I am going to go over some ways you and I may be wasting our money. Of course, you are welcome to add your own thoughts.

1. Lottery- Your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 195,249,054 or you could put together a a Hummer made from losing lottery tickets.

2. Buying a new car every few years — Buying even a used car can be a waste if you do it every few years. The exception to the rule might be someone like my uncle who can take the car apart to the last screw, clean all parts and make it look better than when it was bought, take it back to the dealer and make money on the trade in.

3. Anything you already have that’s “new and improved” — cell phone, computer, most technology or house ware appliance fit into this catagory

4. Credit Life Insurance — This is a waste as it only prolongs payments you have to make anyway and the annual percentage just keeps ticking away on what you owe.

5. Fancy restaurants — These are fine once in a while. But if you are having trouble paying down credit cards, eating out in general might be an item you will want to cross off your list until you have money leftover.

6. Sales — Are you buying something just because it is on sale and getting multiples in different colors, just in case?

7. Courses that teach you how to buy real estate for no money down — There is so much information on the web that you can get for free on real estate and the no money down idea has been torn to shreds.

8. Cable and Satellite services — Again, if you are hard-pressed for money then extra cable channels aren’t a good idea. Unless, one, your job depends on it or two, you are laid up in bed due to illness.

9. Vending Machine Food – They suck you dry one quarter at a time. You know you can buy that bottle of soda at the grocery store for much cheaper in a 6-pack.

10. Lavishing expensive gifts on loved ones — I do this on a rare occasion. Unless your family views love as what is gotten and not the thought behind it, then I think your family will love you even if you don’t give them a trip for two to the Bahamas.

11. Driving to work alone - A majority of us do it, but if you can bike or a scooter or even carpool, then great. Check with your local city or state websites to see if they have a carpool program that would work for you.

12. Designer label clothing - You can find many of the designers you love at your local thrift store for pennies on the dollar.

13. TV Shopping/As Seen On TV Products — There is a reason these are on at night and on the weekends, we get bored or tired and don’t think straight and buy crap we don’t need!

When I was clueless and trying to figure out how to make ends meet, Tightwad Gazette kicked my creativity in gear and helped gave me a light in the darkness. Because of this I have always appreciated author Amy Dacyczyn's forthrightness.

However, after the minor celebrity she received, she shut down her newsletter and Amy D decided to move away from the spotlight, raising her family instead and continue living her tightwad life and became less open to scrutiny.

A few years ago I did write to her to thank her and did get a response with an update but, she made it clear to me that she enjoyed her private life and didn't want any further publicity.

Recently, it would appear, people are looking for Amy D. and her advice. Maine PBS ran an interview with Amy to give us all an update on our favorite "frugal zealot" in Tips From A Tightwad.

I like the following comment Amy said in this article about the new frugal paths that many people are making and I wondered if it will last as well. Amy said, "You know, at the time people were saying to me that I was the leader of the great movement. And I said, I don't think so. I still go to Wal-Mart, and the mall, and I see what people are buying."

Personally, I think the movement will always exist but I don't believe it will take on the life that existed in the 1930's and 1940's due to the unemployment of the depression and the rationing of the 2nd world war.

However, it is always good to hear updated news on someone who inspires you and I thought I would pull out some of the other Amy D. resources that inspire me.

Another recent article came out in March that was in the Michigan Business Review with a slightly different angle on her opinion with the header. The reviews stated that, "'Tightwad Gazette' author drove frugality in the 1990s but now Amy Dacyczyn worries about massive U.S. debt"

Here are still some older articles and interviews that I think are goodies:

In 2008 the Simple Dollar blog interviewed Amy D. that you can read and also makes me wish I had heard the whole interview.

Also in 2008, Raye Tibbitts, local Maine resident, also picked up the phone and called for an interview and to thank Amy D. for the frugal inspiration.

Back in 1997 Amy Dacyczyn was interviewed by the NPR team "for a discussion of the joys of a frugal life and offers listeners advice on how to live cheaply."

