What's your frugal obsession?

By Andrea Karim on 8 October 2007 95 comments

It's easy to assume that only insanely frugal people go out of their way to save money - but that isn't always the case. Even people who spend money like there's no tomorrow have personal frugal obsessions - items or services that they just can't imagine spending hard-earned money on. My 96 year old neighbor still mows his own lawn, even though he can afford to pay a neighborhood kid to do it. Some people refuse to pay for bottled water; others refuse to shell out $4 to rent a movie when they can get them from the library for free. Frugal obsessions aren't always entirely rational, but that's not the point.

Wise Bread bloggers aren't free from frugal obsessions, even those of us who aren't technically that frugal to begin with. Surely Wise Bread readers must have their own obsessions or habits that save money, and more importantly, offer a sense of satisfaction? Share you stories with us in the comments and be entered in a random drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com.

This drawing is over.  Congrats to Shabbir, the winner of the drawing. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Philip Brewer

I bicycle for lots of reasons besides frugality--it's fun, it's healthy, it's gentle on the planet--but I take particular pleasure in bicycling past those poor suckers putting $3 gasoline into their SUVs. (I recognize that this is a character flaw on my part.)

For some reason--maybe the "gentle on the planet" part--I get a lot more satisfaction out of saving twenty-odd dollars by not needing to fill the Civic's tank than I do out of considerably larger savings in other budget categories.

Justin Ryan

I'll go with, surprise surprise, Free/Open Source Software. I just don't understand suckers who actually buy software; why pay $300 for Microsoft Office when you can get OpenOffice for free? (Don't get me wrong: I hate shoddy freeware. I'm only interested in legitimate Free Software.) If I counted up all the money I've saved running a half dozen computers with Open Source Software, I could probably buy another six and start up a cluster.

I walk through the aisles at Staples and Office Depot and laugh at the outrageous prices people are paying. I chuckle at the thought of other people actually going out to buy packages, then struggling to get them to install, while I sit in my pajamas and use apt-get to install anything I need. I hear about people getting shuttled back and forth between Dell and Microsoft with problems, and I think "Hmm, and all I have to do is hop on IRC for all the support I could ever need."

It's very freeing, and very frugal...It's like being a bird, flying over a field full of sheep.

Will Chen

I can never get over paying for soft drinks at restaurants. How can anyone pay $1.50 for root beer when they can get the same thing at the supermarket for 25 cents?

Why pay for the extra markup? Where's the added value? Is it the straw, the dirty glass, or the extra opportunity the waiter has to spit in your drinks? I don't mind paying for good food. I recognize that the chef and the waiter have important skills that I don't possess. But I can certainly pop open a can of Pepsi by myself, thank you very much.

One of these days I'm just going to start bringing cans of soda into restaurants. That'll show 'em.

Julie Rains

All-natural ice cream.

I gotta have it but I can't stand paying full price. Usually there are "buy one, get one free" sales every other week; so I buy two cartons at a time one week and none the next. But somehow, the grocery store (not me, mind you) got off track and went an entire month without a sale. I broke down then, but it was only because I wanted ice cream to go with a cake for my husband's birthday.

Ed O'Reilly

I used to have cable in NY. Eventually, I added a bunch of channels to what I already had – mostly because it seemed like the basic channels I subscribed to kept showing the same movies over and over. You can watch "Kindergarten Cop", "Lethal Weapon" and "Big Fat Greek Wedding" only so many times.

I finally decided to pull the plug: if there was no way to get only the channels I wanted a la carte, then there was no point in keeping my subscription. I ended up getting DVDs thru Netflix after that and was satisfied with the selection and price.

I don't have cable now, and don't watch any shows on "free" TV, but I do occasionally rent a DVD from Blockbuster. I don't feel like I'm missing anything, really, and I can't believe how much I used to pay each month for what amounted to disposable and rather dull entertainment.

So I save a little cash and feel that my time isn't dictated by the TV schedules. Also, I notice that many people arrange their furniture (or a whole room) so that the TV is the centerpiece.

Linsey Knerl

I save every bubble envelope, shipping box, and packing peanut I ever receive. With over 4 shipments sent to my home a week (for business and personal), it starts to get a bit ridiculous and overwhelming after awhile. That being said, I ALWAYS find a use for them. Whether it is for storage of off-season clothing, shipping Ebay orders, helping a friend move, or just to give my boys a fun afternoon art project, I never seem to have too many boxes.

Paul Michael

Boy, I am going to sound really cheap on this one but mine is gift wrap, greeting cards and all of the associated bows, ribbons and bags. I personally think there's some kind of conspiracy going on between the government and Hallmark. Did we really have so many days to celebrate 30 years ago? Anyway, I'll make most of my own cards for family and friends, I just can't handle paying $5 for someone else's idea of sentiment. Gift wrap, I'll either find the cheapest one in the aisle or find some creative way to wrap it using scraps of paper. Let's be honest, it all gets ripped off in seconds anyway. And if anyone gives my family presents in gift bags or boxes, they get stored away to reuse later on. Cheap? Maybe. But it seems a crying shame to throw away a perfectly good gift bag or box. You've heard of re-gifting, well in my house we re-giftwrap.

Andrea Dickson

For me, the obsession is with plastic bags and plastic wrap. Ever since I was little, I've been loathe to throw away Saran Wrap or ziploc bags - I just can't bring myself to use something like that once and then throw it away. It's ironic, since I don't extend the same thinking to styrofoam take-out containers. But if I have to use a sandwich bag (and I rarely do - I generally use tupperware containers) I will wash and reuse the bag until it's full of holes and completely unusable. Same goes for Saran Wrap - I'll wash it off and fold it up until I need it again.

My mother thinks I'm nuts - she'll come over and see baggies drying on a paper towel on my kitchen counter, and roll her eyes in the most exaggerated way possible. But I only have to buy sandwich bags every three years or so, and it makes me feel better. Is that so bad?

Share your parental money lessons in the comments section and get entered in a random drawing for $25 Amazon Gift Certificate!

Deadline to enter drawing is 10/13 midnight. Don't forget to enter your email address in the field provided and only one entry per person.

This drawing is over.  Congrats to Shabbir, the winner of the drawing. Thank you to everyone who participated!

 

 

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Guest's picture
Hannah Finer

I take full advantage of my local dollar store and get sponges, gift wrap, shampoo, candles, hair clips, chapstick, cat toys and notebooks there for cheap!! Most of the stuff has a limited life anyway, so why not pay less anyway? I have realized that some things are just not worth buying at a dollar store though, like batteries or lightbulbs, or anything you want to work past one month.

Guest's picture

I come from a big family and could not bear paying so much for cards/gifts. There is always a celebration going on here and there. I end up spending too much on cards and gifts, which I know cards will put away and over time lost. I know I can make better than this. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted my gifts to stand out and be everlsting. Then I had a brilliant idea, I started making gifts - paintings on cards, or canvas painting for bigger functions, making them into postcards etc. I started with simple things and eventually started making it complex. Every body started loving them, and encouraged me so much that it became a good hobby. However, it is an expensive hobby! Could not practice being frugal here! After a few years that hobby became a business model. Now looking back, I feel it is funny because by being frugal, I actually created an opportunity for myself.

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DivaJean

I am a freak about not being a one car per person family. We own one car- it stays home in the garage most days.

