It's wild to think that 80 years ago today the stock market tanked and overall value dropped over 23% in two days. These days it isn't easy to find people who remember that day well, most remember the ripple effect, the years that followed that we now mark as the Great Depression.

I think most of us today are similar in thought when it comes to our own financial struggles, there are a rare few that can remember vividly what set the tone, but many people can be found who have stories of their own ripple effects and their struggle and continued struggle to make ends meet.

It seems, from what I have read, that those who have lived through the Great Depression have one of two attitudes today about what they experienced. They have either continued to live frugally based on the things they learned as a child and young adult or they want to put those years behind them and live well because today is nothing like yesterday. But both groups seem to agree that they don't want to live through those times again.

And today I believe those same attitudes are growing. There are those who have learned to be frugal to get through these lean time and will carry those experiences through the rest of their life and those who are eagerly waiting for life to get back to "normal" so they can put their hardship behind them. Call it frugal fatigue or short attention span, but I think that even though people what to move beyond this required frugality I don't believe that they will so easily forget the ways that they tightened their belt and how it helped them get through.

It seems that time helps us remember when history passes on by us and our memories or those who carry those memories are no longer around to remind us. It is in this "Great" Recession that we will gather together the things we have learned so those who come after will not forget.

Obviously the day to day can be very boring yet it is punctuated by creative ideas to get through to the next pay day and topped off with personal enlightenment that all may be quickly forgotten as it become another act in our day to day living. However, I wanted to bring your attention to some books and blogs that I read that inspire me, jumped start my creativity and let me know I am not alone.

The books that I keep on my shelf for personal reference:
The Tightwad Gazette - The book that took frugality to a mainstream idea. Many were already doing it but now the ideas were gathered together so that they could share with one another what worked and what didn't.
Living More with Less - Understanding that here in America even in our worse condition, we do have some advantages still. It is about appreciating what we have.
The Ultimate Cheapskate's Roadmap to True Riches - A new book that uses one man's personal, lifelong mission to be as cheap as possible and finding value and wealth in what is truly important.
Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things - If you want to re-use something but not sure how, this book will have at least a half dozen ideas for you.

When I initially started blogging in late 2004, I was the only frugal blog that was out there (the old blog is not archived, sorry) but in the last 5 years the number of frugal bloggers has exponentially grown that I am amazed and inspired myself. Below are only a few of the many blogs I keep up with who share their own day to day stories.

Blogging Away Debt
Out of Debt Again
Under $1000 Per Month
Wise Bread
Pat Veretto's Frugal Living Blog
Frugal Babe
The Simple Dollar
My Frugal Life by Thriftyfun
Frugality in the Making
Frugal Dad

I enjoy reading David's Do One Thing series as I find it useful for not only the recycling, waste reduction but also the recycling, money reduction aspect that many ideas have.

Below are the ideas and how effective I have been in doing them. This series has been ongoing for him since 2008. There are quite a few ideas and I thought I would go through 20 at a time. The first set of 20 are here if you missed it.

1.Buy Checks Made From Recycled Paper and Printed With Soy-Based Ink -
I so rarely write checks that it is taking forever to get through the 150 that I bought two years ago. However, I have Check Gallery bookmarked and will be buying recycled paper checks next time around.

2.Avoid The Antibacterial Soaps (link)
I don't seek out these soaps, I just grab what is on sale usually, though lately I am looking at buying local homemade soaps and they aren't anti-bacterial.

3.Clean Out The Lint Filter
Gosh, this should be standard practice but it seems that if you live in a complex with a shared washer/dryer unit everyone assumes that the other person will take care of it. And cleaning out the air vent is a good idea as well.

4.Install A Motion Detector
Minimal lighting, use only what you need. I recall that as a kid my parents used outlet timers for lights when they were away, and that could be setup as well as a cheaper alternative.

5.Avoid Using The Toilet As A Trash Can
No more cleaning out the hair brush and dropping it into the toilet then flushing 1.8 gallons of water. Though I do toss lighted matches into the toilet but I don't flush until the toilet is used again.

6.Reuse Reply Envelopes In Unsolicited Mail
My mom is GREAT at this, myself, not so much. I just forget to hold onto them. But they do make great shredded paper and I've heard of some people sending their junk mail back

7.Buy It In Glass Instead
I am actually working on this because I am just tired of drinking my water out of plastic and it not tasting as good as when I drink it out of a glass container. And I haven't broken a container yet... except in the freezer.

8.Bring Your Own Utensils To Work
I bring my lunch to work so I should be more disciplined to include utensils as well. I really only bring them when I have to have a steak knife, otherwise I just use the plastic ones at work.

