25 Frugal Things I Do, 4 Spendthrift Confessions

by Frugal Duchess on 27 October 2009 32 comments

From time to time, I take inventory of my frugal habits. This review helps fine-tune my money-saving strategies. Here is my latest list of 25 Frugal Things I do, plus a few spendthrift habits. It's a tradition I've picked up from my friend Dawn at Frugal for Life.

1. Use mascara, coffee and tea to color my hair.

2. Use organic apple cider vinegar as a natural conditioner; I clean my kitchen with white vinegar.

3. Avoid ordering drinks or beverages in restaurants.

4. Bring my own snacks, water and food to theme parks.

5. Have installed a filter on the kitchen sink. Filtered water costs pennies per gallon in my home.

6. Use the free gym at work and cancelled the gym membership at a chic gym in South Beach.

7. Walk to stores, the post office and other nearby errand stops.

8. Purchased a discounted monthly transit pass for the bus and train.

9. Read receipts to find store errors or free coupons on the receipt.

10. Use olive oil, oranges and tomatoes to condition my skin and hair instead of traditional personal care products.

11. Style, braid and cut my own hair.

12. Often stay with friends and relatives while on vacation.

13. My shopping lists are based on weekly sale promotions and coupons.

14. Have re-joined an organic food co-op to get super cheap prices for organic, in-season produce.

15. Make clothing and shoe repairs and other wardrobe fixes with magic markers, staples and tape.

16. Stock up on generic or private label products, especially when those items are on sale.

17. Recycle cards, gift bags and wrapping paper.

18. Use diluted dish soap to wash off fruit.

19. Watch Internet-television and have cut the cable TV cord.

20. Have cutback on makeup and skincare products (fewer chemicals, lower expenses).

21. Purchase 99 percent of my shoes, clothing and accessories at end-of-season sales.

22. Borrow books, magazines and movies from friends.

23. Save the bits of soap and small conditioner containers we use in hotel rooms.

24. Drink the free coffee at work.

25. Try to avoid shops and malls as much as possible.

 

4 Secret Spendthrift Confessions

1. I love to eat out.

2. Disorganization costs: Late fees — for videos & bills — occasionally eat into my budget.

3. A local company offers discounted massage therapy services, and I take advantage of this perk as much as possible.

4. I don’t know how many pairs of shoes are in my closet.

 

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Guest's picture

These are some great tips! I, too, bring my own beverages to restaurants when I can. Beverages add up quickly to the total bill!

You're also right that disorganization is costly - late fees really stink, especially when it adds a minimum of $20 to most bills.

Frugal Duchess's picture

You are so right about how drinks can inflate a restaurant bill!! Thanks also for your comments about the cost of disorganiztion.

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save

Guest's picture
Jerry

Good for you! The purpose of scrimping is to be able to spend the money on something you really love. For instance, when I make sure to use my own bank's ATM (while out on other errands) I remind myself that the fees I'm not paying will add up to the price of a nice bottle of New Year's bubbly. My Dad used to say that nothing is so stupid as living poor so you can die rich.

Another clothing repair tip - fabric glue.

Frugal Duchess's picture

Great tip about using fabric glue for repairs! And I appreciate that bit of wisdom from your Dad! That's one to print and tape to the frig!!p>Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
rachel

great ideas! my mum always says, "save where you can to spend where you can't" - a similar sentiment to balancing your frugal/spendthrift habits. i love the acknowledgement that you can have both and still come out on top. frugality isn't about making yourself miserable (thankyou for thhe reminder...!)

Frugal Duchess's picture

Your Mum and Jerry's Dad have great clip-and-save wisdom about frugal living. Thanks for your comments about perks and thrift. I try to keep it real and fun, while saving money! >Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Beth

I can relate to the disorganization point! I frequent the local library, but from time to time I miss a due date!

Still, I'd rather pay late fees to a good cause than to a private company :)

Frugal Duchess's picture

You are so right about library fees! And yes, our late fees support a great cause! :)

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Cat

I have made several lifestyle changes this past year that actually have improved my life while at the same time helped us spend less.

1. I shop at Goodwill for furniture, clothes, things to "upcycle" into something cool. I refinish furniture from GW for the house.

In the "White Vinegar is a wonderful thing" category:

2. I use white vinegar as fabric softener in the washer, and to avoid static in the dryer I keep another batch of pure white vinegar in a spray bottle and I hit each load w/3-4 sprays before I turn the dryer on. No dryer sheet needed.

