There are all kinds of bags out there, grocery bags, sandwich bags, bread bags, fertilizer bags and the list goes on. It just seems a shame to toss them into the trash without getting another use out of them - since we'll all be dead before they decompose.

Send me your ideas and I'll add them. Here are a few to start things off:

::Store homemade soup. Fill up bags, then lay them flat in the freezer. When the bags of soup freeze flat, you’ll be able to pile them up like stacked books for easy, space-saving storage.

::Protect precious cargo. No bubble wrap? Slip a straw into the top of a nearly closed Ziploc bag and inflate. Remove the straw and seal to make a cushion.

::Store panty hose. Tear off the corner of the package listing the brand, size, and color, then slip it into a bag. Store each pair in its own bag to keep hose organized and prevent snags

 flickr/cc - Blues Belle
-Other Uses-
::For overnight trips, fill bags with single portions of shampoo and conditioner - then cut a corner for use in the shower
::Keep moisture away from Q-tips and cotton balls.
::Stash powder compacts in bags to prevent spills in your purse.
::Collect stamps, paper, and pens in one place for writing notes or paying bills.
::Stow markers to prevent ink stains.

::Keep paintbrushes moist during do-it-yourself projects
::Reduce food-preparation time by storing prechopped ingredients. (Tip: Pat freshly washed fruits and vegetables completely dry before bagging them for storage. Damp items spoil more quickly)
::Refrigerate marinating meats.
::Fill with frosting, snip a corner, and decorate cupcakes
::Retire the old coin jar — a bag takes up less space.

::Organize camera batteries and memory cards.
::Separate nuts, bolts, and drill bits.
::Keep receipts handy and wrinkle-free.
::Corral keys, your phone, and loose change before hitting airport security.
::Store your car's insurance card and registration in the glove compartment.

::Snack-size bags are perfect for packing a weekend's worth of jewelry.
::Store silver jewelry to reduce tarnishing.
::Dedicate a bag to extra earring backs.
::Protect appliances from dust and grease.
::After the holidays, seal decorations before retiring them to the basement.

::Put instructions in bags and tape them to the backs of appliances.
::Bag coupons for quick reference.
::Place over feet to keep socks dry if you don’t have galoshes to throw on
 flickr/cc - thedaisychick
Cook an omelet? You add 2 eggs per bag plus whatever other ingredients you want (mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, grated cheese, etc.). Close the bag, removing all the air and drop into a pot of boiling water. Let boil exactly 13 minutes. Open the bag and the omelette rolls out cleanly.

A friend of mine emailed me to go over her student loan payments, she had been paying without fail and one of the loans hadn't been going down very fast. The second loan was going down, but she wanted to get rid of it as quick as possible, thus the reason we were going over her loans.

Flickr/CC - YuvalH
 One loan was around 5 grand and the other was just under 2 grand. Sadly, these loans couldn't be consolidated. She was also frustrated with the fact that she would be paying a higher interest and she wasn't sure how that affected her.

On the 5k loan, she was paying just over 60 dollars, of that, we found that about 2/3 was for the principle. At this rate her loan was going to take 11 1/2 years to pay this back. Even if she paid every two weeks, that would only save her 18 months. She wanted to do better.

After figuring what she could afford she decided to go with 90 dollars, which will cut down her time in payments to just under 7 years. Not great, but better.

As for the other loan that is just under 2k, she was paying about 55 dollars - this was going to take about 3 1/2 years to pay off. For this little loan, she figured she could up the amount to 75 and that would cut back on the time to 2 1/2 years.

In the end she added 48 dollars to her monthly loan payments, shaved off 5 1/2 years of payments and interest. She also plans on putting any extra money from taxes or bonuses towards the smaller loan and when that is paid off, roll the payment over to pay off the larger one.

Now she isn't as depressed and can see the light at the top of the debt pit. This is the Loan Repayment calculator that was used, nice and simple.

Even though I live an apartment complex and all the repairs are handled by the maintenance crew, I still like to know that I can handle small issues that may come up.

