Monday, August 31, 2009

Top Ten Tightwad Quotes

Throughout human history, famous and successful people have advocated a thrifty lifestyle. Here are our favorite quotes about why being a tightwad is a good thing:
  1. Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.”
  2. George Bernard Shaw: “Economy is the art of making the most of life.”
  3. Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence.”
  4. Ben Franklin: “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
  5. Cicero: "Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?"
  6. Samuel Johnson: "Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty."
  7. Confucius: "He who does not economize will have to agonize."
  8. Rudyard Kipling: “Any fool can waste, any fool can muddle, but it takes something of a man to save, and the more he saves, the more of a man does it make of him.”
  9. Socrates: “Those who have little, if they are good at managing, must be counted among the rich.”
  10. Yiddish proverb: “With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well, too.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pick Your Own Produce and Save!

When it is harvest-time, there is no better way to celebrate the bounty of the season than by picking your own fresh produce from a local farm! This is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a warm summer day or a crisp autumn afternoon, and the quality and price easily beat those of the mega-market down by the mall. The Boston Insider lists a number of farms in the greater Boston area which offer pick-your-own fruits and vegetables; a quick Google search will help you find similar places closer to your own home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frugal Weight Loss

If you're trying to lose weight, counting calories (both those going in and those you exercise out) is often the most cost-effective way to go. You won't have to purchase any special foods, so you can eat with rest of your family (and so feel less deprived), you can eat the things you like (just in smaller quantities), and you can eat low cost meals that fit your budget.

And when you lose weight – we recommend that you have your clothes tailored rather than buying whole new wardrobe (as tempting as that may be). It will save you the cost of lots of shopping, but you'll still look great.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Household Tightwad Tip

There is no need to hire a handyman to fix doorknobs that rattle, or make a trip to the hardware store to replace any screw that is slightly stripped. Instead, simply put a small piece of clay inside the female part. The clay will fill in the space around the thread and hold the screw in place.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Consult the Experts

Here are three titles with useful tightwad tips:

a. The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
b. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
c. Yankee Magazine’s Living Well on a Shoestring

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cost of Contentment

Make list of five things that make you smile, that make your day, that make you happy, that make you laugh -- the things that really bring you true joy. Chances are they include chillin’ with the family, playing tickle monster with the kids, going for a great run – in other words, the things that matter most don’t cost you a dime. The price of a few of your favorite things – free!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sales, Sales, Sales!!

The bargains I'm finding these days are amazing: Anne Klein pumps that were $265; now just $40. A classic leather purse that was $159; now just $34.99. High quality cashmere sweaters for men and women that are now as little as $39.99. With prices like this, it's hard to resist! And yet, the tightwad in me knows that the #1 rule of frugal fashion is not to buy if you don't need it. So I consider each purchase very carefully, in light of what's already in my closet and what my sartorial needs are for the next year or so. I also follow these other frugal fashion rules:
  • Invest in staples. Buy the highest quality basics you can find – items like black trousers, structured jackets, a good leather purse and leather pumps, an A-line skirt. You can always fill in with less expensive accessories and trendy pieces (for example, you don’t need to spend lots on t-shirts).
  • Buy quality, not quantity because you will save money in the long run if clothes are well made. It's better to have one or two really well-cut jackets that flatter your figure and work with everything, than a closet full of ho-hum pieces.
  • Always invest in tailoring. Clothes that fit you well look more expensive.
  • Consider maintenance costs for every item you purchase.  A $20 pair of pants that needs to be dry cleaned may cost me more in the long run than a $50 pair of pants I can throw in the wash.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Magazines on the Cheap

If you're a magazine junky like me, remember that you can read most magazines at your local library for free. I also like to browse a stack of magazines at Barnes & Noble (even if you grab a cup of coffee at their cafe to do so, you'll be ahead financially). It is also cheaper to subscribe than to buy issues at newsstand on a regular basis. And you might thing about sharing a subscription with a friend to save even more money.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taking a Staycation

This summer's economic climate has made "staycations" all the rage. Consumer Reports' website has some great tightwad tips on how to make the best of yours.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's New York Times included a write-up about a new study that shows that when it comes to money, opposites do attract: “spendthrifts” and “tightwads” tend to marry. And so perhaps the best tightwad tip for someone considering marriage is to have serious conversations about money habits and expectations, so that this spendthrift/tightwad conflict isn't part of the relationship.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Faster Drains on the Cheap

You don't need to buy Drano or other similarly expensive clog-cutters to clear a slow-draining sink or bath tub. Instead follow this time-tested tightwad tip: pour cup of baking soda into the sluggish drain, followed by cup of vinegar, followed finally by a pot of boiling water.

