I haven’t written much about frugality here lately. Because of that, you might think it’s become less of a priority for me. That’s simply not the case, although sometimes it feels that way — even to me. “I’m worried about our spending,” Kris told me early last week. “I feel like it’s a little out of control.”

“Really?” I said. We’ve had a couple of big expenses lately — painting the house, for example — but I don’t think our habits are too out of line. The real problem is probably the potential spending we see on the horizon:

    • We need to replace our 15-year-old mattress, for example. I don’t sleep well on it, although I sleep fine on other mattresses.


    • Meanwhile, I’ve been pricing new bicycles. I’m not certain I’m going to buy one, but I’m considering it.


  • Finally, we’ve begun to budget for our next big vacation: a trip to France and Italy next year. (Or the year after.)

With these spending goals looming, I suspect that Kris is feeling pinched. Still, after her observation about our frugality (or lack thereof), we’ve been trying to make smarter choices. This weekend, for example, was filled with frugality.

Home improvement and potlucks
Friday evening, Kris co-hosted a wedding shower — a frugal wedding shower. Kris and her co-workers made all of the food and drinks themselves. Kris made the flower arrangement. They didn’t spend money on decorations or games or prizes. “We didn’t need to spend a lot to have a party,” Kris told me afterward. “We just had good food and good friends and enjoyed each other’s company.”

On Saturday morning, we made a short drive to pick up 40 iris rhizomes, which Kris found on Craigslist for a dollar a piece. As we loaded them in the car, she was almost giddy with glee. “You don’t realize how big of a bargain this is,” she said. “I paid $1 per plant. At the iris gardens, these would be $10 or $20 or $30 per rhizome! Plus she gave me eight extra plants.”

Note: I have trouble getting excited about flowers. But when I frame it in terms that makes sense to me — like comic books — I can understand Kris’ enthusiasm. If I found 48 comics that should sell for $20 each, I’d be stoked if I could purchase the entire lot for $40.


On the drive home, we stopped at the hardware store to buy compost and topsoil so we could build a new iris bed. We also bought a “sweep” for the mudroom door, which should help keep the heat in during the winter. Finally, we bought a gallon of Van Deusen Blue paint. We recently paid to have the exterior of our home painted, but we’re going to do the porches ourselves.

During the afternoon, Kris planted her irises while I prepped the porches for painting. In the evening, we went to a potluck barbeque. Kris made a potato salad (using Yukon Golds she had purchased on sale) and we took a bottle of wine. In exchange, we received good food and good conversation.

On Sunday, we attended our monthly book group. This gathering is one of the highlights of our month, and a great example of frugal fun. Most members get the book selections through the public library, and the food is generally home-grown or home-made. Again, we felt like we obtained an excellent return on our minimal investment.

Note: These sorts of activities are valuable not only because they’re inexpensive, but also because they increase social capital, that societal glue that makes neighborhoods stronger.


We also did a lot of other little things this weekend. Here are some of the other ways we saved money:

    • On Friday, I biked to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. We try to limit our grocery shopping to once every two or three weeks, but we make supplemental trips for dairy and produce.


    • I picked peas from the garden. In fact, I picked a record crop — nearly a kilo on Saturday alone (bringing our total for the year up to about 3.5kg).


    • Kris picked cucumbers and made pickles.


    • We stopped by the Asian market. It has great prices and fun items, but we’re rarely in the neighborhood, so we try to visit it when we can.


    • I mixed up a large batch of Thai tuna salad to use for sandwiches all week long. Cheap and tasty!



    • I rode my bike to book group. Kris points out that this didn’t really save us anything since she drove her car, but still… (Part of this ride was to help me determine whether I want/need to replace my bike. Answer? Undetermined.)


    • I figured out how to retrieve the sink plug from the bathroom drain. I’d been dreading this task (and had even thought of calling a plumber), but it was easy.


    • When I confessed that I’d recently pruned my extension cord while trimming the hedges, my friend Andrew offered to show me how to repair it. The job’s not done, but will be soon.



A penny saved is a penny earned
“We had a perfect weekend,” Kris said as we got ready for bed last night. “And it didn’t cost a lot.” These days of frugal fun helped us to see that we haven’t lost our way, that our spending isn’t actually out of control.