9.Forgo The Produce Bags
When I am buying a small amount of items, running in and out, I don't grab them but when I need 5 apple and 2 pears I need a bag. It is handy and habit to tear off a bag nearby. It's the same kind of memory trouble I have when I forget the canvas bags in the car.

10.Get Yourself A Broom (link)
In this case David is talking about sweeping the concrete instead of using water to clean it off. I have a broom and I use it well.

11.Borrow Before You Buy
Truly I only remember having to borrow a carpet cleaner, I did eventually buy one but I don't recall the need to borrow anything. Oh wait, we have a sander that is gathering dust and taking up space, probably should have borrowed that.

12.Take Off Your Shoes
I could do better, but then that is one reason we got a carpet cleaner - winter is just sadistic towards carpeting.

13.Stop Washing Your Clothes
I haven't sold my washer, but the clothes are washed less frequently and instead I let the clothes air out so that I can wear them again later. I don't think I'm alone in that I wear my clothes, especially jeans, longer than a couple of days.

14.Use A Lid!
Warm up water faster, boil the egg faster, fry ham quicker and eat sooner. Oh, and it saves on electricity as well.

15.Leave No Trace
This is more of a green idea that when you are outdoors you leave the place the way you found it. I guess it could be attributed to dumpster diving as well, leave the dumpster cleaner than what you found it to be.

16.Hand Wash Plastic Cups (link)
I don't do this, maybe because it isn't promoted as a big deal. I rarely wash anything by hand really as I waste a lot of water doing so.

17.Give Up The Dryer Sheets
I haven't used dryer sheets at all in Colorado, my unprofessional opinion is that the low humidity may be a reason. I don't miss the dryer sheet smell, instead the clothes and towels just smell like washed clothes and towels and not violets, which is fine by me.

18.Shred Paper For Packing Material
Done! I have trash-bags full of the stuff. I should give the extra away on freecycle or something. The shredded paper goes into plastic bags so that they don't make a mess for the receiver.

19.Print Seventh Generation Coupons
Coupons are frugal and 7th Generation is a green/eco company that sells their products on most all grocery shelves. I have bought a couple of items, they are more expensive so you are buying first for the earth and second for the wallet.

20.Forego The Receipt
Most all places give a receipt automatically, and frankly I would like to have one in case I need to return and item. However David mentions that at the pump you can choose not to have the receipt print. However, I never have my checkbook handy to write the amount down, so I would have to write it on my hand so I can remember until I get home.

I enjoy reading David's Do One Thing series as I find it useful for not only the recycling, waste reduction but also the recycling, money reduction aspect that many ideas have.

Below are the ideas and how effective I have been in doing them. This series has been ongoing for him since 2008. There are quite a few ideas and I thought I would go through 20 at a time.

1.Buy A Recycled Plastic Toothbrush.(link)-
This is the oldest one and I have to purchase them (target has them). Pricing isn't going to be cheaper as I have not yet seen coupons for these, but if a greener planet is worth the cost, than this is a perfect avenue to look into

2.Reuse Paper-bags As Shipping Envelopes.
I don't remember the last time I used a paper bag, wait, I got a couple from the Chinese place last night. However I have them saved for my lunch. Instead I use extra plastic bags, fill them with my shredded paper and use those as packing.

3.Have Multiple Recycling Containers.
My apartment complex doesn't have the option and neither do any nearby towns. I could still separate my trash and drive it to the recycle center that is 20 miles away. However, I will admit, I am lazy in that department and the gas spent isn't worth it to me.

4.Buy Your Music In Digital Format.
The last time I bought a Music cd was last Xmas for a niece. Otherwise I have this covered. One major reason I prefer digital music is that it is easy to transfer and I don't have to worry about shelf space for the music. Now I just need to burn the old music cd's to digital format.

5.Make Next Car Rental A Green One.
When I lived downtown Denver and didn't have a car, this would have been the perfect tip for me, as I rented a car 1-2x a month for groceries and get away. Since then I haven't had a need, yet.

6.Drink More Tap Water.
I do this already however I am still trying to get my partner to give up filtered watered, but at this point the cost isn't horrible - maybe about $10 a year. Not a lot but still, I need to keep track of my nickels and dimes and save where I can.

7.Turn Off The Dish Dryer.
This one is crossed off my list already, I have yet to see the need to use this unless I lived in Barrow, Alaska

8.Use Reusable Coffee Filters.
This transition is a bit slower, we have moved from bleached white paper filters to recycled, unbleached coffee filters. I have high hopes that once we get down to the last few of the bulk amount of filters we will be able to move on to the a reusable filter.