For instance, the garbage disposal. Even though it has been around for over 70 years, and it's a pretty cool invention for apartments when you can't actively compost organics. And even though it was invented before my parents were born, only about 50% of homes have them and it would seem even fewer people really know how to take care of it besides dumping baking soda, vinegar and hot water down the hole to clean it or make it smell nicer.

Understandably, garbage disposals aren't the coolest accessory to have around the house. They were once banned in different location because they were believed to caused sewer troubles and if movies are to be believed you will can get all kinds of body-parts trapped in them.

Since they are pretty sturdy devices when they do go down it is usually with the biggest meal of the year trapped inside and clogging up the sink drain.

Trouble #1 - Flip the switch and nothing happens
Solutions - When the disposal is clogged there is a switch on the unit that is tripped. Open up your cabinet doors under the sink and press that switch in to reset it and if it trips again, make sure any large items or bones are out of the disposal before you push the reset again.

If there is no switch, try unplugging the unit and replugging it in. And if the garbage disposal still won't react, check the breaker for the disposal. When it is running again, make sure you are running water down the drain while it is running.

Trouble #2 - The disposal isn't draining as fast as it used to
Solutions - Detach the piping that has a bend in it for any kind of obstruction. Over time grease and other organics will accumulate over time if not enough water was flushed down the drain while it was in use.

Trouble #3 - The garbage disposal noise level is waking the dead
Solutions - If your unit used to be quieter and has become louder, grab a flashlight, turn the disposal off and check down the drain for anything that might be causing the trouble - plastic and silverware are most common. Just grab some tongs, snatch it out and frame it for the beautiful piece of chewed up artwork it has become.

If it vibrates while it is running, check for loose screws or the flywheel inside could have been damaged. And if that happens... a new disposal is probably cheaper than fixing the existing one.

Unfortunately, there is not a way to make them quieter. If you an unfortunate soul, like myself, and have one that sounds like a jet engine taking off, then consider the times of the day that you use it.
Flickr/CC - iluvrhinestones

Cleaning a disposal is really simple and you probably already know at least one way. Remember to always run water when the disposal is running.

Cleaning Tip #1 - Regularly grinding up ice cubes and fruit rinds in the unit helps to remove particles before they have the chance to form mold.

Cleaning Tip #2 -  A tablespoon of bleach mixed into a gallon of water, slowly poured into the drain and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then run the water while the disposal is going.

Cleaning Tip #3 -  The most common suggestion is to pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes and then pour a cup of vinegar down the drain. Put the plug in. Expect to hear a faint fizzing noise as the soda and vinegar react on contact. Leave for a few more minutes and pour a large bowl or pan of hot water down the drain while running the disposal.

It would seem that two years into a recession and some changes are being noticed on how we are handling things and how it will impact our future. Below are two articles I read last week, some surprised me and others didn't.

A recent headline - "Grocery Products Manufacturers Need to Recalibrate Consumer Demand... Market research over two years old is now dangerously out-of-date and likely irrelevant."

A recent study has found that the recession has effected our shopping habits and if this recession continues longer it could ruin us forever and kill our shopping instincts. OK, those are my words.
According to the study:
92% of shoppers have changed their shopping behavior
66% are spending less without feeling any sacrifice
93% will retain their newfound frugality post-recession
75% are more open to trying private label brands than they were just two years ago.

And to fight for the money in our hands a consumer group with panels of 1500 U.S consumers will offer "clients an innovative method to test a range of alternative ideas and to dissect their key competitors, not least of which are emergent private label products, with unprecedented affordability. That most retailers are cutting back on the range of items they offer makes the need to defend existing items additionally intense”.

I found it interesting that I was recently approved for panel discussion on my own consumer habits. They asked a lot of questions about my use of paper towels, napkins and other disposable items. I will catch you all up once the panel is over.

This recession also appears to be keeping not only our money in our wallets but keeps us at home more.

"But a deep recession does more than economic damage. When short-term unemployment turns into long-term unemployment, as it has in this recession to a level unseen since the 1930s, rates of depression (the psychiatric kind) increase, anxiety rises and behavior changes in ways both expected and unexpected.

