Philip Brewer's blog

Book Review: Ragnar's Guide to the Underground Economy

This book is exactly what the title says: A guide to living in the underground economy.

High tech for mass transit

The local bus company where I live has started providing a bunch of high-tech aids to riders. The coolest one is sophisticated trip planning. In a web browser, enter your starting point, desired destination, and departure time. [more]

Making the most of your guilty pleasures

I've been trying to come up with a way to articulate the mental shift from being not-frugal to being frugal. It's not really about wanting to spend less, and it's certainly not about making do with less. [more]

Opting out of the money economy

It's a quirk of mine that I've always found the idea of opting out of the money economy to be interesting.

Rolling Stone article on ethanol

In my recent post Plan for expensive fuel, I mentioned sustainable fuels in a somewhat dismissive fashion. [more]

Your budget: envelopes or a plan?

When I was first introduced to budgeting, the model used was the envelope method. Every payday you'd take your cash and divide it up among envelopes labeled "Rent," "Groceries," "Electric Bill," etc. [more]

Frugal travel with Esperanto

Travel presents the classic conundrum: If you have the money you don't have the time, and if you have the time you don't have the money. You can travel on the cheap if you have friends or relatives that you can stay with. [more]

Plan for expensive fuel

Does your budget include a contingency for fuel to get much more expensive? Because it ought to. I learned about the need for contingencies early. [more]

Book review: Your Money or Your Life

This book is one of the classics of modern frugality, and it's been a source of some controversy. At the bottom, though, its message is a simple one: Pay attention. Pay attention t

Start with recurring monthly expenses

I tend to divide spending up into four categories. [more]

Voluntary simplicity as hedonism

When people talk about voluntary simplicity (or living a frugal lifestyle under any of its many names), they often do so in terms of deprivation. The descriptions are all about doing without stuff. To me, that's completely wrong. [more]

Best investment: yourself

I read a lot of investment books. [more]

Eating Locally on a Budget

Eating locally is trendy right now, and for good reasons. Local food is fresher, healthier, better tasting, better for your community, and better for the planet.

Voluntary simplicity versus poverty

The first person I met who practiced voluntary simplicity didn't call it that, and I didn't understand what she was doing until many years later. [more]

Why Treasury Bills Are Always a Worthwhile Investment

When rates are rising, you need something that responds quickly to changes in the market. That's where Treasury bills come in.

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is really three small books in one. The first thing Ferriss does is make the case that you ought to figure out exactly what you want to do, and then arrange your life so that you can do that. [more]

Dangerous neighborhoods are safer than commuting

Why do so few people live within walking--or at least bicycling--distance from where they work? I've asked a lot of people this question and gotten a lot of different answers. Some people want big houses, others big lawns. [more]

Frugal Transport--bicycling

Three years ago I started bicycling to work. It was a gradual thing. It took extra planning to ride--there were issues with clothing, issues with carrying stuff on the bike.

A Budget is Not a Constraint

When people resist the idea of budgets, the most common reason is that they view the budget as an unwelco