Frugal Living Tips and Information Category

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  1. Contents of Frugal Living Tips and Information

Frugal Living Tips and Information

Learn to trim unnecessary expenses and stretch your dollars the way the experts do.

Inexpensive Entertainment


Family Entertainment on a Budget Copyright 2003 Deborah Taylor-Hough Used with permission. All rights reserved.

1) Be patient and wait to see new movies on video. Some communities even offer free video rentals at local libraries and will order new movies if library patrons request a certain title.

2) Check to see if there are any discount movie theaters in your area. Most of these places show movies just before they're released to video. A family of four can go out for an evening at the movies and only spend around $10 for a fun family outing. Keep a list of movies you want to see, and then check the discount theater listings each week. These theaters often keep the movies for just one or two weeks, so stay alert to what's playing.

3) Go to the first show of the day at first-run theaters for the best prices (and shortest lines!).

4) Check your area for free days at museums, zoos, etc.

5) Rather than buying separate admissions to different educational or fun family destinations, buy one yearly family pass to either the zoo, the aquarium, or a theme park. Go repeatedly to that one place each time you want a family outing. You will easily save the cost of the family admission, plus you'll have the benefit of not feeling pressured to see everything in one day. You can always see what you missed the next time you come. Next year, buy a pass somewhere else.

6) Check for free concerts, plays, and other live family entertainment in local parks.

7) Call and find out if your local college stage production group, ballet or orchestra will let you watch them rehearse for free.

8) If you want to eat at an expensive restaurant, go for lunch rather than dinner. The menu is usually the same, but the prices are often half.

9) When dining out, drink water only. Ask for a lemon or lime wedge if you want to make your drink seem special. This trick can easily cut $10 off your family's total dining bill, which could mean the difference between going out for a fun meal or staying home eating frozen egg rolls again.

10) Go fly a kite. Literally!

11) Make the most of any available student discounts. Show your child's school ID at museums, zoos, galleries, theaters, etc.

12) Instead of an expensive day of professional sports, go to a high school or community college game.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: --Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is the author of 'Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month' and the newly released, 'Frugal Living For Dummies(r)' (Wiley, 2003). These tips were excerpted and adapted from Debi's booklet, 'Simple Living: One Income Living in a Two Income World.' For information, go to:

Urban Homemaker


What makes me successful at yard sale-ing? It really comes down to the fact that I've spent literally hundreds of hours wading through other people's "stuff" in their front yards, garages and porches. There's nothing like experience to teach you a think or two about what works and what doesn't!

Let me give you an example of a successful yard sale find that happened to me. I was aimlessly looking at a "glassware table." There in the midst of the Flintstone's Jelly Jar Glasses was one lone champagne flute. It caught my attention, looking remarkably like the Waterford glasses I bought in Ireland before I was married (i.e. when money was plentiful!). I picked it up, checked it out. . .lo and behold, it held not a Waterford stamp on it, but Galway (the sister glassware to Waterford).

The entire table was marked $1.00 each. I tried hard to contain myself and went to pay for the item. The woman running the sale asked, "

Urban Homemaker

MASTER PANTRY LIST- Food and Non-food Items for the Home

These are the items I attempt to ALWAYS keep on hand, and I always try to stock up on these items only when they are on sale.

baking powder
baking soda
maple syrup
experller-pressed oil
olive oil
cocoa powder
dry milk powder

bay leaf
cayenne pepper
celery seed
chili posder
cream of tartar
curry powder
dill seed
garlic, fresh and powder
onion powder
sesame seeds
tarragon leaves
vegetable broth
chicken broth
beef broth

prepared mustard
white and cider vinegar
balsamic vinegar
wine vinegar
worcestershire sauce
soy sauce

white wheat
pastry wheat
rolled oats
7-grain cereal
brown rice

BEANS - Canned and Dried
green split peas
black beans
navy beans
kidney beans
lima beans
pinto beans

wagon wheetls


SOUPS (Canned or Dry)
chiden and rice
vegetable beef
chicken noodle


(Canned, frozen, dried):
apple juice
orange juice
vegetable juice
cocoa mix
rice milk
soy milk
nut milks
dry milk powder

string cheese
Monterey Jack
Mexican cheese blend

(Fresh, canned, dried):
tomato sauce
tomato paste
whole tomatoes
spaghetti sauce
green beans
corn baked beans
refried beans
canned chilis
ripe olives
peas potatoes

