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Clearing dust and clutter brings a fresh new feeling of possibility to your home. Why not give the same attention to your money habits?

By Donna_Freedman Mar 14, 2013 12:30PM
Logo: Assorted Cleaning Products Without Labels (Ocean/Corbis)The idea that spring is a good time to focus on frugality makes sense to me. After a long, hard winter we see signs of hope around us: longer days, more budding trees, hints of green on sodden brown lawns, a sense of possibility.

And spring cleaning, of course. An all-out assault on your living quarters clears away dust and staleness. The new freshness brings vitality and energy, and a feeling that things will be different from now on.

So why not apply the same attention to personal finance?

Whether you need to dig yourself out of a financial hole or just want to embrace a more intentional lifestyle, the spring-cleaning approach is a great way to get started.   

Volunteer pilots offer rides to those aged 8 to 17. Also free this week: a speech translator app, Atkins Diet bars and 'The Walking Dead: Assault' game.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 13, 2013 11:17AM

Portrait of Little Girl (Radius Images, Radius Images, Getty Images)Want to surprise the child in your life? Send him aloft on a small-plane ride for free, courtesy of the Young Eagles program.

Young Eagles is a project of the Experimental Aircraft Association. But don't worry: Your small fry won't take to the sky in a craft made of balsa wood and duct tape.


"Experimental" is what the Federal Aviation Administration calls planes built by individuals rather than in factories.

The Young Eagles website notes that these planes have been "inspected and certified airworthy by the FAA." Well, that's a relief.


That's a 5.2% price hike over last year, which may mean increased confidence in the economy. But do we need to spend so much?

By Donna_Freedman Mar 12, 2013 11:24AM
Logo: Wedding ring (Jamie Grill/Photolibrary/Photolibrary)It doesn't have to cost a lot to get married, but we sure do like spending money on weddings.

According to's annual "Real Weddings Study," the average couple spent $28,427 to get hitched in 2012.

This amount does not include the cost of a honeymoon, by the way.

That's a 5.2% increase from the previous year, which isn't surprising: The cost of just about everything has gone up.

But site co-founder Carley Roney thinks there's another reason.  

Exhausted people aren't frugal people. Here's why a little extra sleep can pay off.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 11, 2013 11:14AM

Logo: Woman asleep (Tom Grill/Corbis)Feeling a little groggy today? Join the club. Daylight saving time kicks a bunch of us right in the head every year. That's why National Napping Day was invented in 1999 by Dr. William Anthony, then a professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The Monday after the time switch was an obvious choice because "Americans are more 'nap-ready' than usual after losing an hour of sleep," according to BU archives.

To celebrate, I took a nap on Sunday. It lasted maybe half an hour and it worked just as well as the ones that kept me going while I obtained a university degree in my late 40s.

The long bus commute, classes, homework, studying, and my MSN Money job plus an apartment house managing gig left me perpetually exhausted. Whenever possible I'd factor in a 20- to 40-minute nap. These short snoozes kept me going long enough to graduate. They kept me frugal, too.

What's the connection?


A new study says the average family has $1,318 worth of saleable children's gear -- and resale has never been easier. Some parents even turn a profit.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 8, 2013 2:07PM

Logo: Baby with money (Creatas, Photolibrary)That adorable dress Grandma sent was worn exactly once. Or maybe your little buckaroo outgrew his stylin' cowboy boots before he could break them in properly. 


A new study from the children's clothing resale site thredUP says that the average family has has $1,318 worth of saleable children's wear.

Reselling has never been easier. Children's consignment stores, eBay, community resale events, Facebook groups and online companies like thredUP, Moxie Jean and Seams Karmic make it possible to turn outgrown clothing and gear into cash money. 

At times those new-to-you outfits are new, period. Ashley Nuzzo, who blogs at Frugal Coupon Living, buys from as well as sells to thredUP; plenty of her purchases show up with department-store tags still attached.


You know those people who can afford to travel, to pay cash for their cars and to buy homes? Not all of them are wealthy.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 7, 2013 11:51AM

Logo: Portrait of a young woman, finger on lips (Pascal Broze, ONOKY, Getty Images) You hear a lot of gripes about the lack of willpower among 20-somethings. How they can't control their spending. How they shop recreationally and constantly. How they're up to their hairlines in student debt but still go out to eat every night. Most of all, how they gripe about being broke -- while sitting in coffeehouses texting friends from 5G phones.

It's not often that you hear it from a 20-something, however.

In this post on Budgets Are Sexy, blogger J. Money shares an e-mail rant from his friend Tiffany A., who's gotten some attitude from co-workers about her love of travel.


"Oh, you are so lucky -- you must be rich," they say.

Tiffany doesn't see it that way. Here's an excerpt from her self-described "rant":

"What frustrates me most about people my age is that they spend their money frivolously on stuff that doesn't really matter in the end. In my opinion, if you do that -- then it's your own fault you don't have more money!


This week you can get baby formula, specialty tea or a $5 Starbucks card. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are up for grabs, too.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 6, 2013 11:47AM

Logo: A Starbucks Corp. sign is displayed outside a coffee shop in London, U.K. / Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesMarch is here, and plenty of us would like to think that means "spring." But it ain't necessarily so -- just ask anyone who lives in the Midwest or on the East Coast, where so-called "heart attack snow" has been falling. And falling.

The folks who sell shovels and hot drinks are rejoicing. Those who have to do the shoveling? Not so much.

But here are a couple of chances to get free hot drinks. They won't make the snow go away, but they'll provide a little warmth and comfort.

And savings: The money you don't spend on coffee or tea can be put toward the ibuprofen you might need after clearing off your front steps.

The Teavana chain routinely offers tasty samples of whatever specialty teas are brewing that day. But over on the Free Stuff forum, a deal hound named "Bluefw" posted this printable coupon good for a free 16-ounce cup of Teavana's featured brews. Use it before March 31 at participating locations.

If you haven't joined the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, here's a little incentive: Join and register your loyalty card and you'll get $5 in coffeehouse credit. Jen at says this offer expires March 14.

All this talk of free coffee and tea might make you think of doughnuts. You might not have to pay for those, either.


The cookie sale is the most visible youth fundraiser, but kids sell stuff all year. What if you can't afford to buy, or disagree on principle?

By Donna_Freedman Mar 5, 2013 1:06PM
Logo: Boy holding allowance money (Bryan Mullennix/Photodisc/Getty Images)A gaggle of cute little girls had set up shop inside the supermarket on Sunday. One of them planted herself in my path as I walked toward the produce section.

"Cookies?" she said, smiling winsomely.

"Not today, thanks," I said. "Good luck with your sale."

Her adorable face fell. Maybe it was her first "no" of the day. Or ever: Could be that no one else in the world has been able to resist that smile.

Although not completely immune (more on that below), I generally have a hard time with youth fundraisers. But not as hard a time as Kristen Daukas, who posted a pixel-blistering rant at BlogHer called "If you don't buy from my kid, I won't buy from yours."  


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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.