9.Turn Off Those Gaming Consoles When You Are Done.
Game consoles are used about once a month for a period of a week. When they are not in use, they are unplugged, but while in use they are left on due to a last of trust that the memory cards will actually work. Don't ask.

10.Unload Your Trunk Junk.
This is a must for me in the summer, I hate to hear things sliding around. But in the winter I do keep necessary winter gear in order to stay prepared for the unexpected Colorado snow dumping.

11.Forget The Fresh Linens.
Recently we stayed at a hotel and didn't have linens changed for the weekend we were there. We don't change them that much when we are home why would it matter at a hotel? I guess it is kind of like freaking out about a straw when eating out and never using one at home. Unnecessary.

12.Don’t Limit Reusable Bags To Just The Grocery Store.
I agree on this one. I also use my canvas bags at the library, taking items to work and when we traveled cross country, we packed with them as well instead of plastic bags.

13.Switch To Recycled Content Toilet Paper.
For this household it is a matter of brand loyalty when it comes to TP. The chances of wiping with a product other than what one is used to is would mean that we have had a mental breakdown and chaos has encompassed the entire world, that or the brand is no longer made to our liking.

14.Write A Letter Regarding Something You Care About. (link)
I do write letters about consumer goods, but have not yet wrote a letter to stand up for or against some consumer item.

15.Forget The Straw.
Speaking of straws and linens and things. I don't use mine even when given them, I set them aside so they don't get wet and drink out of the cup. Until there is a federal emergency that says we must use straws and toilet seat covers I don't see the need or the waste.

16.Buy Organic, Free-Trade Coffee.
I am nervous when it comes to new food. As an example it took about a year of badgering to break down and eat shrimp. I would like to find a coffee that is sweet in taste and where I don't have to use sweeteners for it. Until then I stick with my same old stuff.

17.Keep Scraps In The Freezer Until They Hit The Composting Pile.
First, I don't have a compost pile and I know no one who is nearby that would have a need for my scraps. But it is a great idea - my mom keeps empty juice concentrate containers by the sink and puts organics in those. I would probably do something like that myself.

18.Make Your Own Natural Antibacterial Spray. (link)
This article is specifically talking about cleaning counters, I just use soap and water and am satisfied with that as I am of the opinion that too much of a good thing (anti-bacterial) can work against use.

19.Buy Local, Handmade Soap.
I recently bought some through and have also asked for this for Xmas. My own store bought stock is getting low so I am trying out new kinds and look forward to the end result.

20.Save Ink and Reduce Waste By Making Small Adjustments To Your Printing.
I use both sides of the paper and I have tried recycled ink and have not had good luck after trying it twice. I do print info as a draft when ink is not already low.

Part 2 to come on Wednesday.

When an opportunity comes around that makes an item free and I have use for it, I grab it. A truly free item is rare if you think about it. I love watching shows on Hulu and when I heard the company was thinking of charging for Hulu I was bummed. But I do realize I still pay for it in a small way, by paying for my internet access, which works out to pennies for the things I do (coupons, maps, tv shows, blogging), but I still do pay for it and it isn't completely free unless I was stealing my neighbors internet or using wifi at the library.

There are so many ways to get free items but most of them come with a price in some form.
BOGO items -
You can't get a free item unless you buy another of the same item at regular price. The free part is only if you were going to purchase that item anyway, otherwise it is money being paid for essentially two items.

Free Lunch -
This is commonly used at work with the boss buying lunch, but it is usually on the heels of reaching a goal or volunteering beforehand. There is the occasional 'free lunch' due to a holiday brings out the kindness in people.

Free Sample - 
Receiving free samples is considered free however what have you given to get the sample in return? In most cases you have given your email and home address, thus giving up a bit of your privacy for their advertising list. Also there is the added storage that may be necessary if sample gathering is hobby - storage takes space and to some who don't have a lot of storage that is premium space.

Drawings for Vacations and Cars - 
They have a Smart car that is being given away 'free' at the nearby mall, but in order to just enter, not win, I had to give name, address, income and select some personal interests. Again, a privacy issue but the biggest part is that wining this "free" car means big taxes when I take ownership of it.

Dumpster Finds -
I have dumpster dived a dresser and picked up a cedar chest but I didn't just bring them home and plop them down, they were sanded down and either painted or stained. That meant I had to buy paint and sandpaper and stain. It may not be a larger cost, but still, not totally free.