I don’t want to make it sound like we’re frugal angels, though. We’re not. Next weekend, for example, we have tickets to see The Decemberists in concert. (Again!) Plus, I’m hoping we can go to Gino’s for dinner on Friday; it’s been a couple of weeks since Kris and I dined out together.

For me, this weekend was yet another reminder that frugality matters. By making smart choices most weekends, we’re able to afford concerts and dinners out on others. And, more importantly, this everyday frugality means that we’re able to spend money on those things that are more important to us, like a new mattress or a new bicycle — or a trip to Europe.

77 Replies to “Our Frugal Weekend”

  1. Writer's Coin says:

    Nothing beats getting through a weekend without spending a ton. I had a great weekend myself so you’re going to have to forgive me if I steal this post idea from you.


  2. Meagan says:

    I’m currently planning a wedding shower myself. I’m trying to do it without spending a lot, and trying to keep everyone happy (35 guests), glad to know Kris’ shower went so well.

  3. deb says:

    Sounds like a terrific weekend! Thanks for the tip on Hulu, I didn’t know they had the Bob Newhart Show. I hang my laundry out too – isn’t it wonderful?

  4. Alan Cordle says:

    Which night for the concert? We’ll be there Sunday. (And those tickets weren’t cheap!)

  5. Alexandra says:

    Would you mind sharing your recipe for Thai tuna salad? That sounds delicious!!

  6. Beth @ Smart Family Tips says:

    A great read. I’ve found that sometimes the most frugal entertainment is the most fun. A few families gathered around 4th of July weekend for some fun that ended up costing little to nothing. It was a great time spent watching the kids run around, catching up with neighbors, and watching a few fireworks.

  7. friend says:

    J.D., Please buy yourself a new extension cord. Maybe you & your buddy can fix it — but you might be in for a shocking surprise. Please — I would miss you.

  8. Nadia P says:

    What section in Craigslist does Kris use to find flowers? It would be great to know for future flower deals in my area. 🙂 Thanks!

  9. Jeremy says:

    Frugality is a lifestyle change, not just for when you’re in debt.

  10. Oskar says:

    Thanks for another great post!

    Sound like a great weekend, me and my wife do something we call “zero weekends” i.e. a weekend when no cash leaves our pockets obviously we do eat drink and at times take a drive but we do not buy any new items. This is great not only because we save money but also that we really think about what we have and how we can make the most of that….also usually these are the weekends when we do all these little projects that we have been planning and that were never finalized.

  11. Tracy says:

    This is great! It’s little things like this that can add up to make a big difference at the end of the year. I love that you mention Hulu because it has quickly become one of my favorite sites. I know Netflix is cheap, but Hulu is free! I also recommend that people check out their local libraries. Ours has an amazing selection of new movies, documentaries, and TV shows.

  12. Karawynn @Pocketmint says:

    What is ‘Thai tuna salad’, exactly? (I like tuna and I like Thai, so …)

  13. Justin says:

    Thai tuna salad? Need the recipe!!

  14. Tyler says:

    Participating in groups is almost always a sure fire way to save money whether it be pooling tools between neighbors, going to a potluck for dinner, or using the local library.

    I also noticed you mention that you’ve been hanging your laundry out to dry. I’ve been trying to do this more frequently as well, but I’ve never been quite satisfied with the results (crunchy socks and underwear, general stiffness of clothes). I’ve tried adding a fabric softener to the mix, but didn’t notice much difference.

    GRS Readers: Do you have any tips for air drying your clothes that will keep them from becoming so stiff as they dry?

  15. Sandra Dee says:

    Yes, PLEASE share your recipe for Thai Tuna Salad. I always get the spicy thai tuna in a can from the grocery store but I would love to be able to make it myself.

    Great post. Very fun to read!

  16. J.D. says:

    Tyler (#14) wrote: Do you have any tips for air drying your clothes that will keep them from becoming so stiff as they dry?

    I actually don’t mind the stiff clothes. What I mind are the stiff towels. The day after Kris does the laundry is always invigorating when I get out of the shower. It’s like using sandpaper! 🙂

  17. Lesley says:

    @Tyler: avoiding the crunchiness is really a matter of having a good breeze while drying. The heavier the item, the more breeze needed. If they’re crunchy after drying, a quick (5-10 min) tumble in the dryer will usually help, no heat necessary.

