Pocketmint

small change toward a rich life

Tag: frugal living

  1. Eating cheaply and well: learn to be an improv cook

    26 February 2013

    I’ve waxed philosophical in recent articles, so I thought it was time to offer up something practical. Today I’m going to help you eat surprisingly well on just three to four dollars per day. First, a few numbers to establish my grocery thrift credibility: The USDA estimates monthly costs for food at different spending levels. […]

  2. The secret to the new iPhone’s popularity

    14 September 2012

    So the iPhone 5 goes on sale in just one week. Here’s an early look at what people think of the improvements over last year’s 4S model: This cracked me the hell up. You’ve probably heard of ‘planned obsolescence’, where products are deliberately designed with a limited lifespan. There’s a bit of that with the […]

  3. Miswanting, and two strategies to counter it

    6 August 2012

    As part of my attempt to downsize our life, I’m culling my collection of clothes and shoes. As I ransack my closet and dresser drawers, I’m struck by the occasional item that was a complete misfire. There aren’t many of them, because I know myself pretty well, but I’ve run across a few things that […]

  4. Urban homestead failure still a frugal success

    20 July 2012

    If, as I do, one reads many books and blogs espousing a culture of frugality and anti-consumerism, one will quickly and repeatedly cross paths with the cousin community of urban homesteaders and do-it-yourselfers. I am seduced by the whole idea of urban homesteading, for reasons of both ethics and aesthetics. But I fear I am […]

  5. The cost of food in Mexico: cheap

    31 May 2012

    Having looked at the groceries that are more expensive and about the same, we now come to the exciting part: what are the Mexico food bargains? Cheap The fact that fruits and vegetables are both plentiful and cheap in Mexico was not unexpected; in fact, it was one of the criteria I had in mind […]

  6. The cost of food in Mexico: comparable

    28 May 2012

    Last post, I covered a few imported things that were so frighteningly expensive in Mexico that we will just have to do without. For a majority of items, however, prices are comparable to those in the States. This means that groceries are not going to be our primary source of savings — not given that […]

  7. The cost of food in Mexico: crazy

    26 May 2012

    We’re hoping to reduce our expenses by moving to Mexico, but that doesn’t mean everything is cheaper there — not by a long shot. As a general rule, locally-produced items, including food, are cheaper than or at least similar to U.S. prices. Imports, on the other hand, are expensive … sometimes jaw-droppingly so. This article […]

  8. Buying groceries, Mexico style

    20 May 2012

    Pocketmint is documenting a month of personal finance in Mexico. For the backstory, see this post. Now that I’ve described my usual grocery strategies, here’s how they apply to Mexican shopping: Price tracking: extremely useful in a between-store sense, much less so in an over-time sense, because … Weekly sale ads: don’t exist. There are […]

  9. Frugal grocery shopping basics

    17 May 2012

    As I’ve started to write up my experiences grocery shopping in Mexico, I’ve realized that in order for the comparisons to make any sense I first need to give them some context. If you’ve been reading Pocketmint for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I place a lot of emphasis on food. From […]

  10. Handmade holidays: experiment in wreath-making

    27 December 2011

    On even-numbered years, Jak’s kids are with us for Christmas, and we often end up spending the holiday with his extended family as well. On odd-numbered years — like this one — the kids spend Christmas with their mother, and Jak and I are usually alone. I wasn’t too keen on buying a whole tree […]

  11. Feed a crowd for forty bucks

    9 December 2011

    The calculations are complete. Total cost per person for our Thanksgiving meal (one generous serving each of six dishes and two desserts): $3.50. Note that I didn’t skimp on quality of ingredients — I used such expensive items as pine nuts, heavy cream, whole vanilla beans, and real maple syrup. I also did nothing different […]

  12. On shrimp, or how to balance ethics and thrift

    19 November 2011

    Pocketmint now spans three and a half years, and while there are certain posts I would write the same today, other things in my life have changed over that time. I think this personal evolution is often meaningful, so periodically I’ll be highlighting something I said in the past and updating it with my current […]

  13. Pocketmint reboot

    22 October 2011

    Three years ago, in October 2008, the stock market crashed and — not coincidentally, as I was then employed by the brokerage arm of an international bank — I promptly lost my job. The following month my partner Jak took a 10% pay cut, as the market continued dropping and layoffs and hiring freezes broke […]

