When to Say Yes or No to a Christmas Gift Exchange

This year my mom proposed nixing one Christmas gift exchange. We cancelled another one last year. My husband and I will be out of town for the first of two potential white elephant exchange. I haven’t decided yet whether to join the second one, if it happens. Frankly, I’m relieved to be sitting them out. So when do you say yes or no to a Christmas gift exchange?…
Continue Reading

What’s for Dinner: 10 Frugal Fall Foods

Some people don’t believe Los Angeles has seasons, but we do. They’re just not as pronounced, and they don’t arrive on the traditional schedule, or always in the proper order. Nevertheless, my body seems to follow the traditional seasonal cycle, so I start craving fall foods when the calendar rolls to September, even if it’s 80 degrees outside.This weekend, with the air-conditioning blasting, I got to thinking about…
Continue Reading

Are Pets Frugal: Annual Pet Costs

In the next in my series of ponderings about what constitutes frugality, I tackle pets. Many people would argue that pet ownership isn’t frugal because it’s a 100% optional expense. Pets are more than a mouth to feed, though; they also provide numerous benefits to their owners. Although it depends on the type of pet you choose, pet costs also aren’t as high as you might think. Cat Care…
Continue Reading

Tips for Planning a Camping Trip

A few years ago, my husband and I spent a lovely nine days camping in Sedona, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. We hiked, we developed a new inside joke, and we ate dinner in our car because it turned out to be monsoon season. Despite the rain, it was a great trip, and it probably cost less than $600, including the rental car because neither…
Continue Reading

Budgeting for Baby

I’m about halfway through my pregnancy, so it’s time to turn my thoughts to baby gear. I still haven’t come to terms with the idea that I will actually have a baby in five months, but I can at least be prepared. We started with a budget. I will be having baby showers and getting hand-me-downs, but I’m also budgeting for the things we need to buy or…
Continue Reading

I’m Declaring Anti-Black Friday

Call me a Scrooge, but I hate Black Friday. I’ve only ventured out once, to a mall that wasn’t attractive to the hoards, but I’ve seen the news coverage and the whole thing is horrifying. The holidays are supposed to be about family, not about trampling people while saving masses of money on consumer crap. Unfortunately, this year I probably will be participating in the Black Friday madness…
Continue Reading

How to Use New Car Buying Websites

Once you’ve determined your new car criteria, it’s time to visit the new car buying websites. I’ve tested several and found a few that I rely on for the most reliable information as well as the simplest interfaces. Gas Mileage Ratings The government fuel economy site is simply the best. You can compare several cars, and you can input your local gas prices and annual mileage to get a true estimate…
Continue Reading

Affordable Christmas Tree Trimming Tips

The last time I bought a Christmas tree was six years ago. The five-foot tree cost me nearly $70. That’s when I decided my days of fresh trees had come to an end. Now that I live in a different apartment, I don’t have room for a tree anyway. I do have ornaments to hang though, so I found new ways to display my decoration collection without spending…
Continue Reading

My Take on Extreme Couponing

I’ve watched a few episodes of that Extreme Couponing show, and I found it a bit horrifying. I can understand why a show like it would be on, but I don’t think it’s in any way realistic. I also wonder if that level of couponing is healthy or ethical. Is Extreme Couponing the New Hoarding? Who needs that much stuff? It’s entirely possible that the people depicted on…
Continue Reading

Avoid Baggage Fees: How to Pack a Suitcase

The best way to avoid baggage fees is to choose an airline that doesn’t charge them. You can also see yesterday’s tips for avoiding airline fees for more ideas. If you are stuck with an airline that charges fees, and you booked after the fee was imposed, then your next defense is packing wisely.  Here’s how to pack a suitcase. Plan Carefully About a week before you plan to leave,…
Continue Reading