  18. KC says:

    For air-dried laundry that isn’t “crispy” I put them in the dryer with a softner sheet for 15-20 mins and then hang them out to dry. I then reuse that dryer sheet as it still has some life. This usually softenes clothes enough.

    Also I think a 15 year old mattress needs to be replaces yesterday. I’m thinking of replacing our 8 year old one. When you think of how much time you spend on it its well worth it. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel with a new once. The bike can wait and the trip will get funded. But the mattress is due for a change!

  19. deb says:

    Yes, a quick tumble in the dryer w/no heat will take care of the crunchiness. Throw in a couple tennis balls or those dryer balls and it’s even better. If I want soft towels I dry them to about 2/3 dry in the dryer and then hang (or just hand back up on the towel holders in the bathroom) to finish. Using less detergent helps too. I only use fabric softener in the winter to combat static, instead I use vinegar in the rinse, it gets the soap out better. The vinegar smell will be gone once the fabric dries.

    The best thing for line drying is a nice wind, the wrinkles and “crispies” fall right out.

  20. Journey says:

    I need to work on frugal fun. I am lucky where I live has a lot of free events.

  21. shauntck says:

    Great article. We’ve had a rather expensive weekend. We’re moving this week and getting together with a lot of friends and family going out to lunch/dinner. We need to figure out some alternatives to going to restaurants all the time. Any ideas?

    Also, “the penny saved is a penny earned” just isn’t true! You have to pay taxes on the new income you earn and taxes on the purchases. I suppose this depends a little on where you live… but in Southern California I think it’s more like a penny saved is 1.5 pennies earned 🙂

  22. EscapeVelocity says:

    Since I’m living in a dryer right now I’ve been handwashing some things and hanging them out (I don’t have a washer/dryer in the house)–my solution to the crunchiness problem is basically to machine-dry the towels and jeans, although probably just a quick tumble on air dry after they’re mostly dry would do it.

    I didn’t spend much cash at all this weekend but I own two of the three boats I went sailing on so I guess it wasn’t that frugal. I did get taken out for dinner in exchange for one of the sails, though.

  23. MichaelM says:

    We’re doing most of our own repairs on our home (just bought a foreclosure), which means that every few weeks we go plop down $200 at Home Depot. Even though I know we’re saving when compared to having someone come do the fixes for us, it’s still unsettling to see that total come up.

  24. Jill says:

    What kind of bike are you thinking? If you’re looking at nicer road bikes, I’d try an e-mail to a couple local cycling clubs saying what type and size of bike you’re looking for. A lot of those riders are always looking to buy the newest, fastest, and lightest thing on the market, and sometimes are willing to let go of some of their existing bike stash for pretty good prices in order to justify to a spouse that they’d have the space in the garage for the latest Cervelo, Look, Felt, Serotta, etc.

  25. Linear Girl says:

    For some items the crispiness of air dried is desirable – cloth napkins, dish towels and dress shirts almost seem ironed without any extra effort. I don’t even notice the stiffness on towels and jeans after the first few seconds so I’m willing to cope with it for the value I derive from air drying.

    And for the opposing view, please DO fix that extension cord rather than buy a new one. Learning (aka gaining knowledge) is always better than giving in to the fear the maybe you won’t do it correctly. Wiring is not mysterious or fickle, it’s just something new you need to learn. Anyone who is average bright with a healthy sense of caution can learn about safe wiring for small DIY fixes.

  26. frugalscholar says:

    For your mattress–you might try buying a nice featherbed or a memory foam pad. Our daughter is sleeping on our old mattress. We were going to replace and then tried the above. Better than like new. And all our guests have bought featherbeds! (We use the memory foam on our bed).

  27. Phil says:

    48 comics that should sell for $20 each, all for $40?! I’d be stoked too 😉
    Nice analogy.