I commute to work for $1 each way. Parking alone downtown is $5/day-- not to mention gas, car upkeep, insurance, etc. Why would I use a car to get to my cubicle based job?

Hubby stays at home with the kidlets- and walks the 2 oldest to school 5 blocks away. The car only comes out if she's got grocery shopping or other errands that day. She finds she uses the car 2 out of 5 weekdays with proper planning. Weekends- we need the car!

I see so many coworkers complaining about costs of parking, insurance, gas, etc. yet no one wants to be inconvenienced for even a ten minute wait for the bus. Its my crazy thing I always get on my soapbox about!

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Shabbir

...I assume that for every $1 spent at a restaurant, I can spend $5-10 cooking at home. Our house has a virtually unlimited grocery budget and we throw dinner parties nearly weekly. Friends of course are their own reward, but the ability to cook nice meals for them which don't break the bank are infinitely preferable to money spent on dinners at fancy restaurants with unpredictable service, inconsistent food quality, and the inability to simply relax after the meal and stay seated. Our last party ended at 2:30am because of all the chatting!

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Susy

I always cut my dryer sheets in half. I know it doesn't save a ton of money, but I feel if I can save in the small seemingly non-important ways it builds a foundation of being frugal in all other areas of my life.

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rstlne

I simply don't buy trash bags. Why do that when I can reuse plastic shopping bags from the supermarket?

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Theresa

I can't stand to throw paper away. Once something is printed out, using the one side, but has a perfectly good 2nd side, why chunk it in the trash? We stockpile the paper and pull it out for math problems, notes, do to lists, etc. One ream of paper can last a long, long time :)

We also appear to stockpile plastic bags from the grocery store. Mostly it's because I see them piling up and never bio-degrading in the dumps. Our local stores have recycling, but it's one thing I can never remember to return. So our plastic bags runneth over... Oh, we do use them in the smaller trash cans...

Oh, and as for frugal, I really, really enjoy when I go shopping (particulary clothes shopping which is very rare) to be able to come home and add up what I would have spent IF I hadn't gotten everything on sale. Sounding like a crazy woman LOL!

Good post!

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JULIE

I am a nurse and we give out samples, and NEVER seem to have enough bags. I have several patients that bring in grocery bags for us to use. You may want to check with your local clinics, day care, thrift store ect about wanting your loads of plastic grocery bags.

Julie

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Ian

I never pay retail price for ANYTHING, thanks to the interwebs. Even for clothes, etc., when size/fit matters and most folks think it is "easier" to just go to the store and try stuff on. Still do that, but then just write down the sizes, etc. that you need and then go home, get online, and get that stuff for far less. DVDs, and basically any consumer electronics product are super easy to find online. The biggest bonus is that 90% of the time I can find some sort of coupon code for even more discounts!

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Mary

I don't spend money on cable. My parents have never had cable in the 25 years that I've been around, and I only ever had it once, for about a year or so. I mean, sure, it's kind of alluring, but I can already get entertainment from Netflix and other sources.

Oh, also I refuse to play World of Warcraft, even though most of my friends do play it. Though that's not just about the money--it's also about the time.

Guest's picture
ryan

i cannot bring myself to spend money on any type of fast food. when i met my girlfriend, i realized what good food tastes like, and i never went back.

after eating good, organic food every night for dinner, i do not even consider (burger king/taco bell/etc) food anymore. it is the equivalent of survivorman eating roots to stay alive while stuck in a desert.

and you would not believe the amount of money it saves. enough to go out to a good dinner whenever you want.

Guest's picture

I'm a self-admitted lover of nature and natural
gardening. In the Anderson area, the problem insect species are starting to affect your plants.
For example you must ensure that your home is clean and that things such as bins are emptied regularly or kept away from the house.

Guest's picture
Jessica

Movies are one of those things I have a hard time paying a lot for. My local movie theater chain has a free card that allows you to pay only $5 for a movie after it's been out for a week or two. Going any sooner just seems like a waste of money. Even then there are only a few movies a year that I actually go to the theater for, the rest I wait for to come out on DVD and I might rent them. My local library doesn't have much of a movie selection, but I go to a rental place (Family Video) where I can rent DVDs from 50 cents to $2, which is a lot less than Blockbuster. It just doesn't make sense to pay $17 for my husband and I to see a movie on opening night. Plus, so many movies aren't even worth the two hours to sit through, let alone the money.

Similiarly, I rarely buy fiction books. If it's a book I need for frequent reference I'll buy it, but I would never buy a hard cover novel. That's what the libary is for! However, I generally don't buy used books. Too often they have someone else's notes and highlighting in them and I find that disruptive to my research and thought process.

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Rebecca

I tear cotton balls into two – sometimes three – separate, smaller cotton balls. My mother taught me to do this when I was a very young girl, and it's become a habit I can't break! Even though a bag of cotton balls is only about 99 cents, I figure every little bit counts! ;-)

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Lesha Anderson

I love to freecycle! :)

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Brian

But unlike the above poster, I don't mind paying for soda in a restaurant, especially since they usually let me read my book and use my laptop while enjoying free refills.
My soda fixation is finding which diet soda (I'm a Type I diabetic) is cheapest. A 2-liter bottle may be 1.8 cents per ounce, while the cans are 2.2 cents per ounce. No matter where I'm shopping I can never stop looking at the little "cents per ounce" label hiding under the big "2 for $5.99!!" sign. :)

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Lorna

I try to always wash the foil lining of pans when I do the dishes, It usally can be used at least one more time.
Also I wash the plastic silverware my husband brings home from work, I guess I'll have enough for our daughters graduation party in June LOL

Guest's picture
Bloggrrl

Literally! Once I have some change in my purse, it goes into my "weekend beach trip" fund. I don't use it no matter what...if a purchase totals $2.01, I will pay with three dollar bills. At the end of the week, I dump the change in the jar. The same thing goes for any unexpected money.

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Dwight

One of my friends had a patient who owns a convenience store. He told my friend that they sell gasoline and cost just so they can get people inside to buy the overpriced food.

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chris

Change - every penny and even the ones I find on the ground, in the washing machine and in my husband's car. I NEVER spend change. I'm obsessed with finding and saving change. If I have change in my wallet I will still break a dollar and pocket the change. If a cashier asks if I have the needed change to make the transaction simpler, I always say "no" even if I do have it. I take my husband's change every night. A couple of times a month I take all my coin rolls to the bank and then transfer it to my ING account (high interest rates!!). Over the course of several years I have managed to save thousands - that continue to earn a decent interest rate (over 4%!).

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Mary

I think my obsession is getting every last particle of product or food out of a container. I cut open the end of toothpaste containers and scrape out what's left when I can't squeeze out any more... I must have 5 or 6 rubber spatulas in the kitchen to get that last morsel of peanut butter or cake batter... Swishing water in almost-empty shampoo or conditioner containers.. You get the picture.

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Shannon H

I am a little nuts about unplugging appliances when they are not in use - to save the trickle of power that goes into them whether they are being used or not. I know this can't possibly save me much money, but I try to tread as lightly on the planet as I can. If I walk into the kitchen and the microwave clock is lit up, I take it as a personal failure! :P

Andrea Karim's picture

Great suggestions!

I'm loving the tips we're getting from you guys - thanks so much for contributing! I'm wondering about the unplugging appliances - does that save much in the long run?

