Coffee heat rising

Festival of Frugality

Hurrah! It's time for the 237th Festival of Frugality! With the Fourth of July just past, we're going with an Independence Day theme.Americans are good at beating the odds. Our country was founded 235 years ago with a war in which the colonists were outmatched by the greatest naval force on the planet. Young men who had never been away from home came up against seasoned British troops and German mercenaries under career officers.Today many of us feel the odds against America are pretty high again. With the official unemployment rate stuck at almost 10 percent and the real under- and unemployment rate closer to 20 percent, our country engaged in a war we are unlikely to win (if the situation even allows such a thing as "winning"), widespread debt among our citizens, state economies on the verge of collapse, the federal deficit soaring, and one in every 400 homes going into foreclosure just last month, Americans face daunting challenges. But individuals, families, and communities around the country are rising to those challenges, as they did 1776. In this festival, bloggers report on developments in the revolution against debt, waste, and economic oppression.Editor's choices are flagged with little red hearts: ♥Getting fired up at the Boston Tea Party

Recruiting the Troops

Cash Money Life
How to Find and Hire Reliable Contractors
Here’s a nice set of tips on dealing with repairmen and small contractors. As a bonus, Ryan includes a promo code for 15% off an Angie’s List membership.

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge

Living off the Land: Frugal Survival in the Field

Sun’s Financial Diary
Know When to Buy What
Do you save by stocking up on produce in season? Here’s a guide to the seasons of sales.

Penniless Parenting
The Protein Myth
Discussion of the various sources of dietary protein and their quality.

Healthy Cooking on a Budget
Three frugal approaches to dining in

June Tree, Guest post author
The Digerati Life
How to Buy Organic Food and Eat Well for Less Money
Several useful tips for shifting your buying toward organic and still staying on budget

PT Money
10 Places to Get WiFi for Free
PT reports that all Starbucks are now offering free WiFi and then adds another nine connections for the peripatetic computerist.

Wren Caulfield
True Adventures in Money Hacking
Money-saving Laundry Tips: Quick Tips for Saving Your Cash and Your Clothes
Wren points out that several frugal laundry strategies actually save wear and tear on clothing as well as on water, energy, and laundry supplies.

Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
Common Sense, by Thomas Paine

Keeping Up Morale

Donna Freedman
Surviving and Thriving
14 Insanely Cheap Ways to Have Fun This Summer
A pile of ideas for frugal summer recreation—add yours in the comments!

Paul Williams
Provident Planning
The Boredom Buster: Using Variety to Break Up the Monotony
Know what a dorodango ball is? Neither did I, till I came across it here and had to look it up. Paul suggests a nifty collaborative strategy for breaking out of the rut.

Bucksome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement
The Old Days Weren’t Frugal by Choice
A look back at the realities our parents and grandparents knew

Battle of Yorktown

Battle Plans: Strategizing to Win Fiscal Freedom

Neal Frankle
Debt Pilgrim
How Much Can I Afford for a House? A Checklist
This unprepossessing title disguises some very savvy advice. If you’re thinking about buying a house—or even vaguely daydreaming of one—don’t miss this article.

Live Real, Now
Be Prepared or Be Me
Take the benefit of advice from Jason’s experience!

Free Money Finance
Saving Money on Groceries by Keeping Track of Prices
FMF describes the habit of keeping a price book, and ponders its uses.

J. Money
Budgets Are Sexy
Increase Your Savings with Every Raise You Get
A plan for fighting lifestyle inflation

Richly Reasonable
The GREAT Coupon Experiment: Week 5—The End
Reasonable decides to test the hypothesis that couponing saves cash with hard science.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
The Cost of the First Year of Homeownership
Largely by dint of luck and the generosity of friends and relatives, BFS keeps a grip on the potentially amazing cost of the first year in a house.

Washington at the Battle of Princeton

On the Frugal Battlefield: Going Hand-to-hand with Spending and Debt

Christian Treitler
Money Obedience
How to Really Save Money When You Spend It
Christian sets himself a goal to actually put money saved by purchasing goods on sale into a real-world savings account.

Wanderlust Journey
Checked Baggage Fees List
If you travel by air, bookmark this post! Jim first clues us to airlines that give you one checked bag free; then provides a list of baggage fees by airline.

Modern Tightwad
Can’t No-Poo? Try Alterna-poo: Aloe Vera
Now this is an interesting discovery!