Free Communities - 
This are wonderful places to pick up free stuff, however there is a small cost to some of these as well. Depending on the item you are looking for and how far out of the way you may have to go to find it, that would mean you have gas to buy and if you don't have a truck to pick it up, you may have to rent one. If you need help getting the item in the truck, then there might be the cost of paying for a lunch to have one of your friends help you out.

It all depends on how you look at the "free" item, if what you give of your time, privacy, repair and gas is minute to you than the free item has value above what has been put into getting it. In my case, I'm glad I signed up for the Smart car giveaway- the chance to win one is worth the information gathered from me and the taxes inevitably will come.

I've been seeing news articles online and on tv about a "frugal fatigue" that they say people are feeling and that is why spending is going up. People are tired of being cheap, cutting back and sacrificing, they say. I know that I have read quite a few people on twitter and facebook that have said that the current frugality isn't going last. Even the current book I am reading "In CHEAP We Trust"  the author also said she didn't think frugality would last, history shows that we have wide swings between thrift and spending.

I know that when frugal fatigue sets in for me, I do allow myself to get it out of my system in some small ways. Yet, I don't want to dig a hole for myself so I also look for inspiration to help kick me in the pants to keep going. I think frugal fatigue comes with the territory if you aren't taking a look at the big picture and also trying to understand the small sections it can all be overwhelming and at times, confusing.

However, I always have high hopes that people will see the value in living on less than they bring home but I guess my hopes are set to high. But no matter if we go back to a spendthrift lifestyle again, I do have high hopes that there have been lessons learned and maybe even a few more converts have taken to wearing the banner of frugality proudly.

So do you think fatigue is setting in for those around you who are new to frugality? How can we help them continue on frugally?
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It seems that we have to constantly go back 60+ years to see a time when the country saw a similar situation and found the creativity to get through it - It would appear that the Ohio Department of Aging has a project they are putting together -  
Great Depression Story Project , they have over 300 people who have volunteered their stories for your enjoyment and learning.

I'm a new reader to the site Blogging Away Debt and wanted to let you all know about Beks ongoing process of being unemployed and finding ways to cut back. Now there is someone who is living frugal out of necessity, yet they seem to find silver lining through it all. The post that I wanted to draw your attention to: Ways to get by while on unemployment…- Beks decisions may not be the ones we each would make but I think it is courageous to face the fear and bring it out into the open.

On a related note: There is a decision being made here is Colorado about closing some of the public libraries due to budgets. After paying taxes it is nice to have these places provided to us and recently Smart Spending/The Dough Roller wrote a piece on "70 government Web sites you should bookmark NOW!"

And finally, since there are only two rules to personal finance - finding extra money where you can is always helpful and the site My Dollar Plan grabbed a few lesser known ways to bring in some money. I tried the Target gift card option for an old cellphone and $14.19 is coming my way. Thank Amanda!

I was speaking with a friend of mine and we got into talking about cars and doing research before a new (to us) car is bought, we both agreed that was must. And she add, "Consumer reports is my bible, I don't do anything until I've checked it out with them." I would have to agree. But not only for purchasing but also for general tips as well.

Recently I got updated on car care myths vs reality from them and I learned something new as well. I won't go over what they said about them, you can read that, but I did check to make sure I was doing things correct.

Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
I live with someone who subscribes to this idea and the manuals that I have for the cars say every 3k as well. However, I am not going freak out if the car goes 3500 miles or more before an oil change.

Myth: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall. 
I used to go by this as well until one day I needed to fill up the tire and it was too muddy to read and lo and behold there was information on the inside of the driver side door. Since then I have used that for the pressure info. Except in one case where I had gotten a bigger tire for vehicle, then I used the average between the car door info and the tire. Never had trouble with blown tires yet.

Myth: If regular-grade fuel is good, premium must be better.
Now I have never used the premium fuel on a car but I have dropped down to the lower grade and heard the difference from the engine and have not made that mistake again. One thing that still confuses me is that here in Colorado we have 87/89/91 octane and back in Iowa there was 87/88-90/91  and I have read that the lower octane in the higher altitude is just like the mid octane at sea level -ish, but since my car was "born and raised" here then it would still need the mid octane amount I would presume.  Oh well, I will go by what the manual says.

Myth: After a jump-start, your car will soon recharge the battery.
I have never heard of this, I always figured that if the battery needed a jump start you had better get it into shop to get it checked out so it doesn't die on you again, especially in the cold months!