I've recently cut my electricity bill by doing bigger loads of laundry more infrequently (and only after 7PM) and wearing sweaters rather thank turning on the heater. I used to pay about $30 a month in electricity, but I'm down to $11 right now. We'll see if I last the winter, though!

 Great tip about the cotton balls! I'm going to try that - it's not just the expense, but the annoyance of having to buy cotton balls every month or so.

Guest's picture
Barb C

I love to cook and do a decent job, but I am tired after a day at work. I am still getting use to working outside of the house and there is such temptation to go out for dinner, but with three kids it adds up way too quickly (especially since two are teen boys!). So I have started to just start something........anything for dinner when I get home. That way I am offering them dinner and we don't spend money at the nearby Sports bar. We eat better and we don't spend as much doing so. Even the most mindless meals are still better than we would eat if we went out. This evening my 6 year old will asked, "So how much was This dinner?"

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KatieK

I do my own hair. I have been cutting my own hair for about 15 years now. A saving of about $600 a year. I used to color it myself, saving another $40 every six weeks. Now that I have enough gray to make it interesting, I stopped dying it, so I save even more every month.

I also am overly frugal about clothes. Especially underwear. But this came to bite me in the a** this weekend when I was hospitalized with an acute intestinal infection and had to have my daughter put a bag together for me...all of my underwear, white cotton to begin with, is discolored from washing with reds and blues; has holes...and then my nightgowns were both like over ten years old and nasty (I usually sleep in a t-spirt, night gowns are for when I sick). It was a real eye-opener. I am being overly frugal on my wardrobe.

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wellah

Back in kindergarten, we were reared up by the nuns to steer clear from sodas or any carbonated drink. Seems that I was the only one who took it with me until adulthood because by now, i always prefer water over any other form of colored or sweetened liquid. :)

This also gives me an idea to start training kids young and there are bigger chances that they'll bring it up.

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Paul A

In my neighborhood everyone calls me when they need help with there computers. So for about two years now I've taken advantage of all their WIFI connections and left them unsecured for my own personal use. Even though i could afford my own service im gonna ride this one as long as i can.. ha.

Guest's picture
Paul A

In my neighborhood everyone calls me when they need help with there computers. So for about two years now I've taken advantage of all their WIFI connections and left them unsecured for my own personal use. Even though i could afford my own service im gonna ride this one as long as i can.. ha.

Guest's picture
alane

I've been using my neighbor's WIFI since spring and I've saved a bunch. Ok, so I had to sit out on the deck most nights but that's no biggie; it's been a dry summer. The cold nights of the impending New England autumn are something else. I broke down today and installed WIFI. Call me a wuss if you will.

Guest's picture
cms

I'm surprised no one mentioned this yet, but perhaps it's because everyone here is too frugal to even consider Starbucks. I know I am -- I find it beyond obscene what Starbucks and the like charge for a cup of coffee, to say nothing of a cappucino, or one of their many drink offerings. The absolute only time I buy from Starbucks is at the airport for an early morning flight when I cannot get through security with my own cup. And even then, I hate giving them the money.

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sassyfras

Like others, I don't have cable. We cancelled it 3 years ago when the company ticked us off w/ poor customer service and we realized there were only 2 shows we consciously chose to watch. Thanks to Netflix, we're not even missing those shows, and we have a lot more time for things like reading and exercise.

And I clip coupons even though we have a comfortable income. I also get a big kick out of getting a really good deal w/ a sale & coupon combo, like this weekend when I got 7 boxes of cereal (General Mills), 2 cartons of ice cream (Breyers), and 2 boxes of granola bars (General Mills again) for $22. Score!

Guest's picture
Guest

I only buy my department store makeup when there is a bonus attached. I have so many samples of moisturizer, I don't have to buy it separately. Also the brand I use has an online store and frequently offers free shipping, making it less tempting to purchase more than needed to meet a minimum purchase plus they also give 1-2 samples with every order!

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Stephanie

I make my own "convenience" food. I don't buy yogurt, tortillas, bread, or granola; I make them at home. To me, the inconvenience is the high prices, not the labor it takes to make them. Instead of paying 33 cents per serving of yogurt, it costs me about 50 cents to make an entire quart that tastes just as good. A batch of 12-15 tortillas costs me around 20 cents instead of the store's $1-1.50 for eight. Most people don't realize that most of their grocery bill is for things they could normally make at home for a fraction of the cost.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I make my own "convenience" food. I don't buy yogurt, tortillas, bread, or granola; I make them at home. To me, the inconvenience is the high prices, not the labor it takes to make them. Instead of paying 33 cents per serving of yogurt, it costs me about 50 cents to make an entire quart that tastes just as good. A batch of 12-15 tortillas costs me around 20 cents instead of the store's $1-1.50 for eight. Most people don't realize that most of their grocery bill is for things they could normally make at home for a fraction of the cost.

Guest's picture
CHB

I am infamous at my workplace for always bringing lunch, while my coworkers mostly order out and pick it up by car. A few times I let them pressure me into ordering with them but the cost of the food (and gas consumed and trash created by to-go packaging) almost made me lose my appetite by the time it arrived (almost). I can't stand to see them spend all this money on eating out but I keep my mouth shut because it's their life and money, not mine!! And they always say my lunches look better anyway! :)

Guest's picture
peggy

When I receive gifts, I save as much of the packaging as I possibly can. If I can get away with it, I try to avoid tearing the wrapping paper (hey, large pieces can be cut up for wrapping small gifts). I personally find gift bags to be the biggest waste of money, but at least you can get them at the $1 store. If all else fails when you're short of wrapping paper, try using the comics section of the newspaper, or even pages from an old calendar. Anything colorful will suffice.

Guest's picture
Katherine

I get a great deal of satisfaction from recycling gifts. I maintain a present box at home, and feed it with duplicate gifts, innaporiate presents, garage sale items that look like new, video games and CDs that can be resealed to look new. It makes sense to save money this way. The trick is never to regift a present to the original gifter. Not cheap - frugal!

Guest's picture
Anne

I can't stand paying $8-10 for a simple lunch at the cafeteria at work. Making my own costs less than half of the cafeteria price, is healthier, and tastes better. What's the downside? Ten minutes to make it? Standing in the line takes longer than that most days anyhow. People have questioned it more than once, but I just claim to be on a diet and they understand that. It's really my wallet that's on the diet.

Guest's picture
TF

I love getting the cheapest price on food and household goods. I have a spreadsheet with various food and household items on it. I have spent an inordinate amount of time analyzing paper products and laundry detergent. When I see a good deal on this kind of thing, I buy a lot of it.

Latest find, laundry detergent at 2.00 for 100 oz/32 loads. I walked out of the store with 15 bottles of laundry detergent and nothing else. Savings, about $45 when compared to Tide at regular price (which is what my wife used to use).

TF

Guest's picture
Misty

We like to "escape" work on our lunch hour, so sometimes I will eat at my desk and just suppliment my meal with a cheap salad. I also save all the coupons that come in the mail for restaurants or look on the internet for coupons before we go.
Freecycle and Craigslist have also been great. I am 8 months pregnant and I was able to collect a years worth of clothing for the baby from people posting after yard sale giveaways. It's great for me because most of the clothing is supercute, not worn often (due to babies growing so fast) and free! My husband also appreciates this :)
Finally, I go beyond the saving gift bags, etc. and cut up cards to use as gift tags, one sided cards, scrapbook decorations, decopage, etc. I also invested in rubber stamps and have made thank-you cards and baby announcements! Fun for me and cheap!

