Monday, December 31

Welcome: A Blog Overview for 2008

Treasure MapHi. Since I've been blogging for quite a while now I thought I'd create a resource page for new visitors...

First, I'm not even going to try to define frugality. It seems to mean different things to different people. Perhaps this is based on whether they are being frugal by necessity or frugal by choice. I'm betting that there are many shades of gray between the two though.

Fun Posts
Perhaps the best place to point you, the new visitor, is to some fun blog posts so that you'll get a good impression and come back for more:

It appears that I've been too busy to have fun recently, so I endeavor to have more fun in 2008!

Serious Posts
Frugality isn't all fun and games you know. Here are some posts that take a look at some larger issues:The perspectives category will help you identify some other thoughtful posts.

Frugal Foods
Okay, enough fooling around, for those that need to save money, this is the real deal. Here are some frugal food ideas with thoughts about how to stay healthy as well:For even more meal ideas see the cheap food and recipe categories.

2007 In Review
On a personal note, 2007 was a big year for me. I met my significant other and we've settled down and started a family! Somehow Frugal Mom was able to put up with me and my frugal ways. Now that I have a family I'm planning to get a real job and work on building my Internet empire, but only in my spare time.

It isn't really obvious, but I'm the guy behind the Grokodile blog directory. Please add your blog, in your own city, and then edit your detail page. You're blog will be ranked in your community and as well by whatever tags you define on your detail page. How cool is that? Unfortunately, while cool, it's not cool enough to supplant the need for a day job. Sigh.

As a bit of a pointer for other people trying to monetize their blogs here are some potentially interesting facts:
  • Frugality is not a good niche for revenue generation. My best performing post, in terms of Adsense eCPM, was titled Cheapest Personal Loan. Too bad it never got much traffic though.
  • My traffic levels have been rising during the course of the year. I seem to be one of the top NN frugality bloggers, at least according to some lists that have been compiled, though I won't make any claims myself. I do know I have over 250 readers subscribed to my feed (it varies a lot).
  • My efforts to monetize this blog have been endless. At one point I even considered using a pay per post company, but there was no way to take offers without destroying the nature of my blog. Just recently, I've put AdBrite on this site, but I don't have any results I can report on as of yet. I'm also looking into Ads-Click. I had activated their code but it didn't seem to work for MSIE.
  • As far as I can tell, the post that earned the most Adsense revenue in 2007 was about my Diet and Weight Loss Results. The CTR was not very good, but it seems a lot of people are interested in dieting.
  • The affiliate program that brought me the most revenue in 2007 was MyPoints. I simply review my own progress to date and present a link to their site. It's only a few dollars a month so I don't know if it's really worth it.
I'm not sure where the quest for monetization will take me in 2008. I do know that if traffic levels continue to rise I should eventually be able to cover my monthly food expenses.

Anyway, back to issues of a non-monetary nature. If you have any ideas, suggestions or questions, feel free to join the Frugality Steering Committee by leaving a comment. Of course, I'd be more than happy if you'd add your thoughts to any blog post -- that's the real reward for being a blogger.

Welcome to my world,
Frugal Guy

P.S. If you are curious, I've already posted my resolutions for 2008.

Saturday, December 29

Frugal Resolutions 2008

Happy New Year!It's time to look at the past year and figure out how we might be able to do better with our choices and our lives. It's not always a fun process, but then, that's probably a signal that it is something worth doing.

At the moment I have two resolutions. Well, I have at least steeled my resolve and come to accept that they are things I must do:

  • Rejoin the rat race.
  • Improve my dietary habits.
Starting with the second, my diet has been atrocious lately. From the stress of pregnancy (my partners, not mine) to the sleeplessness of having a newborn, I've been pushed out of my habits. Never mind the fact that Christmas season and visiting relatives have been added to the mix. Needless to say both how much I've eaten and what I've eaten have been somewhat out of control.

As for the first, I had been telecommuting from home part time as well as working on developing an online income. Since frugal people are so stingy, I certainly haven't been making anything from this blog! More seriously, my web efforts have slowly started to bring in more income, but they aren't enough to rely on alone. So, with historic debts still hanging around my neck, it is time to enter the rat race and throw some income at things for a good while.

