Redefining Success: How Living in a Town of Entitled Families Fuels My Desire to Give My Kids a Better Work Ethic

Teaching kids life and work skills isn’t easy in this age of the enabling parent. I’m reading one new and excellent book, “Cleaning House:  A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement,” because I refuse to raise helpless and entitled kids.  Continue reading “Redefining Success: How Living in a Town of Entitled Families Fuels My Desire to Give My Kids a Better Work Ethic”

Tightwad Gazette books

5 Top Things I Learned About Frugality from Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette

The only things more dog-eared than my coupon envelopes are my Tightwad Gazettes I and II. There are so many pearls of wisdom on every page that each reading experience offers new insights and ideas. Amy Dacyczyn’s (pronounced ‘decision’) ideology has absolutely shaped our family’s life. Long ago when my husband read the Tightwad Gazette’s first book and wanted me to read it, I scoffed at the book–I worked in New York City at the time and my mind was a bit warped as I was exposed to great wealth…I was just not interested in frugality. Somewhere between leaving the working world of New York City and becoming a mom, I learned to love the Tightwad GazettesContinue reading “5 Top Things I Learned About Frugality from Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette”

Do Your Kids Think You’re Poor Because You’re Frugal?

Lexus Luxury Utility Vehicles
If you don't drive a luxury car in Fairfield, CT., your kid may think you're poor. Image via Wikipedia

Why is it that kids equate being frugal with being poor? Maybe it’s just the kids that live in affluent towns, like Fairfield, who think this way.

My 13-year-old daughter asked if we were poor last week just because I said “no” to her a few dozen times when she suddenly announced that she “needed” a new this and a new that. My 12-year-old son thinks people living in 5,000 square-foot homes must be “zillionaires” (uh, not always, dear child!). Why is it so difficult to teach children to equate being frugal with being financially at peace?

So, where did we go wrong? Since day one, we’ve taught our kids lesson after lesson about how bigger doesn’t always mean better, people who have so much “stuff” often have credit card debt, and on and on. Did they hear us? I’m concerned. It seems that every other day we have to have another “teaching moment” because some random kid at school says “my house is bigger than yours” or “we are going to pick-a-warm-state for vacation,” or “why don’t you have an insert-name-of-luxury-SUV?” On and on and on. It doesn’t seem to matter much to my kids (yet) that we outright own our cars. Maybe it’s time to make “The Millionaire Next Door” required summer vacation reading.

I remember a friend who lives in another more normalized part of Connecticut saying she’s lucky she doesn’t have to address these issues with her young son because no one where they live has the bigger-is-better syndrome. Listen, I love living in Fairfield thanks to the beach and the decent schooling, so perhaps I’m turning lemons into lemonade here; But could it be a good thing that we live in an affluent town where there are so many teachable moments? Maybe, just maybe, when my kids are older, some of our advice will have rubbed off on them and they will think twice about the futility of keeping up appearances while the kids who live in towns with normal-sized homes will become adults who stand in awe of 5,000-square-foot houses. Time will only tell…

~Marilyn from TFF


The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook – Book Review




The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook, by Erin Chase, gets a huge thumbs-up! 

What We Like:

-The frugal tips on each recipe page. 

-The easy and delicious recipes. 

-The cost per use for each ingredient (pretty much on target—but see below under “Caution”). 

-The tutorial for setting up a coupon binder (what a difference it makes for coupon. clippers—you can actually see what you have and when each coupon expires!). 

-The excellent recipe for oven French fries—kids absolutely love the taste. 

-Great overview on how to use coupons the right way. 

-Her down-to-earth and easy-to-read writing. 


-It’s a small issue—but author Erin Chase lives in Dayton, Ohio, where food prices are lower than they are in Fairfield, CT

Teri Gault’s Shop Smart, Save More Book Review

Teri Gault's book
Teri's book spurred me to start saving $200 a month in groceries.