Guest's picture
desiblogger

I can't buy anything w/o checking online at fatwallet first. Not only are there always people talking about deals on various items, but fatwallet and other online sites often have cashback deals with retailers when you make purchases through their sites.

Guest's picture
dana

I go out of my way to avoid using the dryer. It doesn't save me that much money, since each use of the dryer at my apartment is only $1. But somehow, I can't bring myself to use a ton of electricity to dry my clothes when it's a bright, sunny day outside.

I'll go out of my way to hang my laundry on the balcony, along the shower rod, and wherever I can find a good place. Luckily, California has a good number of sunny days in the year for avoiding the dryer.

Guest's picture
Larry

I absolutley refuse to buy spices at the supermarket, especially the McCormick brand. They're obscenely overpriced, routinely costing 60 or more dollars per pound. And they're usually not that good!

My strategy:

1) Drugstores/Dollar Stores -- a lot of the herbs and spices there are a dollar a bottle or less, and they're often pretty reputable.

2) Ethnic markets -- This is easy in New York, especially as we now have a meaningful Mexican population, and I live less than ten blocks from some of the great Indian spice markets of this country. Given how many people of different ethnic groups are moving throughout the country, this kind of shopping is becoming possible in more and more places.

3) Gourmet stores - When you really need something that can't be found at 1 or 2, the premium over supermarket price for buying from a quality retailer is really pretty small and the quality is much better.

It's been at least five years -- and a lot of good meals -- since I bought McCormick's at the supermarket.

Guest's picture
Guest

Try growing your own herbs, its very easy and they dry great in the oven. Then compare your freshly dried herbs to those you buy in the store (any store)....you won't believe how much greener and fresher looking/smelling/tasting they are! Of course there are those really exotic spices/herbs that we can't grow here in the US due to climate, but parsley, cilantro, thyme, basil, marjoram, dill, savory, oregano, even saffron have all been very successful for me here in Ohio. It makes a HUGE difference in my cooking..... Good luck to you!

Guest's picture
matt

I don't like paying for mediocre food in a restaurant and it really gets me when we buy stuff and then realize that the exp date is too short and we would not eat it in time. We try to make 2 weeks worth of menus and shop for that but the fresh stuff never gets eaten. My wife always has the best intentions but life sometimes gets in the way. We also moved to Maine from Minnesota and the food is a good 20% more due to the shipping I suppose.

Guest's picture
Mats

I push the replacement cycles of things

... and begin this before the purchase. Best of all? It doesn´t take much of planning effort at all, just an implementation of foresight.

So what do I do?

Before I buy really anything, I decide on what are the characteristics of this particular purchase that will allow me to use it for an extended period of time before I replace it?

With regard to clothing, replacement cycle-enhancing characteristics to consider before purchase include a design that I will be pleased with not only this season, but also this season next year (and the next). It includes finding a quality that can take repeated washing without loosing color and shape. And it includes the right usability for the kinds of activities and events that I regularly take part in.

With regard to technology, replacement cycle-enhancing characteristics includes only buying gadgets when they have been on the market for at least six to eighteen months and preferably have come in a second or third iteration. Not only does technology become cheaper to buy as it evolves, it also grows more reliable as manufacturers receive complaints and suggestions from early-adopters, and so you will get a longer-lasting product if you have patience (and save up for it).

And can you foresee that you will find more use for one of the products you are considering to buy, once its primary use one day has become obsolete? Then that particular product perhaps should get a leg up when you compare them and try to decide.

A concrete example of this is when I recently decided my four year old Pentium M-laptop needed to be replaced. I hesitated between a laptop and a desktop, but finally decided for a desktop in the shape of a Mac Mini with the energy-efficient Core 2 Duo-processors, because I could find at least two use-cases for it when I retire it as my main computer a few years down the road. In one scenario I could get an eyeTV television receiver and use it as a high-end PVR or I can use it as a kitchen computer for surf and stuff for as long as it works.

This not only applies to clothes and technology but you get the concept. When buying furniture, appliances or a new car, I apply the same scrutiny.

Now, when you have bought something that you want to push the replacement cycle of, you want to take care of it.

The best advice on making clothes look new as long as possible that I' ve ever got is to wash them inside out. As I wrote in a comment here on Wise Bread a few hours earlier:

It is true that washing mashines have become more gentlte to the clothes, but they are still the biggest abusers of our clothes. It easily doubles or even triples the lives of them if you turn them inside-out before washing, making them look new-ish longer. And this of course translates into savings.

Every sweater or pair of jeans that you can keep in "active service" looking "new" just one third longer, translates into a saving of a one third. Not so bad, ha?

As you can see, your savings is in direct proportion to how far you can push the replacement cycle of your stuff. Do you want an 80 percent off of something whatever you are paying for it? Make sure to make use of it five times as long as you do today.

And pushing the replacement cycle of things does not only applies to clothing of course, but to most anything that you use. Shoes, cars, appliances, bikes, furniture and more.

What is the best with this foresight if you implement it in your daily life? This will differ for anyone of you, but for me the best is that I can allow myself to sometimes not go for the cheapest stuff or the cheapest clothing, but I can go for the quality and the stuff I really want, because I know, and I trust myself, to turn it a real bargain over time - by pushing the replacement cycle.

I guess that's my frugal obsession.

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Synd Prod

Although it's a pain to wait sometimes, I usually do and then buy the collected graphic novel that comes out after all the issues have been published in a comic book "event" or storyline. There's several advantages to this: no ads (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse do have ads in individual comic issues), and I can read the story all at once instead of waiting six weeks (or more) between issues. It's usually cheaper as well, and since they are books, not periodicals, discounts at amazon.com apply. I also grub around on Half.com.

Right now I really want to start buying the 10-issue series of "Omega the Unknown" that Jonathan Lentham is writing.... but I'll be a frugal geek and wait. Of course, if you're a "collector" and need to get the first printings of the actual issues, then this won't work for you!

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matt

Oh, here is one if forgot about. Inkjet ink. Buy a printer for $65 and the replacement inks cost $85. Sometimes I would like to never print again...

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Jocasta666

After years of being a scrapbook specialty store customer, I realized how much I could save by:

Trolling aisles of dollar stores
Trolling aisles of big-box stores (-Marts)
Going to clearance sales at fabric stores
Looking for clearance stuff at big-box stores
Looking in storage boxes in my house
Looking at the pile of clothes for buttons and adornments before discarding or turning into rags
Trolling second hand stores for years and collecting those treasures in one place
(Sorry, gas is too expensive for garage sales unless they are in my neighborhood)
Saving greeting cards/wrap/wrapping tissue/other cities newspapers/cardboard backings from packages of new stuff or given to me
Saving any stuffing of packages that were foreign newspapers and/or out of city newspapers
Asking for shopping bags with emblems or buying them for pennies at second hand stores (I cut the emblems and use the rest for backing of scrapbook sheets)
Asking friends and employers who want to toss magazines for them (to cut up for decopauge.

After 7 years, my decopauge items have been sold to friends that see them in my house...boxes, storage boxes, old jewelry boxes, old small treasure chests...and my friends all-time favorite: personalized frame sets. I've literally made dozens of them.
I also decopauged my mail box--and got orders from postal workers who delivered my mail.