Of course, you can always reach for the plunger, too, if necessary.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cheaper Cooking

One way to save money when you cook is to substitute what you have on hand for specific (often more expensive) specialty items. For example, you don’t need to buy buttermilk just for one recipe – you can use milk mixed with a little lemon juice or vinegar instead. If you want a thicker consistency, you can use the same amount of plain or vanilla yogurt. Whatever you choose as a substitute, you aren't wasting the rest of a quart of buttermilk, if the recipe just calls for 1/2 cup. Similarly, you can substitute applesauce or pumpkin puree or a similar product (whatever is cheapest for you) for ½ the fat in baking – doing so is healthier, too! Here are some other common cooking substitutes:

  • small curd cottage cheese, sour cream, or yogurt in place of ricotta in lasagna and similar dishes
  • 1 cup milk plus about a tablespoon of butter instead of a cup of light cream
  • 3 tablespoons or unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of butter for 1 ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 7/8 cup of all purpose flour sifted with 2 tablespoons cornstarch to replace 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup of sugar mixed with 1/4 cup water to replace 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses equals 1 cup light brown sugar; add an additional tablespoon of molasses to make dark brown sugar
You'll also find that many cookbooks feature common cooking substitutes at the back of the book. Or check out the list of recipe substitutions online.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Tightwad Tips for Moving

Late summer is prime moving season. Not only are college students moving into their dorms and school housing, but recent grads who have taken the summer off before starting new jobs are getting set up. And families with school-age children who are anxious to be settled in their new home before the school year starts are also on the move.

Moving can be a very expensive process, costing thousands of dollars if you have professional movers pack up your belongings and truck you to your new destination. The least expensive (possibly free) way to move? Scrounge boxes and packing materials and do it all yourself with a borrowed truck. For most people, though, it is most practical to do something in between both extremes.

So assuming you fall into this last category, here are some tightwad tips to help you save money on your next move:
  1. Get rid of excess possessions – don’t pay the mover to move stuff you don’t really need or want. Eat up the food in your pantry and freezer, hold a yard sale, and give items to charity.
  2. If you're moving locally, have rugs, window treatments and furniture picked up for cleaning and then delivered to new place, so you don't have to pay the mover to move them.
  3. Moving companies charge boat loads of money for moving materials and can waste a lot of these supplies, which typically, you are paying for (in our last move, I remember opening boxes that contained 1 pillow in box and finding rolls and rolls of half-used tape on the floor after the movers had finished packing). So obviously, anything you can do to save money on moving supplies will be useful. Try to find a good source of free boxes (try liquor stores, copy shops, and grocery stores) rather than paying your mover or the local office supply shop for new boxes. If that doesn't work out, find out if you can buy used boxes directly from a local moving company. Look into using your own blankets/sheets/towels as padding instead of renting blankets. You can also use these free padding materials to pack fragile things.
  4. Whether you are renting a truck or using a moving company, you are likely to save money (sometimes as much as 50%) if you schedule your day for a weekday rather than Saturday or Sunday.
  5. Remember not to pack boxes too full – if boxes are too heavy, it is more likely that things will break.  And replacing your precious possessions will cost more than finding a few more boxes.
  6. If you'll be renting a truck or van, follow The Insider Travel Guides' rental rules.
  7. Get firm quote in writing from your mover. And before you hire anyone, be sure to check them out with the Better Business Bureau.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Star Gazing

fHere's a great idea for some free summer entertainment: watch the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs each year from August 10-14. The best viewing time is usually after midnight. You'll see the wonder of about 60 meteors each hour without any special equipment, admission fees, or other associated costs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Essential Tips for Saving Money at Home

Although these ideas are very basic, and well-known to most tightwads, I mention them here because they are essential components of any money-saving regiment:
To save electricity:
  • use compact florescent bulbs or LED lightbulbs (from Pixi) which are more like incandescent but use less energy and last up to 17 years
  • turn off lights when not in use
  • unplug appliances that use electricity even when in “off” mode - including phone chargers, tvs and computers - at night and when on vacation
  • wash clothes in cold water
  • keep your freezer running most efficiently by keeping it full of food (or ice)
  • similarly, keep your refrigerator running most efficiently by keeping it full of food (or containers of cold water)
To save heating/air-conditioning costs:
  • insulate, especially around windows and in the attic
  • have an energy audit (many utility companies will do it for free) to find other leaks
  • turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees in the winter and turn it up a couple of degrees in the summer
  • open curtains and drapes to take advantage of daily sunshine in cooler weather; close curtains during the day in warmer weather
To lower water costs:
  • don’t leave the faucet running while brushing teeth
  • don't rinse your dishes under the faucet before putting them into the dishwasher - just scrape off the food into the garbage
  • use dishwasher rather than hand-washing dishes; save more by running it at night (off peak hours)
  • run dishwasher/washing machine on shortest cycle that is still effective
  • insulate hot water pipes to keep water warm longer (so you don’t have to run the tap for several minutes to get hot water); and insulate your hot water heater, too
  • take showers instead of baths, and take the shortest shower with which you're comfortable
To reduce utility costs:
  • if you don't watch a lot of tv, why not skip the cable bill and watch tv and movies on hulu.com
  • combine tv, phone, and internet charges with a single provider (like Time Warner Cable)
  • use a family plan for cell phones, if you have several
  • think about eliminating your home phone land line and just use your cell phone (unless you need it for a home office fax or some other reason)