Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude For This Frugalest of Feasts

If you think about it, Thanksgiving is a naturally frugal holiday. The focus is all on food and family, not expensive gifts or decorations.

The food served is cheap: turkey (39 cents to 59 cents a lb. right now), mashed potatoes (about $5 for a huge bag) and stuffing (great stuff considering it's made out of old, stale breadcrumbs). Typically, relatives each bring something, so you don't even have to spring for the whole feast. Want some wine with your meal? Two Buck Chuck makes a couple of great varietals that go well with turkey. A local grocery was advertising pumpkin pies for $2.99. I can't even make them for that price!

Decorations can come from nature. Pick up some beautiful fall leaves, acorns and pine cones, and use them to dress up the house.

Build some family traditions by having family members all sign an inexpensive tablecloth with permanent marker, then use it year after year, and add to it, making note of any special family events or milestones each year. Start a Thankful Jar. Have each family member write something they are thankful for this year on a slip of paper, stick them in a jar, and then read them aloud.

After dinner, turn the football game on, or dig out those dusty board games. Nothing gets people talking like a game of Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit. Converse with your extended family members and really catch up.

Relax, enjoy yourself, and take some time to be thankful for this most frugal of holidays!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Man's Bane Is Another Man's Boon

Some of you might not be aware of a great resource called Freecycle. Active in all 50 states, as well as D.C. and Guam, Freecycle is a great way to clean out your closets and garage, and find things you need, for free! No money is exchanged. You simply go to, find your local group, and join. After you are a member, you can post things you have to give away, or request things you would like to receive. You receive emails, either each time someone posts, or once a day in digest form, listing all the offered or wanted items. Then you make arrangements, usually via email, with the other person to pick up or drop off your item. Be sure to read and follow the rules and guidelines. They have been created to make sure everything runs smoothly.

I have used freecyle several times, both as a giver and a receiver. Without exception, the people I have dealt with have been very generous, helpful and positive. I have not had any negative experiences, but if you have any concerns, you could always arrange to make your exchange in a public place.

Chances are the very thing you need is sitting unused in someone's garage. This service allows you to connect with that person. Maybe you have something that is still in great condition, but you just don't need it anymore, and don't know anyone who does. It's a great feeling to find a good home for your treasures and help someone out at the same time. Not only does Freecycle keep unwanted items out of the landfill, it fosters a sense of community, and reminds us that we are all connected. It's also a great reason to de-clutter! Join your local group and start freecyling today.