  28. DeborahM says:

    I’m going to be the Voice of Caution here, i.e. the partypooper. Have you ever considered that this wonderful website might have a “best by” date, and that your peak earnings may be RIGHT NOW?
    I’ve noticed the trend away from frugality and into exhilarated (key word) spending, and I think your wife has a point.
    Even if this isn’t true, it’s not a bad thought to dwell on for a while.
    Mattress – important.
    Bike – could get a used one. After all, once you wheel it outta the store, it’s “used”.
    Trip to France & Italy – depends on you. But I’d say it’s important, too, frankly. Sounds as though you’re already allowing yourself some flexibility in the timing of it.
    Toughie aren’t I?
    I just know that popularity can be cyclical; surely we’ve all seen that in relation to the web and web-based services.

    P.S. The Thai Tuna salad sounded good to me too.

  29. Rich Dad says:

    Frugality indeed is a lifestyle. Read, “The Millionaire Next Door” by Stanley Thomas and William Danko. Ordinary people creating extraordinary wealth through simple little disciplines.

  30. Nathan Nontell says:

    The Decemberists! I saw their show at Bonnaroo this year and it was spectacular! Hearing “Hazards of Love” live in its entirety might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is definitely worth the money! Have a blast! 🙂

  31. Caitlin says:

    Sounds like a very nice weekend!

    Thanks to all the GRS readers for the tips on getting the crispiness out of line-dried clothes. I like the idea of line-drying, but when I was growing up I wore so many stiff, scratchy clothes that I grew to hate it, and I’d like to get back into it to save energy.

  32. Katy Wolk-Stanley says:


    My 74-year-old father has been riding his three-speed bicycle back and forth to work and about town since 1965. (He lives in Irvington and teaches at P.S.U.) I have the same embarrassingly named “Hard Rock” bike I bought in college. Keep your bike well maintained and you should be able to ride it for years.

    I have made a personal policy that if I have to talk myself into a purchase then perhaps I shouldn’t be buying it.

    And it does sound like you’re “talking yourself” into a new bike purchase.

    On the traveling though?

    Frugality is about saving money on the things that don’t matter in order to free up funds for those that do. Travel is a valuable and life enriching way to spend money and well worth every penny.

    So save your money for your trip to Italy, it will make every previous frugal choice that much better.

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    The Non-Consumer Advocate

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

  33. Matt aka Your Friendly Neighborhood Cheapskate says:

    JD: If a new bike will get you riding more, I say go for it! For example, I once had plenty of mornings where I didn’t feel like peddling my mountain bike all day long, so I would drive instead. However, after getting a more “road friendly” bike, I found myself once again biking every day to work. The savings from increased bike commuting alone eventually paid for the new bike.

  34. Sarah says:

    I enjoyed garage sales for the first time in a long while. I now only buy if its something I really need. My son loves to look and found 5 DVD’s for a dollar each. Most of all I enjoyed seeing the strange stuff for sale! My favorites were a Partridge Family best hit CD and a magazine rack with two HUGE ashtrays attached! I think I relived my life thru people Stuff. Great free entertainment and I really enjoyed the time with my son.

  35. J.D. says:

    Just a point of clarification: If I get a new bike, it will be because my current bikes (yes, plural) don’t fit. I’ve never had a bike that fits before. My road bike (actually a touring bike) is too big. My mountain bike (acquired used) seems small. But maybe not TOO small. That’s why I’m riding it around the neighborhood lately. I’m trying to see how I feel after using it on a regular basis. So far, so good, so I may not have to get anything new.

    (Does anybody know how to tell the size on an old Trek 950? My Bianchi Volpe is 52cm, and is a little big. As I say, the Trek seems small, so I’m guessing it’s 18″. My natural fit is about 19.5″.)

    If I do get a new bike, it may be from Craigslist, and will probably be a commuter-type.

  36. Erica Douglass says:

    “Have you ever considered that this wonderful website might have a “best by” date, and that your peak earnings may be RIGHT NOW?”

    Ha! Amusing. I’d like to offer the counterpoint. Have you ever considered that most websites’ earnings have nothing to do with “popularity”?

    I know folks with 1/10 of the blog/list subscribers as J.D. who make 10 times his annual income. Has nothing to do with perceived “popularity”. Most sites only generate a small percentage of their income from pure pageviews.


