What I Do to Live Frugally

A long time back, Mapgirl tagged me to write about what I do to live frugally. That was right around the time when my cyclical behavior was in the most unfrugal part of the cycle. What's worse, it was followed in the next few days by our old car dying and us deciding to buy an un-frugal car (which was still pre-owned but cost us more than what we thought we would ever pay for a car). With all this going on, I couldn't bring myself to write a post about what I do to live frugally! But now, the dark days are behind us (hopefully) and we are striving hard to get back to our old selves. Frankly I am not much of a person for memes and tagging, and I don't really know what the rules for participation are, and it is probably too late for me be part of this meme anyway. But writing about what I used to do to live frugally seems like a good exercise to make me think about what I need to do in the future to stay on track, so I decided to write about it anyway.

  1. Cook at home as often as possible: I love cooking exotic dishes once in a while. And I *hate* regular everyday cooking. I am a foodie and at the end of a busy day spending an hour in the kitchen to fix a plain (aka “healthy and nutritious”) meal just doesn’t feel like it is worth the effort. But I have been trying hard to get into the habit and before this last break down, I used to cook 4-6 times a week! I need to get back in that mode. Since the last couple of week I have started getting back on track and have cooked about 5 times each week – just need to make sure that the habit sticks and I do not give in to the temptation to just pick up some food on my way home.

  2. Take lunch with me to work at least 3 times a week: This is one thing I am really proud of. Even during my bleakest unfrugal days, I have stuck with this schedule. It has been a little over a year since I started working, and in the entire period I think I have gone out for lunch more than twice a week only 4-5 times, and even during those weeks, the max I ate out was 3 times a week. My next goal is to see if I can go for another year with less than 4-5 slip-ups.

  3. We have coffee and breakfast at home, rest of the time we drink free coffee available at office. We don’t entirely ban coffee houses or starbucks, but usually reserve it for occasions when we meet old friends. Over time, we have come to associate coffee houses, with lazy leisurely evenings spent catching up and swapping old stories. And being loathe to spoil that association keeps us away from running in and out for an overpriced cup of coffee that is drank in a hurry at the desk or while driving.

  4. We don’t have a telephone land line: We have gone for over 4 years now without a phone land line and have not missed it a bit. We both make sure that our cell phones stay charged all the time, so we are never at a loss of an instrument to make calls from. On the cell phone we have the least expensive plans with fairly low minutes, but since many of our friends have the same service provider, we get to talk to them for free. Only once in the past 4 years have we paid for extra minutes.

  5. Shop for pretty much everything during “sale” and after researching the prices thoroughly. Avoid impulse buy. One of the first lessons someone told me when I landed in the US is that if you pay full price to buy anything, you are a sucker. At first I thought it was a joke. But now, I firmly believe it. As long as you can avoid impulse buying, you can get pretty much anything on sale.

  6. Drive our cars to death: People who are regular visitors to this blog may be surprised that I have listed this here since I recently confessed that we bought a fairly unfrugal car. Over the long run though, our car ownership turns out to be quite frugal. We take good care of our cars (regular oil changes, get necessary repairs done as soon as we possibly can etc.,) and drive the car until the wheels fall off – literally. The car we just replaced was 14 years old and had 165K miles on it and we drove it until the engine finally quit on us. Both our current cars now are pre-owned and we plan to use them (hopefully) past the 150K mile mark too!

  7. Hang out with like minded friends: It’s not just how frugal you are, but who you hang out with. If all the friends around you are spenders, then some time or the other you will crack up and give up being frugal. In our case, we have been fortunate enough to have friends who are fairly like-minded. Even though frugality is not the core of our conversation or anything, we still end up making choices that do not require too much expenditure, and still end up having a blast.

  8. Watch movies at discount theatre, or watch it before 6:00pm if it is a regular cinema hall. Both the better half and I like watching movies in the theatre. Since it is something that we really enjoy and it helps us unwind, we don’t bother to curb this indulgence. Instead, we try to wait for the movies to screen on the discount cinema ($2 per ticket). And, if we really don’t want to wait for 3 months for a particular movie, we catch it before 6:00pm when the tickets are less expensive.

  9. Go to the movies on a full stomach: We very rarely get popcorn or soda at the movies. I mean, what’s the point in watching a movie in a discount cinema for $2 per person, if you blow $6 per person on pop corn and soda?

