Frugal NationFrugal Nation

'Breakfast for dinner' means cheaper grub and easier prep.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 19, 2012 11:12AM
Logo: Parents and children eating at table Maria Teijeiro, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesKris, who blogs at Cheap Healthy Good, lists several compelling reasons to serve breakfast for dinner:
  • Morning chow doesn't cost much.
  • It's probably healthier than any fast food you might grab.
  • Best of all, you feel like you're getting away with something.

"You feel a little naughty -- like you're doing something you're not supposed to. Like you're going against the natural progression of your day. Like you're flipping (off) time, space and convention," she writes in this 2009 post.


"That may sound like a lot of responsibility to assign a piece of toast, but I assure you, it's all true." 


A new survey indicates we've spent nearly $6 billion on repairs and replacements to damaged iPhones. And the device is 10 times more likely to be accidentally damaged than lost or stolen.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 18, 2012 1:42PM
Logo: Businessman in car with smartphone Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesAre you one of those people who has to upgrade with every iPhone iteration? Let me give you two pieces of advice: 
  • The iPhone 5 is probably just as hard to hold on to as its predecessors.
  • IPhones can't swim.
Impact and water are the top dangers to iPhones, according to a new survey from the consumer electronics warranty company SquareTrade. And it's costing users a pretty penny.

Think "billions."  

Get together with like-minded savers and trade the Qs you can't use. Here's how to start your own clipping co-op.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 17, 2012 12:47PM
Logo: Coupon (Photodisc Green/Getty Images)It isn't just the chance to get extra grocery coupons that makes an E.C. Couponistas meeting so satisfying. The camaraderie is just as valuable.

Fellow frugalists don't tease them about their clipping habits, the way family and friends do. Other club members don't sigh and roll their eyes the way some cashiers do upon glimpsing a coupon folder.

"It's a supportive place to be frugal," says founding member Rochelle H., who lives in the San Diego area.

Starting your own clipping cooperative can save you money in two ways:  

Math skills don't mean much if you're not self-aware.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 14, 2012 12:20PM
Image: Pie Chart (© Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Recently the Daily Worth personal finance website posed a question to its readers: "Which basic money skill do you think is the most important?"

My immediate answer: awareness.   

Fitness centers affiliated with medical centers are clean and state of the art, and they might be cheaper than regular gyms.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 13, 2012 12:05PM

Image: Woman on rowing machine (© Jupiterimages/Brand X/Getty Images)Need to get in shape? Beware of the hard-sell health clubs that try to get you to commit to a multiyear contract. Look for a gym that lets you pay by the month or by the quarter, and shop around for the best price.

One option you might not have considered: hospital-affiliated fitness centers -- and not because doctors are nearby if you give yourself a hernia while lifting weights.


Step 1: Look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Step 2: Get creative

By Donna_Freedman Sep 12, 2012 2:08PM
Image: Home kitchen (© Don Farrall/Photodisc/Getty Images)For months I've concentrated on using up my stockpiled grocery bargains. This has had two results, both swell:
  • Far fewer out-of-pocket food expenses -- I've had to buy only milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • A major clear-out of cupboards, fridge and freezer -- important, because in two weeks I'm moving to Alaska.
Your own reason for doing a "pantry challenge" may vary. But the result is the same.  

'Sized right for flight' shampoos and toothpastes are pretty pricey. These tactics cut the cost of travel toiletries.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 11, 2012 1:01PM

Image: Man pulling suitcase in airport © Keith Brofsky/UpperCut Images/Getty ImagesWhat used to be called "trial size" toiletries are now marketed as "travel size" or "sized right for flight" in department and drug stores. They seem like a good idea -- until you do the math and realize you're paying $1.44 an ounce for toothpaste.

A quick look at shows that an 8.2-ounce of Colgate goes for about 39 cents an ounce. Thanks to manufacturer coupons, it's been years since I paid more than 50 cents for a big tube of toothpaste -- and I often get it for free.

Travel-sized toothpaste bugs me. You can pay big bucks for this small product -- or you could just refill the little tube, a 15-second process described in "Refilling a toothpaste tube for fun and convenience" on the Five Cent Nickel blog.

You can refill quite a few other items, too.


Need your carpets cleaned, your teeth X-rayed, your roof gutters cleaned out? Look for a coupon.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 10, 2012 1:22PM
Image: Money (© Corbis)Don't have dental insurance but need an exam? Eyeglass prescription a couple years out of date? Worried about your dog's health, your dirty carpets or the state of your roof gutters?

Get a coupon.

Coupons aren't just for groceries. Significant discounts can be had for carpet cleaning, veterinary care, eye exams and glasses, auto work, dental exams and other potentially expensive essentials.

Where do you find a coupon for something like that?  


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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.