  37. Chickybeth says:

    Last year you pointed us to The Simple Notebook because of “No Spend Month” and I have been reading it ever since. They do it every July and are currently in the middle of it. Rachel does it to remind herself that no one really needs too many things and to be more mindful of every day spending. This post made me think you need a “No Spend Month”. 😀

  38. Ian says:

    “(Does anybody know how to tell the size on an old Trek 950? My Bianchi Volpe is 52cm, and is a little big. As I say, the Trek seems small, so I’m guessing it’s 18″. My natural fit is about 19.5″.)”

    Why not take the bikes into a shop and ask for help with a fitting? Be honest about the fact that you’re looking to buy used, and offer to pay.

    You also might not need to sell one of the bikes, maybe a new seat or differnt length handlebar stem would do the trick. The Recyclery in SE PDX has lots of used parts.

    I started biking to work on a nice mountain bike and found it very tiring. So I bought a used 1981 Miyata racing bike and added fenders and a rack and use it to commute. Total expense was about $300, and I bet it’s within 10% of the weight of a new high end commuter. I plan to change the stem someday as I think a longer one would be more comfortable, and a new set of handlebars and brakes are on the wish list. After playing with cars for years bike parts are cheap in comparison, especially used!

  39. partgypsy says:

    15 years is reaching the lifespan of a mattress. However for those who have old(er) mattress and want to get some more years out of it, a latex topper is an option. I thought we needed to replace our 7? year old bed, but after purchasing 1.5″ latex topper the bed is more comfortable than it’s ever been.

  40. Brooke says:

    I love the crispy towels! I love feeling them relax as you towel off, weird, I know. But I can appreciate the crispiness 🙂

    And my first frugal weekend was inspired by a post either here or on the Simple Dollar (sorry, when I first began reading pf blogs, I wasn’t really distinguishing between you and Trent) that a good way to spend a “money free” weekend was to do all the organization projects that were always put off. It inspired a month of “money free weekends” spent organizing, purging, and realizing how much stuff I really owned! Now I do this process once a month, and find it very therapeutic- and free!

  41. katy says:

    Please get a new mattress; don’t be ‘frugal’ with your health. Short story: I had severe neck pain and saw a top NewYorkCity orthopedist . After expensive tests and a lot of wasted time, He had me wear a neck contraption at home. So I hung my chin in a strap; it used levers and pully and he gave he me exercises to do.

    He never asked how old my mattress was. It was over 20. I got a new mattress and within days was fine!!!! So, now every 7-8 years we get a new mattress. No problems.

  42. MIchele says:

    JD, Kris absolutely scored on those irises. Every year our local Garden Club does a plant sale, just the extra stuff in their yards from years of propogations and splits.

    plants range from $2 all the way up to about $7. Just an example, I paid $4 for a lilac that would have cost me $12 from a garden shop. This year I got 15 plants for around $50 that would have cost me 3-4 times that even from a discount garden shop.

    I only buy perennials, never pay money for flowers that die at the end of the season.

  43. Tyler says:

    You guys are awesome. I’ll give the no heat tumble dry technique a go for next week’s load!

  44. sarah says:

    I am curious to see what your house looks like since you painted it.

  45. mrs darling says:

    JD, considering Im your cousin I sure dont read this blog like I should. But today Im here and I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed this very personable post here at GRS.

    I was amazed at the frugality you pointed out in the little things. It made me realize how frugally we live and we dont even know it. I wondered why I dont recognize this stuff in my own life. After thinking on this for a bit I think that it may be that when frugality becomes a lifestyle one doesnt even really realize it. It’s an unconscious way of living because its our norm.

    You have given me fodder for my own post on this.:)

  46. Kevin M says:

    This post got me thinking and realized we had a pretty frugal weekend too:

    Saturday – went to the pro hockey team development camp (all their prospects get together and practice) scrimmage with my brother and his family. Then we walked around the mall and went to Cabela’s so the kids could look at all the fish tanks. Cost – $0, (well except for the coffee, so say $6). Later we went to eat at Qdoba for our once-a-week meal out of the house. Cost – $17.

    Sunday – met my brother and family at the local flea market. Nobody bought anything but we had fun just walking around and looking and chatting. Then we went to a nearby park and the kids had a ball on the playground. After naptime, we went to see my parents and pick up some moving boxes. Total cost – $1 worth of drinks purchased on the way to the flea market.