Donna Freedman
Surviving and Thriving
Don’t Hate the Payer, Hate the Game
Donna hits readers’ hot button with some observations about the way grocery checkout works.

Leave Debt Behind
Want to Erase Credit Card Debts? Pay More Often
Recommends a strategy of frequent micropayments to clear debt off your books.

Tool Guy
Home Tool Review
How to Frugally Stock Your Home Toolbox
Wise suggestions for new homeowners and young people just starting out in their first apartment

Frugal for Life
Home Remedies for Stinky Feet and Shoes
Dawn gets her readers talking when she posts a slew of strategies for de-stinking musty feet and shoes!

Go Banking Rates, guest post author
Well-Heeled Blog
Guilty Financial Pleasure: Keep Your Hobby on a Budget and Make Money from It
Managing a hobby in hard times

Dinks Finance
My Insurance Nightmare
In search of an insurance quote for a new car, Kristina gets asked some amazingly personal questions.

Take a Bite Out of Your Food Expenses
How much, really, do you save by eating in instead of out? The answer may surprise even confirmed home cooks.

Miss Thrifty
Chipped Cup or Mug? Don’t Throw It Away!
An attractive way to get some more mileage from damaged dinnerware

Funny about Money
Happy Hoarder’s Handyman Hint: Frugal Junk Use
A nifty handmade paper-towel holder grows from squirreled-away junk.

Vern, Guest post author
Canadian Finance Blog
Eco-friendly Tips for Summer Cleaning on a Budget
Vern has a house-cleaning strategy!

The Sun’s Financial Diary
Great Green Convenient Ways to Clean
Sun discovers the sterling qualities of a common household product.

Cash Money Life
Cheap Phone Calls with Magic Jack
Cheaper even than Skype!

Washington Crossing the Delaware

“We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us”*

Roshawn Watson
Watson Inc.
Why Is Debt Really Decreasing?
Interesting rumination on the apparent drop in US household indebtedness.

Ace of Wealth
Do You Fall for These Pricing Tricks?
What’s “anchoring”? If you don’t know, better read this post for another insight into marketing psychology.

Tim Chen
5 Reasons to Avoid AMEX Blue Cash
This review of the AMEX Blue Cash card actually gives some fairly strong pro’s as well as the five cons mentioned in the post title.

Fireworks over New York City's East Village

* The immortal words of Pogo


Fireworks over Washington Monument. Public domain.
Boston Tea Party. National Archives and Records Administration. Public domain.
Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge. John Ward Dunsmore, 1907. Public domain.
Scan of the cover of Thomas Paine’s
Common Sense. 1776. Public domain.
Plan of the Battle of Yorktown. Goodrich, S. G. (1875).
A Pictorial History of the United States. Philadelphia: J. H. Butler & Co., 277.
George Washington Rallies His Troops at the Battle of Princeton. Artist unknown. Public domain.
Washington Crossing the Delaware. Emanuel Leutze. 1851. Public domain.
East Village Fireworks. David Shankbone. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Festival of Frugality Comin’ Our Way!

w00t!!! Funny is hosting the Festival of Frugality next Tuesday.

I’m just sitting down to start reading submissions. It’s not too late to send yours!

Looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to this week. Here’s a link to the Festival itself (note the proprietor’s superb taste in blog templates 😉 ), and here’s where you go to enter your latest and greatest post.

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
See your golden words in glowing lights! Win a chance at Editor’s Choice!


Festival of Frugality

Welcome to the 197th edition of the Festival of Frugality! This week’s theme is roads to riches. We’ve all noticed that the road has had a few bumpy patches lately. But as you can see from the many excellent posts below, we’re still travelin’ on.

Several submissions to last week’s carnival were still on the server when I checked in on Friday. Probably these were delayed when Google’s mail system went down last week. For this reason, I’m including the best of those in this week’s round-up—if you see two contributions from a single blogger, that’s the reason.

Editor’s Picks are boldfaced and tagged with jackpot dollar signs: $$$. These are posts I especially enjoyed, but I think you’ll find everything here a useful or fun read. Please be sure to Stumble, Digg, Tweet, or whatever the Festival—get the word out to your friends.

Mumbai Street
Mumbai Street

Frugal Street Smarts

$$$ Credit Card Assist
The Art of Credit Card Skimming
How the bad guys get access to your credit-card accounts, and what to do about it

Just How Expensive Are Convenience Checks?
A caveat for those who are naive about credit-card “checks.”