  14. Supper club: an alternative to potlucks and dinner parties

    15 January 2010

    This entry started out as a comment to Kris’ potluck post on Get Rich Slowly, but it soon became too long for a mere comment, so I moved it over here. In addition to being frugal-minded, I’m also an unabashed foodie. When I was lucky enough to have three friends nearby who also liked to […]

  15. Save those crusts: a yummy use for your extra bread bits

    11 December 2009

    For the past few months, my newfound love for easy homemade bread got sidelined by my difficulties with excema. Even easy bread sort of requires being able to use both hands. So it was back to the Costco multigrain loaves for sandwiches and toast. It’s always pained my frugal soul that a certain amount of […]

  16. Spending money to save money

    5 November 2009

    We’ve done a pretty good job of cutting back on unnecessary expenses during this period of reduced income. ‘Magazine subscriptions’ seems like an obvious category to eliminate, right? Yet I kept mine. Here’s why: they save me way more money than they cost. Consumer Reports My first-ever magazine subscription, when I was 19 years old, […]

  17. Seeking alpha (testers)

    25 September 2009

    Alert readers may have noticed that lately the frequency of posts here at Pocketmint has been somewhat reduced. One reason is that some of my recently personal-finance writing has gone to Get Rich Slowly instead. In addition to the aforementioned discount grocery store adventure, I did a post on Discovering — and challenging — your […]

  18. An unflinching look at America’s dangerous fascination with ‘cheap’

    5 September 2009

    Even before I’d finished Ellen Ruppel Shell’s new book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, I decided I should review it on Pocketmint. I then spent two weeks artfully procrastinating on doing so. Apparently I have a block on writing formal ‘book reviews’. I have no trouble discussing books, verbally and informally, but the […]

  19. Credit cards (part three): use ’em … and lose ’em anyway

    7 August 2009

    It was a brief segment on NPR’s Marketplace last month that alerted me to the newest scary thing about credit cards: banks have begun to curtail or withdraw credit based on where you shop and what you buy. Here’s one example: consumer Kevin Johnson had his credit line slashed by two-thirds despite a stellar credit […]

  20. A visit to the Island of Misfit Foods

    4 August 2009

    The first of my two guest posts is up at Get Rich Slowly. GRS has long been my favorite personal finance blog, and was one of the main inspirations for Pocketmint. (Which is sort of a neat karmic circle, since JD credits my online personal journal of twelve years ago as the inspiration for his […]

  21. One more for the ‘no-knead’ bread revolution

    1 July 2009

    I love fresh homemade bread. Once, in my early twenties, I made a loaf by hand. I had picked up the classic Tassajara Bread Book from a remainder table, and one afternoon I went at it for several hours, kneading and punching away. It made a glorious loaf which we happily devoured straight out of […]

  22. Downsizing appliances to save money

    20 June 2009

    When we bought our house in December 2006, there was a surprise in the garage: the former owners had left us a huge old chest freezer. Now, Jak and I had a chest freezer already, a smaller model we’d bought at Costco about five years earlier. So this one was a bit superfluous, more than […]

  23. Less income, more savings

    6 June 2009

    Yesterday I promised to give an update on our personal financial situation and how it’s changed over the last half-year. In November I wrote that we were down to a quarter of our prior income, as Jak’s employer had cut his hours by half just as I’d been summarily dismissed from my full-time job. I […]

  24. Frugal foodie: agony at the farmers’ market

    21 August 2008

    I had a sort of mini-vacation last week; didn’t go anywhere, but took off work to hang with a visiting friend. I had every intention of posting during the break, but … I was too busy playing. And eating. Stacy and I are both unapologetic foodies, which means we spent much of our time bouncing […]

  25. Fillet or fish: picking the better bargain

    10 July 2008

    The weekly grocery fliers arrived yesterday, and when I saw the QFC ad for ‘Fresh Wild Coho Salmon’ I was reminded of a frequent shopping dilemma: should I buy whole fish or fillets? This week’s offering is $9.99 for the fillets, or $6.99 for the whole fish. I have no idea which price is the […]

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