3. I use basic ammonia in our Spot Bot carpet cleaner, mixed with water, instead of expensive carpet cleaning formulas. Works like a charm.

4. I cut my dish sponges in half to double their usage time, I store them in a dish filled with white vinegar between uses to keep it from getting stinky, makes it last much longer.

5. Did you know soaking your foot in white vinegar will cure a toenail fungus? You have to do it for awhile, but it really works!

And back to thrift-shopping:

6. Whenever I need something I check Craigslist and scour the local Goodwills if at all possible, before starting a search with Google.

Frugal Duchess's picture

What a wonderful list! Your thrifty shopping and cleaning tips are excellent! I will start cutting my sponges in half. Thank so much!

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Guest

Don't pay late fees on videos. Use NetFlix, under $20.00 a month for unlimited DVD's, keep as long as you want and no late fees.
Also I only shop at online stores who have free shipping most items are cheaper than in regular stores.

Frugal Duchess's picture

Thanks for your tips about no-late-fee Netflix and online shopping! Excellent ideas!

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture

At least you've figured out how to do what you love (eating out) for a little less.... each drink you avoid buying adds up to one more night out! I think it's so important that we figure out what we really want to spend money on, rather than frittering it away on things we don't care about.

Frugal Duchess's picture

Hi Jen,

Your statement is on target:   "I think it's so important that we figure out what we really want to spend money on, rather than frittering it away on things we don't care about."

That says it all! Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Stella

I also cut my own hair--but I'm not sure it's something I should brag about. I walk almost everywhere--work is close enough to walk to--so I use my car maybe once a week. Saves money, energy and it's good for you! I also pretty much buy everything on sale. I can't stand paying full price--especially on clothes.

Frugal Duchess's picture

Hi Stella,

You must be my frugal twin: DIY hair cuts, mostly pedestrian lifestyle (exercise, while saving money) and sale-priced clothing.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
javajump

As an ex-waitress, I am really shocked at the no beverage comment. I am even more shocked at the "I bring my own beverage" reply in the comments. Hello-if you cannot afford a soft drink at a restaurant, then you cannot afford to eat out.
Eating out is a luxury, and it means that you are able to support another's income-the server. By sitting at her/his table you are agreeing to the American custom of paying an 18 percent tip on the total of the bill for good service. (Bad service-BTW- is acknowledged by leaving a penny face down on the table, and you should stop and speak with a manager on the way out).
If you are too cheap to add a 1.50 Coke onto the bill, I shudder to think of what you are tipping the poor server!
There is a big difference in being cheap and being wise with your money. If you cannot afford to eat out, then don't.

Guest's picture
GT0163C

@javajump - I disagree.
I think it's fine to order water to drink, as long as you are tipping appropriately on your bill. Some people drink water for health reasons, some for taste reasons, some for financial reasons and some for a combination. Saying that people who do not order a beverage other than water because they don't want to spend the extra shouldn't be eating out is like saying that people who order the chicken fingers rather than the prime rib because they don't want to be spending the extra shouldn't be eating out. As long as people are tipping appropriately, the restaurant staff should be happy to have people in their restaurant, buying the food, paying the bill and tipping something.
Why people order what they order should be a personal matter and, again, as long as the bill is paid including an appropriate tip, everyone should leave happy.

Frugal Duchess's picture

That's a well-written pointn from GT0163, who said:

@javajump - I disagree.
I think it's fine to order water to drink, as long as you are tipping appropriately on your bill. Some people drink water for health reasons, some for taste reasons, some for financial reasons and some for a combination. Saying that people who do not order a beverage other than water because they don't want to spend the extra shouldn't be eating out is like saying that people who order the chicken fingers rather than the prime rib because they don't want to be spending the extra shouldn't be eating out. As long as people are tipping appropriately, the restaurant staff should be happy to have people in their restaurant, buying the food, paying the bill and tipping something.
Why people order what they order should be a personal matter and, again, as long as the bill is paid including an appropriate tip, everyone should leave happy.

Excellent comment!! I wish I wrote that. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Frugal Duchess's picture

Let's be clear: I am a former waitress. I believe in leaving large tips. I cut back on my drink orders to reserve more money for the server and for desserts!