But here’s something more surprising: As the recession deepens, participation in civic activities — community organizations, volunteer groups, even church attendance and social clubs — is likely to drop. Sociologists once assumed that during hard times people would naturally band together, if only to protest their plight or to give each other solace. It turns out that the opposite is true: Economic distress causes people to withdraw."
At a time when we have available time to network and volunteer since being unemployed, we instead appear to stay at home, keeping our head down so as not to get hurt again and stay in our comfort zone. I know that with my own layoff coming up, I want to use that time to better myself and my health, so I can see how being unemployed can be all consuming in order to back to a financial and psychological life that is more comfortable.

Ok, let's have a laugh from Graphjam:

~~ Have you seen those Groupon ads that allow you to save 50% or more on a service when there are a large number of people who buy the item. I was just thinking that you may want to sign up for the email notification in cities where family and friends live as a way to get ideas for gifts.

~~ If I go to yardsales, I usually peruse the ads on Craigslist, jot down the address for each of them, put them in Google maps and print out each one individually. However, a new site (I added to my Yard Sale Info on the right) called the Yard Sale Treasure Map cuts out a couple of those steps for me. Very handy! I tried it for my large metro area and I tried it in my hometown. I like it! And if you have written down any from the newspaper, you can add those in as well and then print it out and it will all be mapped for you.

I always learn something from Lifehacker and Consumerist:
LH: What have you suddenly discovered you were doing wrong? - "For years I had the side mirrors on my car adjusted wrong. I'd always focus them behind the car, till I read (and realized) I already have a rear view mirror, you should use the side mirrors to show your blind spots." - StephenFS

C: What was the smartest purchase you ever made? - "When we bought our house, my husband replaced the sump pump and bought a backup pump that runs on a battery. A year and a half later, when epic rainfall cut power to our neighborhood and flooded EVERYTHING, our basement was dry." - Funnymonkey

My library didn't have this book on their new book list, so I made a suggestion for them to grab one and they accepted my request. I only buy books when I can use them as reference, but when I read them once or twice, I borrow from the library. 

Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life by Laura Lee

Her introduction sets a conversational tone for the rest of book as she idealized the Great Depression growing up and the community and that "the poor were subjects of art and literature", while simultaneously living in Madonna's "Material Girl" era while the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" played for multiple seasons on TV.

Ms Lee takes that hopefulness from the Great Depression and blends it nicely with the broke person who isn't living a lifestyle of a material girl even if they wanted to and makes being broke, beautiful.

Her chapters run from "Planning tips for a successful life of poverty" to the last chapter "Still want to feel rich? Ok, you are one of the richest people in the world." And every chapter in between keeps the honesty, humor and conversational tone that I love.

From Chapter 3: A Cash-strapped life is a creative life: The adventure of being broke
When you focus on something bad happening, it tends to go like this: "If I don't finish this report on time my boss is going to fire me, and I won't have enough money to pay the rent, and my wife will leave, and she'll take the kids and marry that Todd guy with the BMW. I'll be so depressed that I'll never be able to work again. I'll get in a fight with a guy in the homeless shelter over whose sleeping bag touched whose, and I'll get kicked out and I'll end up living under a bridge in a cardboard box." That's pretty bad.

Of course, the worse case scenario hardly ever happens. Even when it does, we fail to predict how resilient we'll be.
In Chapter 4: Be a (social) capitalist - I like the anecdotes she adds to the chapters that enhance her ideas
* Americans now spend 6 hours a week Shopping and only forty minutes playing with kids
* Edward Filene, of the Boston department store fame, was totally consumed by business. In this thirties, while he was traveling on a streetcar wit his fiancée, he ran into a business acquaintance. By the end of the ride, he had concluded a deal, but lost his future bride. she has walked out on him without his even noticing it.
She also covers eating socially or out of the dumpster and when you grow it yourself, all with a wonderful sense of humor, realism and hopefulness despite one's brokenness.

She writes about inflation, minimum wage, the lottery and gold in a simple way that gets her point across and yet gives you a new perspective.