Myth: Let your engine warm up for several minutes before driving.
This is one that confuses me as well. What I have read is that this is useful for older cars, but at what year is that considered an 'older car' as opposed to a newer car? I have a 99 Saturn and a 95 crown vic - I don't warm up the Saturn, instead I led it glide to the first stop sign (about 200 yards) and then gently add gas I move beyond that. I rarely drive the crown vic in the winter.

Myth: A dealership must perform regular maintenance to keep your car’s factory warranty valid.
I have never bought a brand new car so I'm indifferent to this myth  and as a frugal person why would I want to spend so much more on car repair or general maintenance by going to a dealership. I figure once you've found a decent shop that works well, stay there and bring your coupons.

In trying to gather an idea together for a post I came to the conclusion that I really didn't have a lot to say one specific topic, but a little to say on a few. Thank you for understanding my winding post as I jump from one topic to another.

I am absolutely horrible at remembering things I need to follow up on unless I write it down somewhere and have it within eyesight every day. If I don't remind myself of this stuff I will lose money. Because of my horrible memory I am quite thankful that Google has added a feature in their gmail that allows me to keep track of a calendar of events.

For instance, I have an HBO special coming due with my cable company and I need to contact them about removing it once the promotion is done. I also have a rebate that I sent in for some tires I bought and I want to make sure I follow-up if I don't receive my money. Another is changing the battery in the smoke detector. These are all things I need to do or I will end up spending money or losing money.

There are certainly programs that will even email me notification but I try to keep my inbox cleaned out and don't like clutter, so once it is out of site, it is out of mind until I remember it again or need to search for it. I know this because I get emails from the library about books that I can pick up and I always forget about them and have to put them on hold again.  Since I log into my email at least once a day I will always have that information there to remind me that I need to get it done and this has worked well for me for quite a few months.

I have finally switched all bills over to auto-pay or online payments and now I don't have to worry if I have enough stamps for the holidays. I haven't been the quickest person to move to an electronic payment system simply because I know things can go wrong and I see the disaster it leaves in it's wake. But I have slowly been moving my bills, from least worrisome to most worrisome, to some form of electronic payment. 

At first it was some old credit cards that I never used, then it was the utility bills and now I have my rent automatically deducted from my account. Of course it can get hard to keep track of but that is why we have calendars and I keep a folder with all my bookmarks for these bills. Plus I don't think I could go more than two days without checking my bank account and checking what has and hasn't gone through.

Yes, my bank has a bill pay option but at the time I was setting these all up it did cost and I didn't want to spend a dime to pay a bill.

Plus, there is just something to be said about not having to sit down at the table with the envelopes and a check book and getting it all organized to pay. It just feels easier to handle and there is something to be said for not having a stack of bills sitting and waiting to be taken care of every two weeks and then waiting again for the check to get there and clear. (inspired from Out of Debt Again

I came across a great tip over at ThriftyFun about keeping old vacuum tools before tossing out the old broken vacuum. Most of them are interchangeable and with multiple extension wands I would be able to reach the corner of the ceiling or the fan to clean it. However there is one downside, since the new vacuum has places for the new tools I get - where do I put the old tools when they aren't in use? 

I don't do much of anything to my car on my own, I don't even change the oil in it even though I know it would save me money beyond the initial investment. That is something I will be working on for a future endeavor. To me this frugal life is an ongoing process and involves jumping into some areas that may be a little frightening to me.

Anyway, I was reading the Orlando Sentinel's Frugal Force section and read that Autozone, the parts store, is loaning out tools for those DIYers who want to fix stuff on their own but don't want to plop down $100 for a tool that will be used once or twice.

Until that day comes I can do something beyond air in the tires, gas in the car and checking the oil, it is nice that there are places that loan out tools for those who are of the more advanced DIYer.

And finally, a bit of fun.  I am fan of the creativity that goes into fixing something up when one doesn't have the means or even the desire to repair it to brand new. Because of this I am also a fan of the site: - Today's ingenuity comes to us from someone who has the idea that waste is bad and using an item for multiple uses is good
The Air Conditioner/ Plant Waterer - It may be an old idea, but I liked seeing it in action

In the simplified version of "becoming wealthy" there are really only two rules along the road.
1. Make more money
2. Live on less

The make more money idea is great until a plateau is hit. Certainly more schooling, a  second job and internal promotions can help but eventually it comes down to the annual raises and bonuses unless you have your own business - then there is a bit more control over the income and expansion of the business.

Now the live on less idea is more appealing to me because the benefits are seen much sooner than when one aims to make more money. And the other appeal is that the money saved living on less is not taxed, where as the extra money I make is taxed to the tune of 20% or more.

