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Monday Q&A | Computer & Software Recommendations, plus Wardrobe Staples

Every other Monday, I answer questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

What type of computer, printer, word processor, and spreadsheet program do you use? We’re going to be in the market soon and your frugal expertise would be helpful.


Well, my computer specs won’t really be that helpful because I have a desktop that Mr. FG built especially for me (this is a perk of having a husband who is in IT!) It’s got mirrored hard drives on it so that my pictures are always automatically backed up, and it’s got a ton of storage for said pictures.

I also have a very small laptop that I use solely for financial things. It’s set up to be muoy secure.

(This is not my financial laptop.)

The printer I own is a Canon Pixma. It does both photos and text very well, and each ink color is a separate cartridge, which means that you can use each one until it’s gone rather than having to replace a whole cartridge when one color runs low. I’ve owned a number of Canon printers, and my one complaint is that after a few years, the print head seems to go south, and a new print head tends to cost as much or more than a new printer. It doesn’t look like my particular printer is still sold, but there are quite a few Pixma printers to choose from, and you shouldn’t have to spend more than $100 to get a good basic printer.

The word processor I use (and the one I used to write my ebook) is just Microsoft Word. You can get it plus several other programs on Amazon for $99.

Though you didn’t ask, I use Outlook every single day, and you can get that with the Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 . I can hardly imagine handling my email load without Outlook.

Lastly, I’m sorry to tell you that I haven’t made a spreadsheet in probably 18 years, so I have no great recommendation there. I’m positive my readers will, though!

I’m wondering…what are your wardrobe staples? I’m looking to revamp and simplify my closet, and thought I would ask you about your favorite brands and styles, and possibly take advantage of holiday sales 🙂


Oh, gosh…I’m probably not the best person in the world to answer this question, since I’m not exactly a high-fashion kind of gal! And since what looks good on one person might not look good on another, it’s a little hard to give recommendations to other people.

I tend to keep my clothes pretty simple, which does keep things more in the frugal realm. I also generally prefer styles that aren’t super trendy, and that means I can wear my clothes for quite a while without them going out of fashion. Because I’m not out in the workforce, my wardrobe doesn’t need to be very fancy, and that also helps to keep things inexpensive.


During the winter, I mostly wear jeans (we’re a jeans-wearing family!), which I love because you can dress them up or down. I don’t think I paid full price for any of my jeans…they’re from Goodwill, clearance racks, and outlets, or have been purchased with gift cards or store coupons. So, I’ve got a mish-mash of brands and can’t recommend one in particular!


For shirts, I tend to stick with basic long-sleeved knit shirts (one lucky day I found two at Goodwill that just needed a teeny bit of mending), and when I’m cold, I put on a fleece jacket or pullover (my Old Navy clearance fleeces are holding up really well.) I also have two basic button-down shirts and some fine-gauge sweaters for when I want to dress my jeans up a bit more.


I am mortally opposed to wearing athletic shoes with jeans, so in cold weather, I generally wear ballet flats (the ones I fixed with Shoe Goo!), low heels, my equestrian boots (which I love with the burning passion of a thousand suns), or some Skechers Mary Janes.

Let’s see…what else? I have a few scarves, one black purse, and a black pea coat (which I consider to be a wardrobe essential).

So, I guess I’d say that my winter wardrobe staples are

  • jeans (bootcut and skinny)
  • long-sleeved knit shirts
  • fine-gauge sweaters
  • non-athletic footwear
  • a classic pea coat

And to get these things without paying an arm and a leg, I recommend shopping clearances (this is a GREAT time of year to find winter clothes on clearance), thrift stores, or watching for a good sale.


Readers, do share your thoughts! What computer/printer etc. do you like, and what do you consider to be wardrobe staples for winter?

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Wednesday 16th of January 2013

Hi Kristen, I was wondering why you decided to not go with a bagless vacuum? We have a bagless central vac and I love not having to buy bags! For one thing they are so expensive and when we had an Electrolux that used bags I would open the bag, dump the 'dust' and seal it back up with duct tape to use it again! (You could only use it one more time) But the bagless system is easy to use - and cheaper (No bags) I must say that I am not too thrilled with the central vac which we have in our new house but Julia wanted it, so we got it! I thought that the Electrolux was fine and sure enough it is a pain hauling about 50 feet of hose all over the house!


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

My staples are a pair of jeans, a couple of really nice tops, a sleeveless black dress, and black flats.

I have always kept my wardrobe to the bare minimum I thought I could get away with. We don't go out a lot and if I have the day off I'm in my jammies and covered with flour or water or whatever I'm doing.


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

Just read this article and immediately thought of you. I know you make nearly all of your own bread, but what are your thoughts on this from both a food waste standpoint, as well as removing some preservatives/additives from food while still allowing them to have a longer shelf life?


Wednesday 9th of January 2013

I noted that they said it wouldn't keep the bread from going stale or rancid, just from sprouting mold. How long can a loaf of commercially produced bread keep from going stale?


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

Huh. That's an interesting concept. I wonder if this might be killing good bacteria along with bad bacteria, though. I don't suppose that's a big problem with bread, but I wonder if it might be with other foods.

Lee Ann

Tuesday 8th of January 2013

I wear jeans and athletic/tennis shoes all of the time. I love it. There I said it!! LOL however................I've had 2 surgeries on my right foot. One of those surgeries was a major major surgery. I'm talking 3 different casts, and not walking for a very long time. I still have 2 screws in my heel to prove it. I find that my Brooks running shoes are pretty much the only ones that are comfortable. Your whole body gets out of alignment when you don't walk correctly. I do wear Clarks shoes to work, they are comfortable but not as much as my Brooks. When you've spent as much money and time, such as physical therapy, as I have on your feet you will wear what feels best and forget how things look. Sometimes I wear my Brooks to work when my foot feels a little wonky. I do not scrimp on my footwear due to my problems. I like to buy the shoes when they are on sale though. That helps a little bit.


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

As an IT guy, I can recommend OpenOffice for home use if you don't want to pay for it. Lotus Symphony from IBM is built on OpenOffice but I find its interface is much nicer.

Check with your work's IT dept if you work for a big company. You might be able to get a huge discount on MS Office. I got Office for all of $12 through work!

Individual hardware is too difficult to give random recommendations to. What works for me, but not be enough for you or may be WAY too much for you. It's all in what someone wants to do with it.

As a lapsed photographer, I never EVER printed out my own photos with a printer. (no affiliation) produced better prints than I ever could and they cost less than the printer cartridges and photo paper. This was after my local lab closed down.

As for fashion and stuff, I'm just saying Converse All Stars (low tops) and leave it at that. ;)

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