Frugal Living Column

Whether it’s hunting for the best deals around or growing your fruits and vegetables, living a frugal lifestyle is a challenge that can bring a great sense of accomplishment. Spending cents while others spend dollars, embracing this lifestyle has benefits beyond your checkbook.


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How to get people to buy your junk … A guide to selling almost anything on Facebook groups

A few months ago, when I was putting my recycling and bulk items out on garbage day, I happened to run into my neighbor who noticed that some old toys and baby gear were among the curbside casualties.

She politely suggested that I was throwing good money away, and proceeded to tell me about a local Facebook selling group to which she belongs.

That night, after rescuing my almost-thrown out items, I snapped a few photos with my cell phone to see if she was right – that there are people right in my own neighborhood who would pay me cash for used toys and other “junk” taking up space in my basement.

A hundred bucks in my pocket later, and I was hooked.

While selling stuff online is nothing new, doing so through an unofficial channel like a local Facebook group wasn’t something I was familiar with.

Unlike eBay, there are no packaging hassles or shipping costs, no credit cards or PayPal transactions to deal with, and no system of starred user reviews to rely on.

It’s also a little less anonymous than Craigslist, which I find to be scary for a variety of reasons.

Instead, Facebook Group selling is like having a garage sale minus the folding table set-up and haggling over scratched CD collections.
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Cord-Cutter Alert: Cheap new app pushes cable TV one step closer to obsolescence

If you loathe cable TV (and who doesn’t?), there’s now another, cheaper alternative for all of you aspiring cord-cutters.

Sling TV, a subsidiary of Dish Networks, is the newest streaming TV service on the block, and it seems to be a viable replacement for cable, especially if you only watch a handful of channels.

The company’s motto: “Take Back TV.”

For $20 a month, the service allows its subscribers to watch cable on demand from their television sets, smartphones and tablets.

You’ll get 14 channels: ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Disney Channel, CNN, El Rey and Galavision.

For an extra $5 a month, you can watch live NBA, NFL, college basketball, college football and some soccer games — think March Madness and the NBA All-Star Game. You can also add a kid channel package ($5) and a news package (another $5).
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How to throw great, yet affordable, football parties


A new season is here that has nothing to do with pumpkin-spiced everything – it’s football season.

Every Saturday and Sunday (and Monday and Thursday nights, too) provide a great excuse to get together with friends and root for your team. Or some other team. Does it really matter?

Of course your entertainment and recreation funds aren’t unlimited.

So here’s how to stage epic football parties week in and week out, at home and in the stadium parking lot, without sacking your budget.
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What can you do with a busted smart phone?

Well, that really depends on your phone’s make and model and how broken we’re talking.

Let’s say you trip and drop your smart phone down a flight of stairs or accidentally fling it into a toilet and find that some critical function has been lost. It will no longer text or tweet, or has stopped playing You Tube and Candy Crush.

What do you do? Maybe you exchange it for a refurbished phone, sell it for its parts or simply drop it off at a recycling center. Maybe you do absolutely nothing.

But you are not the average consumer! No, you are the savvy, DIY type always down to save a buck. So what are some things you can do with a broken phone that still maintains some measure of functionality?

1. Busted smartphones can be a goldmine for new parents. You could spend up to $300 on a brand new baby monitor system, or you could just rig up your own with an otherwise unusable iPhone. (This method, however, does require the use of one functional iPhone.) Assuming your broken phone still has some audio/camera capabilities, you can stream both from the broken phone to the usable one. Do yourself a favor though and leave the busted one with baby! (I’m not a professional in the childcare field and would strongly recommend consulting one before using this method.)

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How to make the clothes you got for Christmas last at least until next year

Hopefully these storm troopers studied up on these ways to make your clothing last longer.It’s a good bet you ended up with some new threads under the tree this year. Clothing was the fifth most popular Christmas gift this holiday season, ahead of video games, jewelry and even alcohol, according to  a report by Nielsen.

And while you’ll probably end up in the return lines like everyone else, at least some of the clothes you got were probably serviceable enough to hold on to. Here are some tips to help it last at least until you can re-up next year.


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Can you do Thanksgiving dinner for less than $20?

Is it possible to put together a recognizable Thanksgiving Dinner for $20?It’s now a week until Thanksgiving, and since thawing a turkey takes a few hours shy of forever, you’d better start your meal planning now. That is, if you don’t want to end up doing the walk of shame to whatever sad buffet restaurant your ill planning consigns you to. (Full disclosure: I’ve eaten out for Thanksgiving exactly once and I am still kind of traumatized, but maybe it’s actually great and I just don’t know.)

My wife and I like to cook, and we usually do it up for Thanksgiving. But I’m still amazed at the lengths people go to, and what they’re willing to spend, to put an impressive Thanksgiving dinner together. For all the Martha Stewart or Alton Brown wannabees out there, that free-range “heritage” bird can cost you more than a $100, not to mention all the black truffle mashed potatoes, organic kale and all the other delicious stuff you can make to go along with it if you feel like spending the money.

But what if instead of having a foodie Thanksgiving, you had a frugal one?
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When frugal goes waaay too far: TLC’s ‘Extreme Cheapskates’

Extreme cheapskates takes frugality to a scary placeI hope you’re lucky enough to have never had to endure an episode of the TLC show “Extreme Cheapskates,” but if you have, you’ll know it’s chockfull of sad people doing disgusting and/or risky things that very often save them little money, but do make for great shock value.
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The big list of restaurant birthday freebies

Happy birthday freebiesMy birthday is coming up, and while I don’t make a huge deal of my birthday, I do like to go out and enjoy a nice steak dinner. But what’s even better than a steak dinner? A free steak dinner!

There are plenty of restaurants willing to provide you with something free on your birthday. Why? For most companies, it’s a small thing to offer you a free dessert or a special discount because now you are on their list, and they can send targeted emails and other communications to you.


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