    Pretty awesome weekend and the only large expense was one we usually have anyway.

  47. Colleen in MA says:

    Yes – weekends are where our money disappears quite easily. Weekdays are full of work and brown bag lunches and making dinner at home, but the weekends are about getting out and sometimes we can forget the fun does not have to be proportional to the money spent.

    I love The Bob Newhart Show too! I keep renting it from Netflix. The thing that struck me was the amount of eating in that they did. They made breakfast at home, made coffee and had drinks at home, had coffee made in the office. Not a lot of eating out or grabbing convenience foods on the run. It was a financial lesson for me in an unexpected place!

  48. Chris Brown says:

    Ha ha ha! You really watched multiple episodes of the Bob Newhart show? What a crazy life you live. You know they have new shows on the the new fangled tv box thingy that are also free? I guess Daryl and Daryl and Larry are funny…. the first time you hear that joke. And that chick is semi hot in a messed up 80’s hair kinda way. But, still…….

  49. Marie says:

    I’m surprised to hear that making your own food for a shower is “frugal”. In my circle, that’s just how it’s done. What other option is there? Catered food? I’ve never heard of using a catering service for anything other than a wedding reception.

    It’s always interesting to hear traditions in other parts of the U.S.

  50. Marie says:

    Forget to ask: how do you hang your wash out and have it come in clean? We’re semi-rural like yourself and cannot hang wash without it getting covered in bird sh*t.

  51. Karawynn @Pocketmint says:

    EscapeVelocity #22: “Since I’m living in a dryer right now …” <== extreme frugality there! /wink

    Marie — you probably need some kind of large umbrella or cover for the line. Would also protect against sun damage and/or unexpected rainshowers. Or, line-dry indoors …

  52. Jessie says:

    Sale or not, Yukon Golds are a bad choice for potato salad. They impart a bitter taste when paired with the other ingredients. They’re great for mashed potatoes, or eating on their own, but terrible for potato salad.

  53. Liam says:

    I love this blog. It’s the only part of my life where I can be entertained reading about how some guy I only know from the internet rode his bike to a book club!

  54. Jeremy D Pavleck says:

    This Thai tuna salad you speak of, do you happen to have a recipe? I love thai food. And I love tuna salad. This seems like an awesome combo!

  55. Kim says:

    @ Chris Brown:

    The show they are referring to is “The Bob Newhart Show” NOT “Newhart”. The former is a TV classic from the 70’s which you’ve obviously never seen.

    (Try getting your facts straight before ridiculing others’ choices).

  56. J.D. says:

    @Liam (#53)
    Happy to be of service. 🙂

    @Chris Brown (#48)
    “The Bob Newhart Show”, not “Newhart”. I’d much rather watch classic television than most modern stuff.

    @Thai tuna salad folks
    Okay, I’ll share the recipe this weekend, but if people complain about a recipe post, I’M BLAMING IT ALL ON YOU! 🙂

  57. anna says:

    look, the decemberists are worth it, and that’s a fact.

  58. E says:

    JD – In Portland, bike + frugal = Community Cycling Center. They will help you find a used bike that fits your body, your needs, and your preferences, offering excellent service at the same time. I also went through a series of bikes that didn’t fit or weren’t right for me before I found them and I would recommend them to anyone.
    They are also a non profit offering bike training and earn-a-bike programs for low-income children and adults, as well as bike summer camp for kids. Excellent programs, excellent value.

  59. Budgie says:

    A new mattress is definitely worth spending good money on, JD! You spend 8 hours a night (ideally) on a mattress, so it should be comfortable. I was just discussing this with a co-worker today. How do you manage to make such timely posts all the time?

  60. Kris at GRS says:

    Jessie: The recipe was actually for “mashed potato salad” and called for a Yukon-gold-type potato. It had a texture like somewhat-mashed potatoes, but was served cold and flavored with traditional potato-salad items like celery & celery seeds, mayo, mustard, sour cream, dill pickle juice, diced onions, etc. It was a hit at the potluck!

  61. glenna says:

    Stop being so frugal in our country on the weekends. Use that money you are saving for trips to Italy and France here in the good old U.S.A. We could use that to help our Economy. You could have a lot of wonderful weekends here, for a lot less then you are going to spend in other countries.