(fresh, canned, dried)
apple sauce
canned peaches
fruit leather
cranberry sauce
mandarin oranges

aluminum foil
plastic wrap
resealable plastic bags - all sizes
toilet paper
paper towels
paper plates
paper cups
bread bags
canning lids
plastic ware

floor wax
dish soap
abrasive cleaning pads
cleaning powder
window cleaner
spot remover
Non-chlorine bleach

shampoo and conditioner
tea tree oil
antibiotic ointment
adhesive bandages
gauze pads
bandaging tape
allergy medicines
cold medicines
feminine pads
hand lotion

Digestive enzymes
Echinacea and thyme
Lungs Plus
Liquid Minerals
Vitamin C - tablets, powder


light bulbs, 60, 75, 100, e-way
masking tape
clear adhesive tape
permanent markers
than you notes
laundry marker

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Urban Homemaker

Frugal Ethics - When Frugal Becomes Just Plain Cheap

By Tawra Kellam

There are times when it's tempting to lie, steal or break one of the other 10 Commandments to get a good deal but, in living frugally, we all need to stick to being honest. This is not always easy to do, but I want to give some examples that may help you stay honest. Here are some common tactics that some people use that are unethical and sometimes illegal:

You need some pens because you are running short so you take a handful from a store that is giving them out. This is stealing. If you take one, that's fine. Unless they tell you to take them all, it is tacky to take a large number of them. They're offering them simply as a courtesy.

You buy an item and you use it a few times and then return it because you're done with it. Stealing and lying. You probably won't tell the sales clerk you just needed to use it for a few times and even if you do, that's only OK if it is a rental store. If an item breaks, doesn't work or is not the right color, it is fine to return it. If you just needed it "for a few times" (like a dress for a special occasion) and know you won't use it again, you're stealing if you return it.

If you eat a food item with a guarantee on the box and it tastes nasty, return it. That's why they offer a guarantee. If you eat the entire contents of the box first and return the mostly-empty box, it probably wasn't actually nasty.

If you try to pass off your 14 year old child as a 12 year old so that you only have to pay for a child's meal, you are lying and teaching your child that lying is good when it benefits you.

If you find a "great deal" that you can't live without but you don't have the money in your checking account, don't write a check. Let it be the "one that got away" If you knowingly write a bad check, you are stealing and lying.

If you find a "great deal", buy it and then hide it from your husband, you're lying (unless it's his birthday present ;-). If you have to hide it, you know you're doing something wrong.

If you charge up your credit cards with frivolous things like shopping and eating out and then declare bankruptcy, you are stealing from the credit card company and from everyone who does business with that company. Bankruptcy is intended to help people who end up financially strapped because of reasons beyond their control, like catastrophic medical expenses or the death of a spouse. It is unethical to declare bankruptcy because you went on a shopping spree, because you bought something you couldn't afford when you bought it or because you decided to change careers and no longer want to pay the student loans for your old career. You signed that piece of paper when you purchased the item saying you would pay them back and you didn't. It's up to you to pay them back any (legal :-) way you can, even if it does mean feeling "deprived" for a time.

One more thing about bankruptcy: It is unethical to incur lots of debt "keeping up with the Joneses" and then go bankrupt because the debt is so large. Many people look at others and say to themselves, "Those people are the same age as me. I work hard. I deserve that too." or "our house is too small" or "our car is a real clunker so we need to buy a brand need one to "save" on repair costs ( a huge myth, by the way!). If you can afford these things, by all means, buy them. If you can't afford those things, find a way to make more money or learn to be happy with what you have.

Frugal living is about making good financial decisions. There are so many things you can do to spend your money more wisely, so when you think you can get a "good deal", but it requires doing something that hurts someone else, pass it up.

Whenever you're in doubt about whether something is ethical, ask yourself if it would be OK with you if the situation were reversed and you were the person potentially coming up short. Be honest. We've all heard "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you would object to others doing it to you, you better look for a better way to save.

Tawra Kellam is the editor of Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

Urban Homemaker

Official USDA Food Plans

Download a .pdf of the Official USDA Food plan budgets. They itemize a thrifty, low cost, moderate, and liberal plan and see how you compare.