And article written in 1990 by Amy Dacyczyn for the In Context website titled: They Call Me The Frugal Zealot

Now you have the background to this inspiring woman we call Amy D. and a little update so you don't have to wonder "Whatever happened to Amy Dacyczyn and the Tightwad Gazette?"

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I love my local library! I like going online and placing books,videos and cd's on hold and then going to pick them up and I not having to worry about money unless I am late in returning the item. But I don't return them late because my library sends me an email notification 2-3 days before the item is due and I can renew or remind myself to take it back. I love my local library!

Today have a new love, it is still the library but in mobile form. The bookmobile saves me even more money, if that is at all possible. Now I don't even have to spend the gas to get to the library and try to find a place to park. My library has been getting very busy in this economy and it has made it hard to find a parking place that isn't a block away.

My library bookmobile brings the books, movies and cds to me. I walk over, a 10 minute walk, and give them my library card and walk back home. My bookmobile also stocks one copy of whatever the latest movie is for the week so I don't have to be the 342nd person in queue. I could have checked out Twilight today, instead I went for Quantum of Solace.

My library bookmobile also comes on the same day each week, Wednesday, and sits and waits for me until 8pm. An added bonus, the librarians in the my bookmobile are the nicest people around, they know everything about anything library related. I love my bookmobile! I love my library; I thought you should know.

UPDATE: In August of 2009, they had to cut the bookmobile service due to budget cuts. Man, I would have voted for my taxes to go up to keep it too!

Would you consider yourself a freegan? If you pick up items that are being thrown out with the trash, then you are a freegan. If you eat the free samples at Costco and consider that a meal, then you are a freegan.

The urban dictionary defines a freegan as: Somebody who abstains from contributing to the economy and salvages society's wasted food and resources rather than purchase more themselves.

I had a bad opinion of freegans when I first heard about them, I saw them as being thiscloseto homeless and living a life that my brother used to live. Living in abandoned homes, stairwells and crashing at friend's places. Eating gross looking food that was left-over in the fridge or garbage and spending as little money as possible - which came across to me as being a leech or at the very least, cheap.

Over time that idea has changed and I realize that I do some things that are freegan-like. Like when I pulled the dresser from the dumpster so I wouldn't have to buy a new one. But it doesn't stop at just products, freegans also pick up good looking food that they view as good food that shouldn't go to waste.

@freegan, who posts their finds on twitter, and gives what they do find to the local shelter, laments that "Only 10% or so of stores have outside bins to glean fresh fruits and vegetables from--the rest destroy w/inside compactor."

Other freegans who glean from the discards of grocery stores and restaurants do make some delicious looking food -Avocado Mango Mint Salad with Plum Chutney is one meal that Waste Not, Want Green has pulled together from the dumpster.

I also found that freegan.info takes the definition a step further to include not just people searching for food but also “People who are concerned so deeply with the social and ecological impact of economic over-consumption that they choose to buy and work as little as possible and, instead, to live directly off the massive waste created by our modern society.

These people have jobs, homes and families. They are the scavengers of the American culture, taking the discarded and forgotten and making it their own, getting that last bit of nourishment or life from it when we have decided none could be found.

I am in total support of this and I think it is great that people are able to “live” off of our throwaways with their creativity.

Have I ever dived for food? No. Have I ever eaten food that was dived? Yes. My grandfather was a diver after he retired and one of his stops was a bakery near his home, since he had a sweet tooth. He even grabbed some extras for us grand-kids. Mom was hesitant at first and always checked the expiration dates, but we determined if we would eat it, based on whether is was stale or not. I have to say that my aversion to coconut covered marshmallows are due to this history, they never looked good to me.

If you look at the picture below, which plate would you chose to eat your meal with? On the left side is a larger plate and cup and on the right is a smaller plate and cup. If you chose the plate and cup on the left, you chose the serving size of the average American.

