thDuring a business-related trip to Texas last summer, I met up with a blogger who goes by the name “empressjuju” and blogs at (the) Vegas in Austin. Along with her husband we enjoyed a delightful regional brunch (think “breakfast tacos”) and talked about money and life.

Homeownership was definitely on their minds. But months went by and they kept discovering swell new restaurants and activities. Austin can do that to you.

This kind of overspending is insidious, she noted later, and it can feel oddly necessary because we’re all such busy people. In fact, her husband was inclined to think that it wasn’t really a problem.

The empress begged to differ. “How are we ever going to buy a house if we keep spending like this on food? We are eating our house!”

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thToday I got my first paycheck since Nov. 29. At times this self-employment thing is for the birds.

My tax guy suggested I pay myself four times a year instead of monthly. It makes the paperwork easier, but part of me believes the quarterly system stinks.

That would be the part that’s been monitoring the checkbook balance – and suffering periodic panic attacks – since Thanksgiving.

Yet another part of me is glad that I’m not collecting 12 paychecks a year. The quarterly payouts help me keep my frugal edge.

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thAnother quiet and rewarding weekend here at Chez Low-Key. “Rewarding” refers not just to R&R-value* but also to our finances.

Among the highlights:

A little Dumpster wading. While dropping off recyclables I checked the mixed-paper bin, as usual. This turned up 70 points for the My Coke Rewards program and also two glitzy gift bags (one Christmas, one birthday).

Using the wood-fired dryer. DF did a load of laundry late on Saturday morning and I arranged it on our drying racks in front of the fireplace insert. Some of it was dry by evening; all of it was dry by Sunday morning.

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thThey say that the way you start the year is the way you’ll live it. If that’s true, then DF and I are up for plenty of luck, love and frugality in 2015.

Plenty of sleep, too: The only way we knew it was midnight was that some of our neighbors started setting off illegal fireworks.

Here’s how those four things shook down:

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thOur Black Friday has come and gone, a reprise of last year’s experience at the loneliest drugstore in the world: Two of the stores we visited were practically tomblike.

The third, Play It Again Sports, held the possibility of new skis for DF at 50 percent off. However, it also held googols of optimistic winter sports enthusiasts (we have maybe a quarter-inch of snow on the ground) and determined-looking hockey parents. We backed off quickly due to our shared Claus-trophobia.

But at the other two? We walked in, bought what we wanted and walked back out. No pushing and shoving, no pepper spray and no buying things we didn’t need.

(Well, I did buy one thing I don’t need. More on that in a minute.)

That’s the kind of Black Friday I prefer, especially since a study from NerdWallet bears out what a lot of us already suspected: that those BF “deals” often aren’t as good as they’re made out to be.

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