  10. I go grocery shopping when I am too hungry or too tired: Basically any time that I really don’t want to be doing grocery shopping. And I go only once a week, no matter what I remember/forget to bring. Believe it or not, this is the most efficient and money-saving way to shop. At least in my case, since I am ever curious and if I have the time, I will walk through all the aisles looking for new and strange items and buy them so I can “try them out”.

  11. Make a list before going shopping: This is particularly important when I go to Costco! Like I said earlier, I get easily tempted to buy something that looks new and interesting. And at places like Costco, that can be quite damaging since the portion sizes are large and so, even though the unit price may be less than the regular store, the large portion sizes make buying unnecessary junk a big costly mistake.

  12. Stock up non-perishable items on sale: When I find the things we use often go on sale, I generally stock them up. That particular grocery run my bill will be pretty huge, but I make it a point that during the subsequent trips, my bill is small so the average is around what I have budgeted for.

  13. Keep an eye on expiry dates: I hate throwing out stuff because they have expired – so while buying stuff, I check to make sure I buy something with the farthest expiry date. This is true particularly with meats and milk – the grocery store always puts the stock with the closest expiry date at the front. And every once in a while I have a “clearance week” when I do minimal grocery shopping and clear out the fridge, freezer and some of the canned goods.

  14. We don’t buy anything at the vending machines. Neither of us have the habit of snacking, but in Texas if you spend some time outdoors, it is usually very tempting to grab a coke at the vending machine. To avoid this temptation, if we plan on staying out for long, then during the previous day, we fill a bottle of water and shove it in the freezer. Next day we take the frozen bottle of ice in the car and generally we get to drink cold water (or at least “not hot” water) for the better part of the day.

  15. Buy second hand when possible: I do not like buying some things second hand (eg. clothes, mattress etc.) but I have no hassles buying some other things second hand (eg. books, car etc.). So whenever, I have no stigma against something, I try to buy it second hand. Maybe not as frugal as a lot of people out there, but still every bit helps.

  16. We throw away the advertising mailers left in our mailbox without even looking. We only make an exception when we need something and know that it is possible to get a discount using the coupon in the mailer (e.g., haircut coupons – (gasp!) Yep, I use a coupon to get a haircut).

  17. We have a habit of switching off electric items when they are not in use. For instance, when we walk out of a room, we make sure the lights and fan are switched off. When I am not watching TV (which is most of the time), I keep the TV off. When we go out for work we switch off the A/C (the jury is still out on whether this is good or it is better to keep it on at a constant temp, but we just do this out of habit).

  18. We DIY things when possible: The lawn is taken care of by the better half, and home cleaning by me. In the 2.5 years of owning the home, I have had the maid service come in once to help me with the cleaning. The temptation is very strong to let them come in and help again. Until now, I have not given in and have stuck to keeping the house clean myself. Currently, my plan is to have them come over once every 3-6 months to do a thorough cleaning (particularly bathrooms, over side of fans, window blinds etc. that I don’t do often) and do incremental cleaning by myself during the rest of the time. Additionally, small repairs around the house are handled by the better half with me acting as the able assistant :)

  19. When we travel, we usually search for discount airfares and in the nights, don’t hesitate to crash in Motel 6 or Super 8. Or any place with or without a numeral in the name for that matter as long as they let us stay for cheap and don’t look like they could be a candidate for the set of a scary slasher movie. And if they throw in the breakfast, all the more better :)

  20. Every now and then we love going to a good ol’ buffet place. All-you-can-eat buffets are great ways to have a frugal feast. No they do not serve gourmet food in buffets (unless you are in Vegas), but when you are hungry, there is no better way to get the best value for the buck than to go for the most extensive buffet place around. We have tried out a few in our area and now know the ones we like best and on days that we feel like packing in a lot of food, we skip the restaurant and go get in line for the buffet. (As a side note, if you are a fellow buffet-lover, you should read this post by Nick @ Punny Money – funny and informative – can it get any better?)

That’s all I can think of now. As you can see, I don’t particularly deprive myself of anything, but when possible, I try to incorporate little bits of frugality in every day things. Every small bit helps.

I will not tag anyone in this post, but I do encourage those of you on the unfrugal part of your cyclical behavior to go ahead and do this exercise. Just thinking about it and writing it down, has filled me with renewed determination to stay frugal during the coming days. As I have mentioned before, for some people living a simple and frugal life comes naturally. But for the rest of us, it takes conscious effort, determination and a fair amount of discipline to incorporate frugality in our lives. And an exercise like this goes a long way in helping us stay on track.

