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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 Frugal Living 
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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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 Frugal Living 
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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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 Frugal Living 
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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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 Frugal Living 
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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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 Frugal Living 
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Cheap, easy ways to get your game on this Halloween

Cheap, easy DIY video game Halloween costumesIf you’ve seen any pictures of cosplay enthusiasts taken at any of the various massive comic conventions that happen every year all over the world, you could be excused for thinking dressing up as a video game character is an elaborate, time-consuming, expensive affair.

While that may be true in many cases, there are a ton of video game Halloween costumes that only require inexpensive clothing and objects you may already have lying around the house. Dressing up as these three characters in particular won’t run you more than about $40 and will take you almost no time to put together.

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 Frugal Living 
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Cheap, easy DIY Halloween costumes based on reality TV

Low-cost reality-show Halloween costumesDisclaimer: I love Halloween. LOVE it. Choosing a Halloween costume is one of the highlights of my year. What could be more fun than dressing like a fool and going out in public? You guessed it: getting your friends together and dressing like a group of fools! In recent years, when Halloween approaches, my friends and I have designated a group theme for everyone to follow (e.g., superheroes or “The Wizard of Oz”).

There is something about having your pals by your side that amps up the creativity and lessens the feeling of embarrassment. If you are looking for Halloween costumes that are going to get a reaction, it needs to be something recognizable and relatable. To fit the bill, let me present to you three group costumes based on reality television.

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 Frugal Living 
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Buying vs. streaming music: which is cheaper?

They were shiny metal discs called CDs that held maybe 20 songsAdvances in consumer electronics have totally changed the way most of us consume music. Ancient pre-Millennials will remember a time when, if you wanted to listen to a song, you had to either hope it came on the radio or actually purchase a physical album.

These days, if you want to listen to a specific song or make a custom playlist, you basically have two (legal) choices: you can buy and download a music file, or you can subscribe to a streaming music service and effectively rent it.


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 Family, Frugal Living 
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‘Sell by’ dates on food lie to you, waste your money

Problems with food dating cause people to waste foodEver find food past its “sell by” date in the fridge and just throw it away without looking at it? If so, you’re almost certainly throwing away perfectly good food, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.

There’s a temptation to treat the dates on food as infallible predictors of when food will go bad, but in a lot of cases they’re basically bologna. Many dates aren’t based on food safety, but on when the manufacturers thinks the food will taste best. That causes a lot of retailers and consumers to toss food that’s perfectly fine to eat.

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