The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen

Man-Who-Quit-MoneyI like thinking about money.

I enjoy creating spreadsheets and budgets. When the Sunday Seattle Times arrives, I almost always read the Business section first.

Thinking and talking about money doesn’t bother me or cause me anxiety like lots of other people. Quite the contrary. The more I research, assess and understand my own personal finances, the more comfortable, safe and content I feel.

So, when I heard there was a man living in the U.S. who quit money–just gave it up one day by putting his life savings of thirty dollars in a phone booth–I was very intrigued.

When I started reading The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen, I thought, how can anyone live without money? What kind of crazy person would do that?

But the more I read, the more I could see why Daniel Suelo chose to quit money. Even though I could never imagine living the way Suelo does–not earning, receiving or paying a single cent–I could understand why he chose, and still chooses, to live this way.

Reading this book made me wonder why I felt such a great need to save more and more money. Why was my sense of self and security so wrapped in how much savings I had? I started to question what is real security, separate from monetary means.

Could I feel secure in myself no matter how much money I had?

It’s a hard question for me to answer. I’m still grappling with it.

This book is beautifully written and very thought-provoking. Sundeen did an excellent job profiling this most interesting and fascinating man. I suspect I will be thinking about Suelo’s story for many, many years to come.

If you read it, please post what you thought of it. I’d love to hear your opinion.

NOTE: The book link on this page is an affiliate link, so if you end up using it for your own online shopping, Super Frug will benefit (thank you!).

Super frugal gifts for under $10

Creamsicle Bath SaltsI used to love shopping for Christmas gifts.

I think part of it was the thrill of the hunt. I loved trying to find the “perfect” gift for each of my friends and family members. The other part was I enjoyed seeing the look on people’s faces when they opened my gift.

As years went by though, I got less and less high on the adrenaline and challenge of hunting down holiday gifts. I also realized with some sadness and irony that most of the time my so-called “perfect” gift wasn’t something that the person was going to use regularly or in some cases, ever use at all.

Now, I spend a lot less time and money on buying gifts. The gifts that I give out now are ones that can be consumed and/or experienced. I don’t want to give out another thing that someone has to take care of, maintain, dust or eventually donate to the Goodwill!

Here are some gifts that Marcus and I are giving out this year.

1. Homemade Bath Salts
Super easy and inexpensive! I make these bath salts for birthdays, hostess gifts, thank you gifts and holiday gifts. I think people appreciate receiving them because it encourages them to take time out to soak and relax. I adapted this recipe from Homemade Simple.

What you need:

  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 quart or gallon-sized resealable freezer bag
  • Essential oils
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Wax paper
  • Funnel
  • Glass jar


  1. Dump both salts into the bag. Seal the bag and shake until well mixed.
  2. Add 1 drop of food coloring. Seal and shake to distribute evenly. WARNING: Food coloring is potent so use 1 drop at a time until you reach the color you want. For my Creamsicle Bath Salts, I used about 2 drops of red and 3-4 drops of yellow.
  3. Add 2-3 drops of essential oil. Seal and shake. Repeat until you reach your desired amount of scent. I used what I had in the house: vanilla extract and sweet orange essential oil. When I mixed it, I realized that it smelled just like Creamsicles!
  4. Spread salt out evenly on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Let dry for 1-2 hours.
  5. Pour salts through a funnel into a clean, dry jar. I prefer using Ball canning jars but you can use any jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  6. Label the lid of the jar with the name of your salts. Get creative and have fun!

To use, sprinkle half the contents of one batch into hot, running water in your bathtub. Swirl the salt with your hands to help them dissolve. Soak and relax!

Creamsicle Bath Salt Label2. Fancy Chocolate Bars
The holidays are a great time of year to give people tasty treats that they might not ordinarily buy for themselves. There are many chocolatiers to choose from, but I like to give Theo Chocolate bars because they’re yummy, organic and fair trade, made in Seattle, and they come in all sorts of interesting flavors. My favorites are the Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Salted Almond Dark Chocolate; Hazelnut Crunch Milk or Dark Chocolate; and the Chai Milk Chocolate. My nephew Logan’s favorite is the Gingerbread Spice Milk Chocolate. I usually buy them from Bartell Drugs (my favorite store!) or Fred Meyer when they go on sale. On sale, can get them for as low as $1.79 to $2.50 per bar.

3. Fancy Popcorn
Another tasty, edible treat that people may not ordinarily buy for themselves because it seems too decadent is fancy-flavored popcorn. Marcus and I love Uncle Woody’s Popcorn which is made in Seattle and uses 100% pure ingredients–no artificial coloring or flavoring. Again, we buy the packs when they go on sale for around $3 at Bartell Drugs in December. You have to try the Cinnamon Butterscotch Caramel Corn!

 4. Homemade Jam
Every summer, we harvest the tiny, golden plums from our one fruit tree and make them into jam to give as gifts. We use the traditional water-bath canning jam recipe that comes in the SURE-JELL Pectin package. If you don’t have a fruit tree, consider buying fruit when it’s in season and is at a good price. If you can’t make the jam right away, wash, chop and freeze the fruit for later use. People love getting homemade jam!

I hope these gifts give you some great ideas for your own gift list.

Hope you have a very happy and Super Frug holiday season!

Make Your Own Toys on Black Friday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust say NO to shopping on Black Friday!

Instead, spend the day relaxing (for God’s sake, don’t you deserve a day off every once in a while?), enjoying time with your friends and family, and/or making your own toys!