From Chapter 9: Gold: The feces of hell!
"According to Freud, money is, well...excrement. In the mythology and fairy tales of ancient times, money is always 'brought into the most intimate relationship with dirt.'

There's something to that. Money is dirty and icky, and you wouldn't want it anyway. Made from organic material, it travels around the country and throughout the world passing from hand to hand, pocket to pocket. It is never washed. The average note circulates for 18 months before it is retired. "
Broke is Beautiful is such a cross section of information about a broke life that she just barely scratches the surface and leaves you wanting more once you have finished with chapter 29.

This isn't your typical personal finance book or social commentary (and I'm glad of that). I found that when I sat down to read it, it brought a moment of calm in my own financially stressful life. And if you are broke like me, it is a beautiful thing to know that libraries exist to check these books out.

More info: Laura Lee has a Broke is Beautiful blog as well.

From my cereal box to any wallet. That's where these Frugal For Life business cards of mine are coming from and where they are going to end up.

I've always wanted my own business cards but I don't have a great number of places to give them out and I really don't want 250 of them. I found this step by step picture process that I used to make my own.

1. I picked a business card style from my options on the computer and designed it to suit me.

2. Any size cardboard cereal box will do, though you may have to cut it to size to fit in your printer for length and width or use a regular piece of paper as a template. I had this Apple Cinnamon Cheerios box that worked well.

3. I ran a test print on scrap paper to get an idea of how it would look since I had never printed out business cards before.

4. Initially I just laid the cardboard in the printer and found that didn't work very well. I had to take it out and roll it up a bit to curl around my printer's wheel. A slight push may be all that is needed to get it to move through, without curling.
5. The cardboard uncurled just fine and I found that it wasn't a factor after I cut out the business cards.

6. I measured and cut along the lines for my first 10 homemade cardboard business cards made from a cereal box. And I'm quite happy!
 In addition: I'm glad I used a brighter blue than I was going to go with as it stands out more on the cardboard brown. In the future make sure to use bright colors against the brown background. Also, since this site is about frugality, business cards on a cardboard box fits in. However, if I sold Rolls Royce cars.. not so much.

You are building up a bit of a savings and want to place it in the best place so that you have either easy access or a good return on your savings or, both. You might be a little unsure about what is out there, like me. So let’s take a look at a few pros and cons of saving your cash.

1. Hide it in a hollowed out book or under the mattress 
- Easily accessible in an emergency
- Very convenient since you don’t have to travel to ‘get’ your money
- Handy if you don’t trust someone else to hold your money
- No interest is being added to your money. What you see is all that is there
- You could forget where you stashed the money, you could be burglarized, or a Fire could take your money
- Easy access can make it easy to spend

2. Savings Account
- Max wait time to get money would be 2-3 days, so handy for an emergency
- Pays Interest – though it is low, it is better than nothing
- Easy to open and take very little to set up
- Federally Insured up to 100,000 dollars
- Interest isn’t that high and higher rates can be found elsewhere
- Can be tempting to spend if you can access it easily with an ATM card
- There could be a minimum balance to keep the account open
- May require opening a checking account as well

3. Money Market Account
- Usually have a higher interest rate, but it varies greatly
- You can get the money by writing a check
- Can be opened in most any bank
- May require much more to open an account
- Many come with limited check writing privileges
- Fees could be assessed for going under a certain minimum in the account

flickr/cc - Rev Dan Catt

4. Money Market Mutual Funds 
- You can be aggressive or conservative with your investment
- A potential for higher interest earnings
- More accessible than a CD or Treasury (further down the list)
- You can automate regular deposits
- No guarantee on your rate of return
- You can access the money at any time, so it could be tempting
- Money is not Federally Funded
- There are many fees associated with a MMMF
- You need a good chunk of money to open one

5. Certificates of Deposit 
- You can cash out before your term is up
- You can ‘hide’ money away for 6 months or more
- The Interest rate is set
- Need to shop around for the best rate
- Taking money out early could cost you some or all of your interest
- Some CD's need at least $500 to $1,000 to open