  62. Mark says:

    I strongly suggest not being too frugal when it comes to the mattress. You spend a third of your life, give or take a few percent, on it, and it can have a significant effect on your energy level, which can have a significant effect on your productiveness and life.

    My wife and I went out over the weekend searching for a replacement for our nearly ten year old mattress. Neither of us feel that we’re sleeping very well, and she’s been having back problems. Her spine doctor told her to look at replacing the mattress, as it sags inward somewhat, and that’s a bad thing for the back.

    After hearing rave reviews from my brother and parents for several years now, we decided to consider the Sleep Number bed. Hardly a frugal choice, indeed. After spending two hours in the store, we came to the conclusion that we would order one. Although expensive (the model we got was around $2500 with tax), if you consider dividing this over ten years, and two people, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

    To those who think that fifteen years is “nearly the lifespan of a mattress”, I think you’re kidding yourselves. The sleep specialist I’ve seen has advised me that seven years is more reasonable, and ten years is around the useful maximum lifetime of a mattress.

    For those who might wonder about our frugality, we have zero debt beyond our home, a healthy and growing emergency fund, and a pretty nicely funded 401(k).


  63. betsy - Money Changes Things says:

    Frugal always sounds dreary. What you describe is editing – getting rid of wasteful spending, so that your occasional luxuries have a lot of impact.
    Last year as an experiment when I was at home alone for 6 weeks (and no family to make fun of me), I turned off my hot water heater. Hot water on demand had never seemed like a luxury to me, but once I was keeping track of how long I could go on a tank of hot water [answer – many, many days] then voila! Hot water seemed like a big treat, not just a plain old thing. Every good editor says cut out the excess.

  64. Sarah says:

    Hey, post the pickle recipe, too!

  65. S says:

    JD, for a new mattress, try a warehouse club, like Sam’s Club. Just rent a truck from Home Depot ($20 an hour) and have a few friends help you load and unload and save loads of money compared to mattress/dept/furniture stores and NO HIGH PRESSURED SALES GAMES!

    As for the drying clothes outside – we can’t go that route due to allergies – wet clothes outside soak up the allergens.

  66. friend says:

    Linear Girl:

    If you haven’t been shocked, and I hope you haven’t, you’re just speaking theoretically. J.D. is by no means destitute & can afford the cord. (Perhaps he should ask Kris, who loves him, whether it’s a good idea.)

  67. Jason says:

    I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all around person. With poor sleep, I’m just getting by at best, an irritable mess at worst.

    I’d replace that mattress yesterday, as others have already said. Think of the other things you “just do” when they wear out and become unsafe or function poorly — car tires, toothbrushes, sponges, knives, ladders, etc. The mattress very easily fits into the same category.

  68. Richby30Retireby40Blog says:

    Sleep… oh how i longed for it today. This weekend was spent drinking with tennis teammates till 3am on Sunday morning and then waking up to play tennis at 8:45am! Sleep is so important.

    The best frugal weekends I have are via Netflix/BBonline and reading a book with the wife before sunset.

    I tell ya, the library and netflix is the greatest frugal entertainment ever!



  69. Lily says:

    @ Chickybeth You mean “Small Notebook”. 🙂

  70. Becky says:

    So much of frugality depends on your background. I thought the same as Nr. 49, Marie. I’d think that catering seems a bit overboard for a shower. I’d think the money spent on catering would be better given to the new bride/couple instead of the food. But that’s me. I thought the idea behind the shower is to help the person/couple, not to spend a bundle on the party itself. But maybe that’s just me. I’d rather spend more on the gift and less on the wrapping since you just throw the wrapping away and the gift remains.

    Frugality like reduce or no paper towel usage, hanging out clothes to dry (and getting used to stiffness–are we total wimps?), turning off lights when not needed, trying to not buy extra food that gets thrown out–is all this considered so frugal? It’s standard fare in other parts of the world.