I decopauge glass or small metal trays to sit items on. I decopauge storage containers that are plastic for storage of everything from cookies to dog treats to dog food.

Essentially, adding the frugality and recycling and selling paid for my hobby. I even decopauged old jewelry for display. Now I'm decopauging frames with boxes and turning them into shadow boxes for small items.

I purchase lots of things at second hands stores and break them down to reuse them.
Example 1: Tiny old spoons for a quarter a piece plus a shadow box/frame set with glass plus a couple of free magazines equals...
1 cute shadowbox decopauged on the outside with a thin cardboard backing (also decopauged) with a set of tiny spoons as a set (on the top of my microwave oven) AND
1 small art mask (original shadow art in 3D) surrounded by appropriate magazine scraps to match color and theme to make a small wall hanging for another room.

Total cost was less than a dollar and a few cents. To buy any wall art of domestic themed knick knack would cost well over ten dollars.

The point of the hobby business is the get you in the door, and they once did every weekend of the year.

Now I go only to get the emulsion for decopauging and new brushes to paint with. (And paints too...I finally cut down on purchases there by CLOSING THE PAINT BOTTLE CAP.

Hope this helps someone.

JoC

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Getting Started

Would love to see some of the works you described.
Is that possible?

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I save and reuse gift bags and bows. And if I have to (gasp!) BUY it, I go the the dollar store. I save all boxes, bubble wrap, paper packing, etc to ship my eBay sales. I rarely have to buy any of that stuff. I always order water in restaurants and sometimes order an appetizer as my entree. I try to avoid paying retail for as much as I can: books, make up, magazine subscriptions. I always check eBay, CraigsList and keep a look out for coupon codes before I lay the money out. I also clip coupons & watch sales ads---it doesn't seem like a big deal but you'd be amazed at the people who stroll through a grocery store w/ no idea that they can find the same thing cheaper else where or at lease w/ a coupon.

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Kay

Since my kids left home I have just kept on preparing the same sized meals. The we either take the extra to work the next day and reheat in a microwave for lunch, or freeze for another meal sometime. It takes no extra time to do and saves extra cooking!

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Wesa

It's been 4 years since I purchased garbage bags. We used to reuse grocery bags until recently. Now we separate our trash into 3 containers: trash, compost, and recycle. With this system, we rarely need to place anything in a bag, only the occasional chicken bone. Why place biodegradable items in a non biodegradable bag? Why waste the money when a little bit of daily effort on our part eliminates the purpose of the bags?

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Poor graduate student

I cannot spend full price on meat. I eat very well usually, I buy what some would call luxury foods like baby back ribs and strip steak. However, I cannot recall a single time in the last 5 years or so where I've paid full price. This takes a little discipline, but the key is a) shop at multiple stores, b) don't plan your menu in advance - plan meals based on what main components are on sale, c) check the online ads for your area. I do one big shopping trip every 2 weeks or so getting meat (most of which I freeze), cleaning supplies, etc. I look ahead to see what Im going to run out of a month from now, and stock up when its on sale. Then, every few days I'll stop at a smaller store on the way home from work/school and get the fresh veggies (again, going by whats on sale). Cashiers are constantly amazed that those club cards knock about 30% off my order every time. Friends are amazed at the meals I can cook for such little cash. And you know what? Its really not that hard.

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Jessica

I hate using the AC, even though our place has central air. It takes a lot for me to turn it on. I hate drinking anything but water at home or restaurants, I just can't justify the expense and sugar! Recently, I was quite upset over a restaurant that wanted to charge a corking fee although they had no liquor license.
I hate using the dishwasher, but I cave in after a big meal.
Unless it's ethnic food, which I have a hard time duplicating, I really don't enjoying dining out. Usually I find I could cook something much better and cheaper myself. As a vegetarian, my options are usually pretty limited anyway.
Lastly, although I am frugal, I will not let myself be treated poorly as a trade off. Case in point, I used to shop at an indoor market near my house for produce and spices. Since we cook all the time, I would spend most of my grocery budget there and drop a hefty amount on a weekly basis. The problem is, you have to be very careful to inspect the food for quality. I was inspecting some onions that appeared to have Aspergillus niger fungus (a black dirt-like fungus) by removing the first outer layer. The insane manager/owner(?) started yelling at me in broken english. Apparently, I guess he thinks I am trying to avoid paying for the onion skins? I could have put them in a bag and paid for them, but they are so light they wouldn't even register on the scale. He kept telling me the Aspergillus niger was dirt. I explained to him how much money I spend in his store, and that he needed to apologize for treating a customer that way and he refused. Incidentally, that's what it means to be too cheap for your own good--you're willing to loose a customer over a penny of onion skin rather than reap the thousands of dollars I spend there annually.
Anyway, I refuse to shop there anymore, which costs me a little more, but poor treatment is never acceptable. Plus, there's too many shady practices there---the fake Colgate anti-freeze toothpaste, poor sanitation, etc.

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Jason

I got the idea of using a towel long ago from a Dilbert comic strip. Still use it to this day...don't have to destroy any trees and the surprise is the same.

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Jay

If I am looking to buy something that costs more then $50 I always use craigslist first. If it is over $50 it is usually a luxury I don't need right away so I can take my time and scan craigslist for awhile until a really good deal pops up.

Also, I hate spending money on clothing, "garage-saleing" is my new favorite way to buy clothes...4 J. Crew dress shirts for $3, I mean come on how can you beat that!

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Jay

Oh yeah, I always tear paper towels in half, in thirds if they're the big Costco kind, before using. Paper towels are pretty expensive so this is one easy way to save money and reduce garbage at once.

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Guest

Gift bags are great items, that look just as good after you open the present, so why waste them? I recycle the same gift bag for my dear husband's birthday present every year. He thinks it's funny. Luckily we are both cheapskates. Now I've converted my co-worker cubicle mate to the idea and we trade one gift bag back and forth every Christmas, filled with inexpensive items. Oh yes, and it was a USED gift bag.

Love the towel idea.

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Mechele

For me it's clothing. I Never buy new. Re-sale is more economical, earth friendly, and non sweat-shop. I happily walk the earth, guilt-free and in fashion.... mostly.
Now I'm working out ways to recyle old T-shirts into fun duds, cuddly linens, and little critters to give as gifts to kids (big and small).

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Veronica

I simply will not pay full price for Victoria's Secret Bras! Won't wear anything else, but $47? Are you kidding me???

I know the style/size I like and purchase them NWT off of eBay. The most I've ever paid was $33, and that includes shipping. Plus, I didn't have to spend money on gas to drive 20 miles to the nearest store.

Saves time and money.

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Jenny

I consider myself frugal to the extreme. I drive my husband crazy with it and likewise he drives me crazy with his lack of frugality (what - you bought pop from a VENDING MACHINE?!). Many of the things I do have already been mentioned (only buy clothing second hand or on clearance, on the very rare occasion I eat out in the first place I won't pay for pop, etc.), but one I haven't seen mentioned yet is I will not spend money on professional portraits. It seems my friends and family take their kids to have their pictures taken several times a year. We had our now five year old daughter's picture taken professionally only once when she was six months old because we had a free coupon for it. We have had one professional family portrait taken that was also free. What do my friends and family do with those dozens of portraits and poses once they are outdated? Stick them away in storage. I'm good enough with a digital camera and Photoshop. I like my candids better and they are more reflective of our true personalities than any posed shots from a photography studio.

