To me, being frugal is an ongoing process, as the frugal "game" is always changing. The 40s frugalists, for example, wouldn't know anything about freebie sites, and I get all sorts of useful samples from them. There are also all the online sweepstakes that you can enter just by filling in the forms. There are now free ebooks that you can download, my favorite freebie site is: freestufftimes.com. It lists oodles of downloads every day and you can download a Kindle for PC app free, too. There are also numerous freeware apps you can download for security, to clean up your computer, and for other uses. Check out www.filehippo.com for a list. I like CC Cleaner to clean out cookies fast and speed up my computer.
The art of frugality is creativity. Things are always cropping up. Did you know that you can resell giftcards for cash over the net, for example? (I am going to a focus group that is paying in a gift card, because I know I can convert it to much needed cash.)
And by all means learn to do as much as you can yourself. If you don't know how to sew, by all means learn, so you can mend everybody's clothing, sew on buttons, take up hems, and so on. Learn to maintain and repair equipment. (My mother kept a 50-year-old furnace going by learning to maintain it from watching the utility repairmen that came out.) Know what to do if your car overheats and so on. We even get along on good used tires. Not optimum, but surely a money-saver. Glue things back together, like loose shoe soles, before taking them to a professional. Spray suede and canvas shoes and bags with a soil repellant to keep them looking new longer.
Knowledge is power! The other day I found myself explaining all the ins and outs of how to deal with newspaper theft to a friend of mine, how you can call for replacements before 10 AM, theft bags, and credits to your account for missing papers. Check with the circulation department. Do your own taxes. The year Hubby insisted we go to HR Block, we had to pay more.
Now that Hubby is unemployed, he is taking the time and energy to go to the discount supermarket and last time he saved $15 off the bill. We also go to Smart & Final for certain more inexpensive staples.
Think about what you can sell. My best story is the etching I bought for $40 when in grad school, which I sold years later for $1500; a good return on my investment. Now with the prices of gold so high, maybe it's time to look through your jewelry box for things you never wear.
You all know about having yard sales and so on, so I won't go about those, except to say that I am still surprised that folks just chuck perfectly good items in the trash, rather than giving them away, donating them to charity, or selling them.
As times change, so will modes of thrift. I don't see many people making furniture out of cheese boxes anymore. What is a cheese box? But people can make things out of other scrap wood. I find that even book shelves salvaged from bookcases about to go into the trash can be used. Put one over a wastepaper basket to form an extra surface near your desk.
If people offer you stuff, take it. I now have enough paperclips and pens for a long time, because people were moving and getting rid of them. Those things cost money, too, especially if you are working from home. You can find good homes for things, give them away to friends, sell, or donate them. And feel better about yourself because you are not filling up the landfill.
Frugality is a lifestyle. I, for one, am always trying to think of a cheaper way to do everything. We got introduced to good used appliances a ways back and much of our household equipment was not bought new.
I admit that we don't use coupons much, but that's because we rarely buy name brand items. But we always do rebates if they are there.
Hubby hitched up with me knowing a bit about saving money, but I have to admit that I have been a very good influence over the years. He is now much better than I am at getting cheap electronics. And he doesn't feel self-conscious about going to a dollar store, either. Let's all be smart, and squeeze those nickels until the buffalo jumps around!
By Pam from Los Angeles, CA
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My Frugal Life
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Hi, I just wanted to say, I liked your story. I like that your tone is so positive and cheerful. That always make Thrifty attractive!
Great Adivce! I already do some of the things you mentioned and have done most of my life. I'm proud to be frugal as you are :) Thriftyfun gives out cash for their contest and I'm proud to also say I've won serveral times already. Now that a easy way and a fun way to make money. I sell on ebay that works too got us through last Christmas.
Save your flower seeds, next year sell them or grow them and sell them, I've done both.
I could go on and on but like you just think outside the box and always think frugal its only the smartiest way to live in any day and time.
Thanks for the tax comments - I have used free/cheap online tax services for my Federal taxes & then filed my state taxes manually, as that isn't free online (also filed for an extension electronically in the last minute). Haven't used the volunteers, though. I usually read articles about new tax wrinkles & get the HR Block book (often used & deeply discounted thru Amazon after 4/15) - so I probably know about as much as they do!
P.S. Don't worry about owing the Feds or state a few hundred dollars if you can't afford to do so. They will just put you on a payment plan & they are in fact "lending" you the money for your taxes until you can repay them! Nowadays, the Feds are more likely to "lend" you money than the banks!
Turbo Tax has a free basic version that does very well if you don't qualify for fancy loopholes. The first time we tried it (2000), my husband grumbled about how hard it was to use, and how confusing. After he had finished, though, and before he submitted, I went in and found substantial deductions that he had overlooked because he was too busy griping!
Ever since then, he does his income tax returns online in a few hours, as opposed to the 3 month all-consuming nightmare it used to be. And we save money on our taxes, because the program prompts us about deductions we might have forgotten or never knew about.
About those taxes: if you make less than $49,000/year you can get your taxes done for free by VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers, who go through extensive IRS training. VITA volunteers can prepare basic tax returns.
More info here: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=107626,00.html
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