PS: If you don’t have a blog, feel free to use the comments section below as a scratch pad, or send me an email with your list and I will publish it here.

And if you are looking for inspiration about what others in the blogosphere are doing to stay frugal, here are some good reads –


Strapped for cash? Instant Loans from MyPaydayLoanCash.com are just the answer.


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SavingDiva said...

Great post! It's nice to see that you don't sacrifice on certain things...yet still live frugally.

mapgirl said...

Hey! Thanks for participating! I love tip #5 and the phrase "cinema hall"! I don't think they use that term much anymore. It's pretty much a theater to most Americans. (or else 'THEE-ah-TAH' if you are Master Thespian.)

ispf said...

Saving Diva: I am not cut out to give up too much at one shot... so taking it slowly in baby steps :)

Mapgirl: Wow, I didn't realize that nobody uses the phrase "cinema hall" here :) I guess I need to put it away with "flat" (apartment), "lift" (elevator), "steps" (staircase) etc :)

Anonymous said...

Gotta say if you you want to really save money on your car start doing work on it yourself.

A couple of good repair manuals are out there for just about any car. Yes you might have to pick up tools but these are easy to come by cheap and second hand. A wrench used is just as good as a new one.

Over time these tools will pay for themselves and you'd be surprised at how many $200 mechanic bills are $20 of parts and a Saturday spent cursing.

ispf said...

Anonymous: Good point. Unfortunately, I am a bit "mechanically challenged" :)

The better half has turned out to be a surprisingly good handy man around the house. But not sure if I want him working on my car (his car is newer and has no problems, knock on wood), because -
a) I am worried that if he goofs up, it will probably cost a lot more to fix the goof up than the actual problem
b) Our weekends are pretty packed as it is and we have to try hard to find atleast some time to pay each other some attention. I don't want to be replaced by a car and lot of cursing :)
c) He is the kind of person that I suspect will easily get hooked to "tinkering with the car". I am worried that once hooked he will go looking for problems in the car to fix instead of helping around the house :)

So frankly, I would rather just take my car to the mechanic :)

Anonymous said...

Uh.... do you really want to go to the grocery hungry?

Anonymous said...

Go to Craigslist, find a nice used Mountain Bike, preferably a good quality rigid steel one, and do the little trips around by bike.
1.Save Gas
2.Improve Fitness and General Health. (How much medical insurance do you have?)
3.Do your bit for the environment.
4.Free entertainment. Unless you are in a really awful place, you can usually find somewhere nice to ride, see some nature, enjoy!

Yes it will hurt to start, but that just proves you need to improve your health.

Jason said...

Yes, going to the grocery hungry seems counter-productive. Don't you buy everything in sight? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

Use coupons:

John said...

# 11. Costco will take just about anything back with a receipt - even if partially consumed.

I bought a box of organic spring lettuce mix. Within 2 days it began to turn brown. As it was well within code date at that point, I believe it had been poorly handled.

I wrapped it in plastic bag. About 3 weeks later (Costco runs are infrequent here) I returned the now liquid brown goo to Costco for a full refund with absolutely no hassle.

brodie said...

We go to the movies just for popcorn. We don't care about the movie most of the time. We do go to the cheap movie, but popcorn is the point, and that is what was budgeted for. The rest was great thank you!!

k. said...

Fun, sensible list.

I'd suggest that cooking at home is made much easier by having a cleaning service. Consider: the time spent cleaning could be put to use cooking (something you appear to enjoy more than cleaning) and not having the stress of having the full responsibility for cleaning up afterwards is probably worth something.

(That's not to suggest you don't clean up or something, just that it's nice that someone else shows up to polish up the floors.)

Figure also that it's easier to have company over if you know your place is clean. Obviously food and drinks at home are far cheaper than out.

At least that's how I justify it... Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Grabbing the newest milk at the grocery store is actually bad in the long run. The store may have to toss a few jugs out and they will have to raise the price that much more. If the dates are reasonable you should grab the older milk if you can use it before exp. That way no waste for you and no "shrink" for the store. Win Win.

Inboulder said...