6. Savings Bond 
- You are making an investment in the Government
- Excellent for a long term investment
- Fairly predicable rate
- Low minimum - $25 for an EE
- They are backed to some extent by the government
- You can buy them for others very easily ( just need their SS number)
- Not easily accessible without losing a lot of interest
- You can get better rates elsewhere

7. Treasuries

- Backed by the government, but if they can’t pay it the country is in deep doo-doo. All through out
   government history for Treasuries, it has always been backed up and still is thus far.
- Commonly used by retirees as a way to bring in a little income and still be a safe investment
- Principle is yours
- Interest is exempt from state taxes so that is nice for those who have high state taxes to pay
- Pays interest every 6 months
- You need at least 1,000 dollars to invest in Treasury Bills, other than savings Bonds
- If you sell early you are at the mercy of the going rate
- This is a long term investment. Notes are 2-10 years and Bonds are 10-30 years
- You may be able to get a better rate elsewhere for the time frame

I’m trying to wean myself off of soda pop completely. After seeing some of the following information below, it has an added incentive for me to stop drinking soda and to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. There are some definite frugal advantages to reducing the soda intake:

  1. The added health benefits that will last longer than the money burning a hole in my pocket as I stand in front of the vending machine
  2. The added money that will stay in my pocket as I choose free or almost free alternatives such as water, tea or other sugar-free drinks.
flickr/cc - woody1778a

A single can of soda a day can add up to 15 pounds a year
An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds (7 kg) in a single year, and the evidence strongly suggests that this sort of increased consumption is a key reason that more people have gained weight, the researchers say.

The average American downs almost 48 gallons of soft drinks a year, according to 'Beverage Digest', a publication that tracks industry trends. This makes soda the largest single source of calories in our diet, says the 'Center for Science in the Public Interest', and such sugary beverages increase our risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Cavities in a can
People who drink 3 or more sugary sodas daily have 62% more dental decay, fillings and tooth loss! The average American drinks more than 53 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year, more than any other beverage, including milk, beer, coffee or water.

Removing Soda Summary:
1. I can reduce weight and risk of diabetes and heart disease
2. I am reducing the need for fillings and problems with my teeth
3. I am saving money on my health cost and keeping money in my wallet

Sunday's updates on previous posts made me think about the frugal challenges I lay in front of myself. Sometimes I'm happy at completing the challenges and having a positive outcome and other times, not so much.

flickr/cc - exfordy

I like the idea of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. There are some things I am good at like reducing my usage, and others I know for a fact I don't want to get near, like mechanical parts. It's all part of the learning and the challenge to save.  money is actually fun for me and I try to keep a good attitude about it. But I keep a few things in mind when I challenge myself.

1. Set Goals Within Reach

I take small steps to the goal, but keeping it is still a bit of a challenge and fun. The A.C challenge is one way to take it one day at a time. Another is that I buy quality used or 2nd hand every chance I shop. Essentially, the world won't fall apart if I don't live up to the challenge but the savings is there if I do.  Or if your challenge is to pay down your debt, you don't say you will pay off all your debt by certain time, instead you challenge yourself to pay off one debt at a time and grow more confident from there.

2. Have A Reason

Setting up a reason for saving money will cause those excuses against it to detour and help you move down the road smoother. The reason I live frugally is that, whether I am well off or not, I don't have to feel like I'm depriving myself because I have maintained a standard of living that is not as dependent on my income.

The reasons I have challenged myself to take shorter showers are twofold; to cut back on the water bill and heating the water (electricity). Plus that much hot water on my skin isn't good for it; dries it out and makes my skin itch.

3.  Appreciate The Small Steps Attained

Don't forget that we humans are a lot like dogs. We respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative ones.

When I was able to drop the shower timer down from 15 minutes to 8 minutes, I told my partner. She wasn't as enthused as I was, but still she was happy so I took a moment to appreciate what I was doing was right. And when she told me that she was dying to turn on the A.C one day but didn't and found other ways to fight the heat, I made sure to congratulate her on being creative and making it through the day's heat.

