Frugal NationFrugal Nation

Even a small patch can reduce your grocery costs significantly. It's also a delicious hobby.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 23, 2012 11:24AM

Image: Peppers (© imageDJ/Jupiterimages)April is National Garden Month --  and not just for rose growers and lawn fanatics, either. As the National Gardening Association points out, gardening can also be "about good food."

It's also about saving money. For example, this video  notes that a packet of mixed lettuce seeds costing less than $4 will provide a month's worth of salads for your family.

Think your kids won't eat lettuce? Introduce them to "finger salads."


You don't have to break the bank for beautiful bouquets. Use these ideas to create a lovely ceremony and reception.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 20, 2012 2:02PM
Image: Bridesmaids (© FEV Create Inc/Getty Images/Getty Images)Planning a wedding? Get ready to drop a couple of thousand on pretty things. According to The Knot, a wedding website, the average bridal couple drops $1,988 on flowers and décor.

But a little imagination and creativity lets you cut costs without sacrificing effect.  

Just in time for Earth Day, here are some money-saving moves that are also eco-friendly.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 19, 2012 5:35PM
Image: Money in Piggy Bank (© Flame/Corbis)Do you pour laundry soap right up to the line on the cap? Fill both detergent cups in the dishwasher? Cover your toothbrush with toothpaste, then let the water run while you brush your teeth? Wash your hair every day?

You don't have to do those things. Really.

At the risk of sounding like a Ziploc bag washer, let me point out that small changes can add up to big savings. Since they also have an environmental impact, why not tweak a few habits in honor of Earth Day? (It's April 22 this year.)  

Instant gratification is a real budget wrecker. These strategies can help.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 18, 2012 10:12AM

Image: Sale sign in shop window © Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto Agency RF/Getty ImagesSee it. Want it! Buy it.


Every day we're barraged with tantalizing ads, limited-time deals and one-click shopping opportunities. It's far too easy to buy -- and impulse spending can wreck your budget.

I'm not immune. Recently I saw a deal of 1,800 rhinestones for $2.84 including shipping. The deal was so ludicrous that it made me laugh.

It also made me buy. See how easy it can be?


A community-supported-agriculture subscription brings the fields to your table. Bonus: You'll be supporting a small farm.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 17, 2012 6:42PM

Image: Groceries (© Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images/Getty Images)Want the freshest produce possible without the bother of digging and delving? Sign up for a community-supported-agriculture program. It's like having a garden, except that you don't have to weed or pick slugs off the lettuce.

You'll be supporting a small farm, maybe even an organic one, with your subscription. In addition to all that good karma, you'll get a box each week that's filled with delicious things to eat, some of which you might even recognize. (More on that in a minute.)


A frugal person spends money in the smartest ways possible, while a cheapskate risks damage to health, possessions or reputation just to save a few dollars.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 16, 2012 3:30PM
Image: Piggy bank (© Corbis)At times I've been called cheap. I'm not. I'm frugal.

Cheapness is clinging to every cent. Frugality is spending money in the smartest possible ways.

Cheap behavior harms your qualify of life. Frugal behavior helps you build a better life.  

Save 50% -- and improve quality -- with a simple frugal tactic.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 13, 2012 3:09PM
Image: Coffee (© HD Connelly/Getty Images/Getty Images)I'm not a fan of coffee even though I live in Seattle, a city where java is a fetish. Thus I don't know how much it costs either per cup or per pound. I do hear complaints about the price, though, which is why I'm delighted to share this frugal tip.

Buying green coffee beans and roasting them at home is surprisingly simple, and unroasted beans are about half the price.

The savings, though considerable, aren't the only reason to do this.  

Missed a payment? Got dinged with an overdraft fee? It happens. Get over it.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 12, 2012 2:08PM
Image: A man holding a check book (© Image Source/Getty Images)Personal-finance blogger J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly was surprised by a $75 late-rent fee. He knew he'd written the check and could have sworn he'd taken it along when he dropped in at the building manager's office.

Besides, he couldn't find the check anywhere. So he must have paid the rent, right?  


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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.