Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web

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This week: How to have a night out for $5, how to entertain yourself for free, how vanity can cost you, how expensive Starbucks is, and how to make a simple budget.

1. A Budget That Actually Works

[20s Finances] “Even knowing how important a budget is, many put off creating one. … Fortunately, with technology, there are endless options when it comes to budgets. Here are just a few examples.”

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m big on tracking expenses. In this post, the author shows you three different ways to get the job done, including one that requires virtually no effort on your part.

2. 56 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

[And Then We Saved] “Not spending money? No need to worry; there’s lots to do!”

Sometimes we forget there are actually things we can do without spending a dime — sometimes even fun and interesting things. One example? What you’re doing now — reading engaging stuff online.

Other ideas offered by this post include building a fort, visiting the library, cashing in gift cards, getting organized, taking hourly pictures, rearranging your house, and volunteering. Check out the post for more.

3. Guess How Much Cheaper Homemade Coffee Is?

[Bargain Babe] “Making coffee at home is a huge money saver compared to buying it at Starbucks or another coffee shop. But JUST how much cheaper is it, really? And how much do those savings grow into if you invested it? We crunch the numbers so you don’t have to!”

Read this post and you’ll be tempted to do one of two things: stop buying coffee at Starbucks, or buy stock in Starbucks.

Of course, you don’t need a calculator to know it costs a lot less to brew your own. But when you see how much less, it’s more of a wake-up than caffeine.

4. How Avoiding Vanity Has Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

[Beating Broke] “Thanks to my lack of vanity and acceptance that I will never be one of the [beautiful people] of the world, I estimate I’ve saved thousands of dollars. Here are some of the ways.”

This post is either sour grapes or an acknowledgement that looking and living like a picture in a magazine comes at a price. Actually, perhaps it’s a little of both. Check it out.

5. 15 Fun Nights Out for $5 or Less

[Wise Bread] “Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to entertaining myself on the cheap. And it’s easier than you might think to find things to do. It just takes a little research and a lot of creativity, but you can certainly spend $5 (or less) and have an enjoyable time out.”

Seems like every time the wife and I leave the house, we return home $50 poorer and a pound heavier, so this I had to read. The low-budget ideas included complimentary or low-cost yoga classes, free art events, hiking and picnics. See the post for more.

What do you like?

We’re always on the hunt for talented personal finance writers and interesting sites. If you’ve got a favorite, let us know below or on our Facebook page! You can also talk to us about anything you’d like simply by hitting “reply” to your daily email update. (Not subscribed? Fix that right now!)

Stacy Johnson

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