To take the money that we bring home, no matter if it is 12,000 a year or 1.2 million a year, and making that money stretch further would mean more to me than all the classes I could study. Because I have stretched the dollars that I did bring home by living on less expenses I have given those dollars more value. Below are ways to add value to the dollar.

Fill the Holes
 Track the outgoing spending, even if it is looking over the bank ledger and categorizing what has been spent over a 2-3 month time frame; this tracking gives a pattern to your spending. The best way to fill the holes that let money escape is to jot down every dollar spent at the vending machine, tossed in for ordering lunch and extra snacks purchased when filling up the car. It is these small purchases that leave $30 gaps that can be easily filled by bringing a lunch to work and buying snacks in bulk to have at your desk.

Setup a Budget
 Once money is being tracked, it is easier to figure out how much goes to necessary expenses and how much can be allotted for entertainment. There is not going to be a budget out there that has a one-size-fits-all tag on it and even my own budget can vary from month to month. But by setting up a budget all the money that comes in to the house is designated to go someplace, because if it doesn't have a spot, it will most always be spent and not saved.

Cut Expenses
 This can be necessary expenses such a lease, it could mean moving or bringing in a tenant to share in the cost. The easier items to cut are utilities, by being contentious of its use and cutting out the unnecessary expenses that come monthly in the form of subscriptions and memberships.

Shop for Savings
 I hate to buy something without finding a coupon code or researching to make sure I am getting the best quality for my money. This would also include purchasing tested out store brand options as well. But, the best way to save while shopping is to not buy unless it is needed and not because it is on clearance. Savings doesn't always have to found at the retail level, it can be found second-hand through yard sales and classified ads.

Cash is King
 When it's gone, it's gone. There is no way to float a five until you get paid, instead creativity has to be the name of the game when it comes to putting off a purchase until later and making do for now. Cash also makes itself abundantly clear to it's owner when it is about to run out, there are no rough estimates or pending transactions.

Fix it up
 Making a mechanical or electrical item last even a few months longer may be the necessity until the item can be budgeted and saved for.  Decorating a home seems to me to be one of the most expensive parts of having one, however, with a little creativity and patience a home can be decorated with what is already on hand, what can be picked up free from the community and what can be purchased at cut rate prices by getting them second hand

Pay Debt by Interest Rate
 With a high interest loan the money sent each month has very little that goes to principle as the interest is paid down first. By paying extra towards the debt that has the largest interest rate, it is effectively saving money for you by applying that extra towards the principle which make the interest amount lower even though the rate is high.

The natural affect that the above methods of living on less is the abundance of patience and willpower that grows. Sometimes living on less is just saying "No." or pushing it off for later. Eventually these methods add up and you find yourself flourishing and living well with less and for less.

This household will never go TV free as much as I would like to do it, but it won't be happening. Personally, I keep up with only three shows this season and I have the luxury of watching the shows online in my free time. However, my partner is an avid live show watcher; football, baseball, local news and the weather channel all fall under that banner. Plus about every couple years she has back surgery so tv watching is her form of recovery and a break from reading. Because of this, the idea of going cable free isn't possible.

However I still need to save money and these are my 5 money saving steps for cable service:

1. Contact cable company 30 days after promo ends to get a new one. This way one bill cycle has gone by and earlier promos are easily missed by agents.
2. If contact through chat and phone does not help, I downgrade service to locals only for 30 days
3. After thirty days I contact them again for any deals that may be available, usually this gets me something for at least 6 months or more.
4. I keep my eyes and ears open for deals - A couple months ago, through chat, I was able to get HBO free for a year for just asking. I also check the 'messages' option on my cable box as those tell of upcoming free weekends for other movie channels.
5. For internet, the first three steps are used the same as well. Luckily Comcast has a cheaper tiered service that I can stand for 30 days.

The New York Times recently had an article on food rules that gathered dietary do and don'ts from readers. As I was perusing them I realized how a few of the rules also affect our wallets. The couple that stand out to me are:
"It is better to pay the grocer than the doctor"....  - John Forti
" could not leave the table until you finished your fruit...a great way to incorporate fruit in our diets and also helped satiate our sweet tooth... - Marta C. Larussa

There is one dollar store that this semi-near my house and I haven't been too impressed with it, but then maybe I'm not picking up the correct things. However, Marlene Alexander seems to be finding some good (and bad) stuff at her local dollar store and she posts them on her blog at Dollar Store Style (link to site index)

A math question to pose to the student in all of us - Would you rather have a million dollars or a penny doubled every day over 30 days? (no taxes, wink) - MoneyTrax asked the question to a variety of people on the street

$1M now or a penny that doubles in value everyday for 30 days?
$1M now or a penny that doubles in value everyday for 30 days?