Let’s say you chose the plate and cup on the right instead. Not only would you decrease the amount of food you eat, thus keeping your weight down, but you would increase the amount of food left in the house and therefore also increase your savings in groceries. By eating less, let’s say you don’t go back for seconds on a meal, you increase the time it takes to use up food. (Just keep track things don't spoil or you will waste money)

For instance, if I eat ice cream once a day, I will go through the Ice cream faster by using a larger cereal bowl as opposed to a smaller custard bowl. However, if I use the custard bowl to eat my ice cream then I make the portion size smaller, the ice cream last longer and my purchase of more ice cream is delayed. And frankly, I like my ice cream lasting as long as possible.

As I save money I have the opportunity to eat healthier. Did you know that one (1) apple at this point rarely runs more than 50¢, a banana of decent size runs almost 25¢ and a peach or pear might come in under 40¢. Get all three and you are under the cost of a protein bar and your body has natural sugar,fiber, potassium and necessary vitamins and minterals. Don’t have time to cut up carrots and celery, grab some regular carrots and cut them up while you watch TV.
Recently we have started eating more fruits and vegetables, both the fresh, frozen and canned variety to help my partner fight diabetes and get into a better habit for myself so I don't go to the doctor as much because of unhealthy eating habits.

To summarize the positives of portion size:
1. Saving Money
2. Eating Healthier
3. Makes your food last longer
4. Reduces trips to the doctor/dentist because you eat healthier

A great supplement to this reading is Zen Habits: Mindful Eating - "Digestion begins in the mouth with the action of saliva. If food isn’t chewed properly it means that there’s more work for the rest of your digestion system."

Trent from Simple Dollar recently talked about his worst job and it got me thinking about my worst job and what I learned from it.

My worst job wasn't that hard to remember as I worked it for 1 day and then went in the next day and quit.

I believe I was just out of high school, maybe 18 or 19 and looking for a summer job. On the other side of town was a good paying job at the small magazine distribution center. It was my job to get the magazine organized for the different stores as the drivers would take them out for the day.

It was a simple job: take magazines off the pallet, organize into stacks, grab proper number of magazines from each pile for each store, hang out with people my age and I got to wear jeans and a t-shirt because the job was dirty.

However, as the day wore on I disliked the job more and more, not because of the manual labor or people I worked with but I started to feel dirty, but not because of my outward appearance but my heart and soul felt dirty.

The stores that we organized magazines for weren't just the local gas stations and retail stores but for the lone adult book store as well, and over the course of the work day it got harder and harder to look at the front covers of the porn magazines. Unlike in gas stations where you may see an adult magazine and have only the title showing, the adult book store received their magazines without any 'modesty covers' and I was able to see the complete picture along with all the subtitles as well.

I made comments to some of the other co-workers and they joked around with me about it and mentioned that I would get used to them and it wouldn't bother me as much. But by the end of the day my stomach was upset and frankly I didn't want to "get used to them".

That night I spoke with my parents about it and they seemed to concur with my plan to quit. This was one of my first adult decisions and I was both excited and scared, even though I felt I was going to be making the proper decision. The next morning I walked into my boss' office before work was to get started and let him know how I felt and that I couldn't work with the adult magazines around. I still remember his facial reaction; even though he was sorry to see me go and was glad I came to him instead of just not showing up, his face, however, showed surprise and confusion, almost like he didn't understand how a magazine could affect someone in that way.

That day I left the job a little more grown-up because I understood myself and those around me better.

My decision to leave my job made me realize that by leaving them in the lurch with one person down, I saw how much impact one person can have on a business. Plus there was probably the confusion from the other co-workers about how a magazine could affect someone so much they would quit a job.

My decision to leave also helped me understand what things I wouldn't do for the almighty dollar. I had found a limitation that I wouldn't personally cross just for the money. However, since that time I have pulled diapers out of clogged toilets and helped a stranger, who was a hoarder, move into another home and some people would never do that for any price.

I didn't have another job lined up after I left that one, but at the time I felt that having no money coming in was better than one that made me feel icky every time I went into work. As much as I wanted get as much money as I could, there were limits to what I would be willing to do to get it.

