Mar 26

A couple weeks back, in a roundup, I referenced Jim Wang’s Devil’s advocate: Being frugal is foolish. I pointed out to Jim that one can’t always turn their next hour of labor into money, that for many, this was a quick way to save cash. His reply, “but the risk of focusing too much on frugality, especially after the low hanging fruit, is that you start chasing savings that are mere pennies when you could be earning dollars (or at least trying to improve your skills so you can earn more dollars)” left me thinking. And reconsidering some of my view.

Maybe what struck me most after I re-read his post was the concept that there’s no limit to one’s income, yet frugality not only has a limit, but it can reach a point of diminishing return as you find the easy savings first, and may wind up putting in incrementally more effort to save even less. I think for those with a frugal mindset, it’s tough to break some habits and maybe there’s no need to. When the TP, laundry soap, canned soup is on sale for half price, I’m always going to stuff a closet with it. Yet, if my income isn’t high enough for my lifestyle, there’s a more fundamental change needed, I either need to Stop Acting Rich, or improve my situation by increasing my skills and earning power.

If you are still looking to carve some money out of your budget, read Tom Drake’s 10 Money Saving Tips. A good read to help you find some places to save.


written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Sep 18

The eBay edition.

When looking for ways to save, one thing to consider is purchasing on eBay. If you don’t already have an account, you can still search on the site to see the kind of savings you might find. Of course, you need to first be aware of the true value of the item and the price you are willing to pay. Don’t get caught up in the auction frenzy that has some items I’ve seen selling for above retail, that’s just crazy.

Let me share with you two recent purchases we made on eBay whose purchases I consider frugal.


Pioneer Stereo VSX-305. Won for $51 (+$20 shipping). We have two stereos in our house one on first floor, one upstairs. The first floor one is this exact model, which is about 12 years old, new it was $250, if I recall correctly. The second floor one just gave up the ghost after 25 years, (!) I had it while in college so I know it lasted. I thought I might find the VSX-305 on eBay and sure enough, there were a number of auctions in progress as well as history. The great thing with the eBay system is that you can view completed auctions, seeing the sale price and using that information to decide how much you wish to bid. You’ll be surprised to find some auctions getting bid up by new users who seem to not understand the value of some items, and some items going for far less than they should. To me, this was a fair price, and while we would have waited a while, we enjoy our music.


Next, we wanted a “family computer” that our daughter could use for schoolwork, loading her iPod, etc. Being a Mac fan, and still using a late model Mac as my own computer, I started the eBay search. The Mac I bought was a Dual 1.25 GHz model, introduced in Aug 2002 at just over $3000, I was able to pay just $175 plus about $40 shipping. This will run the Mac OS ‘Leopard’ but not the Snow Leopard just introduced, as SL requires an Intel chip, this Mac is the last Motorola PPC machine Apple made. It can handle video editing, and is happy to run software that lets it transfer to/from the TiVo with no complications. (I’m sure PCs are available at similar savings, I just happen to prefer the Mac for my home computing.)

This is a brief example of my eBay success, check it out for books, clothing, any item you know exactly what you are looking for and the price that makes sense to you.

Enjoy the weekend,

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Aug 30

Mike at Gather Little by Little posted 7 Quick Numbers To Fix Your Personal Financial Situation a list of 7 rules of thumb regarding your finances. They included my favorite, the Rule of 72, as well as some I might disagree with, such as the 100 minus your age should be your stock percentage in your portfolio.

MSN money blog’s article Frugal or dishonest? You decide referenced stories from my fellow PF bloggers, Penelope Pince, FMF, and Smithee. A combination of MSN struggling a bit to come up with new material, and the blogging world’s quality really improving. A good selection of frugality gone too far.

John Chevreau discussed Jim Otar’s book Unveiling the Retirement Myth. In his soon to published book, Jim warns that most baby boomers have not saved enough for retirement and fall into the “red zone.” He feels that the concepts we take for granted, asset allocation, frequent rebalancing, asset dedication, diversification and the notion of stocks for the long run are all myths and need rethinking. A video interview with the author appears on the site as well.