The chart shows that a family of 4 with 2 children between the ages of 6-11 the following weekly expenditures:

Thrifty: $112.80
Low Cost: $144.90
Moderate: $180.50
Liberal: $218.60

Or Monthly Totals:

Thrifty: $488.80
Low cost: $628.00
Moderate: $782.00
Liberal: $947.20

The chart also gives suggested amounts for adjusting up or down for additional family members based on age and gender.

How do you compare?

Urban Homemaker

Cha-Ching! Tips for a Successful Day of Yard Sale Shopping

Cha-Ching! Tips for a Successful Day of Yard Sale Shopping

Yard sale season is now in full swing. For those of you who truly want to save money on your family's expenses, yard sale shopping is a great way to find gently-used clothes, toys and household items for pennies on the dollar. Here are some tips for making your yard sale shopping trip as fun and profitable as possible.

1.. If you don't subscribe to the newspaper, buy or borrow one the day before your shopping trip. Or, if your local newspaper lists all garage sale ads online, save yourself a little money and get the yard sale listings there. Just make sure that the paper's online listing is complete. Some newspapers charge advertisers extra to have their ads posted online. A quick call to the newspaper's advertising department can confirm if the newspaper's website contains all the yard sale ads or not.

2.. On the day of your shopping trip, you want to spend the majority of your time actually finding bargains, not driving all over town. Before you leave home, use the classified ads and a map to locate areas that have the most sales. To save time and gas, concentrate on hitting all the sales in those areas.

3.. Once you know the general area to which you are headed, take some time to map out your exact route. A map-making computer program such as Rand McNally's StreetFinder comes in very handy for this. Or simply use a city map or Yahoo Maps online at to locate sales and get directions.

4.. Your yard sale shopping experience will be more pleasant if you-and any family members who go with you-are comfortable. Make sure everyone wears weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes. Sunscreen and hats are also helpful if your crew will be out in the sun for long periods. Don't forget to make sure everyone hits the bathroom before you leave the house!

5.. To keep you and your young yard sale shoppers' hunger and thirst at bay, take along a small cooler with easy-to-handle snacks and drinks. Of course you could stop for fast-food when stomachs start to growl, but doing so would take time away from bargain-hunting.

6.. Rather than carrying your purse, you may want to carry your money and any essentials in a fannypack or small change purse you can put in your pocket. This leaves your hands free to inspect the merchandise and also frees you from worrying that your purse being stolen.

7.. You can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge a yard sale by your first impressions, either. You never know what kinds of bargains lurk in the seller's garage. Sometimes you find the best deals at the sales that are least organized because the sellers just want to get rid of their stuff.

8.. If your kids shop with you, save yourself a lot of hassles by making sure they each have their own money to spend. Give them a pre-determined amount to spend before you leave the house, or have them bring their allowance money. This saves you from being the bad guy when the kids ask for things you don't want to buy. Many times they decide they don't want the items bad enough to spend their own money.

9.. Negotiating is the name of the game. Most sellers are willing to deal as long as you are fair with them. Asking the seller to take $2 for an item marked $20 is pushing your luck. The seller may be more than willing to sell the item for $15 or even $10, depending how late in the day it is. Remember too that yard sales provide an excellent opportunity to teach children about negotiating. For the young or shy shopper, you may have to help out a bit by saying something like, "My son wondered if you'd take $1.00 for this game." Eventually your child will learn to make these requests on his own.

10.. Going to yard sales early in the day (as soon as the sales open) has the advantage of getting the best selection. If you are looking for a big-ticket item such as furniture or electronics, you'll probably have to go early. Going later in the day has its advantages, too. Sometimes sellers are willing to practically give their stuff away rather than have to pack it up and carry it back in their homes.

11.. Be sure to carry lots of change and small bills. Of course it is the seller's responsibility to have change, but wiping out the seller's entire change supply with a $20 for a $1 sale is inconsiderate. Save your change throughout the week to use for your Saturday yard sale trip.

12.. If your time for shopping is short, you may want to concentrate only on one-day sales. If a sale runs on both Friday and Saturday, there is usually little left by the time Saturday rolls around. To get the biggest return on your time investment, visit the one-day sales first; then if you have extra time, you can stop by any sales that have been running for two days.

