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March 16, 2009



How ironic that you wrote that bit about the coupons. I was telling a friend today that I am growing increasingly sick of these "How to Be Frugal" stories that have such illuminating tips as "There are lots of great things at the library!" My reaction always seems to be "No s*** Sherlock."


My mom was always so into coupons. I never have been, because they would always be expired when I used them, or else "you need to buy TWO in order to get this discount on ONE" or other frustrating aspects. (And part of it is probably rebellion against my mother's "ways"). HATE coupons. But I do find myself sticking more money into savings, paying down my Visa, and curtailing eating out, etc. So far we are fortunate in that the crunch hasn't hit us too hard, aside from our 401(ks). I'm in need of a new car, but that's been put off. My son (he's 22 and lives with us while he's going to school and he'll be leaving for the Navy in June) works as a waiter at an upscale restaurant. He's hurting. Not only are people not eating out, but when they do, they are majorly cutting back on tipping. He barely makes enough to pay for gas and his car payment (that just basically takes him to and fro work).


I have dropped my personal trainer ($660/month), we've quit drinking alcohol (for health and beauty more than for the tremendous savings - $countless) and we both intend to keep our vehicles for longer than we normally would.

We have not talked to the dogs about our paring back, but I think they can sense something. If their biscuits get smaller, there will be a mutiny, I'm sure.


I too come from a family of coupon-clipping cheapskates, and I too have rebelled. (Who needs all that processed snack food?) But I do rely heavily on the public library, and am continually surprised by how many of my friends don't. "Oh, I took my kids there when they were little..." they'll say, trailing off. I frequently take advantage of the online book-reservation system: very handy.

I also pay off every credit-card balance every month. I have learned with some amusement that the term in the credit industry for responsible citizens like me is "deadbeat." http://is.gd/nI2a

Green-Eyed Siren

I'm trying to cut out the food waste that follows directly on the heels of poor meal planning. I have trouble coming up with useful plans (and sticking to them), but I'm improving. It helps with the spending, of course, but it also makes me feel better about my environmental footprint.


I'm with you Verbatim. I have always looked through sales circular, coupons, go to the library, etc., so it's nothing new. Because we don't have kids, it's a lot easier on our wallets.

I drive to the next town over and go to Hannaford's rather than the local Shaw. I save at least $10 - $20 a week just by driving that extra couple of miles.

I wrote in my blog a month ago about this issue, you might enjoy the read. http://quiltandbitch.blogspot.com/2009/02/call-me-frugal-but-dont-call-me-cheap.html

Bartering is a great system. For example, if you have a talent, you can do something for someone in exchange for another goods or services. I'm really big at this, and I will usually barter a quilt for something that I want. :)

Ellen Kimball

Hi Karen,

We are vacationing in Mexico and are glad we still have some good investments in time shares (made in 2002, 2004, and again in 2005) with the Hilton Grand Vacations Club. Our children will inherit the main deeds in Honolulu and Las Vegas. If we were to have waited longer, we never would have become involved.

Right now, I'm frugal as all get out, but I try to keep thinking of ways to make myself even more sensitive to how much money is being spent. I do wish I were a better cook, but we eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, less red meat, and more chicken and fish.

In Boston, I used to shop at Bread 'n' Circus in Cambridge, as well as other natural food stores around the area. One was Arena Farms, I believe, on Rt. 2 near Concord, MA. My daughter remembers we only had fruit juice, milk and water in our refrigerator (no soda). Hubby and I were both in full-time jobs and there's nothing more picky than five kids eating at one table.

I'm like you -- have been thrifty for years, even back in the 1970s when we were raising five children. Clothes came from church rummage sales or Sears. Now, I still go to consignment or thrift stores. We're using more coupons, shopping at Costco (wish they had been around when there were seven of us) and doing it less often. I am choosing store brands instead of heavily marketed name brand products.

While we are in our 70s and have practically no time to make back the investment money we thought we had (!), we are still healthy and have even gotten through some marital trials by "reinvesting" in our 37 year relationship.

Years ago, we started to pay for long-term health care insurance and are continuing to do that.

I never want to be a burden on my children, and have even thought about ways to earn money at our ages. I might even think about taking in someone who needs a room if things get really tight. We did that in Sudbury for a young gal who was finishing high school and whose parents moved to Arizona. She was a delght.

Of course, I married a man who kept our credit scores impeccable through the years by paying off each card's monthly bill. The last item we put on layaway was a living room set purchased in 1973 at a furniture names Kincaide's (not sure about the "e" at the end) in Quincy, Mass. Believe it or not, it has held up and we still use it in our family room in Portland, Oregon.

Great blog! Thanks for sharing.



I'm in the first half of student loan repayment, and with a stepson about to go to college - let's say, I've never really lived "un-frugally" (new word?). And that's thanks to my parents.

But I have friends my age who didn't grow up with a mom who clipped coupons and did with less. They're finding it hard to transition - especially since they're in the same student loan boat that I am in. So while I watch those reports and wonder who hasn't heard it, they comment on "Do you know about pairing coupons with sales?".


Yep, yep, yep, yep. Coupons, library, no more date nights, no more restaurants, no more family camp, much less travelling, no new clothes unless they are a matter of dire need, riding the T when it makes sense, serious bargain-hunting, selling stuff on craigslist, singing for money in houses of worship whose theology does not agree with my own.

I've also started baking all our own bread, making applesauce & yogurt instead of buying them, bartering for stuff the kids need. I am going to be more diligent about the garden this summer in the hopes we can do our own carrots, tomatoes and basil, at the very least. (Those three are staples at my house, so it would make a big difference if I could do it.)

The unfortunate truth is that I miss some of the trappings (free time, mainly). But thank G-d the children are healthy and we are so far getting by despite a significant lifestyle change. Once we recover I am going to hire a babysitter and go to the movies. Maybe even twice in the same month.


We don't do much takeout, but a friend who does has started adding her own pound of stir fried chicken to the yummy Indian chicken dishes they take out. There is always too much sauce so this way they stretch it to perfect and still get the yummy flavors.


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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