Why I Ditched Living Frugally This Summer–But Now, It’s Time to Catch Up

There’s no need to feel guilty if you blew your budget this summer like I did! Autumn is the perfect time to get back on track and reboot your frugal habits. I know that’s what I have to do!

Sunset over Long Island Sound
Priceless view of a sunset from our boat.

When I sat down yesterday to update my August budget sheet, I nearly had a cow. Continue reading “Why I Ditched Living Frugally This Summer–But Now, It’s Time to Catch Up”

The Daily Tightwad Tutor– Lesson #6: No Moldy Berries

 

 The Daily Tightwad Tutor– Lesson #6: No Moldy Berries

 

 

 

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko N...
Vinegar keeps berries mold-free. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Wash berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) in a large bowl with one part white vinegar to ten parts water. Gently mix berries in this vinegar/water wash and immediately drain and dab with paper towel to dry. The vinegar kills any spores so berries will last one to two weeks in the fridge.

 

~Marilyn, TFF

 

 

 

Is The Inside of Your Refrigerator Frugal Like Amy Dacyczyn’s (of The Tightwad Gazette)?

We love Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Refrigerator, on page 262 of her first book, The Tightwad Gazette. TFF has decided to share a sampling of the rotating contents of our Frugal Refrigerators. Continue reading “Is The Inside of Your Refrigerator Frugal Like Amy Dacyczyn’s (of The 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

 

But Mom, Everyone Has an iTouch! When Your Kid Is The Only One Without the Newest, Greatest Gadget

iTouch fund
Our iTouch fund. We’re trying to teach our kids that they need to save up for technology. But…it’s tough in our affluent community.

TFF takes a brutal look at the consequences of giving young children the luxury of owning expensive technology. 

The other day, my son came home and announced that his fifth grade class voted to have a “Bring in Your Electronics Day” at school. My son doesn’t have fancy “electronics.” And if he did, do you think we’d let him bring in an expensive toy to school?

Evidently, other parents don’t have this problem. A couple of kids routinely bring in iPads to their fifth grade classrooms. Most of my son’s classmates came back from Christmas vacation with an iTouch in hand to show off during morning meeting. (Evidently, getting a new, shiny bike doesn’t cut it anymore for a Christmas gift.) One of my son’s best friends even insulted him for not having an iTouch (“You’re like the only one in our class, dude, who doesn’t have one.”) Ouch.

My question is why do little kids need an iTouch, iPad, or iPhone? My son even told me one of his classmates broke her iTouch the same day she got it. Of course! But the parents ran right out and replaced it. This is not how I grew up. We saved, we waited, and we lived without like most families. Today, parents and children alike expect and demand the best right away, and they usually get it no matter what the consequences.

I can’t wait to see the adult versions of all these kids who get the latest, greatest gadgets now.  They’ll only be frustrated and angry adults who can’t imagine not having what they want when they want it. I will spare you the links to the enormous body of research over the years that proves this point. But that’s what giving your kid an expensive item like an  iTouch at an early age will do to them. Yes, I know everyone’s “reason” for giving their kid an i-anything. “My kid has to keep up with technology.” Maybe what you really mean is that your kid has to keep up with the Joneses.

We are trying really hard to teach our kids to save up for expensive purchases like this. As you can see, we have a family iTouch fund that is just about complete. One of my son’s friends did just this–he sold off his old technology to make the money to buy his iTouch. Maybe it’s old-fashioned to have a fund where you actually don’t have to put a toy like this on a credit card, but it’s the type of value we want to teach our kids. By time we get this iTouch, much less figure out how to use it, a newer, better version will no doubt be out on the market. And, our son will feel left behind. When will this insanity end?

As you might have guessed, we talked to my son’s teacher and the principal about this proposed “Bring in Your Electronics Day” at school. They agreed with us and the idea was nixed. We told them we failed to see how it could be a teaching moment when kids with technology would be bullying kids without.

We don’t deny our kids technology–when it’s appropriate. My daughter has a basic cell phone out of necessity now that she’s in middle school, and my son has the luxury of a gaming console and use of the computer. They each had a Nintendo DS till one broke and the other is gathering dust. No one is suffering in our house. But…I know this for sure–my kids won’t be the ones suffering when they are adults and surrounded by entitled, whining friends who have learned to value expensive things on-demand over the warmth and joy of people and experiences.

One year later: The iTouch is used by all, no one argues over it (well, there were a couple of times…), we share apps, in general, it’s truly the “family iTouch” and no one has suffered. Plus, it’s still in great shape because we never, ever, ever let the kids take it to school. Now, my daughter is saving up her own babysitting money to get her own iPad. That’s another post…