On the eating habits front, I intend to start another calorie cycling diet. I've blogged about this before, it's basically alternating low calorie periods with normal calorie periods -- and I've had success with it before. For work, I'm very much trying to break out of my previous career path and slip into somewhat of a new field. Of course, that makes my job search all the more challenging. We'll quickly see how that goes once the new year starts.

Best of luck in 2008!

Saturday, December 22

Being Broke For Christmas

Christmas can be a very stressful time. It's supposed to be a time of friendship, family, goodwill and plenty of other positive things, but it isn't that way for everyone.

One category of Christmas sufferers includes those that are unemployed and broke.

When in this situation, you won't be sitting around enjoying yourself, but instead you are frustrated. It's nearly impossible to search for or get a job right around the Christmas season. It costs money to drive and visit relatives, or to buy food to host a family get together. You can't afford to buy things you need, much less Christmas ornaments, stocking stuffers and a myriad of other incidental items that have people crowding the stores in their last minute search for a special do-dad or knick-knack.

If you have a relative that isn't happy around Christmas, doesn't participate in gift exchanges, and is reluctant to go visit relatives during this season, it doesn't have to mean they are a crusty old hermit. They just might not feel they have the resources to deal with all the expenses. A tank of gas here. A bottle of windshield washer fluid there. A bag of chips or other snacks. A bottle of booze for the host, because you can't show up empty handed.

It's easy to forget, but everything costs money, and when you don't have any of it, the things that most people no longer even give a second thought, are a cause for concern.

Best wishes for the holidays everyone...

Sunday, December 16

Winter Daydreams

It's SnowingIt's cold, windy and snowing outside today. We've had perhaps six good inches of snow and large fluffy drifts are starting to accumulate here and there.

It's great!

Grandma and Grandpa have come to visit us for the holidays, so we are all sitting around talking, watching Christmas shows on television, and taking turns cooking meals. We don't have anywhere we have to be or anything we have to do.

The newspapers are being perused, books are being read, stories are being told, the baby is being pampered and the pets are being appreciated.

Winter daydreams are free.

Friday, December 14

Switching to AdBrite?

I've decided to give AdBrite a try.

Some features that I like:

- I can choose to approve every ad - though I may or may not want to.

- I am able to enter my Adsense code - so they can show it if they can't beat my Adsense revenue.

- You are allowed to have both Adsense and Abrite ads at the same time if you want.

Why not try it? Being frugal doesn't mean that I don't want to earn income!

Wednesday, December 12

Winter Chili Soup Stew

Chili RulesFirst, an apology to vegetarians. There was no shortage of meat in today's dinner. I have to say though, I do respect people who feel strongly enough to make this choice. I'll never be a vegetarian, but when they invent fake meat, perhaps cloned and grown in vats, I'll buy it.

Anyway, back to the evening meal...

I was thinking maybe some chili would be nice. Brown up some spicy beef and then fire up the old stock pot. Dig around the kitchen and find various types of beans. So, kidney beans and some mixed bean medley. Throw in some chicken vegetable soup. Cut up some turkey meatballs and throw them in. A dollop of barbecue sauce. A splash of olive oil. Leftover rice. Maybe a can of mushroom soup instead of something tomato based for a change. Various spices. Vegetables if you like them.

It was excellent!

Making chili or stew seems like a recycling project. You can toss in a bunch of leftovers, have a nice meal, and then put a whole new bunch of leftovers back in the fridge or freezer. What fun.

Tuesday, December 11

Fighting Freezer Burn

Vaccuum sealed meatsRecently, when I asked for topic ideas, Liz (who blogs about global poverty) suggested I talk about how to stop freezer burn.

C'mon, fess up.

I know you've had to throw out food because of freezer burn. It's okay, we've all done it from time to time. Obviously, throwing away food is not frugal, no matter how cheap it was when it was purchased.

So, have you ever wondered why ice cubes shrink in the freezer?

It's because water ever so slowly sublimates (goes directly from ice to vapor) and then eventually turns to frost inside your freezer. Of course, many fridges are frost-free, but the process still happens. Anyway, as water leaves the ice cubes they slowly shrink.

When water sublimates out of your food, such as frozen meat, vegetables or your favorite chocolate ice cream, the food dries out and suffers freezer burn.