My trouble, my partner says, is that "you will sell anything that isn't nailed down". Initially when that was mentioned to me I bristled and got defensive; but after thinking about it I realized it was probably pretty close to the truth and this is why I have this attitude:

1. If I can borrow or rent the item, then there is very little out there that I NEED to own.
2. If I can buy it at a used price, then if I get rid of my item and I find I need it a year or two later I can pick it up at that time.
3. I dislike clutter that just sits there and gathers dust. I would rather dust empty shelves than books that I will never read again.
4. If I can find someone else who can use the item then it makes me feel good.

I figure that the less I have, the less I worry about where to put it or keeping it up in case I need it again or even keeping it safe so no one steals it. I like having only the essentials/necessities for my day to day life and the occasional diversion. When I drove out to Colorado from Iowa, I was able to pack everything in the car and still be able to see out the back window; it was a joy to be able to only have a small amount of possessions. Beyond all of that the rest was icing on the cake.
These days the only time I purge is when we move or when I come to my wits end seeing the stuff around. It's a wonderful feeling to get rid of items by either making a little money back or giving it to someone who can use it.

How often do you purge your possessions?


I thought this post (Six Baccarat Tumblers) over at The Thrifty Chicks was worth re-reading as it speaks to me about accumulating things over time and how thrift is a verb... I'll let them explain.

I've seen a number of site that explain how to make your own cleaners and laundry detergant - but this is the first site I've seen that show how to make your own deodorant. I doubt I will make my own since I always seem to get a free with coupons, but this may come in handy if I was allergic to aluminum.

This is a guest post from Courtney Phillips

It takes a great deal of determination and dedication to be able to live within your means, especially when you’re confronted with all the things that are on offer at the malls and shopping centers that are dotted around town. It’s harder when you have kids who clamor and throw tantrums asking for things that they don’t need and which you cannot afford. But I’ve realized that it’s not that hard to pinch pennies when you really set your mind to it and follow these simple rules. So here goes, in order to help you face the economic downturn, I’m sharing my A-Z of frugal living with all of you:
  • Adapt to your situation, whether it be a loss of job, cut in pay or sudden emergency, without stressing about it.
  • Be careful with the money that you do have; don’t lend it to anyone or lose it through carelessness.
  • Cancel your credit cards – they only tempt you to spend more than you can afford.
  • Do not envy your neighbors or friends. Be satisfied with what you have.
  • Earn your keep; it’s easy enough to live with your parents and feed off their savings, but you only realize the value of money when you earn it yourself. Take up any job that allows you to live on your own or at least pay for your expenses where you live.
  • Factor in emergencies. Life is never constant, so you need to be prepared with a nest egg to take care of medical or other unexpected expenses.
  • Garage sales are good when you need a little extra money. You can also get rid of the junk that’s lying around your home in the process.
  • Home sweet home should be your new mantra – eat at home to save money, entertain yourself at home to save on the exorbitant costs you need to shell out at theatres, and spend more time at home to save on travelling costs.
  • Itemize, so that you don’t end up buying more than you have to when you go grocery shopping.
  • Jack-of-all-trades save money, so be one around the house. Pick up some basic plumbing and carpentry skills so that you don’t have to pay through your nose when there’s some work to be done around the house.
  • Kill time by creating your own garden. You not only have a healthy hobby, but you also get to grow your own fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.
  • Love what you do – it’s important that you be satisfied with your job to avoid being stressed and fall prey to various ailments.
  • Make the most of what you have, as opposed to cribbing and complaining about what you don’t. You’ll find that life is infinitely more satisfactory this way,
  • Never take out a loan that you cannot repay; loans come with interest rates that add zeroes to your initial amount with alarming speed. So be absolutely sure that you need the money and that you can pay it back according to schedule before you borrow it.
  • Open all the doors of opportunity that are visible to you; earn money through any legal means possible while you’re still young.
  • Pay only for necessities. If you buy things that you don’t need, you’re going to end up regretting the purchase when you’re in a more sober mood.
  • Quell those temptations, especially when you’re out with people who are better-off than you are and who seem to be spending like there’s no tomorrow.
  • Research your purchases well so that you get your money’s worth from them. You don’t have to buy the cheapest; just make sure you get quality stuff at discount rates.
  • Set rules for your household on how money must be spent. This will prevent unnecessary expenditure
  • Think twice, before you spend money on anything other than necessities.
  • Understand your family when they are frustrated because you don’t have much money to spend. Instead of losing your temper, explain to them why you must live as you do.
  • Visualize your future when you have to tighten your belt today, one that does not contain debts and a life of poverty.
  • Work, work and work as hard as you can.
  • Xercise regularly so that you don’t fall sick or become overweight.
  • Yearn for success, only then will you be driven to work for it.
  • Zip up your purse, tightly. It doesn’t matter if people call you a skinflint; you know you’re only being wise.
Courtney Phillips, the creator of earnaccountingdegree.com, a website focusing on putting "you on the fast track to a better, more lucrative career in the accounting industry".