Luke Grand
Cash Out Life
Benefits of Paying Off Mortgage Early
Luke is preaching to my choir here.

$$$ April Dykman
Get Rich Slowly
Renter’s Insurance: Peace of Mind for Ten Bucks a Month
Just so. If you rent, read this!

PT Money
New Ways to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees
Describes some strategies I didn’t even know you could do.

Silicon Valley Blogger
The Digerati Life
Guest Writer: Jacques Sprenger
Don’t Let Medical Bills Turn into Medical Debts!
Eight strategies for keeping out-of-pocket medical costs under control

Cash Money Life
How to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Smart approaches to a gadget that can quickly come to be a pricey “necessity”

$$$ DR
Dough Roller
Discover Card Brings Back the 12-Month Balance Transfer Offer!
Has your credit-card lender jacked up its interest rates? Check this out: DR has found a rare 0% 12-month balance transfer.

Paula Wethington
Monroe on a Budget
How well do you score on this coupon knowledge quiz?
Answers contain a lot of surprising information.

In a Haifa Crosswalk
At a Haifa Crosswalk

Parenthood and Family Life

Frugal Upstate
Three Ways to Save Money on School Pictures
Wow! We should hire this talented photog’ to take everyone’s kids photos

Jonathan Martin
The Negotiation Board
Negotiating for Moms
Ideas for applying negotiating techniques to those daily family fiscal matters

Stay at Home or Pay for Daycare?
Jim pushes a hot button for readers with an off-the-cuff cost-benefit analysis. Interesting article; don’t miss the comments.

Not the Jet Set
Cloth Diaper Update
NtJS calculates, in detail, the savings from using cloth instead of paper diapers over the past 500 days. Amazing!

Building a dry stone wall
Raising a dry stone wall, Wales

Building Frugal Habits

How to Think Like a Frugal Person to Tackle a Challenging Financial Situation
Start-up pointers for neophyte frugalists

One Advice
Five Fast Ways to Save Money without Even Realising
And some other good basics for budding frugal persons…

Marla Walters
Parenting Squad
Sew Easy to Save
If you’re clever, you can save with a sewing machine. I’d add that  a community college course in tailoring may help you feel a lot more satisfied with the results.

Money Smart Life
Personal Budget Tracking Creates Results
Wish I knew how to program the Mac to do what Ben’s former employer’s printer system did.

$$$ Baker
Man vs. Debt
The Shit-That-Doesn’t-Inspire-You Factor
An insight into frugal psychology

Matt B
Financial Methods
Five Monthly Expenses that Can Easily Be Reduced
From the phone bill to the mortgage: strategies to cut recurring costs

Buck$ome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement
What Frugality Means to Me
A brief manifesto on the practice of frugality

Backpacking to a Million-Dollar View
Backpacking to a Million-Dollar View

Money-saving Tips

$$$ Buck Weber
The Buck List
Borrow, Rent, or Share Those Tools
Tool lending libraries! I had no idea such a thing existed.

Tom Tessin
FGC Auto Blog
Finding Deals on Rental Cars
Several good tips here

Sound Money Matters
Six Hip Handmade Christmas Gifts
It is what it says it is!

Jeff Rose
How to Save Money on Your Health Insurance Premiums
Here’s something we’d all like to know about.

Family Balance Sheet
Got Perennials? Fall Is a Good Time to Divide and Save
Kristia learns to replenish her garden without draining her bankbook.

Kate Kashman
The Paycheck Chronicles
Three Ways to Avoid Library Fines
Great ideas, especially if you have kids who check out books at different times!

Matthew Paulson
Fine Tuned Finances
Little Tips Make for Big Savings
Revives some old-fashioned practices for modern-day frugality

Canadian Finance Blog
How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Several practical ideas

The Financial Blogger
Cash for Clunkers Made in Canada
The idea has caught on in America’s northernmost country—if you’re Canadian, you still have time to trade in the junker.

Guest Post
Make It from Scratch
Fleece Mittens and Scarf Tutorial
Early snow brings out Mom’s ingenuity. Result: extremely cute chilly weather gear!

Steadfast Finances
I Haven’t Bought a Music CD in Over 10 Years
Where do you get your music? How about your free music?