A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my friend, Aimee, who said that one of her friends went crazy over Teri Gault’s Shop Smart, Save More book. Her friend said she saved $66 off of her grocery bill in one week. Of course, I ran right out to get the book from the library. As I skimmed it at first, I didn’t find much in the way of new information, but I liked reading letters from her fans. It made me go to her website,, where I signed up for a free trail run to get pre-organized lists of groceries that match up with existing coupons. Hey, I’d like to save $500 a month on groceries like her readers say they do! But–really now… 

Keep reading…because there is a positive outcome and there are positive comments on Teri’s book…  

So…I signed up for a trial run, and downloaded a couple of lists (Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, and CVS), saw that most of the lists included things I don’t ever want to buy regardless of the savings, and saw that I had last week’s lists and couldn’t figure out how to get updated lists. Sigh… 

Keep reading… 

I don’t really need the lists, and I don’t want to pay for a service that I basically already do on my own (match coupons to circulars, scour store for unadvertised sales, etc.). So, I ended my 12-hour old trial membership. 

What happened, though….? I was so envious of those letters about how much readers saved, I decided to round up my receipts and see where I am with my food shopping budget. I have not kept great track of things for a while. Lo-and-behold, my husband and I tallied up that since the beginning of January 2010, we’ve been spending $150 a week on groceries! And I considered myself a good shopper! That was just unacceptable so I decided we can and will make it on $75 a week, even in expensive Fairfield, Connecticut! Even though food prices have doubled and more!  

Teri’s book made me get hold of my grocery budget once again, I’m happy to say. And, I’m happy to say that it is Tuesday, and we have a full pantry and fridge and I’ve only spent $52.50 of my $75.00 budget that I have given myself each week (my week corresponds to store circulars, or, from Friday to Thursday is one week for me). If I hold true to this figure, I’ll save over $200 a month–not bad. I know that I’ll most likely spend some of my leftover budget from this week on stockpiled items ($1 bags of pretzels at Shaw’s, for example).  

So, even though I cancelled my membership, I am still ever so grateful to Teri. Plus, I read through her recipes last night–they look wonderful (a simple dinner of biscuits and bacon sounds great, and one that my kids will just love…for pennies). 

I’ll report back if I actually save my $200 in February!

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook–Book Review

Any book with the word “frugal” in its title gets my attention, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to find The Frugal Foodie Cookbook by Alanna Kaufman and Alex Small. But I didn’t read the fine print–or the subtitle before grabbing it off of my library’s shelf–it’s a cookbook with gourmet recipes for any budget. Gourmet is the key word–with some main dish seafood recipes costing up to $6.75. (I know…fish is not the most frugal of foods– I was hoping to find a seafood recipe, fit for my kids other than fish sticks, that would cost total $6.75!) 

I have two young kids who are not into gourmet foods–still lingering a bit in the chicken nugget and taco phase! So, unfortunately, this isn’t quite the book for me….or for anyone with young kids. The authors live in New York City, and that’s a whole different world of “frugality” from Fairfield, CT. Though I don’t think my kids would get a kick out of Apricot Brandy Baked French Toast, they do love French Toast–and I’d love to see a recipe for a few pennies a serving.  However, there are definitely two recipes I’m aiming to try two family friendly recipes I found in the book: Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges ($1.50 a serving) and Banana-Chocolate Muffins ($.85 a serving). Sounds delicious! There is a recipe called Luckiest Muffins–but it’s made with Lucky Charms and I don’t think I’d feed that to my kids. 

What I like about the book: each recipe has a price per serving–to be fair, the prices per serving average in the $2 to $3 range. 

What I dislike about the book: not the most family friendly bunch of recipes with higher than hoped for cost-per-servings. 

Good tip in book: there are “ten Frugal Foodie Tips” — one–freezing herbs in ice cubes instead of letting them go bad in the fridge! Great advice! 

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook--gourmet recipes good for empty-nesters and child-free families.