Though it is not 100% assured that I will be healthy my whole life; eating healthy is one way I can assist myself and stay out of the doctors office. I have seen those expensive hospital bills and they aren't pretty. And if I didn’t have insurance, it would be even more important that I eat healthy and save myself a trip to the hospital. Lately, I have been getting myself more on a Mediterranean type of eating, more fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish.

Sometimes when I go into the grocery store and see the large display of Oreo cookies that are 4 for $6 or smell the just baked donuts, it is hard to get myself in the right mindset to eat healthy. There is one handy healthful planning grocers have done and that putting fruits and vegetables near the door. Getting the fruits and vegetables first is kind of like paying yourself first, you grab them right away and are ready move on the rest of your shopping without diversion (hopefully).

Grocery stores make it easy to shop for all the food you like to eat year-round, however when the item is in season it is usually cheaper. In Colorado, where I live, I can't go shopping at the farmer's market for the freshest, cheaper produce year-round and have to rely on keeping track of the seasonal months for vegetables and fruits while I am shopping the stores fall through spring.

However, when the farmer's markets opens in my area I like to go to a couple different ones, as one place may not sell out as early or have more, smaller growers that have a little more variety.

There are a few sites that can assist you in locating farmer’s markets in your area or places where you can “pick your own”. You may even want to check for locally grown poultry/eggs and meat that you can buy direct from the farmer, with some farmers you can buy 1/4 or 1/2 a cow if you don't eat that much meat.

Here are a couple sites I have found useful:
Local Harvest

One thing that drives me nuts in my car are drinks that spill in the cup holder. It's not a big mess, just drips down the side and make your cup holder sticky enough that when you throw change in it later the coins are all yucky.

One day as I was cleaning out the car, I kept thinking that I needed to figure out a way to stop the sticky mess from happening or at least cut down on the mess. I thought about those padded shelf liners you can pick up pretty cheap, but I thought it might be difficult to peel up to clean and not really cut down on the stickiness factor.

At the store I saw a stone car coaster, even though it says it fits most vehicles I didn’t want to buy it for the $3.00 that it cost, besides my cup holders are a D shape and not round like the coaster, so it would not be a good fit.

The answer: A sponge. I had a pack of sponges I had bought at a dollar store that came in varying thicknesses (unfortunately, all pink). I don’t have a deep cup holder, so a thick one was out of the question. Since I'm not very good at cutting down the side of a sponge to make it thinner, I found the thinnest sponge I could and it was about the same thickness as the car coaster.

I traced the cup holder on a piece of paper and cut out the paper to get the best estimate for size. I decided to go a little smaller than the cup holder as I found that getting the sponge out took some doing since I don’t have fingernails. I set a cup in to check stability and viola; I have a chance at a less messy cup holder. Plus I can just snatch the sponge out and rinse with water/soap to clean and put it back in.

One thing I have to note that the sponges do get hard after enough rinsing, either I will just cut a new one or wet the sponge while my drink is in the holder. I guess I’ll see how this test goes, if it doesn’t work, I’ll pay out the money for the car coaster and have only lost a couple of sponges in the process.

Update: It has been almost two years and I still have the same sponges in my cup holders, none the worse for the wear.

Cheap living isn't as easy to do as I would have thought it was. Oh sure, I could live cheaply by being a leech and living off of others kindness or skipping out on bills, but that is not the kind of cheap I am talking about, that seems to be more of a cheap*ss who has no character.