Gotthard Alte Passstrasse
Gotthard Alte Passstrasse

The Traveling Frugalist

Wren Caulfield
True Adventures in Money Hacking
Guest Writer: Elana Devereux
Save a Bob When You Travel Abroad
Wise and easy-to-follow advice on traveling without breaking the bank

d. ninja
Punch Debt in the Face
The Best Vacations Are Free
Our ninja has engineered a half-dozen free “vacations” (some of them more like workations) over the past couple of years.

Exploring South Wales
Exploring South Wales

Miscellaneous Leads, References, Discoveries, and Whatnot

Carol Brown
Online Schools
100 Best Twitter Feeds for Your Financial Intelligence
A tweetfest for the personal finance set!

Cecil Dellison
Clear Choice Credit Cards
A Chance for MORE Credit Card Use? New Ways and Reasons to Use Your Card
Progress marches on…

Green Panda
Green Panda Tree House
Guest Writer: Kelly Whalen
Walking: Good for You, Good for Your Wallet
Surprisingly, Kelly’s family finds many walkable destinations in the suburbs—enough to drop to one car!

Gather Little by Little
Facing My Biggest Challenge For 2009
Comparing extra pounds with debt, Mike deploys a commonsense strategy and a little self-discipline, with excellent results.

Retirement Planning Calculator Facts
Thoughts about effective use of online calculators, plus leads to a couple of them

The Sun’s Financial Diary
Yodlee Does a Better Job Categorizing My Expenses
It’s a little disconcerting to have decide a payment for this month’s credit-card bill went to buy alcohol. Sun goes in search of a smarter online personal finance program, and finds one.

Wall Street, 2005
Wall Street, 2005

Managing Investments

$$$ MoneyNing
How to Make a Roth IRA Conversion
The mechanics are prefaced with a thoughtful rumination on why and whether to make this move. Good, easy-to-understand discussion.

ABCs of Investing
Tax-free Municipal Bonds
Introduction to a (relatively) low-risk savings instrument

Paul Williams
Provident Planning
Reduce Your Taxes: Contribute to a Health Savings Account
Brief discussion of HSA medical plans

Banker Saver
Money Savings: Short Term vs. Long Term Savings
Trying to stick with the plan through hard times

Investing Toolkit
Why Should I Start Investing?
Jeremiad: Reasons you should get on the savings bandwagon

$$$ MLR
My Life ROI
Do I Have to Pay Capital Gains Tax on my House?
Clear discussion of a surprisingly complex topic.

Clams...see any feet?

Frugalists Got Feet a Sense of Humor!

Free Money Finance
Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets to Free Sodas
Holy Hilarious Moly, Batman! I wonder if this would actually work?

How to Marry a Footballer
Is this the path away from the hard chair in front of the computer monitor?

Reflection pool at the University of West Australia
Reflection pool at the University of West Australia


Wealth Pilgrim
Wealth Pilgrim: Money Management Advice, Financial Stress Management, & Resources
Rosh Hashana 2008 vs Rosh Hashana 2009: Proof You Are Financially Invincible
Mellow and thoughtful

J. Money
Budgets Are Sexy
Talking Finances with Friends and Family
Is money a taboo subject?

Funny about Money
Living within Your Means Is Good for the Economy
Other people think so, too!

$$$ Miss M
M Is for Money
Saving Gets Easier in Your Thirties
Nice rumination on money, maturity, and growth

Elizabeth G
Modern Gal
Are You Sabotaging Your Frugal Life?
Addresses the psychology of frugality and offers positive strategies to stay on track.

Penny Copperwyre
I Abused my Credit Cards Last Week
A sorrow piled on top of hard times leads the Copperwyres to a large expenditure, but they’re undaunted.


Mumbai Street, Tawheed Manzoor, Wikipedia Commons
Haifa Crosswalk, David Shankbone, Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License
Dry Stone Wall Building in South Wales,
TR001, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3, Wikipedia Commons
Backpacking in Grand Teton, U.S. National Park Service, Public Domain
Gotthard Alte Passstrase (The old road on the south side of St. Gotthard Pass), H005, Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License
Bwlch Maesgwm, in Snowdon, South Wales; Phil Price, Creative Commons, Wikipedia Commons
Wall Street, New York City, 2005;
GNU Free Documentation License, Wikipedia Commons
Clams, Marlith, Creative Commons, Wikipedia Commons
Reflection Pool, University of West Australia, Greg O’Beirne,
GNU Free Documentation License, Wikipedia Commons