Family Tradition

Once upon a time when Katie was small money was really tight. I’d spent most of my cash on Black Friday in order to afford to give my baby the best Christmas I could afford.

Katie wanted Christmas candy that year. In order to keep her happy I promised her that on the day after Christmas, once candy went on clearance, we would stock up and eat until we couldn’t.

True to my word we went out the next day. We not only bought several boxes of clearance Christmas candy; I also stumbled upon a discounted copy of the movie Forrest Gump.

I had just enough to buy it.

When we got back home Katie suggested that we eat our candy as we watched our new movie. I agreed. I had heard about the dorm scene so I made sure to distract my baby girl when it came up that evening.

The very next Christmas we went out after the holiday to stock up on candy; at Katie’s request we watched Forrest Gump once again.

And again.

After we moved into this tiny little house our after-Christmas routine fell to the wayside. I didn’t think much of it until the other day when Katie asked if we could follow our tradition once again.

I didn’t even realize that I had started a tradition.

I dug through my collection of DVDs, searching for the copy I’d purchased so long ago. To our immense disappointment, the movie had disappeared. We couldn’t locate a copy locally so Katie sprung for a digital copy in order to enjoy our tradition one last time.

We snuggled in her bed with the cat. The lights went down, the movie went on…

…And I cried.

Tears streamed unchecked down my face for the entire film. I cried for the purity of Forrest Gump, the sweetness of Bubba, and the pain of Jenny. I cried over the mother’s love for her son. I sniffled over the trials of Lieutenant Dan, the magic of their friendship, and smiled when he walked to Forrest’s wedding.

I cried for so many things but mostly I cried over the end of an era. I cried because this is the last time I’ll be able to share such a simple thing with my beloved daughter and I cried over the fact that I’d inadvertently created a tradition during her childhood that she had grown to cherish.

The tears of this mother are still falling as I type.


Do you have any traditions? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Cheap or Free Books, Music, and Movies

I am a bibliophile. I love books of all kinds and read voraciously.  Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars on books alone, not including music, movies and other forms of entertainment.

After moving out on my own I had less to spend, so I started looking for free or really cheap alternatives to buying all of this stuff.


Books are fairly easy to find online. Websites like Project GutenbergiBiblioGoogle Books and others have a lot of books for free.  Some writers will place copies of their books online in html format with a request that you purchase a hard copy if you enjoy the book.

Of course you can also go to the library and do book swaps, but why leave home when you don’t have to? Just use your favorite search engine to look for ebooks or free books online and watch the world open up to you.

If you are looking for a specific title sometimes you can search for “title pdf” to locate the book in pdf format.  Chm format is another one books (especially technical books) appear in online.

If a book is in html format you can use Plucker to download the entire book for reading on your computer, smart phone or pda. My Lifedrive gets a lot of use for this purpose!


There is a lot of controversy about music online. If you are near a good internet connection you can avoid this controversy by using websites like Pandora or Shoutcast to listen to a variety of music online for free of at very little cost (Pandora now charges it’s heavy users a small fee).

Some people swear by iTunes for obtaining their music. I am not a fan of iTunes simply because of the proprietary format the stuff comes in.  In order to play it you need their player or their software, and despite the fact that Apple will allow you to convert it to mp3 I find it easier to deal exclusively in formats that are easily played by a multitude of machines and brands.  My choices for these formats are Ogg and Mp3.  Ogg is an open-source format, so you will never have to worry about buying a decoder for it.  Mp3 is not so open, but is so common that most music players cover the format out of the box. I don’t even fool with WMA format because of the copyright restrictions that it wants to place on files.

Mp3 Fiesta is my favorite place to purchase music online.  The track prices are very low and it is completely legal. I have purchased Top 100 Billboard collections for around $5, an average CD costs $3 and an individual track normally costs a dime. I have yet to find a legal source to beat prices like that, and if you know of one—please let me know!

Gregory Johnson, author of Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet recommends Kahvi as a source of free music from musicians looking to promote their work.

Movies and Shows

Places like Hulu and Fancast are places to watch movies and television shows for free.  ABCNBCCBSNickelodeon,   A & Eand others offer free episodes for online viewing.

Justin TV has a lot of different stations to choose from, showing movies, television shows and a huge variety of other things. This website is a virtual video smorgasbord!

You can also go to libraries in larger cities to find a large collection of videos to check out and view at home for free.  Some libraries will amaze you—they have more titles than several video rental stores combined!


If you are spending a fortune on these items you can stop now.  There are much less expensive alternatives available, you just have to know where to look.

If you know of any great resources that I have missed, please note the location in the comments. This will help all of us to continue to live more frugally.

Have a nice day!!!