Smart SpendingSmart Spending

How long can you make that flattened toothpaste tube last?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 2:09AM

A Smart Spending message board reader reports that "empty" doesn't always mean "empty." Posting on a thread about general frugality tips, "Canoes" told about cutting open a depleted tube of lotion and scraping out up to an extra week's worth of product.

Boy, am I glad I'm not the only one who does this. 


Focus on 'experiences' rather than unwanted items.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 2:03AM

This post comes from Abigail Perry, who blogs at I Pick Up Pennies

The holidays mean joy and giving -- and garbage. 

This isn't social commentary on commercialism -- I literally mean garbage. Think about the post-Christmas morning battlefield that was once your living-room floor: ripped, shredded wrapping paper and ribbon and toy boxes, waiting to be thrown in the trash. 

Add to that all those "they meant well" gifts, and you have, well, waste. Household garbage levels increase 25 percent in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to this MSNBC article


Resist the temptation to hit a drive-through.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:59AM

School's back in session and retailers are trying to sell us items like breakfast cookies and individual bowls of cereal. Convenient, maybe, but also fairly pricey -- and would you really trust a 7-year-old with a bowl of cereal and milk in a moving car? 

Besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day for all ages. Over on the Smart Spending message board, some readers offer grownup strategies beyond granola bites and fast-food drive-throughs. 


Your time might be more valuable than your money.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:52AM

The less you earn, the more you’re likely to give away. People who earn $20,000 or less per year donate more (relative to their income) than higher earners. 

Or so Arthur Brooks reports in his book about American benevolence, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."

Charity appears to benefit the givers as well. An article from the Christian Science Monitor noted that “greater charity tends to push up income."


Here's an idea: Split lunch duty with a co-worker.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:45AM

Get tired of bringing your lunch every day? Smart Spending message board reader "toucan77" has a solution: Split lunch duty with someone else.

This reader and a co-worker take alternate days bringing in lunch for two. According to toucan77's suggestion, posted on a thread about general frugality, this takes almost no extra work and it provides several very nice benefits. 

Just as having an exercise buddy gets you to the gym on time, having a lunch partner keeps participants away from the Dollar Menu -- you wouldn't leave the other person high and dry by not bringing lunch, would you?


Reader nixed phone fee 10 years ago and is now $600 richer.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:41AM

Recently, a Smart Spending message board reader posted a plaintively titled thread, "Can anyone list all of the proven ways of saving money? Not about cups of coffee or restaurants." 

If anyone could do that, he'd publish it in book form and retire early, and rich. Besides, cutting back on restaurant meals and coffee away from home are proven ways of saving money. And small changes can mean big savings, noted a reader posting as "Great Arm."

In her case, $600 worth and counting. 


Make fun of me if you want, but I reuse my plastic bags.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:38AM

I have a long history of saving plastic bags for reuse. Lately I've even been saving the bags from those 16-ounce frozen vegetables. I wasn't sure how I'd use them, but figured something would suggest itself.

It did. 

Last week I found ground beef for 99 cents a pound. After making a meatloaf with half the package, I turned the rest into hamburger patties for the freezer. As it turns out, half a plastic vegetable bag is the perfect size to wrap a hamburger.  

They may not look pretty, but slow-cooker meals provide cheap and filling fuel.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:33AM

Crunch time: Exams are approaching, two final projects are due, and I am still fairly shaky on certain fine points of Spanish grammar. 

That's why on Saturday I filled the slow cooker with great northern beans, ham scraps, chopped onion and grated carrot. I stirred up a pan of cornbread and settled down to read Hélène Cixous. By midafternoon, I had five or six nights' worth of dinners in the fridge.

I refer to this as "one-pot glop" nutrition. Some days you don't have time to wonder what you'll fix for supper. Leftovers rule, and one-pot leftovers reign supreme. 



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