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It's the internet, Stupid!

I'm a web developer. Whenever I have a question, or want to learn a new programming language, I can't abide paying for a reference book.

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Lisa

I refuse to spend money on new clothes and toys for my little boys when nearly-new cute outfits can be acquired so cheaply. I'm open to "inheriting" clothes from anyone (for myself as well), and frequent Value Village's 50% off sales. I try to make a list of what each child will need for the next season, and fill in the blanks at these sales. The same for toys and books. Garage sales are also great for this. There are a few neighbourhoods that have a big sale every year, and that's where I've acquired most of our baby equipment, toys, sports gear, and kids books (literally hundreds)for pennies a piece. Sometimes things need a good scrub, a new part, or a bit of mending, but a few minutes of work to save $30 is a pretty good hourly wage! If I need a manual, they are usually available on the internet.

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vh

There's n-o-o-o-o way this old cheapskate is gunna pay to get a plastic bottle full of filtered water. We pay our taxes--and utility bills--to have clean, treated water delivered to us through the city plumbing. And even though my office building has no potable water, I'll haul in a bottle of water from my kitchen before I'll pony up a buck or more for a few ounces of water from the vending machine. Outrageous! Who palmed that scam off on the American consumer?

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I can't buy gasoline. It's such a ripoff and I won't support foreign oil. Instead I drive a CNG (compressed natural gas) powered Honda Civic.

It uses a domestic fuel, it's the cleanest burning internal combustion engine on earth, and I pay about 2 cents per mile for fuel. I literally pay $3 for every 150 miles I drive.

So why should I be a sucker and pay for gasoline?

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Lisa

I'm a little obsessed with keeping a supply of food in my freezer. I try to keep at least a week's worth of meals on hand at any one time. Since I live by myself, I usually have food left over, even when I make only a half or quarter of a recipe. Usually, there's enough left both to have leftovers the next day and freeze one serving of the recipe. I figure that if for any reason I'm a little short on money one month, I'll have enough food in my freezer to keep me going for a little while.

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scott

I hate buying something I already own. Sure it is shabby, but I'm not naked.

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I can tell you way too much about costs per diaper, diaper sales, etc. If I didn't have a blog, folks would think I had a problem!

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Greg

We do almost everything on this list (except alternative gas vehicle and pre-purchase long term usage-analysis of items) plus we recycle anything possible! In addition to this sickness, I was raised a DIY repair man, gardener (vegetables are much cheaper and taste much better) and garbage picker. My kid has a drum set, a few bikes and a scooter all FREE. I have made numerous repairs to the house and most of the materials have been FREE. Two "new" dining room chairs = FREE. Paint to make them match the others = FREE. Fence for around the veggie garden = FREE. Now, we've started using seeds from our plants to plant more = FREE. I read an article on MotherJones.com regarding a guy who gets 59 mpg in a regular Honda and now I am coasting downhill in Neutral. When we're done with something it is sold at our annual yard sale, on eBay or Craigslist or - as a last resort - donated. I need therapy. Hmmm, now, where do I find a natural gas powered car...

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Sherry

I don't think this idea has been mentioned above, I tried to read all the previous posts. My husband and I are proud garbage men, not by profession though. We have found some very valuable items people throw out to the street simply because they can't be bothered to clean it or repair it.

By driving down our neighborhood on garbage day, we have picked up a stainless steel outdoor gas grill ($600 retail), a fertilizer spreader ($40), a matching chair for our dining set ($50), and just yesterday I brought home a hood/vent-combo microwave ($250) they were throwing out simply because they were upgrading their appliances to stainless steel. If I didn't already have a free stove in my home, I would have taken that too!

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Cody Kosinski

An easy way to save money at Starbucks is to bring your own mug. Not only will they knock off around 15 cents per coffee because you aren't buying the cup, but if you order a short, most baristas will fill your cup regardless of its size!

Not only that, but you won't be throwing away all those cups too, so it's better for the environment too.

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Badgerette

I know it's one of the most common habits of the frugal, but I find almost everything my family must purchase (except skivvies) at our local Salvation Army, VOA Thrift Shop, or Craig's List. My husband is a tech admin, and all of his work shirts are 2nd hand. I've never paid more than 5.00 for one. When he stops wearing a shirt, or gets tired of it, it goes back to the shop as a donation, and I do the same with my daughter's & my clothing. I didn't set foot in a regular retail store for school clothes shopping this year except to buy socks & underwear. Most recently, our dishwasher went kaput, and I found a nearly new one on Craigslist for 20.00, then took the old one to the recycler. Even our couch was a CL freebie - and it's far better than we would have purchased new. Our window treatments came from the Habitat For Humanity store, as do many of our home repair supplies, like caulk or plumbing fixtures. Certainly it's not always feasible or sensible to go the frugal route, but I find the only thing more amazing than others' willingness to get rid of perfectly brilliant, brand new stuff, is my ability to consistently find exactly what we need for a fraction of retail.

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akbj

My momn was the master. She stayed home with 3 kids in the 60's, & she was on a tight leash for household money. I can't believe how many things she did that I internalized & still do. Washing out plastic baggies for re-use. Cutting paper towels in half for most uses. Cutting dryer sheets in half. Mixing whole milk with powdered dried milk & chilling, I didn't like milk, but couldn't tell the difference. Then she started buying extra milk on sale & freezing it. Of course she made all of our bread & desserts, & she would half the amount of sugar in cookies, both for health reasons, & to save on sugar. She would also half the chocolate chips in cookies for the same reasons. Somehow they still got gone in the same amount of time. She would make cocoa mix with dry milk & a canister of nestles chocolate milk, & package it into (reused) baggies per serving for camping. The same with instant oatmeal, you can make your own with instant oatmeal, add dry milk, brown sugar, raisins, & a pinch of salt & nutmeg or cinnamon, & do the one serving per baggie thing. I use to do this when I had to be at work really early. Fix enough for a week, pop a serving in the microwave while showering, & it would be done when I was ready to eat. These are some things that stand out. I've really enjoyed reading others ideas.

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tcarol hardie

i have really enjoyed reading all the hints on saving especially in the supermarkets i love to make every thing from scratch i love the challeng and then compare how much it would have cost me in the store i think its wonderful to cook all my meals for under a dollar great fun lets keep the frugal hints coming in cheers from carol from down under

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AussieAmelie

We live a very frugal lifestyle, with four kids we have to! We have our own chickens and we get free range eggs everyday. Considering the cost of a dozen free range eggs in the store and what it costs us to feed the chickens, about $30 every six months for feed as they get kitchen scraps and all the bugs and grass they want, it is a real money saver.

We buy loads of books at the local used book fair, at a cost of 50 cents to a dollar for most books (some of them are brand new and don't appear to have been read) we save heaps, when our girls are done with the books we donate them back to the book fair or gift them to others with kids.

We buy the majority of our food at the farmer's market, and we save about $200 / week by not going to the big supermarkets, we end up getting local fresh produce that is in season for sometimes 1/4 of the supermarket price.

We also shop at the local food co-op and get our laundry detergent and soaps in bulk there, we even take our own bottles and plastic containers to fill up at the co-op so we are reusing those things instead of them going to a landfill.