    JD. Can you tell us more about your trip to Europe? Do you have a certain number of days you want to travel? Places/things you want to see? Is this a “once in a lifetime” trip, or just the “first in a series”? Things over here (I’m in Poland) aren’t particularly cheap for the traveler. One thing I’ve not figured out (and maybe it would be a good subject for a blog article) is how we can manage to stay at such wonderful hotels if we go with a prearranged trip with a tour company, but if we try to arrange it ourselves, we have to pay $200/night for it. You know it isn’t costing the tour agency anything like that. (I’ve heard something like $35 night for the tour agency for that $200 room but I don’t know if it is true.)

    I’d be curious if there is any way to get such good prices individually.

  71. Lily says:

    Btw, JD – if you go to Rome, beware: some vendors and restaurants rip off tourists. They make you pay several euros for a bottle of water or a coffee, things that shouldn’t cost more than 1. Don’t go in fancy “typical” restaurants without prices on the menu, in order to avoid nasty surprises when you ask for the bill.
    And if you don’t like extremely hot weather (35-40 °C)… wait for the fall before touring Italy.

  72. Amy H. says:

    @Marie (comment #49) —
    I don’t know of very many showers (wedding or otherwise) that were at someone’s home and catered, but I have been to a lot that were held at a restaurant/hotel. So, much less frugal than having a party at home (but still not “catered”). That might be the point of comparison here.

  73. ebyt says:

    You said your mattress is 15 years old and you want to buy a new one. I’ve got a couple of tips for you as I worked in sales while I went to university:

    -Mattresses are hugely marked up (at least here in Canada). I bought one for staff price (brand new, not a display model) that cost 50% less than what we were selling it for. They still made money off of me. Either wait till they go on sale, or make sure you ask for a good deal. Good mattress/box sets start around $1,500 “regular” price.

    -Make sure you buy a mattress pad so you get full warranty. The salespeople will try to sell you on the manufacturer’s 10-year warranty, but they don’t always tell you the warranty is void if you stain it.

    -To go along w. the warranty thing, always buy the matching mattress/boxspring set. Mismatching usually voids the warranty. The boxspring is usually only about 10-15% of the mattress set’s price so don’t try to cut costs there, or by using your old “perfectly good” boxspring.

    -Don’t be afraid to test the beds on the showroom floor – that’s what they’re there for.

    Don’t really have any other comments for the post, just the mattress thing piqued my interest.

  74. Sean says:

    Buy your new mattress at Bed In A Box… We bought ours 2 years ago and love it.

    It’s a memory foam mattress like Tempurpedic, for about 20% of the price.

  75. Have Pack, Will Travel says:


    I might have a few tips on budget travel. 😉

    France & Italy were part of my first trip abroad. Not sure if you’ve been before but you’ll definitely have a good time.

  76. Charlotte says:


    In Portland you can get recycled paint for $8-$10 gallon at http://www.metro-region.org/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=521

    Also, buy landscaping supplies at http://www.bestbuyintown.biz/
    You scoop your own and also the compost mix is excellent! Our tomatoes are beautiful 🙂 Far from where you live but “might” be worth it.

    Our recent frugal moves:
    1. 2 blu-ray movies free from the library as well as books.
    2. Upgraded Ramen (good quality Korean) lunch with home-grown veggies.
    3. Upgraded frozen pizza (Trader Joe’s) with fresh tomatoes and cheese.
    4. Fresh salads from CSA. (www.sungoldfarm.com)
    5. Shared 3 entrees for 4 people family-style at Chinese Restaurant.
    6. Vegetarian chili with home-grown peppers, no meat.
    7. Invited friends over for a home-cooked dinner.
    8. Purchased plane ticket for my brother and mom leaving and returning on weekdays. In this case, it did not matter because they have plenty of time off.

    Wow, it feels good to think about it 🙂

  77. Teresa says:

    I’m working on talking myself out of a new bike… my old bike is causing me some serious knee pain (due to the bike, not an injury or other medical condition). I’ve found a couple physiotherapists in my area who, rather than working on me, will fit the components of my bike to me so as to allow my body to move as it wants to on my bike. This fitting is designed to be a level beyond what is offered by a bike shop. It can’t fix a really bad frame choice, but I hope to keep my old bike and swap out parts (pedals, handlebar, seat, as necessary) based on her recommendations. In addition to saving the cost of a new bike, her services are covered by my insurance as long as I have a doctor’s referral. I’ll have to pay for parts and service, but it should feel like a new bike!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Search Window