Wise Bread offers Save Money: Take the Boring Challenge, a brief list of frugal ways to save that may get a bit, well, boring. I don’t find the list there boring enough. The suggestion to drop the Starbucks habit and make your own coffee? I’ve been doing that for years. Take a look, and see what ideas you can use to start saving.

Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door, a classic, has his own blog, and posts some very interesting articles. His recent Average Rich or Median Poor? offers us two data points, an average net household worth of $434,782, and a median net worth of $91,304. Median is the halfway point, half of families have more, half less. This disparity points toward a growing concentration of wealth. On average we may be a rich country, but the average person isn’t wealthy. An article that gets you thinking about how the numbers are offered to us and what happens when you a bit more closely.

Thank you, fellow bloggers for some good reading this week.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , , , , ,

Aug 16

The Bag Lady asks “Why not promote new home sales by burning down old homes?” Why not, indeed. She gives a decent explanation of how misguided the Cash For Clunkers Program really is, and her suggestion, while sarcastic, is a great analogy to what the government is having us do with our cars.

Christian PF asks “Will Social Security be around when you retire?” A post that gets you thinking whether or not you really want to count on Social Security as part of your retirement plan. I agree with his conclusion, “Plan for your retirement like Social Security will not exist. If it is still around, then you will have a nice little bonus.”

Financial Fizzle offers a great list (if you haven’t noticed by now, I love the lists) of “55 Ways to Simplify Your Finances.” A very neat list, it contains a combination of things to do to save time, money, or both. As someone who looks for and posts on frugal ideas, this list contains some gems, many of which hadn’t occurred to me.

Kevin Mercadante of Out of Your Rut guest posted on five cent nickel “Can We Take Frugality Too Far?” He takes a good look at the darker side of frugality, how it can slip into being cheap (as when one tips only 5%) or downright theft (taking a purseful of sugar packs from a restaurant). There’s also a time/money tradeoff that any of us who try to save need to acknowledge. Spend enough time shopping for a bargain and you’ve possibly traded an hour of your life for a dollar or two in savings. Good observations raised here.

Baker at Man vs Debt tells us the “Top 16 Pieces of Your Information Identity Thieves Crave.” A not so obvious list of the data we need to learn to better protect, and a great follow on to his “33 Ways To Thwart Identity Theft.” Nice posts on a subject we need to not overlook.

I’ve tried to share with my readers the best five blog posts I read the prior week, and I was going to quit here, but then Baker, guest posting at Get Rich Slowly wrote “The ‘Do-I-Have-Enough-For-This?’ Effect” which sparked my interest. A new spin on an old topic, Baker dives into the nature of spending, and concludes that for him, eliminating credit cards completely was a good path toward his goals.

An excellent week’s reading here.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Aug 02

Fiscal Geek made a Homemade Air Conditioner. Both frugal and practical, it came out of the combination of a heat wave and empty shelves at Home Depot where the air conditioners belong.

Still on the subject of Frugality, Moolanomy posted a list of Best Free Essential Software For Windows. On the list, gets my vote for best of the best. This open source (not to be confused with anything illegal or pirated) software is a Microsoft Office look alike, and works on Macs and Linux based computers as well.

Saving for Serenity takes a look at the Serenity Prayer (You know it – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference) and offers a clever spin on the things he can and can’t change in his live regarding finances. I found his post to be more profound than perhaps he even realized, but that’s great. I hope he reads it again in a few weeks gives himself some credit.

Fiscal Geek was on a roll this week, (or maybe I need to get out more) his Debt Bait: 10 Methods to Credit Servitude was great reading, talking about the pitfalls of debt and the many ways to go down that path. I must admit, the first item on the list discussed the “Perk” cards, air miles, rebates, etc, hit a nerve with me. I agree with his conclusion that the banks are betting against me, and I maintain they will lose. But just like Dave Ramsey is speaking to a certain audience, I’ll read that first list item as “in any large enough group of people, most will lose this game, few will come ahead.” To add to his point, I came across a 2007 post on Poorer Than You, Do We Spend More When We Swipe Plastic? and the author, Stephanie concludes the answer is yes.

JD at Get Rich Slowly writes about “What We Wish We Knew When We Were Younger.” I have to give this more thought to come up with my own answers, but a post like this does get you thinking.

I wish you some good reading this coming week.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,