Cokes, smoothies and other soft drinks can cost $2.50 to $5 in Miami, New York and other major cities. I have a family of five and one round of drinks can equal $25, before we've even ordered food, salad or other treats.

It's a matter of priorities. Drink water, eat cake and leave big tips!! That's my motto!

Thanks for your comments and  for the reminder about tipping servers.

 

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Guest

I wholeheartedly disagree with this post.
For two reasons.

First - Eating at a restaurant these days are mostly done frugally. There is no obligation to buy a beverage, especially when water is free. During these recessionary times, people are more frugal but would still like to enjoy their lifestyle.

Secondly - Also - as a former server. Tips are just that. A gratuity on doing a fantastic job through customer service. Tips are earned. They are not a right for the server.

Guest's picture
Guest

I only order water at most restaurants because I can't have anything with caffeine. Most restaurants serve caffeinated and I surely wouldn't enjoy a fruit or vegetable juice drink, let alone milk with my meal. So, just remember, while some do it for the savings, others may do it for their health.

Guest's picture
Nantares

It's fine to order water to drink when you go out to eat, of course, but I disagree strongly with the idea of bringing your own beverage. In some places, bringing outside food/drinks into a restaurant is considered a health code violation. Please don't put a restaurant in that position.

Frugal Duchess's picture

good point:

"It's fine to order water to drink when you go out to eat, of course, but I disagree strongly with the idea of bringing your own beverage. In some places, bringing outside food/drinks into a restaurant is considered a health code violation. Please don't put a restaurant in that position."

Thanks Nantares! Well-said.

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture

Great tips and suggestions!

In our house, before we buy anything, we'll always look about to see if we have anything that would do the job.

Some of our creative discoveries have been...

curtain rods made from copper pipe--left-over from a plumbing repair (also PVC);

broken wine glasses became planters in the garden or window box (the broken stems were firmly pushed into the ground, cups planted with herbs);

sprouted onions and ginger root transform into fresh chives for use in salads, soups and other recipes (you can use the broken wine glasses as bulb vases -- as mentioned above);

Discarded garments became fabric ribbons and gift bags. These are used in lieu of paper for holiday gift-giving (washed and pressed beforehand) and used from year-to-year.

~~~~~~~

The cultural shift that seems to be occurring is lovely to behold and quite freeing. Frugality is fun! It also holds the (sometimes hidden) power to inspire creativity, knowledge and appreciation for what we have.

Thanks so much for the great topic and for all the inspiring ideas that have been shared!

Warmly,
Tracey McBride

Frugal Duchess's picture

Hello Tracey,

Great ideas for creating  a second life for old household items. Very inspiring. I like to be creative with old teapots, which work well as planters in the garden.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Former coffe house owner

Bringing your own drinks to restaurants is rude! We had "customers" who would come into the coffee house to study or read at one of our tables. They bought nothing and brought their own drinks. Did they think we were a public library?

Frugal Duchess's picture

Good point! It's okay to drink free water in restaurants, but  don't BYOB, BYOD or BYOCoffee.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for joining the conversation. Your comments are appreciated.

 

Sharon is the author of The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money

Guest's picture
Guest

Many restaurants in NYC have a BYOB/W policy and they charge a uncorking fee. Checking with the restaurants policy seems like the way to go rather than just jumping to conclusions.

Guest's picture
FamilyofSix

I also have a large family (6). We almost always drink water at a restaurant. Even if drinks were only $1.50, which they are not, it would cost us $9.00 every time we ate out. Realistically, drinks are $2 or more a piece. I do not know how this equates to a poor tip - we always tip the server well if he or she was a good server.

Guest's picture
Marcie

Consider using Libraray Elf http://www.libraryelf.com/ to avoid those late fees.
This little tool will email you when books are close to being overdue.
Thankfully my library has a courtesy email reminder about your books. Its saved me a lot -- especially on those videos/dvd's my son checks out at the library!

Guest's picture

I recycle everything.  I print on both sides of the paper, I save takeout containers instead of buying Tupperware, I trap water in sinks and shower to use on my thirsty garden.  I buy a $25 coupon on www.Restaurant.com when they go on sale for two bucks, and bring my own wine.  I buy all my clothing at thrift stores and yard sales, and even find trendy labels to sell on eBay.  Lots more frugalista tips in my book, BARGAIN JUNKIE: LIVING THE GOOD LIFE ON THE CHEAP.