Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year

Whew... back to the grindstone. Christmas is over, company's gone and the house seems very quiet. I've sorted through the bows and ribbons, thrown out some paper that was too far gone and cleaned up my bedroom (almost!).

Now comes the time to reminisce a little, philosophize about last year and make plans for next year. Like most of you, I want to do more with less. I want to put more money into savings, put less food in my mouth. I want to put more muscle on my body, put less stress on my mind. Put more thought into every day savings opportunities, put less emphasize on what others think about how I do it.

The top three New Year's Resolutions involve money, weight and exercise, in that order. More money, less weight, more exercise. And every year, we resolve the same thing. Hmm...

Maybe it's time to resolve to actually work on our resolutions?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

And thank you to all who read and follow this blog. You've given me a great year and I hope that I've given you at least a few ideas on how to make your money go farther.

I hope you all have a wonderful and fulfilling Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas is for giving

Ever had a conversation about the best gift you've ever received? How about the best gift you've ever given?

The best and most frugal gift I ever gave was many years ago. It was a pencil sketch of my brother.

I'm not an artist, by any stretch of the imagination, but I was flat broke that year and needed a gift from the heart for my parents.

My brother had been killed in Viet Nam the year before. I had a picture of him in his uniform with his helmet on, so I got a piece of paper and a pencil and worked and worked on a pencil sketch of that picture. I bought a cheap frame and put it in it, but the frame meant nothing...

My mom cried when she opened her gift and I felt satisfied that I had given something more special than I could ever have bought.

You don't have to spend money to give the perfect gift. Sometimes not having money is a gift in itself. It makes us reach within ourselves and really, truly give.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joining challenges

Have you ever thought about challenging yourself to not spending anything for a week? Or to using up certain things in your pantry before shopping again? Just those two challenges can save quite a bit of money, if you take them seriously.

Think about it... and keep yourself on track by joining the threads on the Dollar Stretcher forums:

No Spend* December 13 - 19th

Clean out for Xmas Pantry Challenge! Dec 8th to 15th,2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mug rugs and quick gifts

I was inspired by a post on the Dollar Stretcher forums about DIY stocking stuffers to make a few "mug rugs" for Christmas, then got a little carried away. The upshoot of it was this heart mug rug, published by

Cute Heart Mug Rug

Which brings me to the point of this post: Making quick gifts and stocking stuffers for Christmas. Knitting, crocheting or sewing are all pretty quick and can use salvaged or second hand materials, even when making gifts. It's really hard to tell whether a yarn or piece of material has been used for something else before or has been stuck in the back of someone's closet for ages.

How to get that material or yarn? Check thrift stores, of course, but if you don't see skeins of yarn for a low price, look at the sweaters on the racks. The yarn in hand made sweaters can be ripped out, washed and used again. Wash it by hand and wind it into a loop, then weight it and let it hang to dry.

No material for sale there? Look at their sheets! If you can find a good quality sheet, there is a lot of material in it. Don't overlook full skirts, bedspreads or anything else that has a lot of material.

Wash material and use a vinegar rinse to help ease old fold or pleat lines. If that doesn't do it, iron the piece, misting with a tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of water. The smell will disappear quickly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Real trees are cheaper?

Here's a story I don't understand:

Fake trees lose appeal for frugal Christmas shoppers

It's been a long time since I've bought a live tree for Christmas, but aren't they kind of expensive? And don't you have to buy them every year? Wouldn't it make more sense, money-wise, to buy an artificial tree and NOT buy one next year?

I've seen artificial trees as low as $19... granted, they're not huge and they're not beautiful at that price, but that's what ornaments are for. I know you can pay well over a hundred dollars for an artificial tree, but you can do that for a live tree, too.

It just doesn't make sense to me to buy a live tree because of money. If you get one because you love the fragrance or the look and feel of one, that's different... but to save money??