4. Reward Yourself Accordingly

A reward for myself meeting a goal is to see the money saved, no matter how small. That is my style of reward and it works for me. However my partner's reward style involves going out or shopping; it is a physical or tangible reward that helps her feel like she is accomplishing something. When your reward style is to spend money I would suggest that you pre-plan what you would do ahead of time or you could take a step forward. But with the spending, you can end up taking a step back. If you can consider something that is free, like taking a tour with free beer at the end, that might be all you need.

5.  Have a Visual Reminder

If you are paying down debt, motivate yourself with a picture of the life you daydream about that doesn't include debt. Or if you are saving for an item, a picture of said item taped to your bathroom mirror or placed in your wallet will be a nice reminder of what you are working so hard for.

6. Open Up

When you speak the goal out loud to others it brings the dream into reality for yourself. You now have a witness/friend who can remind you and help you stay on track (hopefully).  And you are now being held accountable by those people who heard you say that you were paying debt or saving money toward a goal.

Lay Off Countdown - After hearing that a 3 month extension to the lay off was added, it was a definite sigh of relief and lifted some of the stress. But now that I am into those final 3 months and the stress of the unknown has crept back into my physical life. I battled against the stress by keeping my self busy, exercising and doing the best I can at planning. Some things I just won't know about until my last day of work. However, my plans are still underway about going back to school. I will update you as I move toward the door. So far nothing too exciting to talk about.

Shower Timer - In order to save water (hot water at that) I use a shower time and previously had it set to 15 minutes. Over the last year I have been at 8 minutes, sometimes getting out sooner than it goes off. I do occasionally stay longer, but rarely. With the same idea that food is only for fuel, I also have a new mindset that water is only for cleaning. Do what needs to be done and get out of the shower or bath. An Extra Bonus: I use the shower at work after my workouts to save on water/heat while I can for the next 10 weeks.

No Air Conditioning - I have had a couple of people ask me how the my No A.C challenge for 2010 is going and so far so good here in Colorado. We have had a few days that ran in the high 90's and touched 100 but it has been good knowing that so far since the challenge was posted May 26th, we have saved 32 dollars off of the electrical bill and haven't been uncomfortable yet.

I was surprised at how low the saving amount has been but it was pointed out we aren't into the 90 degree months here until late July. I'm still going to check out other areas that are sapping electricity to bring that down a bit more.

△  Speaking of thermostats, I was reading on the 'consumer reports' blog that the most comfortable setting for the thermostat was 78℉. Of course comfort is subjective, but if you think about the temperature at work, it is probably set at 78.

Some other items that peaked my curiosity this week:

How much does being lazy cost you? 'PDitF' mentions such items as oil changes, eating out, taxes and greeting cards. Personally, I am starting to do more creative greeting cards at home if an E-card isn't sufficient (You have been warned family!) and I already have been doing my own taxes through one of the free tax sites online for the last few years. I would like to change my own oil, but haven't yet. And eating out is a wonderful luxury I do enjoy while I can.

Effective Complaining over at 'Personal Finance Advice' goes over general information that I have discussed before when complaining to a company, but I am thinking it is worth repeating as I work in a type of complaint department and when people come up against a wall over the phone they need to take it to the next step up by writing the higher-ups, and you would want to be prepared.

△ My Infographic of the month is from the 'Mintlife' blog that offers how Wal-Mart is going green and how they aren't so green. I just find it interesting and since my part-time job is with them, I'm a little curious.

Finally, I'd like to thank 'Funny about Money' for including me in the Festival of Frugality for this last week.
Also 'My Journey to Millions' included a post of mine in the Carnival of Personal Finance. A thank you to both of them; these are always nice to read through and find a gem or two.

Sometimes I learn life lessons from observing my grandparents and parents. Other times I learn the hard way by experience and still, others I will continue to learn about as I grow in understanding of myself and my relationship to the world and people around me.

 flickr/cc - edanley

1. More isn’t better – I learned this from collecting, the desire to accumulate those precious pieces to fill the gaps in my collection brought immediate happiness but not a lasting one. The same would be true of money; getting a raise puts you in a nice spot for a while but eventually it seems that dries up and we are looking for the other raise.