I bought my husband a straight razor (cut throat razor in Australia) and he never has to buy a disposable razor again! Same goes for shaving cream, he just uses a little soap to lather up.

If we need to buy clothes we try the local pre-loved clothing stores first, then the discount stores, we never pay full retail for anything.

We own one car, I only need to put gas in it once a month because we walk or bicycle to work, walk the kids to school, and walk or bicycle to the store.

We grow our own veggies and we planted some fruit trees to have our own fruit.

And the cheapest thing we do - we all use the same bath water. I get in first with our youngest (aged 2), then the older ones take their turns, then my husband gets in. We use 1/4 of the average household when it comes to water. If we have to shower we use a timer and only shower for 4 minutes. We collect our grey water from the bath and use it in the garden. And of course - if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down! Try it, it saves heaps of money and conserves a precious natural resource.

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1. Hosted one domain with godaddy and installed like 4 Wordpress (blogging tool) in them. Then redirect all my blogs to them. So instead of hosting 4 servers, I pay only for 1 host and get 4 separate blogs for all my purposes.

2. Don’t have cable. Hook up my laptop to the television and play movies from internet. I choose what I want to watch without ads etc

3. Turn my kitchen into a restaurant on Sat & sun and cook and freeze a week’s worth food. I have close to 6 varieties and I mix and match.

4. Take pictures of all my clothes and save them into my computer. Night before going to bed, I will mix and match. That way I know how much clothes I have and save time in the morning deciding what to wear.

5. Perfumes cost too much. So I buy fragrant lotions that moisturize and make me smell good. I use them on me twice/thrice a day, so eventually it becomes part of my smell which even after laundry, my shirts and pants smell of that lotion. I have been complimented often about smelling so good all day!

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Last night, realizing I couldn't squeeze any more out the toothpaste tube, I said to my fiancé, "I'm going to open the new tube of toothpaste." His reply? "It's about time; I was wondering how long you were going to make that tube last."

I pointed out that he could have started the new tube, but he said he was curious as to how far I was willing to go before I gave up on a tube. It's pretty far. There was nothing left in that tube.

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I'm obsessing over canvas grocery bags lately... it's more a green obsession than a frugal obession but my grocery store does give me 5-10¢ per bag for each reusable bag I bring.

And, fixing my nearly 10 year old car to keep it running and delay investing in a new one! I just put 2 car payments worth of repairs into it but I'm saving so much more on insurance and payments by not buying a new car!

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Morgan

Just turned 21 and I identify with most of the comments. When I was in college I never bought my textbooks - always found the text online (often through my college library) and brought my book to class, or borrowed a classmate's book and made copies of a chapter if I knew we were going to read in class. At my university this was not the case but at my community college earlier there were always copies of the textbooks in the library. I couldn't drive at that point anyway, so I'd tell my ride to pick me up an hour later and do my homework/reading in the library.

Most of my friends and coworkers like to eat out A LOT (to the point where I'm eating out 4-5 times a week) and while this does cost a lot of money, I try to keep the cost of my meals under $5. I only order tap water and always order the vegetarian option (did this before I was vegetarian as well - saves $1.50 on a burrito or nachos easily!). If it's Subway I'll pay the two dollars extra and get the footlong... then have my dinner waiting for me later :) Kids meals are a fun way to save money if they'll allow you to order them... as are coupons and restaurant.com gift certificates. I love to buy those and take friends out for a $40 meal that only cost me $10. Whenever we go out for drinks I only go on 2-for-1 nights or other special nights. If we go to a more expensive place for a special occasion, oftentimes there is someone who wants to split one of those enormous salads with me... wilted salads are no good as leftovers anyway. Eating out this frequently isn't cheap, but cooking for 1 person ends up being fairly expensive as a lot of my food spoils before I can go through it all (bread, cheese, milk, etc).

Publix for free antibiotics!

Many of my friends work at retail stores like Target and GNC. I hate asking for favors often, but I can have my friend purchase a huge bottle of multivitamins that will last me months with her employee discount. Check the labels - you'll see that when it directs you to consume 2 per day, you're actually consuming around 4000% of your daily dose of some vitamins. Take one a day and be sure to supplement the vitamins that fall short with your diet.

My roommate hates that I don't ever turn on the a/c or heat... but she'd hate $100 electric bills even more than $31 ones. We're not home often enough to warrant turning on the systems, I can sleep with a fan on in the summer and bundle up in blankets in the winter.

I'm starting to get into grinding my own grains and making my own condiments like hummus, pesto (staples of a vegetarian diet!) and it's a bit time consuming, but I try to only go grocery shopping when I know I have a few hours to chop all the vegetables, put food into portable containers that are easy for me to grab for lunches, throw things into the food processor to make in bulk right there, and grind everything so that it's ready to use anytime I'm in a rush.

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Cynthia

This is pretty crazy but I can't help it. When I chop vegetables I keep the carrot tops, celery bottoms, wilted lettuce, inner onion skins, tips of green beans, etc., in a plastic bag and pop it in the fridge. When I have a big bag of these vegetable trimmings I make stock--sometimes adding a chicken carcass or meat bones, sometimes just a vegetable stock. I don't know if this saves very much money but it smells marvelous and makes a rich soup broth. Then the simmered remains of the vegetables go in the compost.

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JoAnna

I can make a chicken last for 5 meals for two people

Just put one whole chicken, in the oven with salt & pepper to taste and lots of root veggies (carrot potato onion) Bake at 425 until it reads 155 on a thermometer. with the door closed, turn off the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. You can also bake bread or cornbread at the same time to save energy... but not cake or muffins or other sweet stuff.

meal 1: freshly roasted chicken legs with some of the veggies and potatoes.

PREP: take all the rest of the chicken meat off the bones. put the bones in the freezer.

meal 2: one half of one chicken breast, with mayo and celery, serve with bread for a sandwich. (and for fun, home made potato chips made with 'recycled' oil... did you know that previously-used cooking oil actually fries food better than fresh-from-the-bottle oil? just strain it and refrigerate it.)

meal 3: one half of one chicken breast, with peas, carrots, kecap manis (asian sauce) and for a different kind of chicken salad, serve with greens.

meal 4: one chicken breast, served with leftover veggies and potatoes

meal 5: There will still be some meat on the bones, so pick that off and reserve it. put bones in cold water, bring to a boil to make stock. add barley/rice/pasta and whatever little veggies you have on hand. Add the bits of chicken last, to heat them through but not overcook them.

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Jeanne

Please don't re-use cooking oil. Heating almost any oil turns it into trans fats. That's not frugal, in terms of your health. Read anything by Udo Erasmus.

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JimmyDaGeek

When soap scraps get too thin or small to handle, glue them onto the new soap bar with soap suds.

You know those sheets of tin foil that you use to cover food? Well, they can be rinsed/washed and reused at least one or two times more.

Also, why buy quart-sized bags when you can reuse the plastic produce bags?

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FLC

I don't think any of my frugal habits are obsessions, but there are a few things I do continuously. See what you think.

~We never, never, never use the dryer. I live in an apartment building, and the cost is $1.50 to dry. To me, its so not worth it.
~I consume water. Lots of water. Only in certain situations will I even consider buying water. Not only is it good for the budget, but its good for the body.
~I use public transportation or walk everywhere.
~Even though we live in an apartment, I still grow my own herbs. Not only cheaper, but fresh.
~Try to make the foods I usually spend extra on at home. Like someone above said, I make my own hummus. The brand and flavor I fell in love with was almost $4.00 for a tub. I quickly figured out a similar recipe that costs me about $0.75 for the same amount!