You made no mention whatsoever of mortgage payments, not paying attention to this pretty much makes frugality in the other mentioned areas irrelevant. It doesn't matter how pennywise you are in any of the areas (except perhaps in car purchase) if you don't pay maximum attention to the #1 spending issue.

akgypsyrose said...

I love your post and it is really a truly frugal way to handle yourself. I do have a few things to add that may be helpful;
1. Never go to the grocery store hungry.
2. Only clip coupons for the products you will use otherwise the store brands work just fine.
3. If house cleaning is a true issue with you then by all means hire a maid service once a month. It is cheaper to do that than to spend money on a divorce or drugs!

Edward said...

"We have a habit of switching off electric items when they are not in use."

Most appliances will still use a significant amount of energy when switched off. Up to 80% of the amount they consume while in use.
The best thing to do is place devices on a power strip and turn the entire thing off.

Another thing to do is turn off your electric hot water heater when not in use. You can save hundreds of dollars every year by simply turning it off while you are at work. You can also spend a few bucks and put it on a timer - you will save money in the long run.

Edward said...

oh - support your local farmer! I buy milk at $2.50/gal. eggs at $1/dz and cheap in season fruits and veggies fresh from the local co-op.

frostybarleypop said...

guys can save additional money by using a barber vs a hair stylist - where I live a barber is under $10 whereas a stylist is $15 on up. Additionally, my car (a 95 camry) has 235,000 miles and counting. I doubt you are driving the wheels off at 150K unless they are cheap american cars. Heck, my last vehicle was a fullsize chevy truck with 220,000 miles and the one before it was a 92 Maxima (I gave it to my brother when it hit 260,000 miles). You guys are right about the movies and eating habits. Once or twice a week have a leftover night. Also, I know a lot of people don't like to read, but a two hour movie turns into a one to two week read when you choose a book over a video. Don't forget the local univerity library if there is one locally. Don't forget most libraries also have movies, music and audio books too.

Anonymous said...

You should get a prepaid cell phone too. It's slightly more per minute but you get to control how much you spend. I like knowing that I can benefit financially as well from having a conversation in person versus over the phone...

Anonymous said...

cut your own hair. already saved 75$ this year. so simple yet so effective.

Anonymous said...

It can be cheaper to dump the cell phones and keep the land-line. My land-line provides unlimited long distance plus local for $30 a month. I carry a Tracfone for emergencies.

Ken said...

-camping is great cheap entertainment. get each couple to be responsible for one meal, that way you save on bulk purchases. also, renting a cottage together can be a nice inexpensive vacation as well.

-get a costco membership with a coupon. when you see how cheap stuff can be without the obscene markups, you'll be a better shopper overall.

-the dollar store can be your friend, but beware. some goods are worth spending some extra money on. and some dollar items can be found cheaper elsewhere.

-join an online forum where they post deals. *warning* this can be counterproductive as it gets difficult to hold yourself back on all the great bargains.

-join a gym. it's kinda weird - being in better usually means fewer "compensatory" purchases.

The Conservative Pagan said...

Obviously you are new to needing to save money and obviously have options. I don't consider this frugal...the fact you consider eating out only what ever amount per WEEK as frugal is sad. Once a month is splurging for my family.

Going to the Cinema...even the early show, is foolish when you can rent for two bucks, have the friends over, and have all the pop corn you want.

Coupons are useless unless
1. You need it
2. It's on a HUGE discount already
3. There is a rebate attched

If all three are attached, you might actually be able to make money.

Car maintenance should be done at home, and you don't have to be mechanically inclined, just barely able to read to do it. Oh yes and be comfortable getting dirty.

Cooking at home should be easy...two words crock pot and cook in batches. Cook enough for 3 meals and save the 2 extras. Less cook time...same amount of mess.

Maid service shouldn't even be considered if you are trying to save money....if she/he loves you...they will learn to do some chores.

This reads like the upper middle class trying to be proud of how "frugal" they are when they live so far above the means of the poor they don't know what frugal is. Read my blog...and you'll realize what frugal is. By the way I HAVE to live like this....BUT I intend to do so after I finish college too.

Chris Bolmeier said...

Love the blog. I know so many women that are always complaining about being broke, but they get their hair cut and colored every 4 weeks. Manicures every week. Pedicures every month. And throw in facials and waxing.

And they still don't look too good.

I'm only serious

Anonymous said...

The only part of your list I disagree with is the buffet. If you're comparing the cost to a nice sit-down restaurant it's a deal. Otherwise you're spending a lot more money for a lot more food than you need.

