Marilyn’s Go-To Money Resources

Some of my favorite personal finance and budget resources.

Welcome to my Frugal Favorites and Go-To Personal Financial/Money Resources Page!

Believe it or not, frugal living is a relatively new concept for me. Who actually introduced me to frugality? My husband, Steve! He grew up in a very frugal New England household, unlike myself (who grew up in a household that was always struggling with lack of money, relied on living cheap, but never caught on to the concept of frugality). Steve was the one that introduced me to The Tightwad Gazette books, cooking from scratch, watching our budget, shopping smart, using coupons, DIY projects and more. Luckily I was a quick student and caught on fairly quickly, and found frugality especially essential once I became a mom who freelanced from home.

So…how do I define frugality? First of all, it is not being cheap. It is not deprivation. Frugality is a way of life defined by quality, value and dignified restraint.

Cheap, to me, is a way of life defined by mediocrity, meaninglessness and unnecessary over-indulgence. A step further, I define frugality as a framework in which I feel free to wisely choose where I allocate my money so that I can feel free to enjoy my life in the best way possible. (Except I feel like we allocate too much of our money to certain unavoidable expenses, such as a new water heater, new car tires, and all that other jazz we need to live!) Aimee likes to call me the 21st Century Tightwad (sort of a modern-day Amy Dacyczyn of Tightwad Gazette fame).

Here’s how our family of four lives in this framework of frugality–we reduce our output so we can enjoy the luxury of our choice (our boat and slip). We try to watch where our money goes–sometimes we are surprised and wonder “where did that money go, we just deposited it!?” But, for the most part, we know one of the ways we make it work here on the Gold Coast of Connecticut is by increasing our income while reducing our expenses–definitely not always an easy feat in Fairfield County, CT! Here’s how we reduce our costs:

  • taking our own garbage to the dump
  • eating at home 98% of the time
  • kids take home lunches to school instead of buying hot lunches
  • Steve takes leftovers to work for lunch instead of ordering out
  • cutting down on cable (and soon cutting cable all together!)
  • cooking from scratch most of the time and that means using up leftovers!
  • making due with older technology and not indulging in whatever is trendy
  • shopping second-hand and/or carefully for quality
  • reusing what we already have
  • making our own cleaners (most of the time)
  • making our clothing budget s-t-r-e-t-c-h!
  • shopping carefully for groceries without indulging in too many coupons
  • owning our cars outright (no leases or fancy cars)
  • intentionally buying and staying in a small house and learning to use and love every square inch of it
  • wearing out what we have before buying more
  • saving up to buy something large
  • instilling work ethic in our kids so they want to earn their own money instead of relying on us for dough
  • vacationing on our boat during the summer instead of traveling (every weekend in the summer is vacation time for us but we’re lucky we live near the beach)

A few of my guiding quotes:

“Live like no one else now so later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

“…understand that the tightwad’s life is not only about spending less…it’s about spending in a way that reflects your values…” Amy Dacyczyn

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” Jerry Rice (football player)

“Are you interested or committed? If you are interested, you’ll do what’s convenient. If you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.” John Assaraf

More Frugal Quotes I Swear By

  • “Act your wage.” Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert and author
  • “Less is more.” Mies van der Rohe, architect
  • “Readers frequently send me sales slips to demonstrate how much they save using coupons. With bold sweeps of colored markers, they circle the figure that shows how much the coupons used added up to. They are circling the wrong figure. The most important figure of your receipt is how much you spent on groceries, not how much you saved using coupons.” Amy Dacyczyn, Tightwad Gazette
  • “Frugality without creativity is deprivation.” Amy Dacyczyn, Tightwad Gazette
  • “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “If you really want to get out of debt, you’ve gotta get MAD. You’ve gotta get wired up and fired up. You’ve gotta sell so much stuff, the kids think they’re next.” Dave Ramsey
  • “Trying to get through life without a budget is like trying to drive a car with no steering wheel.” Gail Vaz-Oxlade, author, host of Till Debt Do Us Part and Princess
  • A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey

More about this Frugal Fairfielder…

Budgeting Tips I Follow (always in progress):

Shopping Tips:

  • Read the grocery circulars!!
  • Always review your grocery receipt for mistakes and valuable coupons/messages.

…and more tips…

  • Before cutting back on cable, I would religiously watch Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s “Till Debt Do Us Part” and “Princess” on CNBC (Saturday eve) to learn Gail’s cash-only tips. Gail is no-nonsense and I love her cash-only and other advice.
  • Here is Gail’s excellent budget worksheet that you can do online. Click here for the site.
  • Click here to have access to the three simple budgeting sheets I use every day.
  • I would also watch Suze Orman, of course — but sometimes I needed a break from the show, though. My least favorite segment is “Can I Afford This?” Silly stuff–you know people won’t listen and will just go out and buy the stuff anyhow. I prefer her one-on-one segments and educational segments.
  • Master the Art of Saving, a fun blog where you can see what this couple spends money on each week with their “Where Did the Dough Go?” series. It’s heartening to see that you are not the only one spending $10 on a Subway treat!

The Three Top Books I Turn To When I Need Serious Frugal Inspiration!

The Two Couponing Tips & Sites I Live By (I have uber-edited this list that was once quite large. I don’t coupon all that much anymore so I have whittled it down to two sites.)

  • – not always accurate, but I check frequently, love the forums, too.
  • -I check here for high value coupons before shopping.

and finally…

I’m a Frugal Entrepreneur Working in a Frugal Home Office

Though many may think I sit at home and blog all day, I actually work from home on editing and writing projects. I work at home without the resources of a corporation and thanks to the Internet, I can do it without sacrificing quality and professionalism.

Years ago in my former life I was known as one of the country’s telecommuting experts! Yes, true! I wrote about it in books and print publications and led seminars and workshops about its many benefits in my quest to help Corporate America see the light.

I was invited by a producer to have a small say on NPR’s Radio Times about the benefits of working from home. It’s easier and less expensive than it was years ago when I started freelancing. But I want to share here many of the resources and tips that I’ve acquired over the years.

Thanks for reading,

Marilyn, TFF


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Comment Rules: This is a personal blog with individual views of the author, with the common theme of living frugally. Even if you disagree with a post, please keep all comments respectful, and please join in on the conversation! Thanks! TFF

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