Additionally, my boyfriend is even more frugal than I am. In the mornings, he eats his breakfast in the kitchen using a paper plate. A week later, he is still using the same paper plate, for almost every meal that I don't serve him. Usually on the weekends I go on a cleaning spree, and throw out the paper plate, where he ends up telling me that I'm wasteful!

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Jeanne

Unless your hair is REALLY oily, you don't need shampoo- conditioner and water will do a great job- and you don't need much conditioner, either. Go ahead and try- no one will be able to tell you skipped a step- except your wallet will be fatter. As far as lotions, everything you put on your body will go into your body; therefore, coconut oil oil is a lot better for you than any other "higher priced spread." You can't get any more luxurious than coconut oil, and there is a lot of research that indicates that it is very healthy for you, as well. The coconut oil treatment saved my nails, and my skin has never been as soft!

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Ann

1. i unplug pretty much everything while i'm not using it. It only makes a small difference in power usage, but it counts

2. i rinse out and re-use paper towels for things like wiping around the kitchen sink, sweeping up lint, etc.

3. instead of expensive hair styling cream, i just use plain (cheap) lotion to smooth out my hair...it's practically the same thing

4. i always cut open bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, etc. to use every last drop

5. whenever possible, i line-dry my clothes

6. i use every edible part i can whenever i buy meet...the trimmings and fat on the meat are usually really good as part of a broth or soup

7. i never eat out if its something i can make myself (like eggs and coffee at a diner)...BUT i never, ever go cheap on a tip if i do (since the waitress is probably pretty broke too)

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Kimberly

I pretty much refuse to pay full price for anything. With coupons, discount codes, and clearance you really don't need to. But probably the most irrational thing I have started doing, or not doing I guess is...... There is a store here called the $5.00 store. It's a clothing store basically with nothing over $5. I loved to go there and buy big sweatshirts for the winter. Recently they became the $5.99 store. Now, I just can't bring myself to buy anything. So, I'm not getting any big comfy warm sweatshirts because of .99 ....

Guest's picture
Rosemary

A lot of stuff that's good for the environment can also save you money. There's the obvious no bottled water thing. Just reuse a glass bottle or buy an aluminum bottle. Redusing and reusing are great. So is buying stuff that lasts longer.

Our local newspapers are online for free, so I just look up the news there.

When we have cake and ice cream or other food at work someone brings in REAL dishes to use instead of plastic stuff. It feels a lot nicer that way too. If only I could find a way to get others to do away w/ disposables. I also don't like using paper napkins and paper towels. Sponges and regular towels are just fine for cleaning and cloth napkins look much swankier anyway. Hey, you don't even need towels. Just cut up old clothes to use as washcloths.

Since I was a kid my mom used the comics (or other mail that was going to be tossed) to wrap presents. Some people actually keep the wrapping paper to read later :)

The library is awesome!

I also can't believe how many of the college kids here drive to school when they live w/in walking distance. Parking is a headache, so why not walk? When I do need to drive somewhere I get a pull-through space. It saves gas b/c you use up more when you have to back out of a space. Instead of wasting gas to look for a space, just park wherever and walk. You'll get exercise. I also use my A/C only over 50mph.

If you want to save money on printer ink Walgreen's is doing refills now. Then you won't have to worry about recycling the old cartridges.

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Teresa

I won't buy laundry soap without a coupon! =)

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Cindy M

Hey, I love this thread and appreciate reading all the advice. I do a good bit of what you all do and am always looking for other ways to NOT spend money. For a long time (years) I have strived to NOT pay for what little entertainment I have the spare time to indulge in. For me, that's using my library to the ultimate. If there's a first-run movie I'd like to see or some book I want to read, I immediately visit my local library online catalog and reserve it if possible. It may take awhile but this has worked for me (turns out the library has multiple copies of the popular stuff) and guess what, most of the time the movie or book I just HAD to watch or read wasn't all that great anyway and it was free, no loss. For that matter, any movie you haven't seen is new to you, right? I've had no cable TV for years and seldom watch regular TV (helps to work second shift, which I love). I've learned to cook well for myself so seldom even want the fast food anymore. I keep a glass water bottle with me and take it every time I go out the door. I make pots of coffee or tea at home and fill a thermos, stays hot all day and tastes fine, and I'll sometimes haul that around if I'll be away from home for hours. (Hit the thrifts and buy the containers, buy carry-alls, backpack things and keep a few in your car, very cheap for nice ones and very handy). I work from home now but used to make extra and always had a better-looking lunch than everybody I worked with. I've cut my own hair for years, it ain't all that hard to do. When my car quits, I have no plans to buy another and am actually looking forward to it. I think it's so important to cultivate a different attitude and way of looking at your daily life and home, how you can SLOW DOWN and enjoy it more, how you can become more of a homebody and get to know your neighborhood better. I say concentrate on buying a home you can afford when you're very young and go from there and make it your palace, make it within walking/bus stop distance and forego car payments and charging things. I had my first home when I was 23, wasn't much but it was mine. I've never regretted it.

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Guest

I have nice, thick wavy dark hair. I do not have a "corporate" job. I used to get my hair cut every month or so, but I stopped a few years ago. I now have hair past my waist that I love and it looks nice. Once a year or so I might time the ends up a bit and I trim my own bangs.

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Guest

now on this one i believe i may need physciatric help on!
i got really frustrated at buying purses from cheap stores and having them fall apart in a few months...my $20 had really become a four time a year total waste of money and time. so now i case out the good wills and thrift stores in the rich parts of town or where i know the rich people donate and i anxiously await for their castoffs like a kid on christmas. I have found beautiful leather name brand purses even desighner purses for $1-$5 each :) needless to say i have not bought a new purse in several years...I always get compliments on my purses they always look great and stand the test of time.i even do my little purse prayer prior to walking into the store, and i always do the happy dance when i score a really great deal.even if i was a millionare i know i would buy my purses this way. its not just the discount i recieve but its the exciting thrill of the hunt as well!

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Guest

i do buy my meat at a co-op or from costco as well as from the markdown bins, but i found i can save more money on dedicating four dinners and three lunches a week to meatless meals in addition to the sales and co-ops

i might substitute eggs or tuna or some sort of bean or legume in a soup, sandwhich ,salad or burrito.some nights we even go totally vegetarian.

i thought i would have issues with my anemia but i didnt. my nails are acutally stronger my hair is actually shiner and i have the most beautiful cholesterol my doctor has ever seen for me.i was terrified my kids would be traumatized and their tears would flow like a river but they didnt...their acutally happier.

i also treat meat more like a side dish or condiment versus the main dish and shaved over $200 on our grocery bill and inches off everyone in my family's waist. when we occasionally eat steak or ribs its a huge deal and everyone savors it like its their last meal or a grand feast of some sort. its made us be more greatful and alot healthier to.

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Jeff

Whenever I sell items to anyone through Amazon.com, be it CD's, books, DVD's, etc, I always cut up grocery paper bags or use brown cardboard paper. Why spend .55 cents to $2.00 plus tax for a yellow bubble envelope at an office store or grocery store when you can do it yourself in 5 minutes tops and earn the equivalent of up to $24 an hour doing it.