The best way to prevent this is to prevent the food from coming into contact with air while it is in the freezer. Some things to consider include:

  • Squeeze the air out of any packaging before sealing it.
  • Use thick enough plastic, some seem to "breathe" while in the freezer.
  • Freeze long term items, such as a summer fishing catch, in a bag of water.
  • Eat the ice cream faster - or buy smaller containers.
Official government sites say that food that has suffered freezer burn is still safe, but as you probably know, it won't taste that good.

Funny thought. How does the government know that the food you put in the freezer was safe to eat in the first place? ;)

Saturday, December 8

The Frozen Food Store

Mmmm, Frozen FoodsYesterday night we went for another visit to the frozen food store. It's an awesome little place.

We now have various meats, fish, soup, frozen fruits and other goodies piled high in the freezer. This will last well into January.

While the price is great, it feels even better to have a fully stocked freezer than it does to save a few dollars.

Is there a low priced frozen goods store in your town?

Friday, December 7

New Feature On Grokodile

The Grokodile blog directory has an interesting new feature.

It ranks blogs based on custom defined category tags!

Here is how you can participate:

  1. Add your blog to the appropriate location.
  2. When viewing your listing click the detail link.
  3. Define some appropriate tags.
It's that easy.

How does it work? Grokodile uses Quantcast traffic statistics to provide automated blog rankings. This is cool. Once more people are participating it will be easy to see how we are doing with respect to our category peers.

Where does your blog rank?

Currently, I rank #1 (perhaps since I am the only one) for personal finance.

Thursday, December 6

The Grinch Saved Christmas

Oh Christmas TreeOh oh, looks like Frugal Guy is on another societal issues bent...

The other day, while watching Kramer on Mad Money, he made a comment about one of his children needing an iPod. He was surprised because she already owned one. Nevertheless, she felt it was necessary to get another one, because she really needed a blue one!

I guess that is on the Christmas list!

While this is important from an investment perspective, as it identifies how consumers relate to Apple's products, it also offers an insight into current day society and the rampant infiltration of consumerism.

Do you ever stop to think about how much time, money and effort is invested in advertising cool things to children and teens? Heck, matters are made worse by the fact that most children are raised using the television as a babysitter. Corporations are pushing our want buttons even before we are able to speak.

I distinctly remember, as a young child, wanting a brand of cereal because the commercial made it look so fun. Of course, fun and breakfast have nothing to do with the brand of cereal you buy, but it worked. Hey, when we are young we aren't really able to deal with subtle deception in this way. However, as I was saying, when I was eating breakfast I thought of the commercial and experienced a letdown.

This was the very beginning of my ability to decipher consumerism. I've been peeved at business practices ever since. I'm kind of joking, don't worry. How about using cartoon characters in order to entice children into smoking? Is anybody happy about that practice? There is an entire litany of misdeeds done in the name of shareholder profits -- and it really stinks.

Anyway, it struck me this morning that while the Grinch is certainly a dastardly fellow, sneaking around and stealing children's toys, he helps reinforce an important message. The Christmas season is about friends and family, taking time to let people around you know you care, and getting together for plenty of fattening celebratory meals.

My point?

It's the corporations that are stealing Christmas! Spending money on people doesn't prove that you care for them. Giving children whatever they want, whether or not you can afford it, does not help them develop an appropriate sense of self worth. It also doesn't impart an appropriate sense of money management.

It's up to us, as parents, to make sure we help our children learn to deal with all aspects of their lives. Consumerism, and the corporations pushing it, do not have our best interests at heart -- never forget that.

Note: Part of this week's Festival of Frugality over at Plonkee Money.

Tuesday, December 4

Cheap and Lazy Snack

Bowl of rice...Based on my previous post, about being a new father, I'm sure it is no surprise that I find myself with less time and energy than I am used to.

Anyway, here's the scoop.

Grab a bowl of left over rice. Hopefully, if you cook up lots of rice at a time like a good frugal person would, you'll have one sitting in the fridge much of the time.

Jazz it up a small amount with some BBQ sauce. It's good cold too... so don't waste any time heating it up!

If you find something faster and cheaper that requires less work, please let me know! :)

Sunday, December 2

Hello World

Ready To TravelHello everyone. I'm keeping the Frugal Guy a little busy these days.

Here I am in a hand made outfit, thanks to my great grandma, ready to come home from the hospital.

Mom, Dad and I are all healthy and happy, though a little busy and tired.