Frugal NationFrugal Nation

Friend owe you $50? Roommates 'forgot' to chip in for utilities? Deal with it electronically.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 2, 2012 5:03PM

Logo: Woman Paying the Bill (Fuse/Getty Images)Are you the guy who books the party bus and always ends up eating more than his share of the cost? Does your BFF frequently "forget" that you picked up the last three lunch tabs?

Technology can help keep the bank of best friends running smoothly. "Social bill pay" companies like PayDivvy and Splitwise track expenses both small and large.

A third company, Crowdtilt, lets groups fund shared goals as small as booking a skybox at the stadium or as large as renting Alcatraz Island for Halloween.

Yes, really: A group of 300 got together to rent "The Rock" at the end of October. Imagine trying to collect fees from 299 other people.


Spending shouldn't be too easy. Saying no not only improves the bottom line but makes the yes occasions that much better.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 1, 2012 4:34PM
Logo: CreditCard Tara Moore/Getty ImagesBack when I was a midlife college student paying off divorce-related debt, my default setting was "no."

No, I couldn't skip packing my lunch. No, I couldn't shop anywhere but the thrift store. No, I couldn't go to every new movie that came out, or even to most of them.

As my finances improved, the knee-jerk "no" morphed into "You can have it if you think it through." So how often does that translate to "yes"?  

When it comes to bills, think outside the payment envelope -- monthly college payments, for example, or a loan whose interest is paid in veggies.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 28, 2012 11:34AM
When it comes to bills, think outside the payment envelope.

Graduation cap (© Stephen Wisbauer/Getty Images)For example, how'd you like to pay for all your produce by "investing" in a small farm? Or to view your kid's college tuition as a series of monthly payments?  

Did you splurge on too many daily deals, or miss a deal you wanted? The secondary market can help.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 26, 2012 11:32AM
Logo: Close up of steak and salad Image Studios, UpperCut Images, Getty ImagesWish you hadn't bought quite so many mani-pedi Groupons, or that you'd eased up on the Living Social meal deals? The secondary market for social buying deals can help you unload your unwanted vouchers.

Sites like CoupFlipCoupRecoup and MyCabbage (formerly Deals Go Round) are also a buyer's market, i.e., a great way for procrastinators to snag deals they missed the first time around.

Many are resold at original face value. "People just want to get their money back," says CoupRecoup founder Aren Sandersen. But as time ticks on, you might see discounts -- and sometimes those discounts are deep
  • $40 worth of tapas for $1.71 (Chicago).
  • $55 worth of spray-tan sessions for $2.25 (Washington, D.C.).
  • $90 worth of waxing for $3.15 (Boston).

My upcoming move to Alaska made me face facts: I have more than I need. But how to let go?

By Donna_Freedman Sep 25, 2012 12:48PM
Logo: Unorganized items in garage image100, SuperStockLast spring I donated a ton of things to a rummage sale: housewares, three-ring binders, books, knickknacks, CDs, puzzles, a yoga mat, greeting cards, cookbooks, art prints and clothing.

At one time those things had all been important to me. Truth be told, some of them still were. But I'd decided it was time to let go, especially since I'd decided to move to Alaska within the year.

"Good thing I gave away so much," I thought. "It'll make packing a lot easier."

Then I took a look at what remained. For a self-avowed frugalist, I sure own a lot of stuff.  

Once you've met your own needs, why not join other people who use their coupon powers for good?

By Donna_Freedman Sep 24, 2012 11:41AM

Logo: Woman Grocery Shopping Fuse/Getty ImagesExperienced couponers know the satisfaction of getting food or household supplies free or nearly free. It's a great way to stretch available funds and maybe even free up money for long-term financial goals.

But some take it a step further: They use their coupon powers for good. Can you picture yourself as a coupon superhero? 


Save money and tame closet clutter with a 'wear everything challenge.'

By Donna_Freedman Sep 21, 2012 11:23AM
Logo: Businessman adjusting necktie Tom Merton, OJO Images, Getty ImagesHow's your wardrobe working? Somewhere between "I haven't got a thing to wear" and "I haven't got a single empty hanger yet I keep shopping" is a comfortable (and frugal) place to be.

Shopping trips and closet purges are not the way to get there. Not right away, anyhow. Try a "wear everything challenge" instead.  

Sometimes that old saying is dead wrong.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 20, 2012 11:57AM
An MSN Money editor receLogo: Price tag (Hill Street Studios / Blend Images/Getty Images)ntly heard someone say, "You get what you pay for." He wondered how I'd react to that phrase.

His first guess -- rolling eyes and derisive snorts -- was correct.  


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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.