I recently got the following email from a reader who is looking for advice. Speak up with your 2¢.

We live in a 100 year old frame farmhouse.  We had to replace our oil furnace last year and we went with a Geo-thermal.  No regrets yet but it does take more hydro to run it than we usually use and I hate to use more hydro than necessary.  However, even though we don't use fossil fuel any more, it seems every year we have to turn the furnace on earlier and earlier, and shut it off in the spring later and later.  I have an autoimmune disease which leaves me feeling cold all the time, so when the indoor temperature hovers around 62 F, I am freezing.  I already dress with 3 layers on but do not feel warm until the house is about 72 F or warmer.  On the days I am home all day I will start the wood burning stove in the kitchen, however, when I am not home, we do not start it some days until 6 pm and then in the morning, the house has lost most of the heat, especially the upstairs.   If we both leave for work in the morning, we cannot put the wood stove on.

My question is this; what is the most economical way to heat the house in the transitional period of fall and spring?  Should we look at electrical heaters which will warm a room, but which wattage is the best?   Or is there something else out there that is better?  What does everyone else do?  We have not had the Geo-thermal long enough to be able to compare costs, but maybe another reader has and can tell me the best way to figure out how much it costs to run it per hour or per day according to the hydro rates for our area (Ontario, Canada)
Signed - Marion

Based on my simple research I have found that for space heaters, watts per square foot of room have been between 7.5-12.5 watts depending on the amount of insulation, age of home and draftiness. When I can't decide on a space heater I will always go with the larger one as I can drop the amount of output and over time the "heat factor" can weaken. Here is a link with more info.

Do you have any suggestions for an economical way to the heat the house?
Do you know what wattage is best for space heaters?

I posed a general question about staying warm cheaply on Twitter and these were the replies:
@NCN  said: Jacket, warm sweater, blanket, quick jog around the house/block, sit in the sun room, move to lower level of house
@mrsmicah said: Socks!
@condoblues said: We warm ourselves up by drinking hot tea, chocolate, warm milk instead of cold drinks water, lemonade, etc
@extremejacob  said: More layers, increased cold tolerance, higher metabolism, more muscle, more fat, eating warm things, moving more, hat. Or invite 10 people over. Each person is worth a 100W space heater. Alternatively have them do stuff, like cleaning or playing dodge-ball and that number jumps quite a bit.

Motivation is a must if you are going to be successful in your debt reduction journey. In addition to getting the right program that works for your lifestyle you have to find ways to stay motivated so you see yourself through to your realistic goal that you have set for yourself.

Debt Motivator 1: In order to keep your focus on your desire to drop debt make a list of all the reasons why you want to get rid of your debt. Keep it is plain site, tape it to your mirror in your bathroom and read them each morning when you wake up. If you are shopping often, tape to your wallet for a quick view before you buy something. Tape it to your steering wheel or visor.

Debt Motivator 2: If you are looking to reduce a lot of debt such as 10,000 dollars. Break out your calendar and set your goals. Be very realistic here.
Example your current debt load is 35,000 dollars and your ultimate goal is to only owe on a house or car. Let's say it is January 1st set your first goal of 1500 dollars then realistically plan for that and give it a date. Say March 5th (this will give you 9 weeks to find 1500 dollars to bring in). Set shorter lower mile stones at first to give you momentum then spread it out a little as you go.

Debt Motivator 3: Plan a treat for yourself when you have had a great month. Make it a non-consumer related item such as going away for some quality time. Anything really, that will help make you feel even better about yourself and your great progress

Debt Motivator 4: Take a screen shot/picture of your debt load and on each month after that take another screen shot of the debt, doing this will make you feel great seeing how the debt decreases each month.

Debt Motivator 5: Read inspirational stories of other people who have reduced their debt. Don't just read how they did it but also read about their success for what it is, success. Every person is different so the plan that someone follows doesn't mean it will work for anyone but them. Keep the lines of communication open so that you can inspire, congratulate and help pick each other up through the good and the bad times.

A great site to access blog stories about debt reduction is

I lamented to a few friends and family that I was getting disappointed with coupons and it seemed that I was lucky to get my money's worth from the newspaper subscription. I wonder just how many coupons we need for room deodorizers, do we really smell that bad?

Back even 2-3 years ago I would have the coupon section looking like the after effects of cutting out paper dolls, it was shredded. Now the coupon section looks untouched, there are Sundays that I cut out nothing of use. But not wanting the subscription to go to waste I think of different ways to put them to use.