The cheap living I speak of is one that involves patience, integrity, timing and bit of luck.

Patience: To be cheap and yet get consumables that I need or want, I need patience to wait it out.

Currently I need to upgrade my table and chairs, the current one I have is slowly breaking down because it wasn't made well. To find these table and chairs I am watching the dumpster and searching craigslist to get a low price on a quality set, so far I haven't found what I wanted but I know I will eventually.

Integrity: When I do find a great deal I want to make sure this will be a win-win for both the seller and myself, I will feel better about it.

Last year I bought a brand new recliner from an older lady who let it slip that she tried to sell the recliner for $40 dollars and no one took it, but was glad someone came to get it for the $25 she offered for it. Since it was only a $15 difference and the chair was brand new, never sat in. I didn't feel the price was that big of a deal, so I paid her the $40 and she was happy and I felt good about helping her out a little.

Timing: Just when it appears you are on the last straw, things seem to work out.

A few years back my dresser drawers were falling apart, a dresser I bought new from a local retail store and I needed a replacement. Well two days after taking the dresser to the dumpster in my complex, I stumbled across an old, well made dresser sitting right there at the dumpster waiting for me.

I guess you could call that a bit of luck as well, but overall when I want to live cheaply I make sure I use my patience, buy with integrity and realize that timing and luck have a hand in the process as well.

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At my part-time job I work in the accounting office and get quite a few Coinstar receipts that show the depositor gave up 9% of their coins to get them changed into bills. I would say that on average in a day that machine makes between $30-$50 and then there are the days when people dump in 100-300 dollars for a single receipt.

It just breaks my heart to see people give up even a penny when there are other options they could be using and still keeping their money - some of which is enough for a cheap lunch of even making a minimum payment on a credit card bill.

I remember one morning a guy asked me if I wanted to buy some rolls of coins and I declined (he had about $300 worth, it looked), but I did mentioned that the bank would be opening in less than an hour if he wanted to wait, but he declined. The end result was that the machine got almost $30 in fees.

When I was growing up it was no big deal to bring in your coins to the bank, they would either dump it in a coin counter (bigger banks) or pull out a wooden coin counting tray. There were no fees and it was no big deal, except for the occasional sigh I would hear if I had a larger amount of coins.

Many Coinstar machines do offer an option to keep ALL of the money you deposit as long as you pick one of the gift card options they offer. However, the machine at my store only gives you two options, a 9.5% fee or give all money to charity. The charity option isn't bad but if that wasn't the initial reason to go in, the fee would be your only option.

An alternative I noticed was that my local credit union installed coin counters into their branches and these counters don't have a fee, which is very kind of them and my credit union also allows people who don't have an account with them to use the machine for no charge.

From what I have found out most banks will count money for no charge, however some have conditions- you have to have an account or there is a maximum limit - so please check with your bank or the bank in your neighborhood.

A final suggestion is to use your coins to pay for merchandise, if a store won't take your rolled coins you can also use the self-check out areas and plunk the coins in one by one, it may take a while but you are using the money for something you need. If you do go to the cashier and have loose change that is not rolled, it would be best to not go during rush-hours.

To summarize the free coin counting options:
* Double check your options if you use a coinstar machine
* Contact your local bank for free exchanges and possible conditions
* Pay for your merchandise with coins- use self checkouts or go outside of rush hour

UPDATES: Occasionally coinstar will offer a holiday bonus toward the end of the year for a limited time, whereby you can get an extras 10-25% of your total towards a gift card.

Before you go and turn in your coins, check them for any rare and valuable ones

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One thing that always drives me nuts is that people always say to eat fruit and vegetables "in season" to get the best price, but since grocery stores sell the food all year round and farmer's markets only sell April/May - Oct. it can be hard to know what is in season because of this (besides shopping at farmer's markets).

If you will bare with me I have a little spreadsheet I made to keep track of some fruits (blue) and vegetables (red), as I find more with months I will amend the list. If you have some foods and months for their season I would greatly appreciate it.

