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thEver wonder why some frugality tips get recommended over and over? Here’s why: Because they work.

A handful of hacks helped DF and me save four hundred simoleons in just three days.

The biggest-ticket item was our stove, which has been faltering. Since the appliance is at least 30 years old, DF was disinclined to call a technician. Since both of us are disinclined to pay retail, I sent away for $550 in discounted gift cards to a certain home improvement center (which I bought through a cash-back shopping site) and we started watching for sales.

He’d figured that $550 would be enough for the stove he wanted. But then we got lucky.



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thWe played a lot of Monopoly and other board games when I was a kid. Cable television hadn’t been invented and there were no movie theaters, arcades, skating rinks, bowling alleys or shopping centers in our little township.

Some of these things existed nearby, but they might as well have been on the moon: Not only was there no public transit in our region, there was not much disposable income in our lives.

Hence, hours and hours of board games. I don’t think that we understood Monopoly’s underpinnings: Get rich by ruining everyone else! One thing I’m sure we didn’t get was the square that read “luxury tax.” We groaned when we landed on it because it cost us money, but the word “luxury” was not in our vocabulary.

We had everything we needed, mind you, but much of it was homegrown, homemade or handed down. Luxury was something we saw on TV, maybe, but I never figured it could apply to people like us.

As adults, we can choose luxury if we’re willing to pay for it. Which brings me to the idea suggested by a Get Rich Slowly reader: a DIY luxury tax.

 


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Yesterday I saw a funny letter reproduced online, purportedly written by a St. Louis guy who decided not to lend his 6-year-old son $20 to buy something.

He created a logo – Dad Savings and Loan: Because Apparently I Look Like I’m Made of Money – and explained why the loan had been declined. Among other things, the child had “insufficient funds and a history of not doing (his) chores.”

In addition, “over $80 has been spent on discretionary entertainment expenses since Christmas…an unsustainable amount of expenditure, and we cannot further compound the problem by financially assisting with (further) debt at this point.”

Dad-poses-as-bank-to-reject-loan-for-20

Classic! And it touched a particular nerve with me. Here’s why.

 


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thA little news you can use before the weekend, beginning with free health screenings at Sam’s Club on Saturday, Jan. 9.

All the Sam’s Club stores with pharmacies will offer the following tests to anyone who walks in (i.e., you don’t need to be a club member):

  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index
  • Vision and hearing (at some locations)

The estimated value is $150. If you’ve been wondering about glucose or cholesterol, get yourself in there and find out where you stand.

 


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thAs I’ve said again and again, “food” is the budget category over which we generally have the most control.

You probably can’t talk your way into a sizable discount on your auto loan, mortgage or health insurance premium, but a little ingenuity and creativity can whack your meal costs way, way back.

Erin Chase can help. The frugal genius behind “$5 Dinners” and a series of cookbooks, and co-founder of “The $5 Meal Plan,” she has created a new service that combines all her superpowers. Registration for her Grocery Budget Makeover starts Sunday, Jan. 3 and ends Monday, Jan. 11.

Her goal is to “change your mindset and methods of shopping” in 10 weeks. Not just shopping, though; meal planning, couponing and cooking tactics also figure prominently.

This is not some talking-head gourmand who doesn’t understand how regular people (including picky children) cook and eat. I actually know Erin and she is a regular person – a mother of four who avoids most processed foods due to food allergies in her family.


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