* Mail them out to family or military families
* Take them to work for others to look through
* Leave them around the grocery store aisles for impulse buyers

First, I send them to family if I know they are looking for something specific like diapers or they are addicted to Pillsbury frozen cookie dough; it only costs a stamp for sending a dozen. Sending to military families is more expensive since it is overseas but it helps since military pay can be, well, poor and they accept coupons that are up to 2 months old. (correction: Miss Tish has commented below that "If you are sending to an APO or FPO address (for military families) you only use a 44 cent stamp - there's no overseas rate for those addresses")

Second, I take them to work and lay them in the breakroom for others to flip through and tear out what they need, hopefully they leave the rest for others. The downside is the cleaning crew getting to them first and pitching them or someone just taking the whole section and pitching it after they are done. But, I have to remember, this is the alternative to myself tossing them in the trash.

Finally, I do leave behind coupons in grocery aisles if I realized the store brand is much cheaper but someone else is brand loyal. Recently the Consumerist had a post about coupon fairies: nuisance or nice? and had to vote that it was nice because I have been on both sides of the coupon fairy idea.

As former Wal-mart stocker I would see these coupons wedged in between cans of food and bags of bread, I just left them after organizing as long as they weren't expired. Some stockers didn't like them and they would crumple them up and toss them in with the broke-down boxes. If they considered them a nuisance than they were being nit-picky because it took them all of 2 seconds to crumple up and toss away. And the rare amount of coupons we had on shelves didn't make the aisle look poor. What did annoy us were expired coupons that customers would try to then use at the registers.

As a 'coupon fairy' on the other-side I have no qualms about leaving behind coupons as long as they are not expired (couple days or more), easily seen and don't fall behind the product, going unused. The amount of coupons that I have seen have been relatively few but that could be to people picking them up, employees tossing them or people just not leaving many behind.

Over all I am a fan of trying to get as much use out of coupons as possible whether it is providing for family members, sharing at work or being a mystery coupon fairy - I think it is all good.

Follow the $50 Rule: Before you make an impulse purchase, take the price of your 'must-have' item, and divide it by $50. The resulting number is the number of days you should consider the purchase before making it. (So, if it’s a $100 item, wait two days before you go back and buy it. And, if you decide NOT to buy it – put the money into your savings!)
* via Bellco credit union

Every time I read about a bank closing, a new rule for banks or exorbitant fees on different items I have to remind myself that these really aren't affecting me all that much because I have a credit union (even though I call it a 'bank') and they are one of the best places to bank my money.

You would think that after 30+ years of banking at a credit union I would have some negative opinions of the places, but I don't. Any bad experiences that happened were easily fixed or were outnumbered by the good experiences.

Via the NCUA, in Colorado there are 113 different credit unions and their branches. Some are specific to the place of work, such as a credit union for the employees of Coors only. But there are enough that allow anyone to be a member. And to be a member they usually only require a minimum savings amount of 5-25.00 - quite a bit different from some banks.

I think one of the most common responses as to why people like a credit union is that they are personable. I would have to concur on that, in the small town I grew up in they knew my name. In this larger metro area, they may not know my name but the atmosphere is friendlier than what I have run into at the banks.

Here are few items that I like about my credit union:
› Low minimums for savings, no minimum for checking
› Lower interest rates for big purchases
› Higher interest rates on savings and investments
› No fee credit card
› Free financial counseling
› More control over your options (Over draft insurance, extra accounts)
› Free seminars on retirement planning, wills & trusts, investing, etc
› Have drawings for tickets or savings bonds, etc
› Faster turnaround on paychecks
› Lower overdraft fees
› No charge to transfer money between accounts

With my own credit union I find that I have a lot of control over what I want as part of my banking experience. I'm not automatically opted-in for anything, instead I choose if I want over-draft protection, a line of credit and if I want to add more savings accounts, I can without worrying about having a minimum in each account.

My paychecks are direct deposited to my account at 4am every Thursday and I have not had any troubles with bounced checks because the credit union ran charges through before they deposited my paychecks.

When it comes to charges on my checking account, I can go online and view the actual balance and the pending balance as the credit union puts a 24 hour hold when I use my debit card. This is handy so I don't go over and I can see that the restaurant has charged me correctly. Gas charges always show up as a pending $1.00 though.

Overall, I have to say I am quite satisfied with my banking at a credit union and it would take a lot to make me change. Plus I'm kinda keen on having the door opened for me and a smile greeting me at my branches credit union.

How are your experiences with credit unions and banks? Thinking of switching anytime soon?