I have added the seasonal food info to google docs and you can view as I update it. I have added more fruits and corrected some coloring

(click to enlarge, this is not the most recent one, see above)

UPDATE: Find out food shelf-life and the best way to store it by going to StillTasty.com and selecting your category.

Another good link for seasonal food was recently posted by the UK Guardian - Seasonal Food Chart

Update 2: A printable, simple info graphic to put on your frig. with in-season fruits/veges

Given the development in agriculture, any fruit or vegetable can be produced in any season. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to eat. The best food to eat is usually what is natural to that particular season - EatTheSeasons

The interesting thing about tips is that if you have too many, it is overwhelming to remember, too few and you've already probably done it or it isn't useful. But somewhere between 4 and 15 seems to be the perfect amount to find a few you need to implement and remember them.
Wisebread recently posted Five Frugality Hacks Straight Out of the Great Depression and a couple of my favorites are
-Do It Yourself: I need to learn how to do somethings myself and not rely on others to save myself some money.
-Buy From The Source: This would be very handy for meats.

TipHero has 13 Tips for a Cheaper, Better Laundry. I can line dry in my home, but not outside (per apartment complex rules). Another item on the list is to clean out my flexible dryer vent hose; which hasn't been done in 5 years.

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What is financial bulimia?

I would consider it episodes of binge–spending followed by inappropriate methods of financial control purging - living without basic necessities.

So a binge is when an individual spends a much larger amount of money than their means will allow. It isn’t always in response to a need but rather to depression, stress, or self- esteem issue. During a binge-spending episode, the individual may feel a false sense of control and power. This false sense of control or power is followed by a short state of euphoria. And the euphoria is followed by regret, self-loathing and guilt. This is when the purging comes in, they sell things they just bought (some just return it to the store) or they realize they have no money left and they can't pay basic necessities.

A change in habit will take time, and the greatest kick in the pants to change will come from our own head and heart, the willingness to change and courage to stand back up even when struck in the face with the reality of the financial dilemna.

It would appear, based on the definition, that some may need professional help to alleviate the depression, stress and other emotional trigger.

Talking finances with others isn’t a huge taboo, but you never know who is going through the same thing you are; so find a friend or group to help you out and to talk to. If you don’t have someone to talk to, write in a journal, whether with pen and paper or online as an anonymous person. Talk about why you want to buy, what were you going through at the time that made you want to give in, in the process you may find the trigger and be able to work the problem out.
Bankrate wrote an article, The Basics: You might be a shopaholic and stated, "Studies estimate that as many as 17 million Americans, better than one in 20 of us, can't control our urge to shop, even at the expense of our job, our marriage, our family and our finances."

As stated in the article there is an unfortunately low number of studies and research on this widely misunderstood desire.

There was one study that was done by authors Nancy M. Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney and Kent B. Monroe who developed a new scale for measuring compulsive buying. (via science daily) However, they just provide the results from their study and not the testing process.

Unfortunately, there isn't a set way to fix the situation. As stated above you could go to group shopaholic anonymous type group or try journaling or speaking with a friend or counselor. You could even try hynopsis. Ultimately to getting help for a problem starts with your desire to correct it.

Further articles:
Attention, Shopaholics: Your Weakness May Be a Proper Disease (nyt)
Real-life shopaholics in a world of hurt (lat)
Binge spending: treatment for shopaholics (SA news)

I have found that when you mention that you would like to live a minimalist life to someone they get this institutional picture of white walls and little or no furniture in there mind. But minimalist living has different definitions to it, depending on who you talk to.
For me, the definition of minimalist living is living well with as few items as necessary. It would mean that I sort through items every 4-6 months, I give away items that I haven't used since the last time I went through it. I basically keep what I need and use often and very few items that I want (I have few wants, which helps)

While I could minimize the furniture in my home to only a few pieces or cut down my wardrobe to what could fit in a small suitcase; I will ultimately want to make sure the items I do keep are quality, taken care of well and will last me as long as possible. This helps with the consumerism in my life, slowly, being whittled down as well.

I don't see this as a sacrifice but rather as a desire to keep my attachments and my responsibilities to a minimum.