2. Appearances-smearances – I don’t remember what my friend at work wore on Monday, but I do remember the great conversation we had on our lunch break. If I’m comfortable in what I am wearing or driving or living in, my demeanor will be one of truthfulness. Make the best of what I have, fix what I can and the rest be damned, life is too short.

3. Save your life – If you don’t want to live indebted to others (and no one does) then remember to live below your means and save for a rainy day. Freedom lies in chasing after the things in life that don’t depreciate in value.

4. Take your Time – Buying something can generate immense guilt and can’t always be taken back. If you know it isn’t going to be a ‘throw-away’ item like a house, car, etc – get value for your money and time. Taking the time to look means people will take less advantage of you.

5. Ask questions – No one ever got struck by lightening for asking a question. How will you know how to take care of your own home or investments if you don’t ask questions? Asking a question allows you to not only increase your knowledge and financial value but also allows you to give back to others who ask of you the same questions.

6. Rome wasn’t built in a Day – It’s an old saying but it’s a good one. It takes time to build up the savings and investments and to reach towards your goals. Hurdles will pop up and their may be times you feel like you are jumping through more hoops than a circus lion, but in the end you will be the better for it.

7. Sit and Listen – Rushing through the day to get things marked off of the ‘to do’ list and planning for tomorrow can leave me feeling like I still haven’t accomplished anything or all I see are the mistakes or what I haven’t done. Take a moment and sit down to reflect on where you were before, what you have learned and where you want to go, it may have changed course in the last couple of months.

8. Humility – Confidence is great in the work world where it seems like you swim with sharks, but it's your personal life that connects to a financial one where humility will get you a lot farther and allow you to tolerate frustrations better. Besides, keeping up with the neighbors isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Tightwads feel guilty spending money, Frugal folk have fun saving.” says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo via the May issue of Reader's Digest.

I thought I would see how you all compare to the reader's of Reader's Digest in their Frugal or Tightwad survey on a couple of situations. The situations are below and the majority answer per RD will be at the bottom. See if you agree or disagree with them.

flickr/CC -
Frugal or Tightwad?

1. “We used to frequent a diner where the owners were very hard workers but very, very cheap. They would wash the foam cups and reuse coffee filters. Fine, if they stopped there. But they would also wash and reuse their sandwich toothpicks! Come on-how much money could they be saving? To this day, when I eat a club sandwich in a restaurant, I snap the toothpicks so they can't be reused.” - Greg Livadas,Rochester, New York

2. “My grandparents gave me a gift. I tore off the wrapping paper and was thrilled to find a blue Tiffany's box! When I opened it, I found a hair scrunchie inside. That's it. A scrunchie.” - Michelle 

3. “I sign up for e-mail newsletters from our local movie theaters using different e-mail addresses. That way, I regularly get coupons for a free large popcorn, with unlimited refills!” - Jay Koebele, Winfield, Kansas

4. “My kids love oatmeal, so when I saw a sale, I got a year's worth for $5. It was the high-fiber kind, though, and a wiser mother probably could have warned me-they got terrible diarrhea. I thought, What am I going to do now? And I was so cheap, I kept giving it to them for about a month, because I thought maybe their bodies would adjust. They didn't.” - Joanie Demer, Eureka, California 

5. “My sister would save the candy canes from her Christmas tree and reuse them, for years. Who knew you could do that?” - Sarah Wiles,Skaneateles, New York 

6. “My husband videotaped the contractor who cleaned our furnace so he could do it himself the following year by consulting his very own DIY video.” - Joanne Rock, Peru, New York 

There are more but I listed a few that caught my attention. Below are how the above were rated. How did you do and what do you think of some of these situations? Were some unethical or extreme in you opinion?

1) 92% said Tightwad
2) 80% said Tightwad
3) 52% said Frugal
4) 73% said Tightwad
5) 66% said Frugal
6) 78% said Frugal

Austerity is popping up more and more on the news and in the news articles, mostly in reference to government economics but lately to personal economics as well. I wonder of journalists are getting tired of using frugality and need to rename it or if it is something really different.