That’s what Marcus and I did with our 7-year-old nephew Logan. We did not buy a single thing at a single store. We spent the day after Thanksgiving making toys out of supplies we already had in the house: toilet paper rolls, old business cards, paper, tape, markers, crayons and straws.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a game that Logan came up with on his own. It is an obstacle course made out of construction paper, straws, tape and markers. The wheel is made out of the sawed off end of a paper towel roll. According to Logan, you start at either “X” on the right side and you flick the wheel with your finger. The goal is to have the wheel roll through without touching the straws and have it land on the star on the far left end. It’s harder than it looks, but with practice, you can do it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarcus and Logan came up with these two sleds to slide down our stairway bannister. The one on top is what they came up with yesterday. It slid down the full length of the bannister only three times out of many tries. Turned out it was too heavy. We recommended that Logan sleep on it. He did and this morning, he woke up and came up with another idea. The model on the bottom is the new aerodynamic design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, it really goes!

These are just a few of the things you can come up with using your imagination and some everyday supplies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThink you can’t come up with any homemade toys on your own? Just ask your favorite 7-year-old to help you out!

It’s so much more fun and way more frugal than shopping amongst the hordes on Black Friday.

Favorite Free Thing: Trick-or-Treating on Halloween

Haloween-candy-webI love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year!

I also love our townhouse but the one thing I don’t love about it is that kids never come to our door on Halloween. I mean, our townhouse is located at the end of a dark alley but what’s a little spookiness on Halloween?

Anyway, they never come, so every year for the past six years, Marcus and I have gone over to our friends Mike and Caroline’s house for their Halloween party and potluck.

It’s fun and festive–with a huge bat hanging from the trees in the front yard, glowing jack o’lanterns, fake spiders, and all kinds of spooktacular stuff–and always filled with good people and good food.

But really, in the end, we go for the trick-or-treaters.

We love seeing all the kids (and adults and dogs!) in costume out trick-or-treating. And technically, I count it as a Favorite Free Thing even though we contribute about $20 of candy every year. $20 is a small price to pay for a night’s worth of entertainment.

Caroline, a die-hard list lover, loves to count the number of kids and adults in costume that come to the door. We also count the number of dogs that come up (costume optional). Caroline gives out the candy (and biscuits to the dogs) and I keep count on a notepad.

This year we broke all records with 152 kids! 18 adults! And 13 dogs! Oh my!

Here are some of my favorite tricksters from last night.

Halloween-day-of-the-dead-webLoved the cute and spooky Dia de los Muertos Family. Adore the mom’s face makeup! Thinking about R&Ding (rob & duplicating) that next year.

Halloween-Mr-Paddington-webThis kid told us he/she was “Mr. Paddington” from some video game. He/she said no one knows who she is. Still, the kid gets points for making the costume from scratch. DIY!

Halloweeen-hot-dogs-webMy favorite of the night–the Hot Dog Family. Look at their cute costumes! Look at their cute smiles! It just warmed my heart…and I couldn’t stop laughing. They even inspired me to create a new Twitter hashtag: #SoCuteItKillsMe.

Halloween is over but I’m still craving chocolate and more costumes. Can’t wait for next  year!

Photos by Marcus Donner.

Sticking it to The Man!

Cheshire_Cats_headI love this picture from the book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where the Executioner and the King are arguing about whether they can cut off the Cheshire Cat’s head. And the cat is watching, thoroughly amused.

Sometimes I feel like the Cheshire Cat.

I’m amused when I read about or observe people who spend money on things they don’t need or on things they could buy or make for a lot less.

They waste their money and then they complain about not having enough money! It’s enough to make me sit back and smile my Cheshire Cat grin.

You don’t have to live your life according to what you see on TV or in the movies or in a magazine!

That’s the Man talking! And a great marketing team talking! (Or maybe it’s your mother or your sister or your coworkers or your frenemies, in which case you need to learn to tune them out!)

You can live the life you want, the way you want to.

As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or hurting others, you are free to live your life the way you want to (especially here in the United States and in many other democratic countries).

You know what I think keeps people from living the way they want to live?


They are so stuck in what they should be doing.
What they should look like.
What label should be on their clothes.
What they should drive.
What they should live in.
Where they should live.
What they should be eating.
What they should be drinking.
What school their kids should be attending.
What lessons their kids should be taking after school.
What kind of phone their kids should be talking on. (Ugh!)
The list goes on and on!

Should, should, shoulds!


F*ck what other people think! Instead, focus more about what you think. What you feel inside every day. What you feel when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Again, as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or hurting others, live your life the way you want to live it.

For me, I love living frugally and knowing that my money is well spent, well managed, and that Marcus and I are taken care of in the present and in the future. Frugality is a value that I live by.

Every time I find a better way to do something for less money (or no money!), I feel like I am sticking it to The Man. And boy, is it a glorious feeling.

For example, for the past year, I’ve been researching recipes for DIY health and beauty products. So far, I’ve made lip balm, hand lotion, face scrub, facial moisturizing oil, a solid deodorant for Marcus, a spray deodorant for myself, and scented bath salts. I know it may seem small, but every time I make a health or beauty product for mere pennies, and it works just as good as something I used to buy in a store, I get a boost.

What about you?

Do you want more freedom? Are you hung up on trying to please others? Are you trying to live up to other people’s images (or some brilliant marketing team’s idea) of what you should be or what you should be doing?

It’s time to break out. One step at a time. Think of one thing that you can do this week to start living your life the way you want to live it.

Then do it!