The minimalist life is one that has to work for you, there is no set way to live a minimalist life, just like there is no set way to live a frugal life. And of course this may not work for your spouse or kids as well; I personally try to work within the limits that my partner can stand.

The nice part is that if you are not sure if you want to lead a minimal life you may find that just decluttering your home will set things into motion where everyone can get involved and form ideas about how far they would like to minimize. You may find that you really don’t have much ‘minimizing’ to do in your home and the rest is just minimizing your expenses or attitude toward things.

I don't run across many people who display the minimalist life- but I can occasionally spot them and am finding more and more of them as I move through life that I can learn from and adapt some of their ideas to my own life.

Have you ever read The Consumerist's posts on the incredible grocery shrink ray? They are logging the downsizing of grocery products across the US. I have one to add to their list:

I recently bought two cartons of ice cream at my local King Soopers - one a German Chocolate cake and the other a chocolate Moose tracks carton. However when I took them out of the freezer I noticed that the German chocolate one was .25 pints larger than the Moose Tracks carton. I remembered the shrink ray posts and figured one was newer than the other. This is true, however, the one that is newer is not in the way you might think..... the smaller one is the older one and the bigger carton is the newer one!

Click for larger view

Now I have two questions to determine this mystery:

1. Is Private Selection reversing their shrink ray based on consumer outcry?
2. Are the German Chocolate cake ice cream lovers worthy of more ice cream than the Moose Track ice cream lovers?

No matter the answers, the task of taking a look at the fine print can both be educational in the value you can receive and humorous, as in "what the heck are they thinking".

Everyone’s heard of the three R’s in relation to the environment - reduce, reuse, and recycle. I actually think they are missing two other R’s that are very important to not only the environment by also your pocketbook.

It should be Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Restore. Have you heard someone say, or said to yourself, ”They don’t make them like they used to.” Well, here is your answer to holding on to those well-made items and saving some money in the process.

Reduce – First start out by going through your stuff getting rid of the clutter that you don't or won't use. However, don’t throw it out, give it away to friends or family, take to a church yard sale, post it for free online or a few dollars on Craigslist. Then, make sure you make a conscious effort to limit what you bring new into the house.

In our home, my partner loves to collect hats, but we have agreed on a rule that when one is brought into the house, one must go. This allows us to keep the ones we truly like and use, we have quality over quantity.

Recycle – This picks up where reducing leaves off, trying to get more stuff to other people who need it than to the landfill. This would include finding places to give away or sell your items.

I think the hardest items to recycle are electronics. At Earth911 I am able to recycle those digital cameras and cell phones to possible further their life. Then for the oddball item like prescription glasses, packing peanuts or shoes - The goodhuman has a list

Reuse – It all comes down to extending the life of an item, whether it is used longer for the same thing or used longer in different ways. One way is wearing clothes a little longer to cut down on the number of loads of laundry. Washing out a bread sack and using it to put a lunch in for work. May be even washing out that same sandwich bag, letting it dry and using that again for the next weeks worth of lunches so you don't have to buy a lunch bag.

Reusing an item can be creative as well- coffee grounds could be used to clean pots and pans, use as mulch in your garden and a way to repel ants, or dye fabric with them.

Repair – Instead of going out to look for a coffee table brand new at the store, try some creative ways of repairing a broken one or personalizing an older, stained coffee table. Who cares what friends say, you have just saved yourself money and added more character to your home.

Restore – When you are saving money, you want the best for as little as possible. Since you shop at yard sales and flea markets to find those antique gems that are made well, you are going to bring home some stuff that doesn’t look as good as it should.

We saved a much-needed dresser from the garbage truck; even though it had seen better days it was well crafted and a solid investment. We brought it home, sanded it down, painted it and put on some simple drawer knobs. Viola! Like new again and people who see it would never know where we got it unless we told them. Plus I have the added pride of knowing that I saved money and that the project was done with my own two hands.

The 5 R’s of basic frugality, once mastered put you on a solid foundation for frugal living. Saving money doesn't mean you have to be chintzy, but with patient, creative and holding onto something with quality, you keep your money.