GoBankingRates. In the article, the author offers suggestions for making spring cleaning work for you. We are officially one week into spring, and many are shedding winter stagnation for more productive ways to save money — and earn money — using items around the ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Dream Wedding: When to Save, When to Splurge

by Guest Author
The wedding bride

This is a guest article by Jennifer Calonia, Junior Editor at GoBankingRates. In the article, the author helps couples in search of their dream wedding decide which expenses are worth paying more money for. The pressure to plan a perfectly executed wedding is a monumental undertaking, especially for those lacking a savings fund or a ... Continue reading this article…

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Buy a Humidifier to Save Money

by Luke Landes

This weekend, I purchased a humidifier supposedly large enough to affect the relative humidity level throughout my apartment. I have a loft area, making heating and cooling my apartment evenly difficult, and I figured I’d need a large humidifier to affect the bulk of my square-footage. I purchased the humidifier mainly to reduce static electricity. ... Continue reading this article…

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She Spends Less Than She Earns: Zooey Deschanel

by Luke Landes
Zooey Deschanel

It’s not often that a young, female star of music, movie, and television can avoid financial scrutiny. Tales of financial woe tend to be much juicier, anyway. It’s not difficult to remember the Britney Spears train wreck. She couldn’t handle earning more than $700,000 a month. At least her antics kept her in the news. ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Love Cooking

by Forest
Toast

This is a guest post by Forest from Frugal Zeitgeist. Forest writes about frugality, finance, minimalism and lifestyle. In this article, Forest shares his experiences in the kitchen. Cooking great meals is a great way to save money and stay healthy, but it’s a skill that I haven’t developed for myself. Passion can boost motivation, ... Continue reading this article…

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Frugality Plays Role in Bringing Tech to New York City

by Luke Landes
Roosevelt Island

Michael Bloomberg, the king-slash-mayor of New York City (will he increase term limits again to stay in his position?), has announced that Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will be transforming 11 acres on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island into a graduate school for technology. Classes will begin as early as next year ... Continue reading this article…

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Could You Survive at the Poverty Line?

by Your Finances Simplified
Thrift store

This guest article is written by YFS, owner and author of Your Finances Simplified. YFS was born and raised in west Philadelphia and is now a financial adviser, IT contractor, landlord, and treasurer of a non-profit. If you and your family of four received an annual income of $22,350, could you survive? You would be ... Continue reading this article…

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Why I Still Drive My Old Honda Civic

by Luke Landes
Honda Civic

After noticing, month after month, that I include the value of my 2004 Honda Civic in my monthly net worth updates, a reader wrote in to Consumerism Commentary to ask why I haven’t given into my desires and purchased something newer or more exciting. I’ve had a bit of a storied past with cars, but ... Continue reading this article…

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Gradual Frugality: Finding Enjoyment in Saving Money

by Leo Babauta

This is a guest article by Leo Babauta, originally published on Consumerism Commentary on April 3, 2007. Leo, the author of Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System writes about achieving goals, creating habits, productivity, personal finances, frugality and more at his blog, Zen Habits. On Zen Habits, I detailed some of the things ... Continue reading this article…

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Unplug Your Cable Box to Save Money

by Luke Landes
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Set-top boxes continuously run in homes who have them. Cable boxes, satellite boxes, and digital video recorders (DVRs) are designed to constantly remain on, even while no one in the household is home. According to the National Resources Defense Council, these devices cost $3 billion to run every year, and $2 billion of that cost ... Continue reading this article…

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Avoid These Big Money Wasters

by Luke Landes
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CNN is offering a compilation of the ten biggest money wasters. These items would be obvious to most loyal Consumerism Commentary readers, yet it would not be out of the question to disagree with some of these money-wasters in some circumstances. ATM fees. You shouldn’t be surprised that banks will charge multiple fees for the ... Continue reading this article…

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