Frugal living online
If you’ve chosen – or been forced by circumstance – to live on a tight budget, it can seem like you’re swimming against the currents of our consumer-based society. Shopping trips, meals out, and gifts all add up if you’re expected to tag along and chip in. And others’ tales of their latest vacation or expensive ‘toys’ can make you feel deprived, even if you truly feel you lack for nothing. And then there are the rising costs of food and fuel…
But take heart: you can find other like-minded individuals. Here are some great sites you can visit for tips, information and discussion with others taking the same less-traveled path. And of course, they’re all free (other than the price of connecting to the Internet, of course!)
About.com’s Frugal Living site (http://frugalliving.about.com) remains a fantastic source of ideas, links and articles whether you’re a beginner or looking for more. The main page features timely articles and an overview of topics. The “Getting Started” section gets you underway with information on budgeting and debt elimination, while the “Do It Yourself” section covers everything from recipes and home repairs to gifts and recycling projects. There is an active forum available at the site, but visitors may find it to be a little difficult to use.
The Simple Living Forums (www.simplelivingforum.net). While the Simple Living Network closed down in December of 2010, the discussion groups are still going strong. Members continue to support each other in making changes or finding alternatives to expensive solutions to life’s roadblocks. Especially motivating is the “Success Stories” section where readers share triumphs big and small and you can learn from their successes.
Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com) is another site with some great articles and forums to connect with others. This site has a strong editorial voice and nicely inspirational focus. The list of member blogs, with titles and summaries of recent entries, is especially useful for getting a glimpse into individual approaches to budgeting and resources.
The Dollar Stretcher (www.stretcher.com) offers articles and newsletters, bringing together many of the leaders in simple living at one site. This site tends to delve a little deeper than average into the specifics of different situations – for example, the pitfalls of coming into a sudden inheritance, or lottery winnings. While not as easy to navigate as other sites, The Dollar Stretcher also offers a community and blogs.
Get Rich Slowly (www.getrichslowly.org) is as popular for its community as it is its information. This personal finance blog can be counted on to generate good conversation both in the comments on individual posts and its forums. Started by blogger J.D. Roth — who dug his way out of thousands of dollars in consumer debt — GRS has expanded in recent years to include new voices and a variety of topics. Many fans are from Canada and outside the U.S., lending an international perspective to the community.
Wishabi Wishabi.ca – This Canadian site is where social networking meets shopping. Community members post the best deals they find to share with other users. You can even post a deal you’re looking for and let others hunt for you — but you’ll need to register or sign in with your Facebook account first.
And of course there are a number of sites for Canadians looking for coupons and deals online — plus they offer advice and suggestions from users. For instance, find out if a company made good on its promise to send a free sample, or if the local supermarket refused a printed coupon.
Some of my favourites include:
• Save.ca (www.save.ca) – Enter your postal code and the type of products you’d like to buy and this site will mail you an envelope of coupons for your local stores. (It actually works, too.)
• Frugal Shopper Canada (www.frugalshopper.ca) – includes lists of deals, coupons, and contests.
• Canadian Free Stuff.com (www.canadianfreestuff.com) – If you like to track down free samples, this is the site for you.
• Red Flag Deals (www.redflagdeals.com) – The community touch helps here as website visitors vote on the best deals.
• Offers.com Canada Offers.com provides coupons in over 200 categories including travel, software and clothing. (Offers are verified, rated and updated daily by editors.)
Also, don’t forget group discount websites like Kijiji Deals, Groupon and SocialLiving.com. For more information on these sites, see our previous articles Find a deal online and Social coupons – such a deal.