Welcome to the (gasp) 200th edition of the Festival of Frugality! It is a milestone that calls for celebrations; hence all these fireworks.
Actually, it’s the perfect time of year for a fireworks display. Diwali took place at the weekend; here in the UK, the biggest fireworks event of the year is also looming. Fireworks Night – also known as Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes Night – takes place on 5 November.
So for overseas blog visitors, here are some insights into this much loved British institution. I have noticed that everyone in the UK (and New Zealand) thinks that Guy Fawkes Night is a traditional, jolly sort of affair put on for the children’s benefit; whereas everyone else thinks that we are savage oddballs inflicting psychological scars upon our innocent young. You can make your own mind up…
The night begins with a bonfire: the bigger, the better. In towns, villages and cities, giant community bonfires are held in local parks and areas of open land. There is always a tip top fireworks display. The better the show, the louder the “oohs!” and the “ahhhhs!”
The Rockets are this week’s Editor’s Picks: the colourful posts that soar into the sky and end with a BANG. (To keep with the frugal theme, the rockets pictured are from a discount fireworks store.)
Tyler presents Quit Worrying About 80% of Your Life posted at Frugally Green. He is looking at Pareto’s Principle, which will ring a bell with all those who have read the fantastical Four Hour Work Week book. A frugal blogger with a ken for Italian economists; what’s not to like?
Paul Williams presents Neuroeconomics: Helping Explain Why We Make Stupid Money Mistakes posted at Provident Planning. Neuroeconomics sounds like a really interesting book: it explores what is going on in our brains when we make financial decisions. (Goodness me: my Editor’s Picks this time round are taking on a rather cerebral theme!)
The Burning Guys
Except that it isn’t just a giant bonfire, with fireworks whizzing and going off in the skies above. It is also a pyre. Atop the pyre sits a lifesized effigy known as “Guy Fawkes”, or simply “the guy”. As the BBC explains:
Children make a Guy by stuffing some old clothes with newspapers, craft a head out of material, and either draw a face on it or buy a special cardboard Guy Fawkes mask. For a few days beforehand children are pushing guys around in prams, push chairs and go-carts, saying ‘A penny for the guy’. Adults then give them money – how much depends on how good the guy is.
As the pyre ignites and the guy goes up in flames, we all cheer – yes, the children included. (You think this is strange? In Ottery St. Mary in Devon, they spend Guy Fawkes Night running around the streets strapped to barrels of flaming tar.)
The guy isn’t just an effigy, of course; fashioned from rags and paper, he is also a monument to all things frugal and recyclable. The following posts stood out because of their shared, admirable commitment to the cause of Make Do And Mend.
Kristia presents Nine paper products to cross off of your grocery list. posted at Family Balance Sheet. Some really good ideas here.
The real Guy Fawkes belonged to a group of plotters who planned to polish off the Royal Family by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament in 1605. The plot was leaked and the hapless Mr Fawkes was apprehended in a cellar below the House, guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was executed for treason. Bonfires were lit around the country and songs were written, all to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination.
The 1605 plotters were fiendishly cunning; the following bloggers demonstrate cunning of the clever, frugal variety. My kind of conspirators? The latter.
Fabulously Broke presents Languages, prices and the ups and downs | Fabulously Broke in the City posted at Fabulously Broke ….in the City. Blogger FB has found that learning a new language can be free, if you find a way to use rewards and pull on your networks for help.
The Lewes Bonfire Party
One of the biggest – and strangest – Guy Fawkes Night events takes place in the town of Lewes, East Sussex. It draws crowds of 80,000 and more. The town centre is closed and a torchlight procession takes place through the streets. The effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned alongside effigies of Pope Paul V (he was Pope in 1605; the plotters wished to restore Catholicism to the country at large) and topical personalities. Here you can see our Prime Minister and Chancellor being marched to the bonfire; with the economy in a mess, they aren’t popular figures right now! Previous effigies have included George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden.
As you can imagine, this is a controversial event. No-one seems bothered about chucking Gordon Brown on the bonfire, but the historical head of a church – however much he may have been hated 400 years ago – is, erm, another matter entirely. The following posts were selected because they push the boundaries – the frugal boundaries, rather than the decency ones.
Mike @ GLBL presents Money Saving Monday: the problem with mass transit posted at Gather Little by Little. I have included Mike in this category because he weighs up the costs of private transport and mass transit and concludes that sometimes, just sometimes, your gas-guzzling, environmentally unsound car comes out on top.
Baker presents Is Christianity the Only Path to ‘True’ Financial Peace? posted at Man Vs. Debt. In this video post, Baker – who has a lovely blog header, by the way – takes issue with one of the revered Dave Ramsay’s guiding principles.
Peak Personal Finance presents Teach Your Child About Responsible Credit Use posted at Peak Personal Finance. Blogger Miranda recommends adding your teenager to your credit card as an “authorised user”; a decision that is sure to ruffle a few feathers.
The Jacket Potatoes
The barbecues come out on Fireworks Night. Foods traditionally eaten include jacket potatoes, wrapped up in aluminium foil and left to roast in the barbecue’s embers. (Traditionalists roast them in the bonfire.) These posts are the jacket potatoes: some staple ideas for a good, frugal lifestyle.
Hannah presents Feeding Babies Frugally: The Early Months | Cooking Manager posted at Cooking Manager.
MoneyNing presents Credit vs Debit Transactions with Your ATM Card posted at Money Ning. (Note to UK readers: in the USA the shop assistant asks, “Debit or Credit?” when you hand over your bank card. It’s almost as bemusing as when you get your US bank statement and realise that you have been charged a monthly service fee and charges for not-at-your-bank ATM withdrawals. Confusing.)
Sparklers = happy kids (and happy big kids). These posts don’t just sparkle; they are little gems, filled with useful tips and quirky frugal ideas.
The Toasted Marshmallows
Ah, the humble, toasted marshmallow: it transcends national and cultural boundaries. Like marshmallows toasted over the bonfire, these posts are fun, moreish – and provide a sweet ending to any festival or fireworks night.
The Financial Blogger presents Tips on Budgeting for a Wedding – Getting Married Without Going Broke posted at The Financial Blogger. Everyone loves a wedding!