Austerity(n) - enforced or extreme economy, financially strict
Frugality(n) - characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

They appear to be similar in definition but the emotional connection to a word like frugality is stronger and to some, negative. A new word in our vocabulary with a similar definition removes the emotion for the time being and make it a word for the present as opposed to the past.

Similar to using words like bell-bottom pants vs flared/bootcut pants or the Great Depression vs the Deep Recession; they are words for the past that don't always portray an accurate current fad or situation. So instead a similar word is used that is essentially the same.

The G-20 is currently tossing around austerity as a way to get the world economics through it's rough patches. They are doing this to reduce their spending and/or increases user fees and taxes to pay back creditors so that their spending is more stable.

No matter what is decided about budgets by larger governments, our smaller budgets could use more stability. When things come crashing down in our world the impact is severe and immediate unless we have multiple layers of emergency netting laying below us.

Our spending is not stable as our creditors loom larger than our income for many people. Similar to governments, we need to cut expenses where we can, limit interest fees (credit cards) and increase income in any form possible. For the short term this will help to stabilize our budgets and hopefully, in the longer term we will pick up new habits or restrictions that will keep us out of this type of mess again. From that we can build a stronger financial future for ourselves.

To quote Carl Richards, "Whenever I get worked up about this (government economics), I have to take a step back and remind myself what I can do about it. The key for me is to focus on my personal economy. Continue my own personal austerity plan (in the real world we call that spending less than you make)"

flickr/CC - elisfanclub
There is a story that has been passed around many times about the power of compounding on a penny.

Would you work for a month (31 days) beginning with a penny a day if I promised to double your daily wage each day?
Consider the fact that on the second day you'd be earning 2 cents, on the third, 4 cents, on the fourth, 8 cents, and so on.

By day twenty-one, you'd be earning over $10,000 per day, and would probably be growing quite enamored with the job. On day twenty-five, you would earn enough to buy a decent home, and with your previous twenty-four days' earnings, you could furnish it and buy sports cars to fill the double garage, as well as a modest summer home to retreat to.

On day twenty-eight, you'd earn more than the average wage-earner would over his whole working life, and by day thirty, you'd be earning the equivalent of a state lottery's winnings. On the final day (day 31), you'd be earning almost eleven million dollars, and would have earned a grand total for the month of $21,474,836.47!!!

Not bad for a penny, but no way we would get that kind of job or interest anywhere!

My Heart Got Broken Today
"I first saw him when I was in college. We met through one of those computer sites and I was told he was generous and the type who would be there whenever I needed him.

"He was very bright and a real card, but my friends warned me he was nothing but plastic. Nevertheless, we began to go everywhere together ... C.C. bought me dinners, jewelry, expensive clothes -- almost everything I desired!

"A month later I met Bill, who was waiting for me when I went to pick up my mail. He seemed nice at first, but when I asked him what his interests were he said 21.6% ... It was evident that all he was after was my money. To make matters worse, Bill said C.C. would never go out with me again if I didn`t pay -- the two had their little trick planned all along."

Adapted from: American Greetings


The Carrot That Makes You Jump Through Hoops - {Financial Samurai} posted a great story about how rewards work for you. It is amazing the things you can do when you are rewarded, atleast over the short term. For a little while my parents paid me to study so I would get better grades.. it worked for a while, but eventually went back to old habits, money or not. It didn't seem worth it for me at the time. While the carrot may be appealing at first, the desire to continue has reside within.

Have You Got What it Takes? - {The Boxcarkid's blog} Take a vacation through homelessness courtesy of this tongue in cheek PR piece. "Explore the gritty sides of urban streets!  Make friends with homeless people.  Learn how to panhandle and dumpster dive with the best of them!  Discover cool and unusual places to sleep and eat."

What Would You Do With A Forklift Full Of Wheat Thins? - {Consumerist} Personally, crackers are not my thing, but for a name brand item I would love to get a pallet full of Kashi meals - those meals are delicious, low in calories, high in goodness and healthy to boot!