Unless you plan on smuggling food out or not eating for the next couple days, you're not saving any money.

inpixels said...

Books have a much more gross factor than that of clothes which can be dry cleaned before use. Try cleaning a used book before you use it.

Anonymous said...

I am in love...

frostybarleypop said...

I agree with the conservative pagan completely. My wife and I have a combined income of over 75k but we still save like the conservative pagan suggests. I have never used a maid or cleaning service and personally consider it very lazy to even suggest it as an option. Kind of like paying to have your car detailed. You just need time and elbow grease - the right tools help too. DIY is definitely the way to go. As you learn to fix things yourself, you will find new ways to apply those skills and new confidence to tackle unfamiliar situations. Only pay for services that involve safety or are highly skilled labor. I have poured foundations, framed hung sheetrock, set tile and installed trim. about the only two things I'll pay for are mudding and taping sheetrock and rough installation of drain pipes. Sorry to ramble. I do pay for a barber (once every 6-8weeks) but thats because I've never been able to get a good haircut at home (I don't do buzzcuts);)

Bill Brueggemeyer said...

I have really thought about these things, have tried to change my life to a more frugal one with some success. I think you are on the wrong track. It is not whether you go to the store hungry or not, it is whether you are driven to consume too much.

Americans have been sold a bill of goods about what the good life is and how to achieve it. We are told to consume more, better and faster. We believe that what we have will affect how we feel. We are helped to feel that power resides in possessions. We are taught to fear our own honest reactions, that only experts know how to do things well, and that all enjoyment must be manufactured for us.

Naturally, this is all nonsense. Our fears and insecurities lead us to believe these things. So, where do we possibly get these insecurities? The simple answer is advertising in its largest sense. Advertising in all its forms must, to succeed, convince us that something about us is inferior, incorrect or defective. Advertising seeks to create a need, which it does by telling us that our skin wrinkles, our teeth are yellow and our bathroom smells bad. And most of the information that reaches us is advertising in some form. It has the goal of selling us something. In general, that something is a product we do not currently use, and is not comparable to any other product. (Most advertising seeks to get us to start rather than continue something, does not seek brand loyalty.)

Most Americans seek to do most if not all that these ads urge. We whiten our teeth, smooth our skin, and perfume our bathrooms. Generally we do this with the products we are urged to use, seldom do we address any of these issues ourselves. (We rarely say, “Marge, our bathroom stinks, so I am going to put in an exhaust fan.” No, we buy the perfume weekly, occasionally upgrading from one to another.) Because of the great expense of this- and it is extremely expensive- we work harder than any other industrialized country in the world. Japan is very close, but is governed by these same forces. France, on the other hand... well, I digress.

Better Living through Poverty, then is my response to an insane world. It is a relatively simple five-step program you can use to make your life easier, better and simpler. Or not. You decide. Here are the five steps that sent me down the road to poverty and better living.

1. Cut your workweek. Do not spend more than forty hours per week working. Give your boss that crappy ‘quality time’ argument, not your family. Being tired all the time makes you want to recreate without moving, leading to a need to be entertained. Get less tired and enjoy life more.
2. Drop your cable. You’ll save more than you think. The only purpose of TV is to get you to buy stuff you do not want or need.
3. Do it yourself. Muffins, drapes, oil changes, haircuts, the works.
4. Dump your addictions. It’ll clear up your thinking. There is probably a twelve step program for yours, whatever it is. At a buck a meeting to spend an hour thinking about how your life is going it is a real bargain.
5. Build your equity. Finally, you are thinking, one I’ll really work on. The bad news is that I probably don’t mean what you think Improve your community. You know, your parks, schools, libraries. Stuff like that.

Argue with me. I would love to hear from any of you. This is a subject close to me, as you can tell from my rant.

Miss Cellania said...

Save more: Don't go to movies. Don't buy meat. Don't travel. Don't buy books. This single mother of two lives very frugally.

Ian said...

Cut your cable tv bill by watching tv online. Don't rationalize paying for expensive satellite, you can do most of that online legally and for free.

Anonymous said...

A few other ideas:

1. Get a credit card that gives cash back (usually 1%) and that has no recurring fees. Sign up for autmoatic monthly payments so you never incur late fees. Don't carry a balance. Try to pay for everything you buy with this card. Depending on your level of consumption, usually good for $100-200 a year.