13.. If you try to negotiate with the seller on a large item but the seller won't budge, leave your name and phone number along with the price you are willing to pay. Tell the proprietor to give you a call if the item doesn't sell and she decides she accept your offer.

Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, a free email newsletter about simple and frugal living. Visit Nancy online at or at her newest site,

Urban Homemaker

20 Fresh, Quick & Light Dinner Recipes - Free Download

Eat Well - Live Well, This new E-Cookbook has quick and healthy recipes for busy evenings.

A perfect cookbook for busy parents, even retirees looking to save some time each day and still eat healthy meals! Most meals can be prepared in less than 30 minutes!

To download the free 20 meal version, click on the "Attachments" link at the bottom of the page. To order the larger 101 recipe version for $12.95 click the following link:

Think Cooking Healthy Food is Time-Consuming? We've got 101 Recipes for Fresh, Light AND Quick Dinners.

Each recipe comes with several useful features:

*Time-saving tips
*Nutritional information per serving
*Estimated prep and cooking times
*Suggested healthy side dishes

I am very impressed with the ethnic flavors, creativity, ease of preparation and overall healthiness of each recipe. But don't take my word for it, download a free copy of Erin Rogers 20 recipe ebook below under "Attachments", test out the recipes, and decide for yourself to invest in better health now!

Here are just a few of the delicious recipes:

Grilled Chicken with Sherry-Soy Sauce Marinade: Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cooking Time 16 minutes

Baked Asian Chicken: Prep time 5 minutes; Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Citrus-Marinated Flank Steak with Fruit Salsa: Prep time 10 minutes; Cooking Time 12 min.

Parmesan-Garlic Salmon: Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cooking Time 12 minutes

Spicy Cilantro-Lime Chicken: Prep Time 10 minutes; Cooking Time: 14 minutes

To download the free 20 meal version, click the link below under "Attachments". If you want the Healthy Express 101 Recipes version for $12.95, Click here.

Urban Homemaker

German Stollen

German Stollen

3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruits and peels
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup rum (optional)
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
Confectioners' Icing

Soak raisins, mixed fruits, and currants in 1/4 C. water (or rum). In large mixer bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Heat milk, butter, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt til warm (115-120°F), stirring constantly to melt butter. Add to dry mixture; add eggs, almond extract, and peels.
Mix thoroughly by hand or the dough hook of a heavy duty mixer. Stir in fruit-rum mixture, nuts, and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on floured surface til smooth (8-10 minutes), or in a mixer until the gluten is developed. Shape into ball. Place in greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise til double (about 1 1/4 hours). Punch down; divide in half.

Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half to 10X7-inch oval. Fold long side of oval over to within 1/2 inch of opposite side; seal edge. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover, let rise until double (about 45 minutes).( Breads made with lots of nuts and fruits will not rise as high as regular breads.) Bake at 375°F til done, about 15 to 20 minutes. While warm, glaze with Confectioners' Icing. Garnish with candied fruits, if desired. Makes 2 coffee cakes.

Confectioners' Sugar Icing: In small bowl, combine 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. Beat until smooth.


Urban Homemaker

Simple Wreath Making Instructions

Directions for Making a Wreath

             Step by Step Instructions
                    by Sandy Tuin

Materials Needed
Pine Wreath base - artificial or real
Pine cones (can spray gold or silver if desired), optional
Holiday picks with berries,  fruit, drums, silk poinsettia,  other seasonal items
Cinnamon Sticks - glue three together
Rose Hips

1.  Fluff wreath by bending stems up and out.

2. Make a hanger if there is not one on the wreath form already by
looping narrow wire in a small circle on the back of the wreath.

3.Make Bow  and attach.  You will need approximately 10 feet of ribbon for one bow. Wired ribbon
is the easiest to fluff up and arrange nicely.

4.  Arrange decorations as desired keeping in mind that the rule of thumb is an odd number of the same type of decoration such as 3, 5, 7, etc.

5.  I usually place decorations on the wreath and play with it until I find what I like.
Then, hot glue the items on the wreath.

6.  Optional:  Place small amount of filler such as baby's breath or other dried material
as desired.

TIP:  When placing the items in the wreath they will look better if you will place them down inside the branches, rather than just laying them on top.
Urban Homemaker
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