2. If the real estate situation in your area permits, try to live near where you work. Not only will you spend less on gas, you'll incur less wear-and-tear on your car and have more free time.

3. Price shop for home/car insurance every few years. This is such a hassle, many people don't bother and end up paying hundreds of dollars more than necessary.

4. Unless you really need the facilities (or classes), consider dumping your gym membership and working out at home and/or running around your neighborhood. Not only is it cheaper, it's usually more convenient.

5. If you can't handle dropping the home phone line altogether, at least remove all the extra services. Removing call waiting and caller ID dropped our bill around $10-15 a month.

6. If you can handle the lifestyle change, consider dropping cable or satellite TV. As a compromise, replace it with a Netflix subscription (which is usually less than half the cost).

ispf said...

All: Wow, I step away from the comp for a couple of hours and suddenly there are a whole bunch of comments! Thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment - whether we agree with each other or not, I appreciate your comments! Let me respond to some of the main issues -

Why I go to the grocery store when hungry: It's just what works for me :) I know it's a bit counter intuitive... but in my particular case, when I am too hungry or tired, groceries is the last think I want to do. So when I go to a grocery shop after work when I am tired & hungry, I usually tend to get in and get out in record time. That ensures that I don't buy junk that I don't need. I am not claiming that this will work for every one! For me though it works like a charm every time :)

Am I frugal enough?: Most likely no. Frugality is a spectrum... different people define what is frugal differently. I have lived for years when frugality was *necessary* and not an option. And life dictated what part of the frugal spectrum I belonged to. I know what some of you are talking about. That said, I have worked hard to get out of that situation. The temptation now is to splurge and live a good life. But I realize that such an attitude could easily lead me to a situation, where no matter how much I make, I will never have enough. So, now I try to practice frugality out of desire. I am not always successful... but hey, thats just the nature of the beast, right?

Cell phone vs land line: I recently had a discussion about it (here). Again, different people like different things. If you look at your own circumstance and can determine you can live with just one of them, then pick the option you like and disconnect the other. As long as you are reducing your consumption without going through too much hardship, you are taking a step in the right direction. Does it really matter whether you picked to keep your cell phone or your land line?

There are a lot of good ideas in all your comments that I still need to incorporate in my life and I will record my progress as I go!!!

Anonymous said...

hi My car has done 371,000 km (about 230,000 miles) and is still going strong.
I put nulon Worn Engine Treatment in it on the oil change. This puts a teflon coat on the worn bits.
It stopps the oil burning off and keeps the engine running smoothly. Also I get seriously good miles per gallon (or KM per litre) Just ask the mechanic to add it when he does a service. And the Car?
It's a 4 cylinder 1.3 litre engined suzuki and does 0-60 eventualy.

This advice was given to me by a guy who 's car was on 550,000km and still going strong.

Snottlebocket said...

I find it amusing that this is considered frugal by American standards.

Most of the stuff on the list like going out to lunch instead of bringing your own to work would be considered quite a splurge here (Netherlands) if done more than very rarely.

stephthegeek said...

Nice post. I get a little irked when I see people talking as though the only solution is to do everything yourself. My husband and I work as freelancers at home, and love what we do. Any hour we spend fixing a car or preparing a meal or cleaning is an hour away from doing something that we enjoy more (ok, with the frequent exception of cooking -- I do enjoy cooking a full meal from scratch as long as I'm not doing it every night of the week!), plus something that earns us income.

Since when is life about doing everything as cheaply as possible? Find something that works for you and make the kinds of trade-offs like this post mentions. For us it's the thrill of the cheap meals out, free on demand movies, using voip, shopping for bargains on craigslist and ebay, and cutting our own hair. But we get a lot of joy out of our cutting edge cell phones and buying premium cuts of meat too.

Anonymous said...

This is how I was raised, how everybody lived in the '50s. I still do. It's not frugal, it's just middle-class values.

rex said...

Don't forget to save on your Rx's.


Obbop said...

I lerned from my betters, the future main culture of the USA.

I bought phony ID of the highest quality in the barrio.

Use it to get medical care at hospital emergency rooms and the bills never find you. A HUGE savings.

Claim 9 dependents and have no income tax taken form your pay. At tax time get thousands in Earned Income tax credit.

Sure, you have to fork over a hundred bucks yearly for new ID but the investment pays for itseld hundreds or thousands of times!!!!

This frugality system works very well as evidenced by the millions of illegal aliens that use it to great effect.

AJ said...


electrobrain said...

Hey, great post! And some excellent comments to follow up, too. My $.02 goes like this:

Though there's probably debate in some circles, moderation in use of certain electrical appliances is going to to you more good than shutting them off completely.

Anything that has a heating or cooling mechanism is likely going to be one of your bigger energy users in the home. But the factor you have to consider in relation to both the air conditioner and water heater is that - while it's not using energy throughout the day if turned off - it can take more energy to bring the temperature back to where you want it.

For example, you leave for work in the morning and turn off your water heater at the breaker. The water in the tank cools to room temperature. When you get back, you turn it back on and then the heating element in the water heater stays on for a long period of time bringing the water up to the temperature you've set. That heating element sitting there burning to reheat the water might take more energy - and thereby more money, as it were - than if it had fired some short bursts during the day to maintain the temperature.

It's a slightly different game with the AC, but the concept is more or less the same. The big helper there is to get yourself a decent, programmable thermostat, set it to as high a temp as you be comfy in, and then have that kick on right before people get home for the day... and off right after you've left in the morning.

In both scenarios, you have to think about setting a moderate temperature, the insulation (of tank or home), changing out filters as recommended, and other things that allow these systems to run efficiently.

However(!), the original tip that somehow spurred this rant could be amended to be helpful. Where it probably doesn't make sense on a day-to-day basis to turn off those big appliances completely, if you plan on leaving the house for a couple days or more - ABSOLUTELY turn those things off. At that point, it makes a lot of sense.

Sorry to ramble, thanks for posting!

Mike Roberts said...

It's not that you shouldn't do the things that you love. It's about balance. If you live paycheck to paycheck and have $0 in the bank every month, you should work to plan for the bad times the happen at some point.

Aside from planning for emergencies, plan for things that are really important. Would you rather go to Hawaii for vacation or listen to Stern on the radio? Would you rather watch Hero or go to Hawaii. The savings mentioned below total over $3K annually. What's more important?

Here's another tip:
Think of things in terms of annual cost. That $30 cell phone costs $360 per year. Your $70 cable costs $840 per year. The $7 daily lunches cost $1,750 per year (you could go to Europe for what you pay for lunch). If you want to watch a salesman cry, do the math when he tells you that your satellite radio only costs $18 per month. "You want me to spend over $200 per year for RADIO?!"

Joe said...

One of the things that my friend and I use is Freecycle.org

If you want something, put up a request, if you want to get rid of something, post an offering. It's community driven, so you sign up for a geographic area and watch the posts. All you have to do is pick it up. It's all free and if you don't like what you get, post an offering and someone else will pick it up.

Campbell said...

Enjoyed this post - thanks Digg for getting me here!

A question about your car advice - is it better to run a car into the ground, or take care of it for 2 years and sell?

For instance - I bought a $5000 car last year. I take good care of it, and next year I hope to sell it for $4000 or so, with 45000 more miles on it. Then I can bup another $5000 car... If this works out, I paid $500/yr for my car, plus (minimal) maintenance.

If I ran the same car into the ground, I would have to own it for 10 years before I reached that same level of payoff. Especially getting close to the end of that 10 years, the maintenance would be huge! Plus, at 10 years I would have well over 300,000 miles on the car... say what you like, but even with good maintenance, very few cars can make it that far without serious issues.

Anonymous said...

great ideas, and I do many of the same things. One place I shop all the time now and have been for a few years is craigslist. I've saved so much money there.

Anonymous said...

You need to quit thinking about money, obsession is the worst thing in the world for everyone and anyone. Why don't you try improving yourself and those around you instead of some strange quest to "live frugally"?

calgirlfinance said...

We fall into unfrugal cycles and I think it's great to think about what we do to be frugal even in those times.

Thanks for the link! It really increased by blog traffic.


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July said...

Great post in this economy..wanted to share this idea...
I was shopping online yesterday trying to buy for my son a Super Mario Bros Game.. I stumbled upon a site called EZWINGAME...they are running a free contest this week for a free Nintendo... Wanted to know if anyone has heard of this site..and what they think...thanks


Charlotte Thomas said...

Thanks for the tips. I want to specify making list before going for a shopping. This must be done religiously for me coz it helped me a lot saving my time and making sure that I have not forgotten anything needed.